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6,000 miles away from chaos

We were in Hong Kong for a friend’s wedding. Jet-lag had kicked in and I hadn’t slept well.

In a half-awake state that morning, I switched on the TV news in the hotel room, to be met with a panel discussion about the previous day’s UK Budget.

Things suddenly turned into a busman’s holiday – inheritance tax was the topic for discussion.

This was not good news. For a mainstream global news channel to be covering UK inheritance tax as a key story the day after the Budget meant that Something Big Had Happened.

This was 2006. For those who can’t exactly place that Budget, it was the overnight revolution when certain types of gift to a trust were re-categorised, and became taxable. The way families chose to set aside funds for their children and grandchildren changed without warning. And existing arrangements could be affected.

This was introduced without advance notice, with all the inevitable problems associated with that. Since then, we’ve had statements about how tax policy should be formed in the UK, with a focus on the need for stability and the role of consultation.

So, next week’s Budget should be a little quieter – famous last words? I’ll be at home for this Budget, as I have been for every Budget since 2006 – not a wise time to take a holiday!

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