George Osborne delivered his final Budget this parliament. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What was announced in the Budget 2015?

George Osborne announced his final Budget of this parliament. What was in it?

Read the New Statesman team's analysis of the Chancellor's last Budget before the election:


And here's what George Osborne announced:

ISA and a slice

New fully flexible ISAs, giving you complete freedom to take money out, and put it back in later in the year, without losing any tax-free entitlement.

A Help to Buy ISA: for every £200 first-time buyers save for their deposit, the government will top it up with £50 more.


Personal savings allowance

A move coming in next April for the first £1,000 of interest earned on savings to be tax-free – it would apparently take 95 per cent of taxpayers out of savings tax altogether.


Income tax allowance rise

The income tax threshold will go up to £10,800 in 2016 and then to £11,000 in 2017.

The threshold at which people start paying the top rate of tax will rise above inflation to £43,300 by 2017/18. This is the first time in seven years this hasn’t just risen with inflation.


The road back from Wigan Pier

George Osborne, clearly trying to rebuff Labour’s attack that Tory cuts would take us back to Thirties spending levels, changed his tune. He announced that the public spending squeeze projected in his Autumn Statement last year will end a year early.

This would see national income as a percentage of GDP reach the same level as 2000, rather than the Thirties; Osborne’s target for a surplus has gone down from £23bn by 2020 to £5-7bn.


Give and take for pensioners

The government is to reduce from £1.25m to £1m the lifetime pension allowance that tax relief can be claimed on.

Pensioners will be allowed their annuities, without having to pay punitive tax charges of at least 55 per cent.

Allow police and firefighter widows to remarry without facing a pension penalty.


Google tax

Osborne claimed that all the new measures against tax avoidance and evasion will raise £3.1bn over the forecast period. He also announced a review into deeds of variation as an inheritance tax loophole.


Reducing national debt

The Chancellor announced new OBR statistics suggesting that national debt as a proportion of GDP is falling this year, a year earlier than predicted.

He said the “central judgement of this Budget” is that resources from the bank sales, lower interest payments, and lower welfare bills will be used to pay down the national debt.


Growth is up

The Chancellor announced that the OBR has revised up its forecast for GDP growth this year, from 2.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent.


Energy expenditure

Cuts in taxes on the North Sea oil industry, which amount to £1.3bn.

“Giving more power to Wales”: the government is working on a Cardiff city deal and opening negotiations on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon subsidy levels.


Student support

Additional financial support, following Autumn Statement announcement for postgraduates, for PhDs and research-based Masters degrees. Loans up to £25,000 will be available for them.


Confirming Lib Dem mental health reforms

Funding for a major expansion of mental health services for children and those suffering from maternal mental illness.


100 per cent business rate growth to be kept for Manchester Combined, Cambridge and surrounding councils. Other councils are welcome to approach the Treasury to secure a similar deal.


Out with the tax returns

Online tax accounts will be launched, ending the use of paper tax returns.


A new pound

A 12-sided pound coin is unveiled, to avoid counterfeit. It has a prominent thistle on it.


Trumpeting creative funding

New tax credit for orchestras.

More generous TV and film tax credits.

Expansion of support for the video games industry.

A new horse race betting right to support British racing.

A consultation into tax support for local papers.


The Internet of Things

Investing in the “information revolution”, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.


Drinks on me!

Cutting beer duty by 1p.

Cider duty down by 2 per cent.

Scotch whisky and spirits down by 2 per cent.

Wine duty frozen.


But don’t drink and drive

Cancelling the fuel duty increase scheduled for September.



A new rail franchise for the southwest, with £7bn of investment in roads and air links.

Expanding broadband vouchers to more cities, committing to a national ambition to 100 megabits per second to nearly all homes.

Confirming first twenty housing zones, and creating eight enterprise zones.


Charity fundraiser

Libor fines will contribute a further £75m to charities for the armed services, including a memorial for Afghanistan veterans. There will also be £1m put aside to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Agincourt. £25m will be provided to help the UK’s eldest veterans, including nuclear test veterans.

Charities will be able to claim automatic Gift Aid on the first £8,000 of small donations, up from £5,000.


A call to farms

Farmers will be allowed to average out their income over five years for tax purposes.


Fixing the roof

Trebling funding for church roof appeals.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.