Budget 2015: what we already know about beer duty, pensions and the 'Google Tax'

A look at the numbers behind the bits of the Budget we already know about

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The Independent Online

George Osborne has already set out his message for Wednesday’s Budget. This is to be a “budget of the long term”, short on gimmicks and giveaways, long on further debt cuts and plans to encourage a national economic recovery.

The details remain top secret until Wednesday, including economic projections and individual tax rates, relief and allowances.

But it's election year and tidbits have nonetheless been leaked - including news of a cut in beer duty and changes to pension rules that will sound good to swathes of the electorate. A bid to improve regional economic recovery looks like an appeal to voters outside of London.

Below we look at the numbers behind the changes we know about so far.

Budget 2015: Chancellor to back HS3 rail link and relax pensions rules

Pensions giveaway

New plans will allow to five million people to sell their retirement annuities for cash. The move is a bold appeal to older voters. Some commentators have speculated such freedom will tempt pensioners to fritter away their savings on sports cars and fancy holidays. The Chancellor has dismissed this view as “patronising”.

The graph below shows that projected population growth in the UK is weighted towards those of pensionable age - which means the proportion of the electorate at pensionable age is increasing too.


Linking up the country

Osborne told the BBC that the Budget would be about securing a “truly national recovery from building a Northern powerhouse, connecting other regions of our country, committing to long-term plans that support science and high-speed transport”.

Osborne's regional package is reported to include investment for North-East chemical industries and backing for northern health projects. Other reports focussed on the approval of a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds. New analysis is expected to show that if all parts of England outside London and the South East grew at the national average rate, then Britain as a whole could be an extra £90 billion richer by 2030.

The map below shows which parts of the UK have recovered most from the recession by measuring their economic output. London's recovery is considerably greater than the UK average. The "truly national recovery" touted by Osborne is an appeal to voters where economic recovery is lower than average.

The graph uses ONS data to show which parts of the UK have recovered most from the recession by measuring their economic output. GVA or Gross Value Added is a measure of the value of goods and services produced in one area. NUTS is a geographical area chosen for economic coherence.


Income tax threshold to rise to £11,000

Most people are allowed to receive a certain amount of income in a tax year before tax is payable, known as the basic personal allowance. In 2014-15 the basic personal allowance for people under 65 rose from £9,440 to £10,000.

The threshold will rise to £10,600 from next month, but Lib Dem and Conservative politicians have both said that the Chancellor has found £2.7 billion to extend the policy to £11,000. Basic rate payers could be £160 richer a year if the changes come off. There could be good news for top earners, from a touted rise in the 40% tax threshold from £41,865 to £50,000.


Cut on beer duty

The tax on beer is going to be cut between 1p and 2p per pint, marking the third consecutive year that tax on beer has been cut. Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter said: “Britain’s beer and pub sector is vital to the economy of our country; nearly a million people across the UK rely on the industry for work.” 

While the chart below shows alcohol consumption is falling, it has fallen more slowly since the Conservative government started to cut beer duty three years ago.

‘Google Tax’

The Chancellor is planning to impose 25 per cent tax on big tech companies' profits from UK operations in response to 'creative' accounting that has seen much of these profits directed offshore. This is higher than the standard 20 per cent corporate tax rate and is expected to apply only to companies with annual revenues of more than £250 million - though how the tax might be enforced is still unclear.


Google Ireland Limited’s efficient tax rate in 2013. The company paid £22 million in tax on revenue of £13.5 billion. An extra £9 billion in administrative expenses went towards royalties paid to other Google entities, such as those in tax havens like Bermuda.


Enterprise Zones

Local MPs in Plymouth are lobbying for the South Yard in the city to be designated an ‘Enterprise Zone’. Local press said that this could add £100 million a year to the city's economy and create 2,000 to 8,000 jobs.

Blackpool airport is also expected to become an Enterprise Zone, offering tax breaks and other incentives to firms looking to relocate to the area, which has a surplus of land.

The map below shows where Enterprise Zones are currently located. More information is available at the HM Government website.

A map showing the 24 Enterprise Zones that currently exist in the UK


Ultra-fast broadband

The communities that have had to wait longest for broadband in remote areas will be the first to get ‘super fast’ broadband in the budget speech, according to reports. Until now 1.5 million homes have been excluded from the government’s plans to give 95 per cent of people access to super fast internet by 2017.

The map below gives full details of the plan to transform access to broadband in the UK by 2017 - click on a marker to see progress. All data is from www.gov.uk.