Yesterday we saw how the public reaction to Philip Hammond’s first Budget turned sharply negative once people had time to let the tax raid on the self-employed sink in.
Hostility seems to be shared even by most the Government’s usual allies in the press – but not all of them. Here’s what four papers, three Tory-leaning and one pro-UKIP, had to say about it in their leaders this morning.
‘Terrible way to Phil the coffers with White Van Man tax mistake’
“Philip Hammond’s raid on the wages of self-employed White Van Men is a mistake. We like this Chancellor — and his otherwise super-cautious Budget yesterday was right for the uncertainty of the times. But increasing the National Insurance contributions of Britain’s army of strivers is a misguided idea The Sun could “never support. The Government has seriously underestimated the anger over it. Aside from anything it is a blatant breach of a 2015 manifesto pledge not to raise NI… Almost three million affected by the rise will pay an extra £240 a year on average. How does that square with Theresa May’s focus on exactly these “just about managings”?” – The Sun
‘The voters Hammond hammers at his peril’
“Hardest to forgive, however, was his attempt to disguise the impact of his new taxes. Indeed, his obfuscation was reminiscent of his predecessor at his most devious… For a start, Mr Hammond’s decision to make the self-employed pay more National Insurance was a naked breach of a manifesto pledge not to raise rates. It is dishonest to pretend the promise referred only to Class 1 contributions, not Class 4. Highly disingenuous, too, was his claim that those affected will pay an ‘average’ of only 60p a week more, when millions will be paying an extra £240 a year. Meanwhile, more than a million nest eggs will be hit by his £3,000 reduction in the tax-free allowance for shareholders and directors of small private firms.” – Daily Mail
‘We still await a Budget for Brexit’
“The tax treatment of the self-employed is a case in point. The assumption here is that since they pay lower National Insurance Contributions (NICs) than people in employment they should pay more to make things “fairer”. Mr Hammond has been guided in this approach by a review commissioned from Matthew Taylor, a former Labour strategist who was head of Tony Blair’s policy unit. Inevitably, the outcome was an instinctively Labour one – equalise by putting up taxes – not a Tory one, which should equally instinctively seek to close the gap by reducing taxes. This is an ideological divide that once differentiated the Conservatives from the centre Left but which has become increasingly blurred in recent years.” – Daily Telegraph
‘Careful investment in preparation for Brexit’
“Yesterday Philip Hammond proved that he is the right person to ensure that the nation’s finances are in a fit state to weather whatever brief storms may come our way. We will hear more about his changes to national insurance but on the whole this was a straightforward Budget. Resisting the temptation to spend the proceeds of higher-than-expected growth in recent months is indicative of this Government’s responsible management of the economy. What money Mr Hammond did choose to spend – notably funding for social care and to ease the impact of business rate changes – he did so carefully. Theresa May’s popularity is built on her serious approach to the business of governing. Mr Hammond is cut from the same cloth.” – Daily Express