If Wednesday’s Budget is anything to go by, business will be taking a back seat in the forthcoming election campaign. George Osborne’s sixth budget was unapologetically political, aimed at convincing voters they’re better off with what they’ve got.
So there wasn’t a huge amount of policy red meat for the grocery industry to digest. Yes, beer and cider will be boosted by tax cuts and there was some welcome respite in the tax treatment of farmers. But, other than the further trim to a 20% corporation tax rate, it was at best a damp squib. If you’re a foreign multinational, (or a bank), it could be even worse.
Even the rates review from Monday was tempered by both its timescale and the announcement it will be revenue-neutral.
In fact, businesses could be forgiven for feeling a little ignored. It’s probably not a great surprise. Its support for immigration and opposition to a disruptive EU referendum probably aren’t issues the government - or its main opposition - want at the centre of any debate.
“The chancellor was not about to make this a Budget for the food and drink industry”
Alec Mattinson, finance editor