Posts Tagged ‘George Osborne’


Guidance is not advice.

March 23, 2015

This is what George Osborne said in the 2014 Budget Speech, archived here.

And we’re going to introduce a new guarantee, enforced by law, that everyone who retires on these defined contribution pensions will be offered free, impartial, face-to-face advice on how to get the most from the choices they will now have.

Now, “advice” and “guidance” are two different things.  Guidance is someone telling you there are ISAs and this is how much interest they pay.  Advice is someone sitting down with you and asking you relevant questions and then recommending which ISA fits your personal circumstances.  Guidance can be a leaflet or a website: advice is personal and can be relied on.  As a general rule, you can’t sue someone who gives you accurate guidance if you make the wrong decision after reading it, whereas you might be able to claim you’d been missold a financial product if you followed advice that later turned out to be wrong.

Got that?

And this is the new Pension Wise website which offers government guidance but

Pension Wise won’t recommend any products or tell you what to do with your money.

Now, I haven’t gone back and watched the video of the 2014 Budget speech (I’m not THAT sad) nor checked the wording of the quotation above with the verbatim Hansard report.  But someone ought to.  Because, you know, if I’m right, George Osborne told Parliament something which was not true.  And isn’t that a resignation matter?




That was a Budget, apparently.

March 18, 2015

I always had trouble with “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”  Which is a shame, as George Osborne seems to have taken it as his inspiration for his final Budget as coalition chancellor.

If you have savings, well, you won’t have to declare the fourpence interest you get on them.  If you have an ISA, you’ll be able to take money out of it when you’re broke and bung it back afterwards (take THAT, payday lenders!)   If you have a mortgage, well, your house is going to carry on going up in value because, if you’re saving up for a house, the government is going to start bunging you a few quid towards the deposit.  And if the entry level houses get harder to find and more expensive, then the others go up in value too, because, capitalism.

So if you’re a “hard-working family” (and dear god but I hate that phrase) who has managed to get ahead, even a little: if you’re a “hath”, then you’re going to feel a bit better for this Budget.

(We will draw a veil over the fact that most people with “savings” got them from inheritance or redundancy or early retirement.  What used to be called, back in the sixties when they were taxed more heavily than earnings, “unearned income”)

If you can’t get ahead?  If you live in a rented house because the you can’t afford the deposit, and the cost of your commute means you’ll never have any spare cash even to begin to save towards a deposit?  If you’re struggling with your credit card bill and juggling a payday loan to pay for the groceries and the kids new shoes?  Well you can just jolly well be grateful that

The government’s long-term economic plan is securing a sustained recovery and a more resilient economy. From April 2015, Corporation Tax will be cut to 20%, the joint lowest in the G20

Forty-nine days and counting.


Bit of politics

August 30, 2012

I had two immediate reactions to Nick Clegg’s “wealth tax” proposals. First of all, the obvious “politics of envy” jibes from the Tory benches were really annoying in the current climate: yes, let’s freeze salaries, raid pensions, screw the disabled and sell off the playing fields, but heaven forbid we should be “envious” of our betters!

“But we also have to be careful as a country we don’t drive away the wealth creators and the businesses that are going to lead our economic recovery.”

says George Osborne. Funny how the “wealth creators” need to be motivated by giving them money and the ordinary person by taking it away. And how is that “trickle down economics” working out for the States, hmmm?

But I’m afraid as a former tax professional my first thought was “that won’t work”. A wealth tax? Define “wealth”. Are the Queen’s diamonds “wealth”? What if they were in a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank?

The costs of calculating, collecting and enforcing a “wealth” tax are likely to outweigh the benefits, particularly if it’s only to be a one-off levy.

But I’ll tell you what would work. A one off levy on land. You know where it is, you know (or can calculate) what it’s worth, and, with a firm deadline that says someone – and we’re not going to argue with you about who, so you can set up as many offshore trusts as you like – has to pay the tax by Land Tax Day or else the land itself is forfeit – simple to administer.

I’d like to see the cost benefit analysis for it. Anyone want to have a go at drafting the impact assessment???