Wednesday, March 23, 2011

By George! UK Budget Hits The Mark

Cough, humph, splutter... That, dear reader, is the sound of your author swallowing his words.

Osborne played a scorcher and I can barely think of anything more that he could have done to be entrepreneur friendly in today's UK Budget. Perhaps it would have been nice to see a return to the entrepreneurs' CGT tax relief, but the extension of the 'lifetime allowance' is to be welcomed.

Extension in EIS was critical to try and get more investment by angel investors, and that also might have been a bit more generous, but that's nit picking..

And the lack of anything on fuel security, which has dragged us into yet another war (apart from a carbon price stabiliser and a vague proposal for a 'green bank') is, perhaps, something for another forum and another day.

What the UK now needs is a regulatory level playing field and the break up of serious monopolies such as Google, Sky and the BBC and the nurturing of a financial sector that can back UK based world class media companies. How do US leveragers find it so easy to breeze into the UK and buy our top soccer clubs and media companies, but despite our success, we fail to go the other way ? The answer again is with those miserable folk in the City, who do so much to feather their nests, but so little to support British business.

At least they're now being made to subsidise first time buyers and science facilities, as well as lending more to small businesses.

The Controlled Foreign Companies legislation will help attract back groups like ad agency WPP who decamped recently to Ireland, but I can hardly think of a UK media company that has a balance sheet in any state to benefit from such foreign sorties.

The Patent Box idea has resurfaced, and is a good concept (lower rate tax for products coming from the results of patents). The only trouble is, patenting anything in the UK is so tortuous that the rest of the world has passed by by the time the patent comes into effect. Perhaps the copncept could be extended to intellectual property, not to patents, and would then benefit the huge and successful creative industries we have in the UK, and perhaps even provide a fillip for the declining music industry where the UK once used to dominate the world.

Investment in technical training and apprenticeships is something I have long advocated as degrees become ever more devalued and measures on fuel and property development (groan..) will, in my view, help Britain miss a double dip recession by a shave, provided interest rates don't go up.

So, little to criticise and much to praise. Nice one, George..!