Osborne 1) Ministers empowered to force through housebuilding

HOMES Manifesto“George Osborne will today order sweeping reforms of the planning system to fast-track the construction of more than 500,000 homes. New laws will allow ministers to take over planning authorities in leafy areas that refuse to meet targets for house building. Treasury sources last night stressed that existing legal protections for the Green Belt will be retained. But ministers are braced for a fresh clash with the National Trust and other countryside groups, and are determined to face down so-called Nimbys, intransigent residents who oppose all development near their homes.” – Daily Mail

Osborne 2) Treasury at war over pension reform

“Radical plans to axe up to £34billion worth of annual tax perks on pension pots has triggered a fierce row within the Treasury. Branded risky and short-sighted by experts, the proposal would abolish tax breaks on the money savers put into their pensions and instead let them withdraw it tax-free later on. This is a complete reversal of the current system which allows money to be put into pensions tax-free but then charges a levy on the way out. The radical overhaul being mooted by the Government could turn pensions into ISA-style savings accounts and is said be favoured by young Treasury officials.” – Daily Mail

  • Taxman will get power to raid your accounts to recover debts – Daily Mail

Osborne 3) NATO ruling on intelligence spending undermines defence commitment

OSBORNE penknife“George Osborne’s promise to keep to a key NATO spending target was last night hit by an alliance ruling on intelligence cash. The Chancellor won major plaudits during his Budget statement on Wednesday by pledging to keep on spending 2 per cent of Britain’s annual income on defence until 2020. As well as boosting the MoD’s cash every year, he also plans to include a shared £1.5bn fund with spy chiefs in the total. But Nato bosses at its Brussels HQ made it clear only the money spent on spying that helps the military can be counted.” – The Sun (£)

Osborne 4) IFS claims minimum wage rise won’t compensate for lost tax credits

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies challenged the central claim of the budget yesterday by revealing that families who lose £1,000 a year from tax credit cuts are unlikely to be compensated by the rise in the minimum wage. Paul Johnson, the director, said the comparatively small rise in take-home pay was “not even close” to the losses that will be experienced by low-income families. “A large majority of tax credit losers will not be compensated,” he said. He also pointed out the government had deliberately chosen to hit those in work rather than other out-of-work groups, and the new rates for universal credit would act as a financial disincentive to finding a job. “It will reduce the incentive for the first earner in a family to enter work,” he said.” – The Times (£)

  • Institute claims that Budget hits poor working families – Financial Times
  • The Chancellor’s 13 million budget losers – Daily Mail
  • Osborne’s £6.5 billion tax hike condemned – Daily Telegraph

Other criticisms:


  • The living wage sounds good, but tax cuts are better – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • How I’d tear up the tax system and design a better one – George Bull, Daily Telegraph


Phil Collins: Face it Labour, the Chancellor has taken you to the cleaners

OSBORNE Horatius“George Osborne’s budget on Wednesday was explicitly and ardently about power. There is no point wishing away the scale of what Mr Osborne has just done. The statutory minimum wage for workers over the age of 25 will rise by 40 per cent, to £9.20 an hour, by 2020. Six million people will be better off. For a party that opposed the introduction of a wage floor less than two decades ago, this is a remarkable transformation. Not many political images last but the picture of Iain Duncan Smith punching the air (good for him, too) is a story the Tories can tell and retell.” – The Times (£)

  • This Budget was more New Labour than Thatcherite – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Osborne, not Cameron, is now running the show – Polly Mackenzie, The Times (£)


  • It’s 24 hours later, and IDS is still cheering – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor strikes a rugged pose after carpet bombing from Labour – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • Fist bumps all round as IDS heralds Arcadia – Donald Macintyre, The Independent

>Today: Michael Duncan in Comment: We need to talk about morality – or the Left will do it for us


Crouch defies Cameron’s proposals to water down hunting ban

A Conservative minister has defied David Cameron and accused him of trying to bring back fox hunting ‘via the back door’. Tracey Crouch, the sports minister, said she would vote against plans to change the rules on killing foxes. The prime minister will grant a free vote on the controversial move next Wednesday, and dozens of Conservatives are set to refuse to support their leader. MPs will debate bringing existing practice in England and Wales ‘into line’ with that in Scotland. If passed, it will allow more dogs to be used to flush out foxes to be shot.” – Daily Mail

  • Government publishes amendment to hunting act ahead of free vote – The Guardian
  • Opposing lobbies get ready to do battle on fox hunting – The Independent
  • Prime Minister plans for reform of ban, but not repeal – Daily Mail

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: I don’t like posh people on horses killing foxes

Prime Minister suggests UK will offer Greeks £1 billion bailout if they leave the single currency

Euro meltdown“David Cameron is preparing to prop up Greece with more than £1bn in UK taxpayers’ cash if the country exits the euro. Athens faces total economic collapse if eurozone leaders eject it from the single currency on Sunday – as is now expected. The PM believes Britain will then have a responsibility to step in with a big loan to halt a humanitarian crisis. No10 advisers have also warned him of the strategic disaster if left-wing leader Alexis Tspiras turns to Vladimir Putin’s Russia for help instead. The financial commitment will infuriate Tory Eurosceptics and risks a fresh row over Europe with his party.” – The Sun (£)

Wolfgang Nowak: Britain and Germany should team up to push Greece out of the euro

“The European Union is about more than simply demanding money from Germany. It needs to be reformed. So I implore the government of Britain to take a leading role in this, not retire from it. Germans are on your side. Polls in our most popular newspaper, Bild, show that German scepticism about bailing out Greece is currently running at 80 per cent. Even political and academic sentiment here is building that we should create a new EU – and start by letting Greece go, and helping it to introduce the drachma… The reality is that Merkel is much closer to Cameron than she states publicly.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Ashley Fox MEP’s column: Cameron makes Britain’s voice heard in a noisy room of EU leaders

Grayling threatens crackdown on charity cold callers…

Grayling470“Leading charities were in crisis last night after ministers threatened new laws to crack down on their ‘grotesque’ fundraising practices. As public fury grew over the use of ‘boiler room’ call centres, Chris Grayling told bosses they should be ashamed of the shocking practices exposed by an undercover Daily Mail investigation. The Leader of the House warned the Government would legislate if the charities did not ‘get their house in order’ immediately.” – Daily Mail

  • Major charities review practices after being caught out – Daily Mail

…as fears of rebellion force the Government to delay implementation of EVEL

“The government was forced yesterday into a climbdown on its plans to force through English votes for English laws next week, after fears of a Commons defeat. Chris Grayling, the Tory leader of the House, announced that the government would redraft the proposals and postpone a vote until the autumn. It had been due to take place next Wednesday, but Tory backbenchers raised the threat of a rebellion on Tuesday after speaking out in an emergency Commons debate. Given the government’s slim majority of 12, a handful of Tory rebels could have inflicted the government’s first major defeat of the parliament.” – The Times (£)

Government presses ahead with new strike laws after London disruption

On strike“New strike laws are to be published ‘within days’ to help prevent a repeat of this week’s chaos caused by militant rail workers. Ministers are fast-tracking the Trades Union Bill, following warnings that union leaders could call for a string of anti-austerity strikes this year. The move will impose minimum turnout thresholds on strike ballots that would have outlawed three-quarters of the strikes seen in recent years, and softened the impact of this week’s rail disputes.” – Daily Mail

  • The charts that reveal the ‘cushy life’ of Tube drivers – The Independent

Comment and Editorial:

Labour leadership: All four candidates oppose public sector pay curbs despite official party support

“The four candidates running for the Labour leadership opposed the Government’s curbs on public sector pay even though the party’s official line is to support the squeeze. Both Harriet Harman, the acting Labour leader, and Chris Leslie, the shadow Chancellor, acknowledged the need for pay restraint after George Osborne extended a one per cent ceiling for another four years. They want to shift Labour away from kneejerk opposition to spending cuts. But Liz Kendall, the Blairite candidate, said public sector workers should get a pay rise funded by reducing the £100bn spent on tax reliefs.” – The Independent

  • Plough cash from quantitative easing into infrastructure, calls Corbyn – The Independent
  • Kendall denounces Syriza as ‘extremists’ – The Independent

Hunt calls for all children to sit British values test

SIllyHunt“School children should take a ‘Life in the UK’ test to ensure they have the same understanding of British values as immigrants, Labour’s Tristram Hunt said today. The shadow education secretary called for a ‘proper National baccalaureate qualification’ in which all pupils are tested on British history and values before leaving school. He said because immigrants are required to take a UK citizenship test so should British school children. Mr Hunt, speaking at the Education Reform summit in London today, called for all young people ‘to come out of school with the new understanding migrants come to the country with’.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • RAF poised to evacuate 3000 Britons from Tunisia – Daily Mail
  • The unwitting students funding Islamist projects – The Times (£)
  • Indonesian pilots were radicalised by ISIS – The Independent
  • Iran talks in deadlock as deadline passes – Financial Times
  • Desperate Greeks could agree to tough austerity measures to avoid Grexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Britain punished for outpacing Europe with £3.1 billion hike in contributions – Daily Mail