The Budget: No alarms and no surprises

Ahh… the Budget. Cue much media excitement as the redtops speculate how we’ll cope with a hike in booze, fags and petrol and the pink sheets get another six months of economic forecasts to dissect to death.And, of course, the opposition parties get to slate the chancellor and PM in front of a global audience.Rarely, though, is there much of interest for small businesses or entrepreneurs. Arguably there is this time, but only what we already knew:Changes to capital gains tax proceed as expected with an 18% flat rate and Entrepreneur’s Relief of 10% rate on the first £1m. The £30,000 charge on non-Doms is also here to stay – which could mean they’re not.Other than that, there are marginal increases for the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Management Incentive schemes, while the relief rate for the Research and Development Tax Credit system rises from 150% to 175% for small businesses.More unexpected is a £60m pledge over three years for equipping people to return to the workplace and a £12.5m commitment to encourage more women entrepreneurs.There’s also a pledge to increase funding through the Small Firms Loans Guarantee scheme by 60%.Without more flesh on the bones it’s difficult to assess what impact these announcements will have, so in the meantime here’s the FT.com’s useful reactions round-up.While we sense he’d rehearsed it, Nick Clegg’s gave us the biggest giggle:“What we have seen today is an act of political ventriloquism. I would like to compliment the Prime Minister, I watched him very closely, his lips barely moved all the while the Chancellor was speaking.”

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