The Budget never fails to disappoint and having to listen to Ed Balls ensures that a man who says a lot but, under analysis, provides no constructive alternatives made me glad he is not in power.
Looking back to his previous boss, Mr Brown, there has been a long-term intention to merge income tax and National Insurance contributions. The exponential rise in the use of salary sacrifice means that benefit consultants and providers alike will be keen to see the detail.
If NIC is removed, then, for employers, forget NIC but in its place will be the same thing under a different name.
Merging tax and NI does not rem- ove the attraction of salary sacrifice as I would assume that the combined taxation would still be reduced following sacrifice, the question that remains is will the employer benefit as they do at present?
I do not think we can assume that and this could have a detrimental effect on the willingness of employers to engage on pensions as Nest is com- ing around the corner.
As we have come to expect, announcements in the Budget are not always supported by detail and the only thing we can be assured of is we need full and enthusiastic participation from our sector in the consultation.
The removal of the contracting-out rebate for defined-benefit schemes will result in more schemes closing, not directly due to the loss of the rebate but because it is an opportunity that many may decide to take nonetheless.
Those that do remain may take the Hutton approach and move to average salary. After all, this does provide an excellent excuse.
Osborne had effectively to make do and mend and in my opinion turned out a fairly acceptable garment. It will not suit all but at least it has the appearance of something that may last.