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Brassed off Treasury confirms orchestra tax break is for brass bands too

23rd March 2015

George Osborne has moved swiftly to avert accusations of snobbery in the tax system after the Treasury confirmed thta brass bands will join orchestras in being eligible for tax relief. In what looked set to be a repeat of the “pasty tax” fiasco of Osborne’s 2012 budget, Labour seized on the chancellor’s announcement of a new tax break for orchestras as an out-of-touch “trumpet tax”.

Labour shadow cabinet minister Michael Dugher, a keen musician and member of the all-party parliamentary group for brass bands, said Osborne was “showing his true colours”. “Buried away in the small print of his budget is a betrayal of brass bands – not to mention steel and bagpipe bands and all the other groups who won’t get the benefit of this tax break because they aren’t considered worthy,” he said. “Snobby Osborne is showing his true colours. He’s completely out of touch.”

A consultation document from earlier this year appeared to confirm his suspicions, suggesting the Treasury could have slipped up in a similar way to the 2012 budget.

Osborne was forced to U-turn on the pasty tax in that year after a campaign against extra VAT on hot baked goods. Critics had claimed it showed he was out of touch with the pasty-eating public.

However, on Thursday Treasury sources said the final rules would in fact allow brass bands to benefit from the same relief as orchestras after a last-minute change. The source said: “This is based on a consultation document from January. However, as a result of that consultation, the final design of the policy is different and the relief will be applicable to one or more of the string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections.”

Shadow culture minister Chris Bryant accused the Treasury of a U-turn. He told Politics Home: “That sound you can hear is not Osborne blowing his own trumpet. It’s the drum-roll heralding a humiliating U-turn. It’s a shame Osborne had such a tin ear in the first place. Once again the Tories are out of tune with the whole country.”

Read more on the Guardian website