With Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s roadmap to recovery due to be revealed on Wednesday, former Chancellor Norman Lamont today appeared on the latest episode of the ‘Blue Collar Conversations’ podcast to offer idea.
Speaking to former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Lamont argues that the Government’s priority should be “jobs, jobs, jobs”.
He advocates focusing on pro-enterprise policies, such as cutting the cost of employing people and securing an employer national insurance holiday.
Lamont was joined by John Redwood. Both warned against tax rises. Instead, consistent with the ‘practical conservatism’ preached by members of the Blue Collar Conservatism caucus in Parliament, Lamont said:
“In the short term, you’ve just got to let borrowing take the strain and I would not put up taxes because I think if you put up taxes, you would stifle the recovery.
“And you know, it may take a couple of years before the recovery has really got going.
“I would let the borrowing rise in the short term. And then we can look at things further down the line, but I wouldn’t be in favour of putting up taxes, even if it became necessary in the longer run. I think it would be vital not to do it in the immediate future because it would just stop the recovery taking place.”
On the podcast, Lamont also reflects on his time behind the scenes in the Treasury, the civil service and the troubles that lie ahead for Sunak. Having been Chancellor during Black Wednesday, no doubt even Rishi will be tuning in to hear Lord Lamont this weekend…
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 22, 2017
The likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Owen Paterson are grumbling about May’s speech – the Mogg articulated their concerns on Newsnight about free movement and ECJ oversight continuing during the transition. Other hard-to-please Brexiter backbenchers are satisfied though, IDS says he can live with the transition so long as it is time-limited and John Redwood has given his backing:
The PM made no express offer of cash, and stressed that budgets have to be talked about alongside trade and the future relationship.
— John Redwood (@johnredwood) September 22, 2017
As Guido has said since June, most Tory Brexiters are fine with a transition so long as it is time-limited to two years and the end destination is fully out of all the institutions of the EU. The question that matters is what our future relationship with the EU will look like, at some point May has to give an answer that satisfies Leave voters and Cabinet ministers…
Philip Hammond faces a Tory revolt over his broken National Insurance promise. The government has a working majority of 17 and Guido counts 19 Tory MPs who have already publicly opposed the policy. Many more are privately furious that they have been made to look like promise breakers by the Chancellor. Below are just those who have gone public so far…
“It goes against every principle of Conservative understanding of business. We understand that taking risks is what stimulates growth. It impacts people who are putting themselves at risk, their houses on the line, to create new growth. It’s the wrong way round and sends a very poor message.”
“The biggest issue is national insurance contributions… I would be cautious about this change, and I urge the Government to look at the whole question of the relationship between national insurance and income tax in the round.”
“I urge a rethink. We should be encouraging the self-employed, start-ups and people who are taking risks and carrying those risks themselves. We should recognise that through support, yes, but we should do so particularly through taxation.”
“It is very important to ensure that we do not disadvantage self-employed people. The Conservative Party always has been and, I hope, always will be the party that supports white van man and—may I say on this particular day?—white van woman… I hope very much that we will have some reassurance from Treasury Ministers that plumbers, electricians, plasterers and people of that sort will not be disadvantaged”
“Clearly, a tax rise that discourages any kind of activity is not attractive, especially when our economy is quite reliant on self-employment… that rise will be unwelcome news to people who are probably struggling and not getting all the rights to which they are entitled”
“We need to ensure that it is as easy as possible to get into self-employment, and that it is as worthwhile as possible when people are successful. I always think it is a good idea to try to confine taxes, and certainly tax rises, to things that we do not approve of very much… We should not go out of our way to tax work, enterprise and success. I know we have to do some of that, because we need a lot of revenue for the range of public services we offer, but our taxes on those things are quite high enough.”
“We are taxing those families who have taken on the risk of setting up their own small business, many of which employ apprentices and are the backbone of our economy.”
“I understand that there are distortions when people are self-employed, but I think this should be kept under review.”
“I can’t say I’m overjoyed at the action the Chancellor has taken because self-employed people are a great asset to the local and the national economy. You have also got to consider that they sometimes don’t qualify for other benefits. Clearly, the view of the Treasury is that there was an anomaly which needed to be rectified. But, as we all know, you resolve one anomaly and another often appears somewhere else.”
“This could be 1st u turn …. this will not be popular & many will argue it’s unfair”
“I don’t like this bit much… we have to look at this in the round to make sure we are not hurting entrepreneurial classes… we need to square this with not just the letter but the spirit of the commitment.”
Iain Duncan Smith:
“I would like to see this kept under review… We all saw what happened to President Bush senior, “read my lips”, so some of us were slightly concerned at the time about making pledges that lock you in.”
“There is a concern that this will hit home shortly before we ask people for their votes in the next general election.”
“I believe we should apologise. I will apologise to every voter in Wales that read the Conservative manifesto in the 2015 election.”
“It is right that the self-employed and employed should pay similar National Insurance Contributions but the self-employed are different from employees – they are the risk takers and entrepreneurs that spearhead growth and productivity in our economy and do not have the same protections as employees. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the growth in self-employment has driven our labour market and rises in NI will make many people have second thoughts about striking out on their own. People who work for themselves and who set up and run companies should be encouraged. Instead, the Chancellor has singled them out for a £1,425m tax hike on the misleading premise that they pay less tax than their peers, completely ignoring the risks they take and the lack of security in their employment.”
Anne Marie Morris:
“The changes to National Insurance defy belief! What did the chancellor think he was doing? Increasing the rate of “Class 4” contribution from 9 per cent to 11 per cent over two years! At least he kept his word and abolished “Class 2″ contributions which was unfair, not well understood and not related to income or profit. But while Class 4 contributions are profit related and therefore “fairer”, this was I suspect not the reason for the change but a post-decision marketing strap line. It has all the hallmarks of the “pasty tax” own goal.”
“I’m surprised that the Chancellor chose to raise national insurance for the self-employed. It’s going to bring in only £135million over the rest of this Parliament and some people might consider it a breach of a manifesto pledge. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Karl McCartney also tells Guido he opposes the rise.
“May right to pause on self employed N I rise-precision engineering needed not bulldozer to tackle those only going self employed as tax ruse”
Will the NICs rise survive or is a u-turn coming?
“I have had enough of belonging to a puppet Parliament.”
Redwood fighting the good fight during the Brexit debate this evening…
The EU-enforced tampon tax causing a cross-party rebellion isn’t the only example of Brussels stealth tax imposed in this Budget. Following a decision by the Court of Justice of the EU in June last year, the 20% VAT rate was also forced upon “energy saving materials”, previously taxed at just 5%. People who want to insulate their homes are being whacked by an EU tax hike. Worth reading John Redwood on this – it has gone down like a cup of cold sick with Tory backbenchers.
Third cross party revolt now brewing on Budget I hear – to vote down EU directive to raise VAT on home insulation. Next week will be tricky.
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) March 17, 2016
Other areas covered by the EU’s barmy VAT rules include digital services like Netflix, now charged at the place of purchase. Not only this, British digital businesses selling products in EU member states are subject to local VAT rates, for example Croatian, Danish, and Swedish VAT rates of 25%, or even sky-high Hungarian VAT at 27%.
Osborne announced yesterday “We understand that tax affects behaviour. So let’s tax the things we want to reduce”. By his own logic, the EU wants to reduce energy efficiency and online businesses…