A politically smart Budget
Anton's Account: The Chancellor's 2014 Budget will be subject to detailed ICAS scrutiny.
As the dust settles on this politically smart Budget, now it's time for our ICAS technical experts to find the devil in the detail.
Overall, the Budget was reassuring. The improved forecast of 2.7% growth in 2014 is something that few of us would have predicted 18 months ago.
ICAS has welcomed positive measures on exporting, North Sea Oil, Whisky and Air Passenger Duty – all key sectors for our members.
However, as I've mentioned in an earlier blog, there is still a long way to go.
The structural deficit won't be fully addressed until 2018/19. Rising household debt, the performance of manufacturing and the balance of trade are still concerns.
The Chancellor has taken measures to help manufacturing and exports. Will these measures be enough? Improving these areas is what will truly bring about a sustainable recovery.
As the ICAS team gathered in our 'Budget Bunker' on Wednesday, eyes immediately fell on a few areas of interest.
Our pensions expert, Christine Scott, focused on plans to allow pensioners in defined contribution schemes to access their whole pension pot instead of having to buy an annuity. Immediate concerns were over how people would get the best advice to ensure they made the right decisions.
Our Director of Taxation, Elspeth Orcharton, was interested in measures to allow HMRC to call in £4 billion of tax payments before "tax avoidance" cases were heard on whether this money was due or not. A clear disincentive for anyone to consider grey area schemes but an interesting twist on being innocent before being proven guilty!
While Charlotte Barbour, our Head of Taxation, is keen to understand the impact of tax changes for partnerships.