David Blackburn

George Osborne’s last chance: 40p…or childcare?

Next week’s Budget is the last chance for George Osborne to make a ‘game-changing reform’. Backbench Tories have been clamouring for Osborne to reduce the number of people paying the 40p rate – in the hope that this will secure middle class votes. Lords Lawson and Lamont have added their august voices to that camp. And UKIP joined the fray this afternoon by pledging, according to the Telegraph, to raise the 40p threshold to £45,000.

Without denying that the 40p rate has become a serious issue (our own Melanie McDonagh takes a dim view of the government for having lowered the threshold), The Spectator proposes a simpler and politically more inclusive reform option: childcare. Here’s an extract from the leading column in this week’s magazine:

‘Study after study highlights this problem. The OECD recently calculated that the economic growth that the Chancellor now likes to boast about could be half a percentage point higher each year if Britain had as many women in work as France or Holland have. This amounts to £46 billion — and tax revenues of almost £20 billion — over a parliamentary term. Crudely put, the Exchequer could gain more than the tax relief costs.

‘To be cruder still, the Tories have a women problem. If Osborne was able to show that his attempt to run a ‘workers’ party’ also applied to members of the opposite sex, he might be taken more seriously.’

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