The final Budget before the election was always going to struggle to provide sizable giveaways with such tight public finances, but even so there were some interesting surprises.
The most innovative of these was the announcement of a Help to Buy: ISA, where for every £200 a first time buyer saves, the government will provide a £50 bonus up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 on £12,000 of savings. Many first time buyers are sure to welcome such a scheme.
Alongside this, was the designating of the first 20 Housing Zones outside London, and continuing to work with the other 8 shortlisted areas. The problem, however, remains that supply and demand simply are too unbalanced.
There were also a few measures that should help to boost employment opportunities for the young with the abolition of Employer NICs for under 21 year olds from April 2015 and continued support for apprentices. This alongside a rise in the personal allowance to £10,800 in 2016-17 should help to continue to reduce the tax burden on those entering employment for the first time.
There were also few interesting measures that are sure to receive less headlines but will help to transform and reduce the cost of administering government services. The Budget announced:
- That following a successful trial, the government will implement ‘GOV.UK Verify’ which is a new way for people to prove their identity online when using government services.
- The government will transform the tax system over the next Parliament by introducing digital tax accounts, removing the need for annual tax returns.
Such measures, have the potential if they are further linked in the future providing a truly seamless point of access for government services.
Finally, a number of specific investments were announced that the government hope will continue to improve the UK’s international standing as a leader in research, development and innovation. Such as:
- £1 million to the Centre for Process Innovation to support innovation and knowledge transfer in the North East’s chemicals sector.
- £14 million to invest in an Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).
- A package of measures to improve the accessibility of R&D tax credits for smaller businesses.
- A further £100 million in cutting-edge research projects through the current UK Research Partnership Investment Fund round.
- £400 million for the next round of funding for cutting-edge scientific infrastructure.
Go to: http://businessinnovate.co.uk/