By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday we published members' answers to questions about how they would meet George Osborne's deficit reduction challenge if they were in his shoes. Members wanted less spending on the EU, aid and welfare. All fairly predictable perhaps. The one surprising response was the support for higher council tax bands on high value properties. There was also opposition to any cutting of the NHS budget. See the results here.
We also asked about priorities for tax relief if there is any scope to offer it at the next election. The results are summarised in the graphic on the right.
Robert Halfon MP will be pleased with the result*. Members clearly share his belief that high petrol duty should be the number one tax cutting cause. Interestingly lower council tax comes quite low in the list of priorities. The Coalition has prioritised keeping this tax down – recently announcing a freeze for the third successive year. Perhaps because it's not biting it isn't seen as a priority?
I recently argued that the introduction of a 10p tax band should be a Tory priority as part of our commitment to 'the striving class'. I suggested that Kwasi Kwarteng was wrong to priortise taking middle Britain out of the 40p tax band. Kwasi explained his reasoning here and by a small 24% to 22% margin you side with Kwasi. I wonder if a poll of the general public would produce a different result?
Members are still very supportive of increasing the income tax threshold and Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute would agree. On ConHome today he recommended that a starting threshold of £12,875 would be a better way of helping the low-paid than imposing a 'living wage'. I've preferred the establishment of a 10p tax band over further increases to the threshold for one practical and one political reason. Earlier this year I wrote:
"We don't want too many people not paying income tax. We want most Britons to feel the burden of the state's expenditure. We also need a policy that the Conservatives clearly 'own'. Although George Osborne gets much of the credit for the threshold policy in the eyes of voters – because he's the guy who gets up and announces it – too many people see it as a policy forced on the Conservatives by Team Clegg."
> Members' answers to a slightly differently framed article from a year ago are here.