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This week's opinion: 28 October 2021

25 October 2021 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4814 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Surprisingly smooth process

Print deadlines mean that I had to write this column before the Budget. I thought about taking the high-risk approach and commenting on what I guessed would have been in the Budget, but discretion got the better part of me. As the saying goes: ‘It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.’ 

What impresses me about Budgets (regardless of content) is the apparent smoothness of the process. The Red Book is always well laid out with all the facts and figures in place, and the other Budget-day material appears almost immediately after the chancellor sits down. I used to think that everything was in place weeks before the speech: it took me a while to appreciate how last minute it all was, with everything in a state of flux virtually until the day itself. One does hear stories of Treasury officials ringing round a couple of days before the event asking HMRC if anybody has got a policy in their bottom draw that will raise an extra couple of million pounds to make the figures balance. 

For a fascinating insight into the process, I recommend the documentary series on the Blair-Brown years on BBC. Listen to Ed Balls talk about Gordon Brown pushing him for ideas about the next Budget on the day after the last Budget has been presented, or especially the background of the argument which led to Brown telling Blair that he had ‘stolen my lovely budget’, although ‘lovely’ wasn’t the word he used!  

Of course, if the Budget was a fiasco and all copies of the Red Book had to be scrapped overnight you can take great delight in quoting this column back at me on a regular basis. 

If you do one thing...

Do you have clients in the taxi or scrap metal business? Remind them about the new rules for licence applications ( They will have to do the tax checks themselves as agents cannot complete them. 

Issue: 4814 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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