THERESA MAY won’t be specific in her election manifesto, but she is clearly leaving the door open to further stealth taxes.
Out the window goes David Cameron’s 2015 pledge not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT, replaced by an assurance on VAT and a bland aspiration to “keep tax as low as possible.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s ears are still ringing from the boxing he took from May when his plan to raise National Insurance payments for the self-employed was seen to contradict the Tory manifesto.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon asserted yesterday that “the original proposal in the Budget is now off the table completely, because we are reviewing the status of self-employment.”
But Hammond announced in Washington last month: “It was self-evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly.”
Raising National Insurance may be “off the table” now, but, if the Tories are re-elected, it could return once Matthew Taylor’s self-employment review is published.
Don’t forget that the Tories promised no VAT increase in the 2010 general election before jacking it up to 20 per cent from 17.5 per cent just months later in an emergency Budget.
Self-employed workers should certainly be cautious about voting Tory on June 8, but no more than retired workers whose living standards will be under attack.
Jeremy Corbyn’s reference to a “tax on dementia” sums up May’s convoluted thinking on funding of social care.
Including the value of old people’s houses in the means test to receive social care at home and removing the cap on total care payments add up to a pincer movement to dispossess the vulnerable.
It will deny older people the ability to pass on their property and offer a measure of security to their children or other family members, as their assets will be handed over to the finance sector for profitable recycling into the housing market.
The wealthy elite, well capable of paying for private care, will have no such worries over their family home(s), means-testing or inheritance taxes.
Forcing the sale of older working-class people’s homes that they bought during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s when they were affordable amounts to a nibbling offensive against working-class home ownership, condemning more people to the profitable private-rented sector.
May hasn’t been specific about where she will draw the line for senior citizens to to qualify for winter fuel payments, but the real issue is the introduction of means-testing for this benefit, which always forces many people — often the most needy — to drop their claim.
State pensioners can expect to lose out on the Tories’ transformation of the triple lock into a double lock, dropping the 2.5 per cent minimum guaranteed annual increase.
The nasty party claims that pensioners have been doing better than the working population, citing percentage figures, but 2.5 per cent of not very much is bound to be worth much less than 1 per cent on the average wage, meaning that state pensioners are falling further behind in cash terms.
The PM defends her penny-pinching attitude to pensioners by stressing the need for financial prudence, yet she also confirmed her plan to hand billions of pounds to big business by cutting corporation tax to 17 per cent.
That lays bare the priority of her Cabinet of millionaires and makes the case strongly for her government’s replacement by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.