Budget 2013: Steady as you go budget with few surprises

Chancellor George Osborne delivers his budget to the House of Commons in Westminster, London.

Chancellor George Osborne delivers his budget to the House of Commons in Westminster, London. - Credit: PA

FEW had expected an exciting speech – so Budget 2013 will have come as a surprise to few who watched it.

Chancellor the Exchequer George Osborne emphasised time and again during his 56-minute speech that the British economy continued to face serious pressures.

There was little money to give away as the government struggles to bring down the deficit and there were few headline-grabbing announcements.

The only eye-catching decision was that to reduce alcohol duty on beer by 1p a pint – and support for breweries had already been trailed in pre-budget leaks anyway.

Budget expert Yvonne Graham from management consultants Ensors said the difficulties faced by the British economy meant Mr Osborne’s options were always going to be limited.

The raising of the basic threshold for income tax to £10,000 in April next year would be welcomed by many – but the figure was largely symbolic.

Mrs Graham said: “Anyone on the minimum wage and working full time will still be paying income tax, and of course they will still have to pay National Insurance.”

Most Read

Changes to National Insurance contributions for employers would be welcomed, especially by the owners of small businesses – but none of the changes announced today would come into force until next year.

Mrs Graham said: “With the exception to the changes to the alcohol duty and the freeze announced on fuel duty, all the proposals are due to be introduced next April – or even April 2015.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the budget was dull because it needed to be.

He said: “It was always going to be a long hard slog to get out of this mess – and the Chancellor just needed to stick with his policies.

“The Eurozone is still in recession – and if it was not for that then our economy would be well on the way to recovery.

“But the Chancellor recognises that we have to carry on with cutting the deficit.”

However the budget did not impress David Ellesmere, who will be challenging Mr Gummer at the next election.

The Labour leader of the borough council said: “I think it was more about what he did not say than what he did! There was no mention of the loss of the AAA rating and the only people in Ipswich who will benefit from this budget are the highest earners who will see their income tax rate fall from next month.”