The PM can talk about Labour's recklessness with money all she wants - it's the Tories who have been throwing cash away.
Whether it was comparing Britain to Greece, or shrugging off the facts on poverty, today’s PMQs was a reminder of just how out of touch the Conservatives have become.
But the scale of dissembling stood out the most. Responding to calls from Jeremy Corbyn for the government to end the public sector pay cap, the Prime Minister said that ‘we have to live within our means’, that unlike Labour ‘I know we need to pay for [public services]’.
If that’s the case, why would they undermine their own tax base? Time and time again, the Conservatives have cut taxes on the rich.
Here’s a selection of policies ‘for the few, not the many’:
1) Slashing corporation tax from 28% in 2010 to 17% by 2020.
This move is expected to cost £2.5bn a year by 2020. Yet a 1% pay rise for our public sector workers would cost around £1.5bn per year.
So if the choice is: hand it to big corporations, or to nurses – the government have made their decision clear.
2) Lifting the threshold for higher-rate tax from £43,000 to £45,000
This change was brought in just this April – at huge cost. The Resolution Foundation found:
“Four-fifths of the gains from the increase in the tax thresholds will go to the richest half of households – whereas two-thirds of the losses from benefit cuts are felt by the poorest third of households.”
3) Cutting the higher rate of capital gains tax from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.
This applies only to people selling assets (e.g. shares) over £11,000. And since this excludes primary residences (i.e. flogging your house), this change almost exclusively benefits speculators and company owners.
4) Reducing the levy on banks. This June, Phillip Hammond was slammed for failing to stop George Osborne’s cut to the bank levy – a tax giveaway that is expected to cost £1bn this year.
That levy is set to fall even further – it went from 0.21% to 0.18% on 1 January 2016 – and will continue to decrease each calendar year thereafter until 2021.
5) Introducing a ‘£1m couple’s allowance’ by raising the inheritance tax threshold
According to FullFact:
“Changes to inheritance tax since 2010 do seem to have reduced the tax paid on death. They will have reduced government revenues by around £140 million next year, rising to a forfeit of about £770 million each year by 2021/22.”
So that’s another £0.8bn per year as a giveaway to the wealthiest.
All this money is on top of the £1bn Theresa May found behind the sofa to keep her own job, of course…
Theresa May can talk about Labour’s recklessness with money all she wants – it’s the Tories who have been throwing cash away. Except in this case, it’s to those who need it least.
Josiah Mortimer is the Editor of Left Foot Forward.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.