Lib Dems react to the Autumn Statement

So, April election anyone?

The Autumn Statement is a deceptively feelgood package of giveaways in which the already rich benefit most whether businesses or people and the really poor suffer more. Want to take a guess which group is more likely to vote Conservative. Jeremy Hunt has produced a cynical Statement that is all about the Conservative Party with no regard to what the country actually needs.

Will this attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes and pretend the past 7 years of hell didn’t happen work? Surely people’s memories are longer than that.

Underneath it all, the growth projections for the economy are terrible for the next couple of years. While the US, with all the fiscal stimulus Joe Biden has thrown at it, is doing pretty well.

Sarah Olney, our Treasury spokesperson, was unimpressed:

This is a deception from Jeremy Hunt after years of cruel tax hikes on hard-working families from this government.

Conservative chaos has sent mortgages and tax bills soaring, today’s announcements won’t even touch the sides.

Worse still was the deafening silence on health. These dismal forecasts show the economy is on life support and reducing NHS waiting lists is the shot in the arm needed.

It is a no-brainer that we need people off waiting lists and back to work, yet this Conservative government simply doesn’t care.

Today has been more stale nonsense from a Conservative government out of touch and out of ideas.

Ed Davey points out that for all the gimmicks in the Budget, people are still worse off because of the freezing of tax rates. The Hunt Hoax he calls it:

This Autumn Statement was a Hunt hoax. Buried in the small print is a massive stealth tax raid that will drag millions into paying a higher rate in the coming years.

The British people will rightly be furious at this deception, as they are forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos through years of unfair tax hikes.

It is high time that this Conservative government came clean about just how much money they are taking out of hard-working families’ pockets.

He cites the graphics on pages 69-71 of the OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook which says

4m people brought into paying income tax

3m people brought into paying the 40p rate

0.4m people brought into paying the 45p rate

The total additional government revenue from the income tax and national insurance threshold freezes over 6 years (2023-24 to 2028-29) will be £201bn.

The Treasury’s giveaways today only amount to a quarter of that over the same period.

London Mayoral Candidate Rob Blackie said there was nothing in the Autumn Statement for London:

There is nothing in here for London. Our housing crisis remains unaddressed, growth prospects gloomy and our public services remain under strain.

Talk of improving public sector productivity is meaningless without proper investment to make it happen.

There are over 3,000 police officers that are stuck in the back office instead of serving on the frontline because the Government refuses to fund Met Police staff.

This was yet another missed opportunity to fix London’s broken public services.

Welsh Leader Jane Dodds called for a General Election now:

Today has seen more stale nonsense from a Conservative government out of touch and out of ideas.

Rishi Sunak must be living on a different planet if he thinks this will ease the pain for hardworking families after years of cruel tax hikes from his government.

The Tories have once again shown themselves to be completely out of touch and are once again failing Wales.

We desperately need a general election now to vote out a government that is unfit for power and has no real mandate to back them

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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9 Comments

  • Mick Taylor 22nd Nov '23 - 6:48pm

    It is indeed a budget for the rich, yet again. People on low incomes do not pay NI, so will not benefit from any reduction. Neither, of course, do pensioners or benefit claimants. Now the increase in pensions and benefits is welcome, but they are still amongst the lowest in Europe. Instead of using the ‘headroom’ to properly fund the NHS and training for medical personnel, the chancellor blunders on with his so-called tax cutting agenda. I imagine he hopes people will wrongly believe that these tax cuts are for them, when, as Ed Davey has rightly said, the actual tax burden for most people is still going up.
    I suppose we should be grateful he isn’t doing anything about inheritance tax, which would be beneficial only to those with very large estates, although for some reason people believe that they will pay it although it only applies to estates higher than £375000 and spouses don’t pay any tax until the second death and there are myriad ways to avoid paying at all.
    Let’s all redouble our efforts to oust this disreputable and malicious government and let’s hope people are not fooled by the smoke and mirrors of the chancellor’s statement.

  • Nonconformistradical 22nd Nov '23 - 7:49pm

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/nov/22/hunt-criticised-by-boss-of-childcare-company-that-sunaks-wife-invests-in

    “The head of a childcare company backed by the prime minister’s wife has attacked the government following the autumn statement, accusing ministers of letting nurseries go bust.

    Rachel Carrell, chief executive of Koru Kids, criticised a failure to allocate extra money for the childcare sector despite many providers saying that they could go out of business under reforms brought in earlier this year.”

    “Joeli Brearley, the chief executive of the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed pointed out that Hunt had spent money on tax breaks for pubs, but none on childcare. “The irony of an autumn statement on Equal Pay Day which prioritises pints over childcare was not lost on us,” she said. “The government clearly thinks the crumbs they offered parents during the spring statement is enough – it is not.””

  • Peter Davies 23rd Nov '23 - 9:16am

    @Mick Taylor Actually many benefit claiments do pay NI and the number is rising. None pays enough to make up for the non-indexing of allowances.

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Nov '23 - 9:26am

    @PeterDavies. I am surprised that benefit claimants are given enough to be liable for tax or NI! I suppose that as benefits rise and allowances do not that some will be dragged in to tax. I think the general point I was making that low income earners of whatever ilk don’t benefit from this budget stands. I wonder how many will still believe there has been a tax cut? I remember a LibDem councillor who thought the 50% tax rate applied to her although she earned nowhere near enough to pay it and didn’t believe it even when it was explained!

  • Peter Davies 23rd Nov '23 - 10:32am

    Single earner couples with children with a wage around £35k would count as poor by equivalised household income. Because they are only using one tax allowance, they would benefit more from the NI cut than they would lose from the failure to increase allowances. There’s a band above each threshold where people will lose out. The biggest losers would be those whose inflation linked pay rises caused them to lose child benefit.

  • Christopher Haigh 23rd Nov '23 - 10:55am

    @peterdavies- some state benefits such as state pension and carers allowance are taken into consideration when working out overall income tax liability but they are not subject to national insurance contributions.

  • Peter Davies 23rd Nov '23 - 2:11pm

    @Christopher Haigh I’m not talking about benefits being subject to NI. I’m talking about people earning more than the NI threshold and hence paying NI. They are still poor enough to get Universal Credit.

  • I think one thing we should be cognisant of in our political messaging is that higher taxes are here to stay as the IFS has noted Taxes Will Hit ‘Highest Ever Level’ After Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, Says IFS
    The modest tax cuts announced yesterday are paid for by planned real cuts in public service spending. That is not something Liberal Democrats can advocate or support with such a pressing need for additional funding of services and welfare support.
    We need to get used to the fact that the requirements of the NHS and state pension provision will keep growing in real terms while per capital GDP has flatlined (being lower than pre-pandemic levels). UK Real net domestic product per capita
    Economic growth is likely to remain more or less flat for the forseeable future in the absence of a see-saw change in the low levels of household savings and private sector investment. The only practical way forward is a gradual approach to North European levels of taxation (including social security) coupled with tax reforms that distribute that tax burden as equitably as possible.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Nov '23 - 4:43pm

    “We need to get used to the fact that the requirements of the NHS and state pension provision will keep growing in real terms”

    I think this is a key point. When the NHS was first created it could do much less for people than – given the resources – it can now with advances in medecine. And most of us are living much longer than when either the NHS or state pension were created – they have to be paid for.

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