Tomorrow’s Pre Budget Report

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I'm being called by a lot of people about the Pre-Budget Report (PBR) and Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), so here are my top 5 tips for each (and I know I'll regret this tomorrow):


1) The focus will be on delivery, not money spent. So expect talk about GP opening hours and literacy, not how much they cost.
2) The defence budget will be cut post Iraq. International Development will get the gain.
3) Health will see the strongest commitment to continuing growth. Education will be next.
4) Expect much talk of efficiency and cutting in admin. The need for pay restraint will be emphasised.
5) Expect downgrading of things like culture and transport unless they are Olympics related and paid for by the lottery.


1) Whatever he says his scope for manoeuvre is small. Two reasons: the first is the economy; the second is Brown has already announced it all. We do after all already know future corporation tax rates and they haven't happened yet.
2) What is announced will be headlines - and the emphasis will be on affordability - the word that will replace prudence.
3) The report on the future of domicile will be published - for further consultation. I do not predict a clear proposal on where the government is going.
4) Darling has to beat avoidance to make ends meet - what he does on private equity will indicate his courage on this issue. I'm not expecting much courage to be on display although this is the perfect time to display it - the sector is going to be in decline for the next few years anyway.
5) Inheritance Tax will have to mentioned. Brown has already announced limits and I can't see much change. Expect a rate cut instead.

And as with all forecasts, these are wrong, by definition.

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