As the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, sat down after delivering his Budget speech today, the punditry sprang into action. Winners and losers were identified. Strategies were considered. Points for ingenuity were awarded. And over at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), a suitably creative version of reality was span to the public.
More guff from Tufton Street
Jonathan Isaby, the TPA’s CEO, told that “The Chancellor has announced some welcome relief for taxpayers struggling with stretched budgets. Measures such as the higher personal allowance, the freeze in fuel duty, and abolition of the alcohol duty escalator will all ease the burden on hard-pressed families. It’s also good to see savers finally being rewarded after being overlooked for too long by successive governments”. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“However, George Osborne has no room for complacency. His failure to reform Stamp Duty is a missed opportunity and it is deeply regrettable that yet more taxpayers are likely to be dragged into the 40p Income Tax band”. Where does one start with this flagrant attempt at turd polishing?
While higher personal tax allowances are always welcome, the freeze in fuel duty will, at the margins, merely encourage more people to drive rather than walk, cycle or use one or other form of public transport (although, of course, the TPA is in the van with the motoring lobby and would dearly love to see entire swathes of the country without bus services).
And then we come to the “abolition of the alcohol duty escalator”. The conceit that suggests this will ease the burden on anyone in the retail or licensed trade, or any consumer, is bunk: whether a pint of beer costs £2.99 or £3 is hardly material (add a quid to those figures for you lucky people in London). Without addressing the behaviour of the PubCos, as I keep reminding readers, problems will remain.
Pubs will keep on being closed as PubCos, some struggling with crippling debt burdens, cash in their property chips: roadhouse pubs are particularly vulnerable in this regard, with their large footprint. Tenants, many of whom are lucky to clear £10,000 a year, will keep on getting screwed over by those same PubCos, who lock them in to overpriced “beer ties”.
As to stamp duty and the number of those in the 40p tax band, how is the TPA proposing to deal with the revenue shortfall from such actions? What further parts of Government expenditure would it select for cutting? Perhaps Isaby and his pals would like to be bold here: tell us what they would do (but we know that already: abolish the NHS and burden the UK with the US healthcare model).
This is a glib and lame response to a serious issue. No change there, then.