While the rest of the mainstream press is more interested in how he managed to wrong-foot
Cameron in a way that bodes well for the coming battles between the two, here in the world of building stuff, we are interested in other matters.
The Budget was being touted heavily as a 'green' budget, and was alternately hailed as green
by the government and not green enough by the RIBA - anxious to be seen to make comment, methinks. Meanwhile other important bits were that Brown's pushing ahead with the planning gain supplement
, adding a sweetener to the local authorities that they will get to keep most of the revenues raised.
The green stuff included, as expected, stamp duty exemption for 'zero-carbon' homes up to £500,000, VAT at 5% for energy-reducing products, and increased funds (but still not enough) to the massively oversubscribed Low Carbon Buildings Programme. There was also an increase in road tax for the highest polluting cars, the return of the fuel escalator, and increases in both landfill tax (up £8 a year) and the aggregates levy. Householders gain tax exemption from income they gain through selling micro-generated power back to the grid, which will really make no difference at all seeing as this is generally around £50 a year. And, most meaninglessly of all, Brown announced a competition to develop the UK's first full-scale demonstration of carbon capture and storage, a review to examine the technologies for 'decarbonising' road transport, and an "intention"
that, by the end of the next decade, all householders will have been offered help to introduce energy efficient measures.
All in all I'm not the only one to think that it's a timid
Budget as regards the green agenda. But looking more broadly, I'm pleased that Brown has stolen some of the thunder from the Tories over tax and demonstrated the capacity to engage in the theatre
of politics. I enjoyed the surprise factor of the income tax reduction; and look forward to seeing more of this confident, showman style in coming months.