Budget 1) Hammond cracks down on the self-employed

Scotsman Front Page (Budget 2017)“More than a million family-owned businesses and freelance workers will lose out because of the tax crackdown on dividend payments. They face paying up to £1,143 a year more in tax because of the way they choose to take an income. Many families who run newsagents, restaurants, shops, accountancy firms and other businesses take their earnings as company directors through dividend payments, rather than a monthly salary… Under plans announced by Philip Hammond yesterday, the dividend allowance will fall to £2,000 in April 2018 over concerns that it is being exploited by some workers.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Hammond: “The difference in NICs is no longer justified by the difference in benefits entitlement.” His Budget Speech: full text

Budget 2) …sparking anger over 2015 manifesto pledge

“Philip Hammond flatly denied ‘lying’ to the British public today as he defended his £2billion raid on the self-employed. The Chancellor faced a barrage of questions about the 2015 Tory manifesto pledge that there would be no rise in national insurance rates. His first Budget yesterday imposed swingeing hikes on around 2.5million self-employed – including many on low and middle incomes. The move prompted fury, with Tory MPs among those condemning the increase in ‘Class 4’ contributions – which was teamed with higher taxes on shareholders to raise funding for social care and an education shake-up.” – Daily Mail

  • Hammond faces backbench battle after ditching election vow – The Times (£)
  • Chancellor refuses to back down over ‘broken promise’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory MP’s fury over broken National Insurance promise – Daily Mail
  • The best of the backlash – Daily Telegraph
  • Dividend hit seen as tax on wealth creation – FT
  • Tax pledge was ‘cooked up on the hoof’ – The Independent


  • Dividend windfall shows people can be induced to pay – Paul Johnson, Times Red Box

>Today: MPs Etc.: Our Blurrt analysis shows how anger over Hammond’s NIC rise for some of the self-employed grew in the Budget’s aftermath

Budget 3) Allister Heath: The tragedy of Hammond’s unforced error

Guardian Front Page (Budget 2017)“He didn’t even consider the obvious answer that a true individualist would have given: to try, over time, to level down the burden on employees by cutting their taxes until both groups were treated equally. That is what free-market tax reformers and tax simplifiers would have proposed. Instead, Mr Hammond decried the “£6 billion cost” of self-employment, in itself a shockingly un-Thatcherite thing to say, and assumed that the only solution was to level up their taxes, smashing the spirit of a Tory manifesto pledge that ruled out a rise in National Insurance contributions.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A tax raid without the groundwork – Matt Chorley, Times Red Box
  • Who knew the engines of the economy were dirty tax dodgers? – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • If he must raise NI, he should level with voters first – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph



Budget 4) New tax on diesel cars being explored

“Ministers are considering tax hikes on diesels, it emerged last night. In a statement buried in the Budget documents, the Government confirmed it was looking at the ‘appropriate tax treatment’ for cars that use the fuel. It said it would ‘engage with stakeholders’ ahead of making any changes in the autumn budget. The Government said it was looking at options alongside plans to improve air quality but refused to give any more details. Last night motoring campaigners raised fears that measures could include an increase in car tax or fuel duty for diesel drivers.” – Daily Mail

  • Higher tax will be the death of diesel, warn campaigners – The Times (£)

More motoring:

  • Motorists hit by 10 per cent rise in car insurance costs – Daily Mail
  • Payout reforms bring a £5.6 billion bill – The Times (£)
  • A £270 million boost for driverless cars – The Sun

More energy:

  • Energy giants forced to simplify terms – The Sun

Budget 5) Fund to create new grammars and free schools

School“Hundreds of millions of pounds is to be pumped into creating free schools, with several expected to be grammars. The announcement was met with anger from school leaders, who argued that the government should be directing money to address urgent funding problems in state schools. Schools are expected to find real-terms savings of about £3 billion by 2020 and a new national funding formula will cut the budgets of thousands of schools substantially from 2019. Mr Hammond said: “I can announce funding for a further 110 new free schools, on top of the commitment to 500.” He has set aside £320 million to fund the schools.” – The Times (£)

  • Free school costs rise to £1 billion – FT
  • More cash needed for free childcare, nurseries warn – The Times (£)
  • Progress on technical education is overdue – FT
  • Economy kept afloat by ‘unsustainable’ spending, warns watchdog – The Independent
  • Return of 11-plus is May’s first real Trump moment – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Budget 6) Boost for social care but campaigners say much more is needed

“The crumbling elderly care system has been promised a £2 billion boost over three years, which patients’ groups said would simply “buy time” for an overhaul. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, acknowledged yesterday that the social care system was “under pressure” as it dealt with hundreds of thousands more elderly people at a time when budgets had been cut. Health groups welcomed his promise of a £1 billion cash injection in 2017-18 but warned that it was only half of what was needed to stop standards deteriorating further.” – The Times (£)

  • Social care funding set for major shake-up – FT
  • Extra NHS compensation payouts could cost £6 billion – The Sun
  • Government accused of back-door health privatisation – The Independent


  • A sticking plaster over a nasty wound – Baroness Altmann, The Times (£)
  • Boost is welcome but this is about more than money – Bob Hudson, The Guardian

More comment:

  • The Chancellor throws more good money after bad on the NHS – Andrew Haldenby, Daily Telegraph
  • Everyone is crying out for Hammond to invest, what will convince him? – Alfie Stirling, The Times (£)

Budget 7) Businesses still waiting on rates reform

tax“Those hoping that business rates might get a makeover were left disappointed yesterday. Yes, the controversial tax on bricks and mortar premises must better reflect the digital age, the chancellor admitted, but modernising measures could wait for another day. Instead he offered three short-term relief packages to cushion the blow for the businesses that will be worst affected when the rates come into effect next month. Philip Hammond said that councils would be given £300 million to help the hardest hit. Enthusiasm for the £435 million package was dampened by the decision to delay reform of business rates, which raise £25 billion a year. Critics have been saying that the property tax gives online retailers an unfair advantage over their high street rivals.” – The Times (£)

  • Hammond tackles rates row with £435 million relief – FT
  • Pubs welcome discount – Daily Mail


  • The Chancellor seems to think this row will just blow over – Nils Pratley, The Guardian

Budget 8) Smokers and drinkers take another hit

“The cheapest price of a packet of 20 cigarettes will be £7.35 from the summer as smokers and drinkers were clobbered with big tax increases on the back of rising inflation. The price of a typical pack of 20 premium brand cigarettes rose above £10 for the first time after the chancellor pressed on with the policy of increasing the duty on tobacco by two percentage points above inflation. The cost of a pint of beer will also increase, by 2p from midnight on Sunday, as Philip Hammond announced the first increase in beer duty for five years.” – The Times (£)

  • Why won’t he just say cigarettes have a price floor? Hammond introduces minimum excise duty – Daily Mail

Budget 9) Jeremy Warner: Don’t be fooled, Hammond hasn’t got a grip on spending

Building shieldOne of Mr Hammond’s aims in this Budget was to maintain fiscal credibility in the face of what threaten to be two years of difficult Brexit negotiations. He’s probably achieved that ambition. In the scale of things, the giveaways are not big enough to frighten the horses, and in any case are eventually just about balanced out by the takeaways of later tax increases. All the same, it’s not quite right to say he’s building up a substantial Brexit war chest, as insurance against a stalling economy. One way or another, he has found money to deal with the immediate crisis in social care and the NHS.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hammond plays it calm before the storm – Patrick Hosking, The Times (£)
  • A reassuringly upbeat message – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • What the Chancellor said, and what he meant – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • The real reason Hammond was smiling – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • Anti-Middle England and no mention of Brexit – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Hammond looked so relaxed because he was alone in the ring – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Yet again, the Budget ignored issues that will beggar our children – Max Hastings, Daily Mail


  • Hammond has done what he can to prepare for Brexit – FT
  • Careful investment in preparation for Brexit – Daily Express


Budget 10) Growth boosts foreign aid budget

“Britain’s aid budget will increase by at least £300 million by the end of the decade thanks to the strength of the economy, it has emerged. Yesterday, the Treasury’s official watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, significantly upgraded its 2017 growth forecast to 2 per cent. This means that the UK will have to spend more cash to meet the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income, which was enshrined in law by David Cameron.” – Daily Mail

  • Phil their boots… more for aid as taxes rise – The Sun

May caught in diplomatic crossfire over Tusk

EU FLagTheresa May was due to walk into the middle of a diplomatic showdown in Brussels later today when she attends what will almost certainly be her last European Union leader’s summit before triggering Article 50. European leaders are locked in a fierce battle with Poland over the re-election of Donald Tusk to a second term as president of the European Council. Poland has indicated it wants British support for a rival Polish candidate who in turn has almost no support from the other 26 member states.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Heseltine sacked as Government advisor – FT


  • Europe is united only in making Britain pay – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Thatcher didn’t dare sack Heseltine. But now May has done so.

Sturgeon hints at 2018 referendum

“Nicola Sturgeon has claimed autumn 2018 would be the ‘common-sense time’ to stage a second Scottish independence referendum. The First Minister yesterday refused to rule out holding another divisive vote on breaking up the Union within the next 18 months. And Miss Sturgeon insisted she is not and never has been bluffing about forcing voters to return to the polls on the issue which was ruled a ‘once in a generation’ vote in 2014.” – Daily Mail

  • MSPs vote against SNP over ‘failing’ education system – The Scotsman


  • SNP urged to use £350 million Budget boost to help economy – Daily Telegraph
  • Budget offers little to devolved governments – FT

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Foster fights for position after DUP’s disastrous election

News in Brief:

  • Eurocrats attack British efforts to root out terrorist sympathisers – Daily Mail
  • Britain facing £1.7 billion fraud penalty from Brussels – The Times (£)
  • Trump offers Huntsman ambassador to Russia – Daily Telegraph
  • The economy France’s next President could inherit – FT
  • Watchdog accused of using Budget to bury news about child abuse investigation – The Sun
  • Manchester scraps 20mph speed limit because it hasn’t made a difference – Daily Mail
  • Foster says Sinn Fein haven’t asked her to step aside – Belfast Telegraph