David Prosser: Helping the market to pick winners is not so simple
Outlook Still on the theme of robbing Peter to pay Paul, one can't help but notice that the £975m cost of next year's fuel duty concessions is, according to the Treasury's balance sheet, identical to the gains being made from cancelling child tax credit increases. The poorest families are, in other words, subsidising all drivers.
All budgets have winners and losers, of course, but this autumn statement, more than most Treasury pronouncements, is an exercise in moving money around – the macro-economic effects will be very limited.
Still, this is an interventionist statement from a Conservative Chancellor who would, in ordinary times, presumably prefer to leave these matters to the free market. A good example of that is the package Mr Osborne unveiled to encourage investment in the smallest businesses: the seed enterprise investment scheme and more incentives for business angels.
The reliefs on the former are certainly generous (so much so they may, even discourage investments in the existing enterprise investment scheme over the next 12 months). However, the Treasury costs that relief at a maximum of £50m a year, which suggests it doesn't expect huge take-up.
The history of this sort of initiative is somewhat chequered, with a tendency to write the rules too loosely, paying investors more than theydeserve for risking their capital, or too tightly, in which case take-up isminuscule. Venture capital trusts, for example, launched in 1995, have been tinkered with ever since (there were more changes to the rules yesterday) in order to strike the right balance.
Offering tax incentives to investors who back start-ups is an attempt to stack the risk versus return equation in favour of entrepreneurs. It is a noble intent, particularly given Britain's all-too-regular failure to reward enterprise. But it is very difficult to get right.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Scientist create 'robotic sperm' to help with fertilisation and drug delivery
Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Regulatory Man...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Pre-Sales / Cl...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Regulatory Man...
£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer (CCNP, CCIE, Netwo...