Britain has always prided itself on being a hard-working country and rightly so. But many households striving to provide for themselves have found they have to work harder and harder to stand still – prices are going up and wages are not keeping pace.
The Chancellor’s budget speech was aimed squarely at these hard-working families on middle incomes. The most direct way any government can put more money straight into taxpayers’ pockets is to simply take less of it in the first place and the £1,100 increase to the personal allowance will do exactly that. This one change will see 24m families better off.
The coalition has been clear from the start that its goal is to raise the allowance to an eventual £10,000 and take more than two million people out of income tax altogether.
While every government wants to do more for the least well-off in our society, channelling this support through the income tax system re-enforces the fundamental tenet that working hard pays.
For many of our young people, who are finding it harder than ever to begin their careers, we need to support the companies that will provide the jobs they need and feed their ambition to start their own businesses.
The Chancellor’s stated aim to get income tax, small business tax and corporation tax all around 20 per cent shows the government’s determination to make Britain the best place to do business.
The announcement that the government is going to build on the New Enterprise Allowance, considering new ways of helping young people set up and grow their own business, including piloting a programme of enterprise loans, shows it is serious about making it possible for young people follow their ambitions.
But these are still tough times and there should be a debate about how the government spends people’s money. The simplest way to help this happen is to be straight with people about where their money is going.
The Chancellor’s commitment to send people an annual statement, from 2014, showing where their money has gone will give people an important tool to judge how funds are being spent.