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Right here, right now

He has great tranquillity of heart
who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men.

Regular readers of this column may be shocked to find what purports to be support of the Government in parts of this piece. Rest assured, gentle reader, and please read on with as big a pinch of, if not quite sarcasm, then certainly irony, as you deem appropriate.

So, there was good news from last Wednesday’s Autumn Statement. Well, some anyway.

The curate’s egg delivered by Chancellor George Osborne did include funding to build a further 120,000 new homes and a whopping £5bn over the next two years to fund capital investment including road upgrades, school improvements and investments, the extension of the London Underground Northern Line as far as Battersea and more flood defences.

So that was nice.

George also took something away – not that unusual in a Chancellor, obviously, but this was something that the nation could well do without, namely the 3p a litre fuel duty (i.e. another TAX!) escalator. Hurrah for George!

The new Business Bank sounds nice, as it will stimulate long-term capital markets and improve SME lending. Although, as it will only get started in Autumn 2014, would it be churlish to have expected help a little sooner? Still, hurrah again for George.

Other marvelous sounding news is that the main rate of Corporation Tax will drop 1% to 21% from April 2014 and that the annual exempt amount for Capital Gains Tax will increase by 1% in both 2014 and 2015. Super.

So it’s great that George has recognised that the nothing is going to get any better unless he puts some monetary oomph behind it. Except, whopping sum though it sounds, £5bn won’t go very far over three years.

And those funds for extra housing had already been announced by Deputy MP Nick Clegg. And it’s not as though the Statement actually included anything that might be of any use right here, right now such as more assistance for homebuyers, the re-introduction of Stamp Duty relief for first-time buyers. And not a dicky-bird about the holy grail of building – the reduction of the VAT rate on RMI.

There wasn’t even a mention of how the Government plans to fight – and, please, please tell me they are going to fight this – the EU challenge to the reduced 5% rate for energy-saving measures.

So, if you are a business that sells a lot of stuff into the wider infrastructure sector, then, as long as you aren’t expecting anything this side of Christmas 2014, you can be quite pleased with George.

If you are a business that is involved in anything more immediate or short-term, like housing or general building then, I’m sorry, but George, it seems, really doesn’t care.

Hey ho.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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