Budget 2012 - What Should George Osborne Do?

The Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: Updated: 21/03/2012 11:24

On Wednesday lunchtime the Chancellor George Osborne will deliver his annual Budget statement to the Commons. The 2012 Budget comes as the UK economy stands at a crossroads between a possible rebound from the financial crisis - or conversely facing the prospect a double-dip recession.

HuffPost has gathered together those who will be affected by Osborne's decisions, to gauge opinion on what the Chancellor should be doing to improve the lives of millions of Britons.


Geraldine Bedell, Editor, Gransnet

Quantitative easing has been disastrous for older people. Many are having to buy pension annuities at much lower rates than a couple of years ago, ensuring diminished incomes for the rest of their lives. Inflation is eroding the value of
savings, hurting millions of middle-income people who have saved for decades.

We would like to see an end to QE – which is not encouraging banks to lend – and an industrial bank to lend to small and medium-sized companies and underwrite infrastructure projects. QE is a stealth tax on pensioners.

Gransnetters come from all sides of the political spectrum, but there is general resistance to abolishing the 50p rate of income tax. Quite apart from the distasteful political message it sends out (we’re all in this together? yeah, right)
there is a sense that it would be far better to give the money to the poor who have no alternative but to feed it back into the economy. This would include the poorest pensioners and creating jobs for the 22% of young people who are
unemployed.

Among our members’ most pressing concerns is how to pay for care, either for their parents or themselves. With the government’s response to Dilnot and a White Paper still to come, it seems unlikely that the Chancellor will say anything
about this tomorrow – though a commitment to make care good and affordable would be the single most welcome move he could make. Ring-fencing the money that has gone to local authorities for care would be a good start.

Many older people are cash-poor and asset-rich. A mansion tax, already dubbed the widow’s tax, could force older people to sell homes in which they’ve lived their whole lives. That said, there is a strong appetite for seeing the super-rich taxed. It seems all wrong that the very rich are the best at avoiding tax.

Raising the tax-free threshold to £10,000, also heavily trailed, is not itself bad but does nothing for the bottom one-third who earn too little to pay tax, many of whom are pensioners. It would be fairer – and better for the economy – to cut VAT.

Overall, gransnetters want a budget for families in the widest sense. We would like to see tax relief for both childcare and care of the elderly. One response to recession has been to try to set generations against each other, yet grandparents often have children and grandchildren who are badly affected by austerity.

The myth of the I’m-alright-old is wrong: prices are rising alarmingly for many on fixed incomes. A good budget would be one that acknowledges the interdependence of generations.

See the rest of our panel:

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