The recent Budget once again reminded me of my dislike of the modern way of delivering the Budget speech. That said I was amused by a number of Mr Osborne’s one liners, although I was less amused when I realised that some policy announcements seemed to exist solely to tee up jokes at the opposition’s expense.
I may have my rose tinted glasses on here but I do recall a simpler time when Budgets were delivered quite matter of factly laying out the changes both good and bad in open terms. This allowed us accountants to assimilate the impact of changes virtually immediately, which always proved necessary as within hours clients would be on the phone asking how it all affected them.
These days after a Budget speech, by Chancellors of either party, my response tends to be ‘well let’s wait ‘til we see the draft legislation and small print on everything before we get excited or, indeed, depressed’.
Chancellors excel at delivering point scoring soundbites as they announce new tax reliefs for all. Sadly, later analysis frequently reveals so many restrictions and conditions that the reliefs actually apply to very few of us.
I can recall recent budgets where great theatre was created by reducing income tax rates whilst National Insurance rates were quietly increased, leaving us to explain to clients why their tax bills were actually increasing when a reduction was expected.
This is just one reason that politicians are often not taken at their word.
Even worse is when ‘bad news’ isn’t announced at all and we are just expected to find it buried in the legislation. And don’t even get me started on the numerous statistics that can be twisted this way and that to prove that black is indeed white.
I just ask for a simple, honest delivery. This seems reasonable to me and I’m convinced that the public would warm to it very quickly.