Clare Goodswen: A final flourish from Osborne?

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne holds up his red Ministerial Box outside 11 Downing Stree

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne holds up his red Ministerial Box outside 11 Downing Street: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire - Credit: PA

My Mother reminded me on Mothering Sunday of the time in the not too distant past when the contents of the Budget were a closely guarded secret and it was a serious offence to leak any prior announcements to the press before the Chancellor delivered his speech.

Clare Goodswen, M&A Partners

Clare Goodswen, M&A Partners - Credit: Archant

It could not be more different today. The content of George Osborne's speech on Wednesday has been widely leaked to the press as the Government seeks to maximise the electioneering opportunities ahead of the General Election on 7th May. The tax receipts collected in January were the highest ever and exceeded projections at £8.8 billion. This has given the Chancellor some short term wriggle room. I don't think George Osborne will be able to resist the opportunity for a final flourish and announce another headline grabbing measure to get voters' attention.

Last year, Mr Osborne announced sweeping pension reforms to set the nation talking. In December, we heard about Stamp Duty restructuring to reform what was perceived as an unfair and unpopular tax on Britain's homebuyers. Next, I think Inheritance Tax changes could be making the news in Thursday morning's newspapers.

The last Tory manifesto pledged the one million pound nil rate band to tackle middle England's most reviled tax. I spend a lot of my time talking to my clients Inheritance Tax. For a deeply political Chancellor delivering his final budget six weeks before a general election, it is possible that it will prove a vote winning opportunity too good to pass up.

It is also worth bearing in mind that any new incoming government will most likely hold an emergency budget soon after the election, so any dramatic measures announced on Wednesday

could turn into a damp squib by the summer. My advice is not to make too many plans based on measures announced in this Budget!

• Clare Goodswen, M+A Partners