An estimated five million households will lose out in tax changes brought in by Gordon Brown at the weekend.
In one of his last acts as Chancellor of the Exchequer last year, Brown cut the basic rate of income tax from the average 22p to 20p, but decided to pay for it by abolishing the starting 10p tax rate. In the worst case scenario, those earning just over £18,500 a year will face huge rises in tax, particularly at a time when they are facing increases in council tax, water, electric, gas, fuel, and so on.
Not surprisingly, this move was attacked by anti-poverty campaigners, and indeed many Labour MPs, but government ministers have defended the policy, saying that keeping the lower rate, at a time of falling tax revenues, was unsustainable.
The Conservatives have moved towards claiming to support the poor for their own political ends, saying that they will fight to restore the 10p rate in Parliament.
This is yet another own-goal by the government. Having realised that the plan would hit its core supporters, they could have abandoned it, but decided not to. Brown will try to ride out both the political and public storm, but as his current record of Prime Minister is anything to go by, I seriously don’t believe he is going to be around any longer in the job.