Budget 2021

Rishi Sunak has blown his premiership

The amount the state takes out of the economy will rise to the highest level in 70 years. An unreformed public sector will be showered with cash, with the health service allowed to spend whatever it likes. A tax system that was already creaking under the weight of its own complexity has just been made slightly more complicated, and it has been made a lot less competitive. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak with his usual panache sailed through his Budget yesterday. The problem, however, is this. While he might get away with pushing up taxes and spending for now, sooner or later it is going to catch up with him. And

The significance of the Universal Credit taper rate cut

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have always been keen to stress that they are low-tax Conservatives — declarations that have previously sounded a bit like St Augustine’s prayer for the Lord to make him virtuous, but not yet. But the Budget announcement that the Universal Credit taper rate will be cut from 63 to 55 pence is a significant tax cut and one aimed at those most in need of it. When the Tories were in opposition, David Cameron railed against the 96 per cent marginal tax rate facing people moving from welfare into work. Universal Credit, introduced by the coalition government, was meant to solve this problem. It did

Isabel Hardman

Rishi Sunak is a problem Labour can’t solve

Given Rishi Sunak spent so much of his Budget pointing out how high spending was – and given he announced some very Labour-friendly measures, such as a surprisingly big cut in the taper rate of Universal Credit from 63 per cent to 55 per cent – whoever responded on behalf of the Opposition was going to have a tricky job. Sir Keir Starmer should have been performing this thankless task, but thanks to his sudden self-isolation after a positive Covid test, it was the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves who had to do it instead. It’s not clear how much of the speech was her own and how much of it

20 taxes Rishi should bin

When Rishi Sunak takes to the Despatch Box on Wednesday it will be against a backdrop of colossal national debt, the recent rise in government bond yields and the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. The British state owes £2.1 trillion, ten times the size of the entire economy of an independent Scotland. Yet some concerns over the health of the public finances are misguided – or at least exaggerated. The increase in borrowing to pay for Covid does not itself have to be repaid (at least in the short term). Why? Because provided the government can continue to make the interest payments, debt can simply be rolled over. What’s more, the UK