Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
Budget verdict: Could have been worse!
No big surprises in last week's Budget, but then again there were no big giveaways for small businesses either.
General disappointment among my clients that there was no increase on the reduced AIA and WDA capital allowances levels from April 2012. The Treasury tables show that this is one of the biggest sources of tax revenue next year - not much comfort to businesses trying to grow.
But at least there was no change to pension tax relief, so clients still have the incentive to save towards retirement.
Swept up in the general VAT changes was the decision to remove Zero Rating on approved alterations to listed buildings. This may not sound like a big deal, but for builders working on such projects it's going to make customers squeeze them even harder on prices, so a number of my construction clients are very unhappy about this.
The proposal to cap tax allowances to £50,000 per year sounds OK, until you realise that this includes Gift Aid, so charities looking forward to big donations from wealthy donors may find it a little harder to attract those funds. OK, maybe most don't do this just for the tax relief, but I am sure quite a few do, so this is going to hit charities. I don't have many clients looking to give that much away, but I do have charity clients who could suffer - and at a time when central and local government funding has been severely cut. It does seem a somewhat illogical move, so maybe charities will be able to lobby to get this provision amended to exclude Gift Aid.
Noticeably absent was any comment on fuel duty - which the Chancellor had conveniently announced last year, so a 3p price hike will just sail through unannounced later this year. That's particularly unwelcome down here in the West Country since things and people tend primarily to travel down here by road. We all just hope the higher fuel price won't hit this summer's tourist trade. Assuming that the lack of water doesn't put visitors off anyway! I can't remember the last time hosepipe bans started so early in the year. Good job cider's still a good buy!
The verdict of the clients I have spoken to so far? - general relief that it wasn't worse! Yes, they would have liked a few giveaways, but the Budget generally left them to get on with things much as before. It looks like pensioners and Tax Credits claimants have been left to fund the national deficit this year. Whose turn will it be next year?