Budget score is 7 out of 10, say our panel

GEORGE Osborne’s first Budget deserves a score of seven out of ten, our unique panel of London’s financiers and business professionals said yesterday.

The City A.M./PoliticsHome.com Panel, which has been specially recruited to represent a cross section of London’s financial community, was also asked whether they thought the toughest fiscal consolidation in Britain’s peacetime history would repair the public finances.

The overwhelming majority of panellists (71 per cent) said they thought it would be “fairly successful” in repairing the public finances while a further 21 per cent thought it would be “very successful”. Just a handful of respondents said they expected the fiscal repair job to be “very unsuccessful” while six per cent said it would be “fairly successful”.

A hike in the higher rate of capital gains tax from 18 per cent to 28 per cent is unlikely to hurt enterprise, according to the vast majority of panellists (62 per cent). Many were expecting the increase to be much higher.

However, a significant minority (38 per cent) said the measure would either hurt enterprise “somewhat” or “greatly”, in a sign that the government has failed to win round everyone in London’s business and financial community.

“Tax rises are never productive. It would have been better to differentiate long-term versus short-term capital gains. Also, the retention of the 50 per cent top tax rate with no mention that it will ever go away was very disappointing for the aspiring classes,” said one panellist.

Another said: “Some of the tax increases were unfortunate but politically unavoidable. I am encouraged that the right steps are being taken to rebuild the nation’s fortunes.”

• PoliticsHome.com interviewed 358 panellists by email yesterday. Apply to join the panel at www.cityam.com/panel