Sunday, 20 March 2016

This is not mending the roof

John Rentoul writes in today's Independent (the last Sunday print edition):

It looks as if Iain Duncan Smith has resigned in protest against cuts to disability benefits that he proposed – after the Prime Minister and Chancellor had already decided to abandon them. In fact, if you read Duncan Smith’s resignation letter carefully, his decision made more sense than that. He quit in protest against tax cuts favouring the better-off that George Osborne announced at the same time – tax cuts that are not being abandoned.

It is hard to see any justification for raising the threshold for higher-rate income tax as the Chancellor proposed in last week's budget statement. There is a need to reduce the deficit. Price inflation, certainly as it affects higher-income households, has been very low and looks like remaining so for the next year or so.  There is no evidence that current levels of income tax are driving out people essential to the British economy. This is doing better than most in the current global downturn, which in any case is showing signs of coming to an end. Surely this is the best time to crack on with fixing the roof.

A cynic may point to the fact that most journalists and all MPs are in the tax bracket benefiting from the new break and thus are not making more of a fuss about it. Indeed, the socialist shadow chancellor, John McDonnell is remarkable relaxed about it, though north of the border nationalist first minister Nicola Sturgeon has caught the public mood there.

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