When is a Conservative not a Conservative? When they clobber entrepreneurs, increase taxes & spending, and add to the national debt.
The press was briefed pre-budget that we were in for a dull affair, and Philip Hammond duly delivered. There was no radicalism, no imagination and – bizarrely – no proactive response to the imminent beginning of Brexit negotiations. Worst of all, while the Chancellor attempted to pre-emptively quash political rows – like the growing disquiet over social care funding – he managed to create a brand new one; and how disastrous it has been.
Energised by the spirit of individualism, Britain’s self-employed helped fuel our economic recovery. Some of the most entrepreneurial people in the country have struck out on their own, taken risks, worked hard and added a dynamic element to our economy. Their reward? Being told by a Conservative Chancellor that they are recipients of “a subsidy” because the state doesn’t confiscate enough of their money.
Hammond said it was not “fair” that the total National Insurance bill for employee earning £32,000 a year would come to £6,170, including contributions from both the employee and their employer, while the equivalent for a self-employed person earning the same amount would be just £2,300. All because the self-employed benefit from the same public services as employees. What un-conservative rot!
The self-employed do not receive state-mandated holiday pay, sick pay, parental leave, compassionate leave, workplace pensions, prescribed notice periods nor protections against being laid off. Nor should they, but there are clearly very big differences between the benefits enjoyed by the employed and what the self-employed lack; a sense of security being chief among them.
If its fairness the Chancellor wants, he should have levelled the taxes out by incrementally cutting NICs for the employed, thereby relieving a financial burden on a lot of people on a low income. Encouraging enterprise and letting people keep more of their earnings; that’s what we want from the Conservative Party.
We are supposed to getting match-fit for Brexit. One of the British economies biggest strengths is its dynamism and the flexibility of its labour market; the rise of the gig economy in this country is another advantage we have over our eurozone competitors. The Government should be encouraging it, not taxing it.
If only we could look at a serious commitment to deficit reduction to cheer us up. Philip Hammond, like his predecessor, talks the talk when it comes to fiscal discipline. George Osborne was a master of rhetoric, and the new Chancellor projects an image of seriousness, dependability and frugality. Despite the image, public spending continues to rise in cash terms and deficit elimination is dependent on growth rather than savings.
At least there we didn’t have to put up with the Osborne gimmicks, except for further complicating the tax system with another loophole to provide relief for small pubs. The pub industry is suffering, but so are many other; why is the Government picking favourites?