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By Tim Montgomerie
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Osborne George Union Jack

He first said it on the Andrew Marr programme (some time before Nick Clegg came up with his Alarm Clock Britons wheeze) but in today's Sun on Sunday George Osborne has another go at explaining what is the best attempt, so far, at distilling this Government's purpose:

"I have at the front of my mind the person who leaves their house, maybe at seven in the morning. They are not paid a huge amount but they get out of bed and go to work to provide for their family. I know things are tough and the cost of living is a challenge for them. I want to help them and make sure there is a real incentive to go to work. When they walk out the door and see their next door neighbour's blinds are drawn shut and they are lying in bed because they have got used to a life on benefits, I want to ensure it is the working person who gets most support."

So much of what the Coalition is doing in these very difficult times aims to achieve this. The lifting of lower income workers out of the income tax system, the benefits cap, freezing council tax and the introduction of the Universal Credit are the stand out policies in this area. Higher VAT and changes to the tax credit system have, however, blunted the impact of the policy.


It looks increasingly likely that the Chancellor will get rid of the 50p tax rate in Wednesday's Budget. It is now looking like a much bolder Budget than had been anticipated. The end of national pay bargaining, deregulation of Sunday trading and faster cuts in corporation tax all look likely to feature. A final decision on whether to cut 50p to 45p or 40p will, apparently, be taken tomorrow.

Matthew d'Ancona predicts that this radical Budget could be the Chancellor's "finest hour". Andrew Rawnsley reports that Labour insiders think abolishing the 50p rate amounts to "political madness".

It's certainly risky. The latest YouGov/ Sunday Times poll (PDF) finds that only 19% support getting rid of the 50p rate and 68% oppose it. George Osborne's challenge in the Budget is to do enough to help strivers that the 50p rate is not the headline in Thursday morning's papers. Nadine Dorries MP becomes, this morning, the fourth Tory MP to say that some form of wealth tax should be levied to send the high voltage message that Osborne's 7am workers really are priorities of a Conservative Government.

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