Peter Hoskin

Osborne looks to the long-term

Osborne looks to the long-term
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There are plenty of details for Budget-spotters to look out for tomorrow, but among the most important is just how far Osborne reaches into the future.  The current expectation in Westminster is that he will offer quite a few glimpses into the long-term.  A possible commitment to reduce the main rate of corporation tax to 20 percent over the next five years, perhaps.  Or similar provisions for making the first £10,000 of income tax-free.

There are, of course, economic and political motives behind this.  Economically, the plan will be to reassure the markets that the coalition has a deliberate plan which extends beyond the next few months (which was a major consideration behind the IFS's suggestion that the spending review be extended to five years, instead of three).  And, politically, the hope is that previewing the gain which follows the pain will keep the public on board with it all.

Wonkishly speaking, it will be intriguing to see whether this approach affects how subsequent Budgets are handled.  After all, the further Osborne roams into the long-term tomorrow, the less room for manoeuvre he has in future.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, you understand.  After years of volatile, deceptive and short-termist Budgets from Brown, we could do with a few that feel more like financial progress reports.