Belfast Telegraph

Budget gives little to cheer from our perspective

By Margaret Canning

The Chancellor kept to his promise of "no gimmicks, no giveaways" in his sixth Budget yesterday. But with George Osborne already enjoying the "lucky Chancellor" sobriquet of positive economic conditions as an election beckons, he didn't really have to do much giving away.

Ed Miliband's 'two kitchens' revelations, and the mild controversy over his family's use of a deed of variation to pass on ownership of the parental home, were rich pickings for Osborne.

Osborne's speech was also rich in self-congratulatory rhetoric, including references to 'Britain walking tall' and moving from 'austerity to prosperity'.

But with Northern Ireland's long-term unemployment growing, we are perhaps not sharing in that prosperity quite as much as we'd like.

A sense of movement was also clear from his references to further sales by the Government of its shares in Lloyds Bank.

The previous government had put taxpayers' money into the banks, he declared - now it was time to for banks to put the money back out.

There was only a fleeting reference to Northern Ireland with our parties urged to agree to the Stormont House Agreement and get corporation tax powers devolved. And when we put last year's big announcement of a Coleraine enterprise zone under the microscope, it's clear not much has yet happened.

Let's hope the promise of this year's Budget doesn't take quite as long to come to fruition.

Belfast Telegraph