Credit where it’s due: raising the income tax threshold was in the Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2010, and was not supported by the Conservative leadership at the time. But claims of who first dreamed the idea up stretch back into the mists of time – and it’s no stranger to Tories. It was in the report of the Tax Commission set up by George Osborne and chaired by Lord Forsyth when the former was Shadow Chancellor. Then there’s Lord Tebbit, Edward Leigh, Charlie Elphicke, Robert Halfon…
At any rate, it’s a Conservative-led Government that has ensured that three million people pay no income tax at all. The personal allowance is up from £6,475 to £10,475: 26 million people are now keeping more of their own money. In the next Parliament, David Cameron proposes to raise it further so that those working 30 hours on the minimum wage pay no income tax at all.
There’s a balance to be struck between taking poorer people out of income tax and not leaving too large a burden on the back of those left to pay it. If Cameron is in a position to meet his pledge after May 7, he should turn next to raising the threshold on Employees’ National Insurance Contributions, in order to bring NI into line with the Income Tax thresholds, as proposed in the ConservativeHome Manifesto. The idea has also been championed by Halfon – Osborne’s PPS, no less.
It’s never smart to count one’s electoral chickens before they’re hatched, but a recent Lord Ashcroft poll of marginals found Halfon in a promising position in his current Harlow contest. If he gets back (as we devoutly hope), perhaps he could work on the Chancellor a bit. But at any rate, the Tory commitment to opportunity, help for less well-off people and lower taxes has already been put into practice.