Jeremy Hunt MP Chancellor - pic under creative commons licence by Richard Townshend

Dear Editor,
What a confused exercise the Chancellor’s Budget turned out to be, pointing in all directions.

He claimed to have cut taxes, but because of the stealth tax increases he and Rishi Sunak introduced earlier, the record level of tax will increase not decrease.

By concentrating on National Insurance rather than Income Tax, he ensured that pensioners got nothing from the Budget – yet will still be hit by the failure to raise income tax thresholds by inflation, so that if they have pensions from their job as well as the State pension, more and more of their income will be taxed.

Lower paid people will not benefit either.

In some ways it was a characteristically Tory budget, as you would expect from a Chancellor originally appointed by Liz Truss, with the highest earning 20% benefitting TWELVE (yes, twelve) times as much as the 20% lowest paid, and a tax handout given to people who have portfolios of buy-to-let properties (scores of Tory MPs are landlords).

It was also typically Tory to axe Covid catch-up tutoring for poor schoolchildren in state schools, the only measure introduced by the Boris Johnson Government to reverse the harmful effects of school lockdowns – but the Tories are still keen to give billions of pounds a year in VAT exemption to public schools like Charterhouse (fees £47,000 a year) where the Chancellor was once Head Boy.

And there was nothing to help with NHS waiting lists, which have tripled under this Government, apart from some money for NHS computing.

None of this will transform the fortunes of a country where productivity has not grown significantly since 2010, we are now in recession, and income per head of population is lower than when Boris Johnson came to power and has fallen for seven successive quarters.

Another example of Budget confusion was the way that, having claimed Labour has no policies, the Tories have adopted several of them despite previously claiming they would be damaging- they don’t seem to know what they are doing, apart from admitting that Labour policies are better than theirs.

But the real sting in the tail is the way the Chancellor has pencilled in savage cuts in public spending after the election – without saying what will be cut.

As David Gauke, a former Conservative Treasury Minister, wrote in the New Statesman magazine, the spending plans announced by the Chancellor are “a work of fiction”.


Phil Tate

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