Danby Bloch, co-founder and former director of Taxbriefs, reflects on 40 years of delivering Budget Summaries and Tax Tables to professionals in the financial services industry.
Forty years ago I became a mass ghost writer and have been doing it continuously ever since. Nowadays we would be called content producers for multiple users but then we didn’t know any better.
Back in the early ‘70s, large firms of accountants and a few other financial players rushed to publish their thoughts on the Budget after the Chancellor’s speech. In 1976 I had a eureka moment that we could provide a service that would allow other firms to match their larger rivals – at low cost and with little effort. We set up the company and Taxbriefs was born on 5 March 1976.
Quite simply, we at Taxbriefs would do the hard work for our clients by writing and delivering personalised Budget summaries for each firm and then they would send them out to their clients and get the kudos. In those days, they weren’t allowed to advertise – it wasn’t considered professional, old boy. We got a response of well over 10% on our initial mailing – so it looked like we were on to a good thing. On the back of the success of our Budget summaries, we then turned to creating personalised newsletters and tax tables.
Over the years the Budget changed and so did the technology for producing our summaries. Nowadays much of the output is online.
1970s Budgets were different from the current events. Budget secrecy was much more important – so there were very few of the Treasury-derived rumours that are now used to manage the nation’s expectations. Tax changes applied more or less immediately – with Budgets in March and all the allowances and rates of tax applying a few weeks later.
HM Revenue & Customs’ computerised systems would now make such an idea impossible.
Although it happens every year, there’s still an excitement about the Budget 40 years later and there’s always something new – and sometimes something very surprising. Mass ghost-writing carries weighty responsibilities; after all, what we write will be published under other people’s brands and as always at this time of year, the Taxbriefs team is deep in pre-Budget preparation. I’m not sure I’ll manage another 40, but I am looking forward to finding out what the Chancellor has up his sleeve for my 46th Budget on 16 March.