Fraser Nelson: "The Inheritance Tax "reduction" is a canard. Anyone with financial acumen (or a lawyer) will not benefit at all. KPMG have just been on the phone explaining it all to me and explain it here. “This change, although likely to grab headlines, is in practice only giving to most people what they already have,” says Carolyn Steppler, its tax director. Why? At present, couples can take out a zero-rate Discretionary Trust which in practise pools their inheritance tax allowances. Only those who have not availed themselves of this would be helped by today’s announcement. Yet Brown estimates this will cost him £1.4 billion – I suspect this figure is designed to shrink rapidly. Is it impossible for this government to give a Budget without trying to fool the media in one way or another? Old habits die hard."
Ben Brogan: "Not just the clothes, but the wardrobe as well. Gordon Brown has stolen so many Tory wheezes that George Osborne’s office takes over the mantle of "Labour’s favourite think tank". That said, George might need to get himself a new manifesto. The Treasury’s calculation is that 8,991,000 of the 9million households helped by the Tory proposal to raise the IHT threshhold to £1m also benefit under Mr Brown’s alternative: just 9000 estates come in between £700,000 and £1m. On top of that the Government has used its power to act by implementing it as of today, made it retrospective for 3m widows, and sent out a message about the economic advantages of marriage."
John Redwood: "The government has also announced an 18% Capital Gains Tax rate. This is good news and bad news. It is good news for those making gains that would otherwise have paid tax at 40%, but bad news for people and businesses making long term gains where they were paying 10% after taper relief.The overall impact of the measure means they plan to raise more money from capital gains tax, but the headline rate is better for the UK than 40%."
Matt Sinclair: "Did you hear Alistair Darling announce that he would be increasing
defence spending to look after the armed forces working so hard and
risking so much on our behalf? It’s true in nominal terms, it’s
true in real terms, it doesn’t appear to be true in terms of a
percentage of GDP. With a huge commitment in Afghanistan and new global
threats the share of our GDP we spend on the armed forces is still in decline. The relevant numbers can be seen in Table 1.3 and Table B3: 2007-08: £32.6 billion / £1,404 billion = 2.32%. 2010-11: £36.9 billion / £1,630 billion = 2.26%. In
strategic terms we are still trying to increase the size of the Cold
War dividend. Unless we expect big efficiency savings this isn’t
sensible behaviour for a nation with big foreign commitments and
underequipped armed forces."
Andrew Haldenby, Reform: "This year’s Review is even more biased
towards higher spending without reform than those of previous years.
If the problems of the NHS and state schools were to be solved by an
extra £2 billion, they would have been solved many years ago. The high
spending approach will not deliver the more realistic levels of
taxation and high quality education which are the prerequisites for
success in the coming decade."