A Budget just a few weeks before a general election was sure to be highly political. So it was, for though George Osborne had little to give away, he made big promises.
Higher rate taxpayers got a smidgeon of an increase in the higher rate tax threshold this year but a promise of more increases in future years. Basic rate taxpayers got a promise of further rises in the income tax personal allowance. People with annuities got the promise of a consultation that would finish in the autumn, leaving the next government to decide whether this government’s plan to allow people to sell their annuities would ever be implemented. Savers who are basic rate taxpayers got the promise that from April 2016 they would not have to pay income tax on the first £1,000 of interest from their savings – another item for the next Chancellor’s in-tray. Would-be first-time home buyers got the promise of government help – a £3,000 top-up to £12,000 of savings – but would have to save for four and a half years to get it from when the scheme starts this Autumn.