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What would you like to see announced in this year’s March budget?

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PTR 444

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The March budget is due next week, and the Daily Mail are already reporting on its intention to kickstart the economy.

Rishi Sunak will use a giveaway budget next week to pave the way for a post-lockdown boom.

Help for motorists, hospitality firms and the housing market is expected to be among a string of eye-catching policies.


The Chancellor is set to shelve plans for tax rises, including a threatened 5p increase in fuel duty that would have hit millions of drivers.

He is also poised to announce further VAT and business rate cuts for the hospitality and tourist industries, continue the stamp duty holiday and extend the jobs furlough scheme.

The Mail can reveal Treasury officials are examining even more dramatic plans for a major stimulus to the economy later this year.

This could include vouchers for high street shoppers and lower alcohol duty for restaurants and pubs battered by coronavirus restrictions until early summer.

The latter move would be coupled with higher levies on supermarket booze to help local traders. A return of last summer’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is another possibility.

Officials are also said to be examining the case for long-term reform of the stamp duty system because of concerns that it distorts the housing market.

But it includes a paragraph which sounds very worrying for the rail industry:
One source in the Treasury said the Chancellor had abandoned the planned rise [in fuel duty] partly because of concerns it could push people on to public transport when ministers are trying to limit passengers to slow the spread of Covid.

I’m concerned this suggests that the government want to prolong the period of trains carrying fresh air as much as possible, and I could see this coming from the fact that no date has been announced for the end of face masks and WFH guidance, just two factors that are putting people off trains. Incentivising car use is only going to make this issue worse for the rail industry already on its knees.

I’m not saying that we should return to jam-packed rush hour trains on the 29th March but it would be nice if rail could get some good treatment in the budget too. Perhaps a Head Out to Help Out scheme to encourage more leisure journeys on quieter days of the week.

Please feel free to discuss other policies you would like to see in this budget, whether rail related or not.
 
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Philip

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I suspect this will just be temporary until the vaccination programme progresses further/is complete. Encouraging car use over rail is going against climate change/caring for our common home etc and won't put the government in a good light.

I think a reductions in season ticket prices from the May timetable change onwards would be a good idea.
 
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kristiang85

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For rail specifically, the government could do a nationwide scheme like SWT's rail vouchers - if you buy a season ticket, then you get some free day return vouchers (but nationally). At the same time if they bring in part time season tickets for those going back to the office 2-3 days a week, along with the voucher offer, that could be a boon and help get commuters back on board.
 
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Bantamzen

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I think the most important thing I'll be looking for is support for businesses trying to recover from the nightmare that has been this last fiscal year. So they will need relief on business tax, perhaps VAT, government backed grants/loans made available. The furlough scheme will probably need to be repurposed to be a job support scheme for the next few months, and be geared towards getting people working instead of staying ta home along with government backed grants/loans to help cover restarting costs.
 

greyman42

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I heard reports on the radio that Sunak may cut beer duty in pubs and offset that by raising it for supermarket/shop sales.
Sorry if this is a bit vague.
 

duncanp

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I heard reports on the radio that Sunak may cut beer duty in pubs and offset that by raising it for supermarket/shop sales.
Sorry if this is a bit vague.

This would be a great idea, and would help to level the playing field between pubs and supermarkets regarding the sale of alcohol.

One of the reason so many pubs have closed in recent years, even before COVID-19, was high business rates and beer duty compared with supermarkets.

Anything which can help the hospitality sector recover has got to be a good thing.
 

brad465

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I'd like to see a budget that for once isn't influenced by our oligarchy, in other words party donors and other media oligarchs who pay politicians for super-rich interests, not those of the common electorate. Of course this isn't going to happen next week or anytime soon.

That said the FT have been reporting a Corporation Tax rise on the cards to 23%, or less likely but speculated 25%, which would very much be against Tory donor liking. There are also suggestions Sunak would try and justify this rise by saying in the US they're putting their corporation tax rate up (21 to 28%). Personally I do think this tax rate needs to be higher, and a digital tax form certainly needs implementing as well, which with Biden onside seems to be making progress on a global agreement, albeit it may not be announced in this budget.
 

greyman42

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I'd like to see a budget that for once isn't influenced by our oligarchy, in other words party donors and other media oligarchs who pay politicians for super-rich interests, not those of the common electorate. Of course this isn't going to happen next week or anytime soon.

That said the FT have been reporting a Corporation Tax rise on the cards to 23%, or less likely but speculated 25%, which would very much be against Tory donor liking. There are also suggestions Sunak would try and justify this rise by saying in the US they're putting their corporation tax rate up (21 to 28%). Personally I do think this tax rate needs to be higher, and a digital tax form certainly needs implementing as well, which with Biden onside seems to be making progress on a global agreement, albeit it may not be announced in this budget.
There is the argument that keeping corporation tax low attracts big business to the UK which in turn generates taxes and employment.
 

WelshBluebird

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I heard reports on the radio that Sunak may cut beer duty in pubs and offset that by raising it for supermarket/shop sales.
Sorry if this is a bit vague.
Really hope that does happen!
The only caveat I'd have is that I'd hope the cut could also be applied to small independent breweries who have also suffered hugely over the last year.
I'm very lucky in that I have multiple such places within walking distance of where I live (and indeed in normal years there is an event that covers five of them where it is basically a fun bar crawl between their tap rooms) but they have been hit hard because most of their sales are to local pubs.
 

Horizon22

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Kicking fuel duty into the long grass again? If we're serious about decarbonisation then raising a tax that hasn't risen in 10 years, has lost out on potentially £100bn of pounds over that time and literally targets a major pollution source should be front and centre. And if its the March budget then we should absolutely be encouraging people back onto public transport. A very backwards move if it doesn't rise.

The issue is the country is in desperate need of infrastructure spending but also has now racked up a huge debt and tax revenues will be lower for the foreseeable. Without even more borrowing, I'm worried its going to be a bit grim for lower/lower-middle classes. Need some measures such as increased corporation tax and maybe even inheritance tax.
 

Butts

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This would be a great idea, and would help to level the playing field between pubs and supermarkets regarding the sale of alcohol.

One of the reason so many pubs have closed in recent years, even before COVID-19, was high business rates and beer duty compared with supermarkets.

Anything which can help the hospitality sector recover has got to be a good thing.

Let's cut Excise Duty on Cigarettes !!!

Leaving the EU has closed the door on "self imports" from Countries that have a less anal attitude to smoking and a more liberal tax regime.
 

DelayRepay

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I support the concept of Eat out to Help Out, but I hope if it does return, it's not the same as last year. It ideally needs to run all week - the problem last year was that it resulted in trade being concentrated on weekdays, with places being empty on the days the scheme wasn't running. I also think it needs to focus on small businesses rather than providing half price burgers at McDonalds.

I don't think the Green Home Improvements thing really took off - too complicated and too restricted. It would be good to take another look at that as both a mechanism to create jobs, and to help address climate change.

The Arts (in its very broadest sense, including live music venues and cinemas) is going to need more help. Maybe something similar to EOTHO, as the sector starts to re-open. Give everyone a voucher for a free/cheap ticket to an event of their choice?
 

Cdd89

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I was wondering if Eat Out to Help Out should be linked to the weather in some way between 12 April and 17 May. It’s probably a ridiculous idea but that will be the greatest source of variability for restaurants trying to operate outdoors-only during that time period.
 

py_megapixel

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Let's cut Excise Duty on Cigarettes !!!
No, let's not...

I don't think encouraging a habit which puts huge strain on the NHS and is terrible environmentally - by cutting a tax which brings in money, at a time when the country is shorter than ever of money - sounds even remotely sensible.

Kicking fuel duty into the long grass again?
I will be extremely annoyed if the fuel duty freeze is not removed this year.
 

Trackman

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I heard reports on the radio that Sunak may cut beer duty in pubs and offset that by raising it for supermarket/shop sales.
Sorry if this is a bit vague.
Wasn’t this mentioned in PMQs?
Boris said something like he supports it and is looking into it.
 

brad465

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There is the argument that keeping corporation tax low attracts big business to the UK which in turn generates taxes and employment.
Potentially, although it highlights the immorality/greed in society that this is the case. Lower rates also don't entice those based in tax havens paying almost zilch from moving.

I'm seeing reports that suggest as well as a corporation tax rise, Sunak maybe going for a windfall tax on businesses who've benefitted the most from all this, but that Starmer is against tax rises in the short term (it sounds like he's more against the corp tax than the windfall but hasn't voiced support for either). If this is true it sounds like Sunak and Starmer are in the wrong parties.
 

greyman42

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Potentially, although it highlights the immorality/greed in society that this is the case. Lower rates also don't entice those based in tax havens paying almost zilch from moving.
Another way of looking at it is that it keeps the UK competitive with other countries.

I'm seeing reports that suggest as well as a corporation tax rise, Sunak maybe going for a windfall tax on businesses who've benefitted the most from all this, but that Starmer is against tax rises in the short term (it sounds like he's more against the corp tax than the windfall but hasn't voiced support for either). If this is true it sounds like Sunak and Starmer are in the wrong parties.
Perhaps Starmer is worried that the above tax rises would help the recovery of the country which will not help his chances at the next election. I am sure he would prefer the country to be on its knees come the next election.
 

david1212

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I think the most important thing I'll be looking for is support for businesses trying to recover from the nightmare that has been this last fiscal year. So they will need relief on business tax, perhaps VAT, government backed grants/loans made available. The furlough scheme will probably need to be repurposed to be a job support scheme for the next few months, and be geared towards getting people working instead of staying ta home along with government backed grants/loans to help cover restarting costs.

Following on from Boris's roadmap there is no logical alternative to extending furlough until the end of June. After then indeed many businesses will need time to get back on their feet on top of the costs they have had over what will be up to 15 months with at best significantly reduced income, at worst none.


While in reality ' pie in the sky ' policies so that nett investment interest rates are such that in real terms funds are not devaluing. I have two fixed term funds which mature next month. The funds currently on offer are around 0.5% for one year and at 0.6% for two years.
For stocks and shares, in which most pension funds are invested, back just over 12 months ago the FTSE 100 was at around 7500. Today it is just under 6500. In three / five years time will it be back to 7500 plus what ever inflation is, be that the CPI or RPI ? Any real gain will be a bonus. Of course most funds do not directly track the FTSE 100 but it is a guide to the long term trend.
 

brad465

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The Financial Times are reporting some interesting attitudes about how the Budget will be both received and the support that must be delivered. Without being able to copy their text directly, Sunak is planning to talk very seriously and hard to the public about the bill and all these support measures must be paid for, including him saying that some people don't think there is a problem or they think it can be ignored, but that they're wrong. The Tory Chief Whip Mark Spencer is going to warn Tory MPs that voting against any budget measures could see them thrown out of the party (there are quite a few opposed to any of the speculated tax rises on the cards like corp. tax).


What I'm getting from this is Sunak is trying to convince the public, and perhaps his party overall, that the financing of covid restrictions is unsustainable and therefore maybe seeking to ensure restrictions end ASAP, which would sit with other forum members here hoping the budget would be a wake up call to those enjoying restrictions and/or think they're necessary/okay. It could also, although maybe less likely, increase calls within the party for a leadership challenge, given how much dislike there seems to be for this Budget, where those opposing it could seek a change in leadership that would undo/delay its measures.
 

bramling

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The Financial Times are reporting some interesting attitudes about how the Budget will be both received and the support that must be delivered. Without being able to copy their text directly, Sunak is planning to talk very seriously and hard to the public about the bill and all these support measures must be paid for, including him saying that some people don't think there is a problem or they think it can be ignored, but that they're wrong. The Tory Chief Whip Mark Spencer is going to warn Tory MPs that voting against any budget measures could see them thrown out of the party (there are quite a few opposed to any of the speculated tax rises on the cards like corp. tax).


What I'm getting from this is Sunak is trying to convince the public, and perhaps his party overall, that the financing of covid restrictions is unsustainable and therefore maybe seeking to ensure restrictions end ASAP, which would sit with other forum members here hoping the budget would be a wake up call to those enjoying restrictions and/or think they're necessary/okay. It could also, although maybe less likely, increase calls within the party for a leadership challenge, given how much dislike there seems to be for this Budget, where those opposing it could seek a change in leadership that would undo/delay its measures.

I can see some serious wrangling ahead. There’s so many different interests pulling in all sorts of different directions, going to be virtually impossible to reconcile.

The difficulty is the genie popped out of the bottle ages ago and is going to be impossible to get back in. Furlough should never have extended right through last summer.

People have been insulated from the realities of this for too long, and too many people have got used to living an unsustainable and unreal lifestyle to the point where they’ve become ingrained to it.

Whilst part of me welcomes Sunak’s dose of reality (and to be fair it’s clear he’s been hinting at this for some time, so this isn’t a sudden u-turn), another part of me finds it cringeworthy as he has been more than happy to build up popularity on the back of stuff like furlough and EOTHO.

I think it’s very evident we’re going to see some nasty cuts (already starting to happen on the railway), inflation, and of course a continuing string of painful business failures as businesses simply can’t get their sums to balance.
 
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Bantamzen

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The Financial Times are reporting some interesting attitudes about how the Budget will be both received and the support that must be delivered. Without being able to copy their text directly, Sunak is planning to talk very seriously and hard to the public about the bill and all these support measures must be paid for, including him saying that some people don't think there is a problem or they think it can be ignored, but that they're wrong. The Tory Chief Whip Mark Spencer is going to warn Tory MPs that voting against any budget measures could see them thrown out of the party (there are quite a few opposed to any of the speculated tax rises on the cards like corp. tax).


What I'm getting from this is Sunak is trying to convince the public, and perhaps his party overall, that the financing of covid restrictions is unsustainable and therefore maybe seeking to ensure restrictions end ASAP, which would sit with other forum members here hoping the budget would be a wake up call to those enjoying restrictions and/or think they're necessary/okay. It could also, although maybe less likely, increase calls within the party for a leadership challenge, given how much dislike there seems to be for this Budget, where those opposing it could seek a change in leadership that would undo/delay its measures.
This sounds encouraging, I hope that the FT article is accurate. We do need a long, hard dose of reality from someone. We've spent way too much playing "beat the virus", money that could, nay should have been better spent investing directly into health services for the future. There are still too many people out there that think restrictions are a get out of jail free card, and not the seriously damaging economic recklessness that they actually are.

I can see some serious wrangling ahead. There’s so many different interests pulling in all sorts of different directions, going to be virtually impossible to reconcile.

The difficulty is the genie popped out of the bottle ages ago and is going to be impossible to get back in. Furlough should never have extended right through last summer.

People have been insulated from the realities of this for too long, and too many people have got used to living an unsustainable and unreal lifestyle to the point where they’ve become ingrained to it.

Whilst part of me welcomes Sunak’s dose of reality (and to be fair it’s clear he’s been hinting at this for some time, so this isn’t a sudden u-turn), another part of me finds it cringeworthy as he has been more than happy to build up popularity on the back of stuff like furlough and EOTHO.

I think it’s very evident we’re going to see some nasty cuts (already starting to happen on the railway), inflation, and of course a continuing string of painful business failures as businesses simply can’t get their sums to balance.
To be fair rumours abound that Sunak has been beating the end restrictions drum for some time, but that he's been shouted down by other ministers time & again. If true, then in a way I can't blame his strategy out step back, work out the budget, then next Wednesday hit them hard and low with the stark reality. And as you rightly say, this reality is going to be nasty. I don't expect the full force of them to hit next week, but if the FT article above is anywhere near accurate it will be preparing the ground for when we hit it with force in the Autumn. A lot of people are going to be very unhappy in 2021.
 

brad465

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I can see some serious wrangling ahead. There’s so many different interests pulling in all sorts of different directions, going to be virtually impossible to reconcile.

The difficulty is the genie popped out of the bottle ages ago and is going to be impossible to get back in. Furlough should never have extended right through last summer.

People have been insulated from the realities of this for too long, and too many people have got used to living an unsustainable and unreal lifestyle to the point where they’ve become ingrained to it.

Whilst part of me welcomes Sunak’s dose of reality (and to be fair it’s clear he’s been hinting at this for some time, so this isn’t a sudden u-turn), another part of me finds it cringeworthy as he has been more than happy to build up popularity on the back of stuff like furlough and EOTHO.

I think it’s very evident we’re going to see some nasty cuts (already starting to happen on the railway), inflation, and of course a continuing string of painful business failures as businesses simply can’t get their sums to balance.
What happens to his popularity from here is anyone's guess, although it sounds like plenty of unpopular things will happen in both the public eye and in his party. Sunak has talked about wanting to show fiscal responsibility and try to distance themselves from Labour, which might help out his leadership credentials if he is going for it (he's still odds on favourite despite speculation of the budget's contents and Tory wrangling).

In the last week the stock markets, especially the tech dominated NASDAQ, have been experiencing sell offs and Treasury yields have been going up above 1%, with inflation fears on the way. How higher inflation will be dealt with will be interesting, as there won't be many economists who know how to deal with it after teh last decade.

This sounds encouraging, I hope that the FT article is accurate. We do need a long, hard dose of reality from someone. We've spent way too much playing "beat the virus", money that could, nay should have been better spent investing directly into health services for the future. There are still too many people out there that think restrictions are a get out of jail free card, and not the seriously damaging economic recklessness that they actually are.


To be fair rumours abound that Sunak has been beating the end restrictions drum for some time, but that he's been shouted down by other ministers time & again. If true, then in a way I can't blame his strategy out step back, work out the budget, then next Wednesday hit them hard and low with the stark reality. And as you rightly say, this reality is going to be nasty. I don't expect the full force of them to hit next week, but if the FT article above is anywhere near accurate it will be preparing the ground for when we hit it with force in the Autumn. A lot of people are going to be very unhappy in 2021.
Now that a provisional end date for restrictions has been announced, I suspect his stark warnings speculated here will be used to ensure they end when currently hoped while also warning of the costs that would come with reintroducing restrictions further down the line. The Autumn budget could serve to both reinforce that and also boot into the grass the prospect of ever managing a pandemic like this ever again.

That said it's possible the party leadership will look very different come Autumn 2021; Johnson could well be out of office either by resigning before the proverbial hits the fan, or forced out if the party have enough once the pandemic is deemed over in their eyes. In turn Sunak could be PM if a leadership challenge has taken place with him in the running, or at the very least someone who chooses a different Chancellor.
 
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Bantamzen

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Now that a provisional end date for restrictions has been announced, I suspect his stark warnings speculated here will be used to ensure they end when currently hoped while also warning of the costs that would come with reintroducing restrictions further down the line. The Autumn budget could serve to both reinforce that and also boot into the grass the prospect of ever managing a pandemic like this ever again.
I think these next two budgets will be a real eye-opener for people. The cost for just one year's worth of restrictions is astronomical, and should lend weight to the argument that we can never do this again.

That said it's possible the party leadership will look very different come Autumn 2021; Johnson could well be out of office either by resigning before the proverbial hits the fan, or forced out if the party have enough once the pandemic is deemed over in their eyes. In turn Sunak could be PM if a leadership challenge has taken place with him in the running, or at the very least someone who chooses a different Chancellor.
I have little doubt the government will look very different come the Autumn, and I would not be surprised to see Sunak at the helm.
 

daveo

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Let's cut Excise Duty on Cigarettes !!!

Leaving the EU has closed the door on "self imports" from Countries that have a less anal attitude to smoking and a more liberal tax regime.
Let's quadruple Excise Duty on cigarettes, to support the NHS!!
 

Mag_seven

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How about a 1p increase in income tax for those who have shouted the loudest for lockdowns i.e. those work from homers in secure jobs. ;)
 

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How about a 1p increase in income tax for those who have shouted the loudest for lockdowns i.e. those work from homers in secure jobs. ;)

The work from homes could bear elements of this from the savings being made from not travelling daily to the office - potentially a few grand on a season ticket for a start, and not buying lunch every day in Pret or Costa!
 

brad465

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I think these next two budgets will be a real eye-opener for people. The cost for just one year's worth of restrictions is astronomical, and should lend weight to the argument that we can never do this again.


I have little doubt the government will look very different come the Autumn, and I would not be surprised to see Sunak at the helm.
Hopefully it will. Chances are it'll be more of an eye-opener for Tories who are not yet among those against restrictions. The opposition will either criticise the timing of such measures, criticise the wastage on crony contracts (rightly so, but still only part of the problem), among other better measures. I don't think there are many anti-Tories like myself against restrictions on sustainability grounds who would like this budget to expose reality like is being speculated.
 

greyman42

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Following on from Boris's roadmap there is no logical alternative to extending furlough until the end of June. After then indeed many businesses will need time to get back on their feet on top of the costs they have had over what will be up to 15 months with at best significantly reduced income, at worst none.


While in reality ' pie in the sky ' policies so that nett investment interest rates are such that in real terms funds are not devaluing. I have two fixed term funds which mature next month. The funds currently on offer are around 0.5% for one year and at 0.6% for two years.
For stocks and shares, in which most pension funds are invested, back just over 12 months ago the FTSE 100 was at around 7500. Today it is just under 6500. In three / five years time will it be back to 7500 plus what ever inflation is, be that the CPI or RPI ? Any real gain will be a bonus. Of course most funds do not directly track the FTSE 100 but it is a guide to the long term trend.
Most professionally managed funds would have returned about 5% over the last 12 months.
 

david1212

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Sunak is planning to talk very seriously and hard to the public about the bill and all these support measures must be paid for, including him saying that some people don't think there is a problem or they think it can be ignored, but that they're wrong.

What I'm getting from this is Sunak is trying to convince the public, and perhaps his party overall, that the financing of covid restrictions is unsustainable and therefore maybe seeking to ensure restrictions end ASAP, which would sit with other forum members here hoping the budget would be a wake up call to those enjoying restrictions and/or think they're necessary/okay.

No surprises here and why once withdrawn this time restrictions can not return.

The difficult path he has to tread is trying to recoup all the extra spending without pushing businesses over the cliff edge, unemployment even further up and voters to Labour at the next election.


Most professionally managed funds would have returned about 5% over the last 12 months.

I'll get my pension annual statements in the next couple of months. If after deducting contributions I will be pleasantly surprised if taken over two years the funds have not directly devalued. A gain from last year would at best be cancelling out drop compared to two years ago. As to a real gain about the same probability as a big premium bond win.

The only investments with no real loss are the index-linked National Savings Certificates.
 
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