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Budget reaction: Spreadsheet Phil pulled off a tour de force

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Budget reaction: Spreadsheet Phil pulled off a tour de force

At first pass, the Budget appeared to contain little new for this market, other than a raising of enterprise investment scheme (EIS) limits with concomitant sabre-rattling on 'abuse'. For many, the apparent absence of any more tinkering in pensions will come as a relief.

Politically, it sought to achieve some presentational goals. It wanted to portray the Conservative Party as in touch with the young, understanding the needs of ordinary people and responding to them.

It also sought to bolster the chancellor’s personal position in the eyes of Brexiteers and to show the chancellor Philip Hammond as not being the humourless technocrat 'spreadsheet Phil' he is often characterised as.

It also sought to show the Hammond  and Prime Minister as friendly and united, hence the early cough sweets gag.

In this opinion of this writer, it succeeded on all fronts and was a political tour de force, disabling the opposition by using the partnerships with the Confederation of British Industry and Trade Unions Congress as an example. The only area which felt faintly weak was the financial response to the NHS situation to which the words 'can', 'kick' and 'road' might be applied.

And yet, was there really nothing in there about retirement funding for the future?

In a very real sense there was.

Owner-occupation rates among 30-something year-olds have been in decline for years, and sharp decline more recently. The government knows that the baby boomers will retire, in many cases, with inadequate pension funds – but mostly, they will have housing wealth to fall back on.

Generations X and Y will, in many cases, not even have this.  Conservative policy makers are desperate to reverse this situation to avoid future pensioner poverty at a time when the basic state pension itself is likely to look increasingly unsustainable. So, the measures to abolish stamp duty for first time buyers, and other efforts to increase housing supply, relate at least in part to future retirement funding.

But as ever, the devil is in the detail.

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