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March 22, 2007

Gordon Brown's Budget. And some cheese.

Gordon and Cheese

A 2p TAX CUT!!! And the scrapping of the lower rate of income tax to cancel it out.

A BETTER DEAL FOR BUSINESSES!!! And an increase in corporation tax for small businesses.

AN INCREASE IN CHILD TAX CREDITS!!! And a change in the threshold so that you’ll get less.

A TAX CUTTING BUDGET!!! And firm promises that taxes will actually go up in future years.

CASH BORROWING IS DOWN!!! Except for last year, but I won’t mention that.

THE LOWEST INCOME TAX RATES IN DECADES!!! And the highest stealth taxes ever, to make up for it.

A BUDGET THAT LOOKS TO THE FUTURE!!! Ah… yes, he got that bit right. Half of the measures he introduced won’t actually start until next April. Howzat for the next Chancellor, eh?


March 21, 2007

Brown finishes with a Jobs

The Chancellor’s been watching Steve Jobs, the maverick boss of Apple. In his final budget, Brown saved the big news until the end, just as Jobs always does – a 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax. It’s not a new iPod, but the iPod generation will be happy…

...until they see the small print. Less trumpeted was the scrapping of the lower rate of income tax at 10p. So the cut in the basic rate of income tax will be almost ‘revenue neutral’. Put in laymans terms, the BBC reckon Brown will get £8bn more by cutting the lower rate, but lose £9.5bn by reducing the basic rate. The £1.5bn will probably be made up partly through a rise in small business tax – sure to be controversial – and by selling more government buildings and the student loans, both short-term gains.

I still don’t understand why tax on beer and wine goes up by 1p per pint or 5p per bottle, yet spirits – which surely contribute to anti-social behaviour as much as beer – is frozen. Measures on the environment will be welcomed, but are hardly radical. The inheritance tax threshold went up to £350,000 (by 2010), by which time many houses will cost that much.

It was a big-headline budget, but beneath the surface, Brown did little more than tinker at the margins. As Menzies Campbell said, it was a budget of a man ready to move on.


Chancellor Doidge's Budget, 2007 Edition

Last year, your prudent Chancellor unveiled his measures to make Britain economically strong and ethically sound. This year, he shall repeat the exercise bearing in mind the strong likelihood that he will take over the reins of the sinking ship from Tony Blair in the coming months.

Last year, I began with a shameless attack upon the poor. That’s right. “Multi Stamp Duty”. The more houses you own, the more you pay in tax when you buy another one. Anyone buying a second home would pay 5% stamp duty, while anyone buying a third home (greedy buggeers) would pay 10%. Well this year Chancellor Doidge will scrap stamp duty altogether for people buying their first home (down from 1%). This undoubtedly popular move will come into effect as soon as possible, pissing off the rich no-end.

Talking of which, 4×4s. Last year I linked car tax to your MOT test. The more miles you do, the more you pay. If your car is a ‘big-emitter’, you currently pay (in Doidgeland) £100 if you do over 2,500 miles per year. Well I’m going to add a top-rate of £250 per year if you do over 10,000 miles per year. That’ll catch the estate agents in their Mondeos. Because no-one likes them anyway.

I’m not planning to tinker much with my simple tax rates that I imposed last year:

People earning between £15k – £30k pay 25% tax
People earning between £30k – £50k pay 35% tax and
People earning over £50k tax pay 45% tax.

But I’m going to launch a consultation on charging an extra 5% on anyone earning over £1m per year (in City bonuses presumably). We rely on the City of London for a huge amount of our income, but I don’t think charging the highest earners will really result in an exodus of executives to Luxembourg. And even if it does, at least house prices will fall.

And so to house prices. They’re clearly not starting to fall, and they’re not about to crash either. So along with the Department for Communities and Local Government, I can announce that by 2010, 20% of all new homes in Britain must be three storeys tall. In theory, this will mean less land is used, and we can build the millions of homes we need without encroaching too much on the green belt. I’m also sending every house a brick to put in their toilet. Less water used, you see.

Another thing about new homes that disappoints me is the small amount of garden space. True, this is slightly contradictory with what I just said, but I want to make sure there are plenty of green spaces in residential areas. Many local councils have a policy of ‘filling-in’ spaces between homes rather than building new housing estates. I think those spaces are a commodity in themselves and am launching a new national ‘green spaces’ fund to buy them from private landowners and turn them into community spaces, rather than squash more houses into them. Also, any new housing estate will have to have some arbitrary amount of shared green space per dwelling. Let’s say 20m2 per house.

Last year I scrapped BBC Three. The BBC ignored me, and put Anthea Turner on, just to inflame my bowels even more. In revenge, I’m taking BBC Two Wales off them as well. They’re filling it with programmes about Welshness – see here. BBC Two Wales will be replaced on Satellite (and moved onto Freeview too) with a sports channel. I’m still working on BBC Three, and fully intend for it to become a channel full of quality U.S. imports. I’m still planning to use the analogue TV signals for free-to-air High Definition, too.

In the world of journalism (for which I have what you might call a soft-spot), I intend to ban the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Democracy? Pah. They’d both rather have a monarch run the country on a daily basis, especially if they could get Diana back to do it. Fox News is also getting kicked off Sky. There are already rules about impartiality in the UK. It applies to Fox just as it does to Sky News, and yet we’ve done nothing about it.

I’ll sweeten the blow of losing BBC Wales by building a railway from north to south Wales. It takes ages to get there at the moment, and it’s silly. I’ll also build a decent railway from Cardiff to its airport, which is miles away and useless.

Last year I promised you I would introduce two things in 2007. I lied. I’m still going to give you free childcare by paying nurseries directly, but I’m not going to put Fathers 4 Justice into community service. Instead I’m sending them to Afghanistan. They can breach security like no-one else, so hopefully they can infiltrate Al-Qaeda too, and find Bin Laden for me.

As I’m about to take over the government, I thought I’d announce a few things I’m planning to do when Tony goes on his lecture tour. Firstly, I’m going to revoke his passport. Secondly I’m going to take out a banning order on his – and Alastair Campbell’s – memoirs. And finally I’m going to rent out his expensive new homes (incl. flats in Bristol) to poor people. It’s all for his own good. I saw that Channel 4 drama about ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’ and I reckon if he leaves the country we’ll forget about him pretty quickly.

I’m going to pull troops out of Iraq. Sorry, George. They’d be of more use in Zimbabwe, but we can’t do that because we’re not black and we’d look like the imperial aggressors that we, er… are. I’ll send half of them to Afghanistan because that’s a war worth winning, even just to kill the opium trade once and for all. And the rest I’ll retrain as rapid-response peacekeepers, like the S.A.S., but with incense sticks rather than AK-47s.

And finally I’m planning to invade Australia. I like the Aussies, I really do. But they’ve got a lot of unused land. And we have a lot of asylum seekers. I don’t think we should send them back to where they came from, because there’s usually a good reason they left. But with a few water pipes and a few traps for the snakes, I think we can make the bush hospitable. And with a few years’ climate change, we might even be able to grow strawberries out there!

And so, I present my final budget. It’s full of holes, but I don’t care. Someone else can come into the Treasury and clear it up. I’m moving on to new pastures. Well, next door, at least. It’s been an exciting ten years. I’ve cured world poverty, kept Blair and Bono in jobs, and only screwed up the universities, trains, hospitals and schools. Not bad. Now I can move to Number 10, fix it all, and say 1997 – 2007 was all his fault.


March 25, 2006

Chancellor Doidge's Budget

It's a bit like fantasy football, only it's useful and everyone can understand it. I was crap at fantasy football. Anyway….

The 2006 Budget, by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Chris Doidge

Ho, Ho, Ho… Merry Christmas. Unless you're rich, vote Tory, are about to die, have private health insurance, send your kids to public school, drive a 4×4 for 'leisure purposes', or buy stocks and shares.

Here's my budget, and I commend it to your house.

Talking of which, houses. I'm going to tax you for them. In fact, I'm going to tax you if you have more than one. If you go and buy a 'crash pad' as they do so often on Relocation Relocation on Channel 4, thereby taking a perfectly good cheap house away from some poor bugger, then I won't just charge you Stamp Duty. Oh no. I'll charge you Multi Stamp Duty! On your first house, you'll have to pay 1% in duty. But on your second house, you'll have to pay 5% in duty. And then 10%. Bad luck. Except if you're a first-time buyer and then you won't have to pay stamp duty at all. Ooh, what a socialist I am. Naughty me.

Next up, cars. Big changes here I'm afraid. Car tax will be directly related to your MOT test, which will now have to happen every 18 months. At the test, you'll have your mile-o-meter read, and if you've done over 2,500 miles in your car over those 18 months then bad luck! You're paying for them! A £100 flat fee, in fact, except if you've got a 'green' car. And £25 if you haven't hit the magic 2,500. To be 'green', it has to be on my specially-approved list. Any car that Jeremy Clarkson detests goes on there. Pretty much anyway. The good news is that if you own a Chelsea tractor, you only pay £100 if you use the bugger! So light weekend use will mean you might end up paying naff all for it.

Next up, time to make sure you don't go and get pissed before driving your Chelsea tractor. Anyone found guilty of drink-driving won't just get a fine. Oh no. We'll have your car! If it's any good, we'll give it to the police to speed around in. And if it's not, we'll recycle it and turn it into something useful. Like a slide in a children's playground.

Meanwhile, a radical new approach to taxes on drink and ciggies. Unlike that bozo Brown, tax on booze will relate to the likelihood of anti-social behaviour being brought on by it. So lager and spirits? Up you go. 5p a pint or shot and 20p a bottle of vodka etc. But real ale gets a cut. Apart from the Real Ale festival in the Cooler, how often do you see loutish behaviour as a result of drinking good old British beer? Exactly.

Red wine gets a rate freeze, while white goes up a bit. Just cos it tastes like vinegar. But British wine gets a cut – 20p off per bottle.

That champagne muck? Well yeah, great for celebrating with, but go and find some British sparkling wine. It's bloody good apparently and you should be supporting your own. Champers goes up 50p per bottle. So there.

Next up, ID cards. That imbecile Blair thinks they're a good idea, but then this is the same buffoon that thought that invading Iraq was clever. From today, I can announce that (in conjunction with Microsoft, Visa, Mastercard and the number 7) ID Cards will be free! That's right. And they'll also double up as your passport, debit card, UCAS card, library card, European E111 card, birthday card and any other card you can think of. They'll be paid for by taking 0.1% of your debit card spending from the retailer (Visa and Mastercard can carry on having the rest of their 1%). We'll install some nice RFID tags inside them (no, you can't play with them Capita) and you can go round with a nice empty wallet. We'll automatically work out how much tax you owe, and what credits we owe you, and we'll upload them to your card. But we won't allow you to go into debt on them, cos there's quite enough of that to go round. This budget's probably just created a hell of a lot more of it! Oh and just as a bonus, we'll bring in legislation that means that nightclubs have to accept your ID card as proof of age, and if they don't, you can wave your RFID-enabled card at their genitals and it'll send a 25,000 volt burst of electricity to their upper groin. And then they'll let you in.

Moving on, and time to look at income tax. Oh yes. Fun for all the family. Unless you're under 16 and then we won't even bother assessing you for tax. So you won't have to claim it back later. And we'll give you a one-year break from paying income tax at any time in your life, so if you're saving up for something you can do so for 12 months without having to worry about how much of your money we'll grab. Just 12 months, mind. Once it's gone, it's gone. Power to the stupids.

Income tax brackets will change. I'll be a lot more honest with you, and the brackets will go up by earnings each year, not RPI. I won't play around with them, and where necessary I'll just change the headline XXp per pound.

So first up, you won't have to pay income tax until you hit £15,000. Let's face it, you're going to give my most of that back in VAT anyway, so I might as well give you a break while you're so far below the average wage in the UK.

People earning between £15k – £30k pay 25% tax
People earning between £30k – £50k pay 35% tax and
People earning over £50k tax pay 45% tax.

Fair's fair I think. I'm not sure if that will blow my budget, but I'll get some bright young spark like Miliband or Balls to work it out.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that income now includes council tax? That's right. I'll collect your council tax and give it to your local council. Or councils if you're a rich bugger. Because if you've got two houses, I'll give equal amounts of money to both local councils you live in. Let's face it, you'll be paying me more in income tax, so I can afford it.

Pensioners don't tend to pay income tax, so they won't have to pay council tax any more either. I think they've deserved it.

It also means that students can live with non-students, without all being eligible for council tax. Because only the earner will have to pay anything, through income tax. If they earn more than £15k that is.

Now I know what you're thinking. Anyone earning under £15k will be able to scrounge off the state cos they won't be paying any tax. Well, you're wrong hotshot. VAT applies to everyone (even poor little kids), and those scroungers will probably be paying more in excise duty on beer, fags (up 10p per pack of 20) and spirits. Oh, and did I forget to mention? You'll have to pay satellite tax. I'll charge 30% VAT on all subscriptions to television services. So there, rich guys.

That doesn't include the television licence, by the way, which I'll scrap. Sorry BBC, but it's not working any more. I mean, I listen to Radio 4 far more than I watch EastEnders, and yet I'm not paying for that. And from next year, any television I do watch will be through my Windows Media Center-enabled PC with broadband connection. So instead, I'll pay for it out of that 30% VAT on Sky subscriptions, and the rest out of income tax. What's more, I'll bring in legislation which means I can't increase the licence fee by anything less than in inflation. So if they go and accuse me of exaggerating how good I am in bed (45 minutes, by the way) then I can't really do anything about it. Might come to regret that one.

Oh, by the way. I'll scrap BBC Three. I realise it'll leave a gap between 2 and 4, but it really is shit and More4's better. Sorry.

Also related to broadcasting, I'll scrap this silly idea of auctioning off the bandwidth created by shutting down analogue TV. I'll give half of it to small, community-based radio stations who can broadcast on it using a free licence, and the other half to the Freeview consortium so I can watch snow leopards and Wayne Rooney in high-definition. Fantastic.

Next up, one of my more controversial moves. I'll privatise the Royal Mail. Sorry. Well, sorry to the Lib Dems at least, for stealing their idea. But I'll sell it to someone who can actually do the job without making postmen use their own cars to shift post about. And they can set postal charges at any price they like. Let's face it, even old people can use e-mail nowadays and the market will just price them out if they charge too much.

But I won't be selling off post offices. I'm keeping them because they're cosy and smell a bit like libraries. Talking of which, I'm combining the two. I'll spend £3bn over the next five years, merging the two operations. Libraries will have post offices in them (not bloody tai-chi clinics), and post offices will have libraries in them. And I'll spend another £3bn on books. Apparently stocks have depleted by 20m over the last decade. Also, I'll start digitally scanning in books at the British Library and then start redistributing them to smaller places. What use are they all in one London building with a reading room the size of my thumb? Get them out to the people where they can be read, and the British Library can keep hold of the electronic copies.

Next, there's a big problem with our pensions. They've got more holes in than a slice of Emmental. I'm more of a solid Cheddar man myself, so I intend to give pension funds a special tax credit so that they don't have to pay any of those silly taxes that individual savers do.

But individual savers will be able to benefit from a bigger ISA. I'll allow you to put up to £10,000 a year in there, tax-free. And I'll give kids £1,000 at birth, which I'll invest into an ISA on their behalf. How nice of me. The money will come from inheritance tax, by the way, which I'm afraid is where I'm going to be a bugger.

IHT is good and bad in equal measure. But if I ring-fence the proceeds from it, then I think I can justify taking 40% of your savings when you go to heaven/hell/house of lords. 35% will go directly into those child savings accounts that I just mentioned. And I'll keep the other 5% so I can afford to make those savings accounts tax-free.

It's not a redistribution from rich to poor, but from old to young. From past to future. Because I'm not an analogue politician. I'm a 64-bit, quad-core, liquid-cooled politician. And if you don't think so, you can go and live in the UK's one-and-only tax haven. That's right, there's no other good use for it, so I'm turning the Isle of Wight into a free-for-all, for anyone stupid enough to want to live on that godforesaken hole.

P.S. Next year I'll be scrapping tax credits for kids and just giving you free childcare (not vouchers… I'll just pay nurseries directly). And if you're one of those Spiderman-dressing dads who don't pay your kids' maintenance then I'll set you to work making Coventry look nice. You should be done by 2050.


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