I have seen budgets blow up on launch before, but never quite in the way this year’s has. What was George Osborne, an intelligent man, thinking? I’ve written various pieces of analysis for the Telegraph since the Chancellor sat down and it all started to unravel.
Here was my take on the pensioner debacle (Granny Tax will spark a war between the generations).
“For the Government, the main problem with the “granny tax” row that garnered the worst of the headlines is that, incredibly, it doesn’t seem to have had a decent explanation prepared. This compounds the original error, of Osborne claiming in the Commons that there would be no net losers. It looked tricksy. Being one of the few items in the Budget that hadn’t been leaked, it was latched onto by hacks hungry for news.”
Then there was another mess (Osborne botches Child Benefit U-turn)
“The concession is welcome as far as it goes. It is a U-turn. But unfortunately the Chancellor has made a botched job of his manoeuvre. It deals with the so-called “cliff-edge” effect were the benefit is withdrawn in one go at £43K. But it doesn’t deal with the single earner anomaly; it just moves it up the scale. A couple earning £100,000 (£50K + £50K) will still keep all of their Child Benefit, whilst a family where one partner stays at home to look after children which has a household income of £60,000 loses the lot. What, I wonder, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer have against single-earner families?”
It has all rather undermined Osborne’s reputation as a master strategist (At least Gordon Brown’s budgets used to take a day or so to unravel).
“When George Osborne took himself off to Washington last week on the Cameron/Obama jaunt it was said by sophisticates that he was relaxed enough to make the trip because the Budget was all done and everything was in hand. It turns out that it could have done with a little more work in several important respects.”