Comment: Are Spin Doctors Up To Their Old Tricks Regarding Pensions Tax Relief?

by | Mar 7, 2016

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Pigs might fly

Low and behold, it was reported in the weekend media that the Chancellor was backing down over pensions tax relief – planned changes that had never been announced, nor properly articulated by Government ministers.

It was clear the industry was against George Osborne tampering with pensions tax relief, the IFA Magazine was flooded with comments about the Treasury effectively raiding pension pots. And now it appears that Osborne has listened, and bowed to the pressure.

Yet, is this not the usual ploy from spin doctors who know that bad news is coming (the Chancellor will chop pensions tax relief), so what they do is brief on the really contentious news, everyone fears the worse, then the Government seemingly about-turns, and a watered down version is released on the day. Everyone groans, but thinks well at least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

This is a classic spin doctor manoeuvre for preparing the way for significant unpalatable announcements – leak the really bad news, stage a retraction and then go with the lesser bad news that is suddenly more acceptable. This has happened time and time again with important announcements, and it is somewhat depressing to see this trick being pulled on such a regular basis.

It would also be somewhat disconcerting that the Chancellor still hadn’t made up his mind as regards a crucial policy change with so little time to go before the budget. Call me a cynic, but surely most of the budget was done and dusted, and printed, some time ago? Any dialogue with industry leaders would have been done a while back.

To think the Chancellor and his team are sitting at their desks, fretting over what the industry thinks about the forthcoming changes and ready to burn the midnight oil, scribbling away at updates as opinions come in, is somewhat farcical.

Okay, this all might be a coincidence, and the Chancellor did actually listen and back down. But, hang on, are those pigs I can see flying across the horizon!

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