Simon Read: The cheerless Budget really doesn't matter

There was very little to cheer in this week's Budget. Even the good news for savers that ISA limits will increase annually by the inflation rate was tempered by the fact that the increase works out as an extra tax-free benefit of a paltry 76p a year, as Andrew Hagger explains on page 68.

And, while the raising of the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first-time buyers may help some people clamber on to the housing ladder, it excludes anyone who has owned a property before. That means people who may have sold up years ago and are now thinking of returning will be penalised, as will couples planning to buy their first home together if either already owns a flat or has owned or part-owned one before.

Even the Robin Hood element in the Budget was disappointing. The Chancellor said he would claw back the revenue lost from the higher stamp duty threshold from well-heeled homeowners selling property for more than £1m but, disappointingly, that change won't come into force for another 12 months.

But does it really matter in an election year? The chances are that a new government will want to set its own Budget, which could mean going through the whole process again in a matter of weeks. If that does turn out to be the case, I hope there is more positive news for ordinary folk.

* There has been little positive news for ordinary folk from the tax office because – shockingly – almost half of the calls to HM Revenue & Customs go unanswered. According to a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, almost 45 million calls from the public seeking help on tax and benefits went unanswered last year, and even those that did get through may have been given incorrect advice, the report warned.

Clearly, HMRC needs to do better, especially as it has been trying to save money by encouraging taxpayers to sort things out over the phone or by internet, rather than through letters or in person. With hundreds of thousands of people being sent the wrong tax code this spring, the Revenue seems to have failed to learn from previous disasters such as the widescale tax credit overpayments in the past decade. Part of the problem, of course, is the overly complicated tax system which even HMRC staff have difficulty fathoming. One solution could be a simpler tax and benefits system, which could be a priority for whichever party finds itself in office after the election.

* The City watchdog swooped on a further seven City professionals this week in its latest crackdown on insider dealing. The Financial Services Authority, in conjunction with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, arrested senior workers from respected City firms such as Deutsche Bank, Moore Capital and BNP Paribas. It was the FSA's fifth set of arrests and the biggest yet, but there are likely to be more to come. The practice of insider dealing is still widespread in the City and, with only five jail sentences handed down to those guilty of it, many seem to presume they can simply continue to get away with it. Let's hope they don't as the crackdown continues.

s.read@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own