I wrote for the Telegraph on the implications of the Prime Minster’s tax announcement at the Conservatives’ conference in Birmingham:
The big announcements in David Cameron’s conference speech were a commitment to raising the personal tax allowance from £10,000 to £12,500 by 2020, and the level that people start paying the 40p higher rate from £41,900 to £50,000. Here, we explain the impact – both on the Government’s finances and your own.
The place to be at this Conservative Party Conference certainly wasn’t the Main Hall.
This year, the TaxPayers’ Alliance joined with the Institute of Economic Affairs, Business for Britain and the Free Enterprise Group of MPs to host ThinkTent, a hub of open debate and honest opinions. Most events were standing room only, with the ThinkTent even acquiring a permanent detachment of conference security guards who feared that the overcrowding might lead to a fire risk. Many events had to be run on a “one in, one out” basis with queues stretching around the block!
The explanation for the popularity of our well-appointed tent was apparent from the very first event on the European question with the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP entertaining a packed out crowd, and the quality of the speakers stayed consistently high throughout. One of our security guards confessed that he was very much enjoying his station since he could listen in on what were at times quite heated debates. When asked why they had been queuing for more than half an hour, one delegate told me that our events were the best available.
ThinkTent wasn’t just popular amongst conference delegates but made the front page. John Redwood’s comments on business and politics hit the front page of the Financial Times, and the Morning Star described how the Rt Hon Francis Maude “sucked up” to “fans” of the TaxPayers’ Alliance with comments that he’d like to bring the tax burden down. Journalists were there for more than our excellent wifi connection – they were there for stories.
The response to ThinkTent was overwhelmingly positive and there was plenty of praise for the TaxPayers’ Alliance too. Steve Baker MP praised our 2020 Tax Commission and Conor Burns MP described our ability to hold politicians’ feet to the fire. The highest praise we received however, came from the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance are my favourite organisation,” said the MP for Brentwood and Ongar at our Sunday night reception. “They don’t ask me for grants, and they never will.”
Our kind thanks must go to Mastercard, who sponsored the ThinkTent. The planning for next years starts in earnest now.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech at Conservative Party Conference and the announcement of two major taxation policies, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“This was a positive speech for taxpayers, with tax cuts for the lowest paid and long-overdue relief for ordinary people being clobbered by the higher rate of tax. Leaving more of people’s money in their own pockets is not just morally right, but the best way to promote economic growth and long-term prosperity. Taxes in Britain have been too high for too long, and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to want to bring them down for hard-pressed working people.
“The next step must be to bring National Insurance thresholds in line with Income Tax, taking those on the lowest pay out of tax altogether.”
Responding to the Chancellor’s speech at Conservative Party Conference, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“The Chancellor is spot on that you can’t tax your way out of a deficit, and that Britain’s astronomical debt must be dealt with. However, much more needs to be done to face up to the huge challenges Britain faces. That means radical tax reform, a war on waste, and another hard look at public spending.”
On the freeze of working age benefits, he continued:
“Freezing benefits is a necessary step towards restoring discipline to our public finances, and ensuring that taxpayers get a fair deal from the welfare system. The benefit system must support those in need and help people into jobs, but can never become a long-term alternative to work.”
On the headline measure to abolish the 55% “death tax,” he continued:
“A tax cut – any tax cut – is always welcome, but piecemeal measures like this don’t represent the radical reform our tax system needs. Britain needs more vision, more ambition, and more boldness from all of its political leadership.”
UKIP today announced a number of new policies, the details of which can be found here. Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, responded by saying:
“For every good policy announced today, UKIP conjured up a bad one. Despite all the talk of simpler, fairer taxes, many of the proposals announced today will only increase taxes and add further complexity to our already baffling tax system. The frankly bizarre “luxury tax” on handbags and Jimmy Choos would be a nightmare to administer, add hundreds of pages to the tax law books, and would send a very strong anti-aspiration message.
“All parties should promise to abolish the unfair and unjust Inheritance Tax, and the Barnett Formula needs significant reform. But where were the radical proposals to reduce spending? It’s wrong to claim savings from HS2 – which should be scrapped – could pay for anything else, as the money needs to be borrowed anyway. Tax cuts deliver economic growth and raise money in the long-term, but they must be accompanied by clear proposals showing how to bring the deficit down.”