At our post-Autumn Statement briefing this morning, held in conjunction with the IEA, we asked 10 questions of George Osborne.
We are challenging the Chancellor to explain, amongst other things, why the public sector pay bill has increased when there is supposed to be a pay freeze and the staff headcount has been cut, and why there has been no progress on simplifying National Insurance and Income Tax.
For those unable to attend the briefing session in Westminster this morning, the documents released at the briefing are now all online.
Here is a list of questions that George Osborne now needs to answer:
1. The Office for Tax Simplification was tasked with looking into simplifying National Insurance and Income Tax. Why have their findings not been announced?
2. With public sector employment down 6 per cent, why have pay bills increased by 2 per cent when taxpayers were promised a public sector pay freeze?
3. What impact would minimum alcohol pricing have on inflation and the uprating of benefits bills in the future?
4. Scrapping the planned 3p rise in Fuel Duty was welcome but, with pressure on living standards expected to worsen further in 2013, why will an increase be appropriate next September?
5. Why will bureaucrats distributing the Regional Growth Fund spend an extra £350 million better than the businesses themselves, who could be left with the money by cutting their taxes?
6. Do you accept some responsibility for the public confusion over the difference between the debt and the deficit? Just 6 per cent correctly understand that the Government is increasing the national debt, not cutting it.
7. In 2005 you said: “we may be able to move towards simpler and flatter taxes”. When do you think that could be possible?
8. You have promised greater freedom for individual schools to set pay. When can we expect the same for the NHS and the rest of the public sector?
9. You missed your debt target. Do you think that a target for spending itself would have been more effective, as research by international institutions suggests?
10. Now that flights are included in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, do you think Britain’s uniquely high Air Passenger Duty is justifiable?