Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ed and the 10p tax cut

Ed Miliband never has great luck on his "big" speech days. If the Oscar Pistorius shooting story doesn't knock him off the news agenda then events in the Chris Huhne and Vicky Price trial later today could. 

Then, in some ways the timing couldn't have been better. By the skin of his teeth the Labour leader has beaten the Tories to the draw on a 10p tax rate for low earners.

Cameron dropped an inadvertent hint yesterday at PMQs that Osborne was considering a 10p tax rate for next month's make or break budget.

Opportunistic, ruthless and playing fantasy economics -  all that will be thrown at Miliband today but the Osborne will be grinding his teeth while calculating a counter-attack.

The simplest one is  -do the numbers stack up?

According to Labour £2 billion could be raised from a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million.

That £2 billion pays for a 10p tax rate  that will leave 25 million  basic rate tax payers up to £100 a year better off.

A House of Commons Library assessment calculates that the 10p rate would cost £6 billion if came in between the tax free personal allowance (£9,440) and £12,000.

Ed Balls says all tax and spending commitments will have to wait for a 2105 manifesto and depend on the state of the economy and the public purse in two year's time.

Incidentally, reversing Gordon Brown's policy of "simplifying" the tax system by getting rid of the 10p rate also distances Miliband from the old regime, something that is necessary if the One Nation sensation is gong to happen.

But the main  message from Labour is clear - Ed is on the side of low paid workers, Dave is siding with the millionaires. Somewhere in there the Lib Dems will argue that raising the level at which people pay income tax was their idea all along. All this will be drowned out in what looks like a very busy news day.

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