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Setting the environment scene

For IFAs tra- ditionally dealing with the upper end of the market, there was little to get excited about in this year&#39s Budget.

Even with over-inflation increases to capital gains tax (up to £7,500), inheritance tax allowances (to £242,000) and the

earnings cap (to £95,400) looking generous, a longer memory reminds us that these allowances were pretty measly in previous years.

There were lots of good noises about environmentally friendly proposals.

A mention of the Kyoto summit gave more than just a nod to Prime Minister Tony Blair&#39s recent environment speech.

Tax incentives for community investment emerge as a separate Budget document and a reduced vehicle tax for smaller (and by definition less harmful) cars coupled with reduced duties on “cleaner” petrol point the way to the Government&#39s thinking.

There was big-picture stuff of £100m to promote environmental technology and 150 per cent accelerated tax credit for cleaning up contaminated land means the Government intends to put its money where its mouth is.

With ethical investment funds already performing well, this should give them an extra fillip.

But what a disappointment for those of us who were waiting for the annuity rate age to increase from 75 or, better still, to be abolished.

This has to be an increasingly important issue as people live longer and demand greater investment flexibility. The age of 75 is too paternalistic for today&#39s pensioner.

Sticking with pensioners, why Gordon Brown thinks that 70 per cent of pensioners not paying tax is positive is beyond me. It has to mean their income is very low.

With the savings ratio expected to fall to 4.75 per cent, the Government will have to think of better incentives for retirement savings.

Less red tape for small businesses should be welcomed by small IFA firms in particular.

Whatever your thoughts on the Budget, it will cost the same to drown your sorrows as yesterday, so there is some good news.

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