Mr Brown has made enough confusion to get away with the craftier measures

PERSONAL FINANCE journalists, in my experience, tend to be among the most blase within our profession. Give us a Budget full of measures designed to help vulnerable groups like the unemployed or the elderly and we will sneer that it was "boring" because it contained no specific proposals either on tax or investment.

By that definition, the Chancellor certainly shut most of us up this week. He simultaneously managed to help key groups in society, such as parents and their children, and pensioners, without hurting the better- off disproportionately.

Trying to work out exactly how each individual will be affected is difficult. Giving with one hand while taking away with another means that Mr Brown has managed to introduce enough confusion needed to get away with some of the craftier measures.

Take the scrapping of the married couple's allowance, which takes away pounds 190 from one class of taxpayer. This will be done in April next year. But children's tax credit, which aims to replace it, does not come in until a year after that.

Or the abolition of Miras from next year, which Mr Brown suggested was a move so insignificant as to be almost welcomed by mortgage borrowers and their lenders. For anyone who has seen their mortgage fall in five successive interest rate reductions, the fact that the monthly cost of a mortgage above pounds 30,000 will rise by pounds 17.37 is a mere bagatelle, or so he implied. True - until you consider that the rate reductions followed several rises in the preceding 18 months.

Moreover, the Chancellor has introduced anomalies which don't make sense. How, for example, can he justify cutting the starting rate of tax to 10 per cent but keep the tax on savings at 20 per cent? Sure, he might argue that after 6 April savers will want to stash their money in a tax-free ISA. Actually, some might have preferred to use their ISA allowance to invest fully in equities. Far-fetched? Maybe: except now they won't have a choice.

As for the proposal to allow employees to invest in their own companies' shares, it depends on which company you work for. All of us have at some point in our lives, said something along the lines of: "Things would be so much better if we were in charge, not them." Sadly, that never seems to happen.

Investing in one's own firm places employees at the mercy of their managers' skills (and we know how skilled some of them are), or wider economic factors. Investing in the shares of a single company is a risky business, tax- free or not.

Still, let's not be churlish: overall this is a Budget, albeit in a low- key manner, will help people in need. It may not be redistribution of the most radical variety - but it beats the hell out of some Budgets we have seen in the past two decades.


WHAT HAPPENS if the company you dealt with does not belong to any arbitration scheme? This appears to be the case with Swinton Insurance, as we write on page 5. At the time of writing, Swinton is preparing to meet with the client concerned in a bid to resolve his complaint. Whether it does or not is immaterial to me. The important point to note is that here is a company which refuses independent arbitration to its customers and blandly tells pensioners that if they want redress they should sue. Do you really want to give it your business?

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    Commercial Litigation Associate

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

    Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

    Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform