Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, yesterday gave himself and his Cabinet colleagues a substantial pay rise by cutting the top rate of tax by 10%. Meanwhile, he put an end to extra payments for pensioners and did absolutely nothing to help those on benefits and who, despite their best efforts, cannot find work.
Smokers were hit particularly hard – allegedly on health grounds – and although the Chancellor said that “there will be no change in alcohol duty”, he neglected to mention the alcohol ’escalator’ which automatically pushes the price of all alcoholic drinks up by 2% above the inflation rate. Therefore, the net effect of Mr. Osborne’s “no change” policy is a 5% increase in taxation on alcohol.
The Chancellor’s expression of regret that very wealthy people have been dodging Stamp Duty and are now subject to what he described as an ‘aggressive’ clampdown, will do nothing to soften the blow for hard-pressed families trying to make ends meet .Nor will it do anything to help those at the very bottom end of the social scale.
TheOpinionSite.org believes, regrettably, that those who have described the Chancellor’s latest offering as “a budget for millionaires” are correct. By refusing to make a cut in the already extortionate rate of VAT, something that actually would have helped everyone, the Chancellor took a massive gamble in as much that by making life easier for the super-rich, he will somehow raise more tax revenue over the forthcoming years.
The problem with that plan is that it relies on the honesty of those who are earning the most and, unsurprisingly, many of those very wealthy individuals will do everything they can to avoid paying the extra tax demanded by Mr. Osborne. In reality, the lack of any ability to force these people to pay what they should, makes the whole measure useless and meaningless.
The Chancellor made a great song and dance about raising the individual tax allowance, the amount you can earn before paying income tax, to £9,200. Whilst many who are on the minimum wage or are earning a very low income will appreciate this move – something to be applauded, in fact – the one group that Mr. Osborne left out of his calculations were those at the very bottom of the social scale who got nothing out of yesterday’s budget other than a bucket full of price rises.
The fact that Mr. Osborne seems unable to get through his public school educated head is that if you’re not learning anything, the biggest rise in personal tax allowance of 60 years is completely meaningless. It also adds insult to injury when even the poorest in society have to pay the 20% rate of VAT that Mr. Osborne has refused to cut. Mr. Osborne’s measures do not bring down weekly grocery bills and will do nothing to help those who ,even if they had a job, couldn’t afford to get to it.
TheOpinionSite.org is not remotely surprised that what we saw yesterday was exactly what one would expect from what is effectively a Conservative government led by a Cabinet comprised almost exclusively of millionaires. The fact that alcohol and tobacco, fuel and retail prices are increasing and will continue to increase for the foreseeable future, is of absolutely no relevance to the people responsible for defining and enacting Britain’s fiscal policy.
The fact that a pint of beer has automatically gone up by a minimum of 10p will mean nothing to Mr. Osborne and his wealthy chums. It will however mean a great deal to those in rural communities who like to go down the pub and socialise, such activity often being the only chance they have to attain some relief from what is otherwise a life of loneliness and isolation.
The hidden increase in alcohol duty, regardless of the form it takes, is likely to threaten up to 1,000,000 workers with a potential loss of employment; nor will it do anything to curb the Friday and Saturday night ‘binge drinkers’ who make up a tiny percentage of the alcohol consuming public.
The massive 8.5% rise in tobacco duty, maintained allegedly in order to help people quit smoking and to save the National Health Service the cost of looking after people with lung disease, is again unlikely to affect Mr. Osborne on his colleagues who can all pay for a box of expensive Havana cigars from the loose change in their pocket.
Whilst there are many that would argue that the Chancellor is doing the right thing by trying to price tobacco out of the reach of most ordinary people, they fail to understand that for every penny that is lost in tobacco duty as people quit, another two pence will be added to a different tax in order to compensate for the government’s loss in revenue.
In the same way, those who are fortunate enough to be employed and who are currently rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of those who do not work being subject to very harsh financial circumstances after yesterday’s budget should be careful what they wish for. Over the next few months, they may very well find themselves joining the ranks of the unemployed.
TheOpinionSite.org is firmly of the view that the bankers, politicians and the rich should all be celebrating yesterday’s budget and raising a glass to Mr. George Osborne. On the other hand, those who are more perceptive together with those who have no money will now be only too aware that despite the influence of the Liberal Democrats, the same old “nasty” Conservative party is determined to support the rich whilst trying to subjugate the poor.
In short, yesterday’s budget was confirmation that this Conservative led government is intent on only one thing; the same thing it has been intent upon ever since it was created in its original form 300 years ago. That aim, so distinctively portrayed yesterday in Parliament, is to ensure that the rich remain rich and rule the country, whilst the poor remain poor and do as they are told.