The so-called Pre-Budget Report, which sets out the government’s plans for tax and spending, has been unanimously dismissed as ‘a pre-election con trick’ by most commentators.
Chancellor Alistair Darling had the chance to entirely open and honest with the British people about public spending and tax… and he blew it.
Here are some of the Pre-Budget Report’s main points:
- National Insurance rates to rise by 0.5 per cent from April 2011
- Value Added Tax to be returned to 17.5 per cent from 1st January 2010
- One off tax on half on all bank bonuses over £25,000
- UK economy forecast to shrink by 4.75 per cent this year
- Government borrowing to rise by £3billion to a record £178billion
- Total public spending to rise by £31billion
- State pension to rise by 2.5 per cent in April 2010
- Child and disability benefit to rise by 1.5 per cent in 2010
- All public sector pay settlements capped at one per cent for two years
- £160million for low-carbon, and green environment projects
- £50 tax on landline phones to fund broadband access infrastructure
- £10 tax on income from patents to help boost science development
Here are some questions the British people need some straight answers to:
- The one-off tax on bank bonuses seems politically attractive, but what happens if most of the recipients are low-ranking staff working in bank branches?
- Where is the money going to come from to pay for increases in the state pension and child benefit?
- Why should a regressive tax be introduced to pay for faster internet access, which isn’t really a vital service?
- Why has the government waited until now to deliver a package on supporting environmental industries?
- Why should people working in the public sector expect to face yet more cutbacks in funding levels and have their pay cut again?
- Why has overall public spending continued to rise?
Mr Darling obviously has an eye on next year’s general election. He has, like most of the ministers in this government, hope to have put off making any real decisions for political gain…. except that when most people have seen how the measures will affect them, they will say to him, “No way you are ripping us off again!”, and will vote accordingly.