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County left underwhelmed by Osborne's Budget
IT was meant to the Budget that “rewarded work”.
But last night, families and professionals in Oxfordshire seemed distinctly underwhelmed by the supposed Government giveaway.
Pensioners accused the Government of levying a “tax on the old” in a bid to put more cash in the pockets of both high and low earners.
Some 263,000 of Oxfordshire’s 400,000 working age residents will be £220 a year better off after Chancellor George Osborne raised the tax-free personal allowance by £1,100 from April 2013 to £9,205.
Some 15,820 people in the county will pay no tax at all by next year.
But at the same time Mr Osborne froze age-related allowances for pensioners from April 2013 – effectively meaning millions will pay more tax in future years, making them up to an estimated £197 a year worse off.
Nigel Wild, 63, from Ascott-under-Wychwood, who qualifies for a state pension in April 2013, said: “I am really going to lose out. It is a tax on the old.”
Other losers include smokers who will have to fork out an extra 37p on a packet of 20 cigarettes immediately, while drinkers face an escalator duty of two per cent above the rate of inflation which means about 10p on the price of a pint from next month.
But there was good news for Armed Forces families in the county.
The Chancellor announced an extra £100m will be spent improving military accommodation and the families of troops serving abroad will not have to pay council tax.
There are about 500 soldiers from Oxfordshire currently serving overseas.
Private Richard Spencer, 26, who lives at Dalton Barracks, said he paid nearly £100 a month in council tax for his three-bedroom home.
He said: “It’s nice to be appreciated for what we are doing for the country.”
There was mixed news for the rich. While the cut in income tax on those earning more than £150,000 a year from 50p to 45p in the pound was welcomed, stamp duty for individuals paying more than £2m for a home has spiralled from five per cent to seven per cent.
Top rate taxpayer Brendon Cross, chief executive of Witney telecommunications firm STL Communications, said: “Psychologically I feel better paying 45p in the pound rather than giving away half of my income.”
Gavin West, of Oxford estate agents Kemp & Kemp said: “Many houses in key postcodes in North Oxford sell for more than £2m. Now we have to see whether the anti-tax avoidance schemes the Chancellor announced will bite.”
There was better news for business with a one per cent cut in corporation tax, which will bring it to 24 per cent from April.
And the Government has also pledged more cash for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Simon Smith, a partner at Wellers accountants in Banbury, said: “Slashing the rate of corporation tax is a radical move and gives companies more cash to invest and create jobs.”
And there was also a boost for the video games industry after the Chancellor announced corporation tax relief worth £50m to firms by 2014-15.
Jason Kingsley, chief executive of Oxford-based video games developer Rebellion, said: “It will save jobs and companies, promote growth, and bring in much needed export income.”