Deficit reduction, first and foremost. George Osborne has many successes under his belt as Chancellor, but he has failed to meet his original goal – the elimination of “the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament”. It needs to be realised, and this Budget must prepare for the way for the post-election spending review helping to do so.
Fiscal rules that stand the test of time. The Chancellor said yesterday that the Budget will feature “no giveaways, no gimmicks”. One of the ways to bolster the credibility of a future Conservative ( or Conservative-led) Government would be to confirm the Balanced Budget Plus rule and Debt Ceiling that we proposed in the ConservativeHome Manifesto.
Higher national insurance thresholds. Our priority for any tax cuts is reductions in taxes that stop jobs being created and sustained. We would thus make raising National Insurance Thresholds a priority, and start by eliminating employee and employer contributions for all under-25s on the minimum wage – as set out in ConservativeHome manifesto.
Further cuts in stamp duty. Osborne put a new structure for the tax in place in his Autumn Statement. We would keep it, and make further cuts in stamp duty, since is one of the taxes that most ‘gums up the works’ of the economy. The changes to the planning system we propose in our manifesto would take the heat out of house price inflation.
A Northern Infrastructure Fund. The Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse plan – linking up big northern cities to match the economic might of London – has been a feature of the second half of his Chancellorship. We have proposed a Northern Infrastructure Fund to help finance it. We would scrap HS2 to help pay for it, and put in it revenues from shale gas in the north.
Action to rebuild a savings culture among young people. We have suggested the endowment of every school with the seed capital for an investment portfolio. The private, voluntary, charitable and independent sectors would pay (the banks have reasons to join the scheme). The programme would begin its roll-out in the most deprived areas.
Deficit reduction, first and foremost. Osborne isn’t simply going to get to his feet, confirm his intention of eliminating the structural deficit, and sit down again: budgets will always contain spending and tax changes. But he should pursue the goal of eliminating the structural deficit – and, indeed, of aiming for a surplus, an objective announced by the Party back in 2013.