by Conor Holohan, media campaign manager
Once the TPA gang had finished loading up the van destined for Conservative Party Conference in Manchester with boxes of our lights, cameras and microphones, we returned to our desks, slightly out of breath, to some alarming news.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies had released a new report forecasting tax levels, and it made for grim reading. The IFS tells us that this has been the biggest tax-raising parliament since records began, and that taxes are heading for an all time high. By the next election in 2024, unless the chancellor changes course, taxes will amount to 37 per cent of national income - something unprecedented in the post-war period.
So, as we read this news, and as our gear started its journey to conference, where we host two days of panel discussions and interviews along with the Institute for Economic Affairs, we reflected on one particular person who won’t be joining us at Think Tent: Jeremy Hunt.
Last year, Kwasi Kwarteng joined us when he was at Number 11. The year before, Rishi Sunak sat down with us during his time as chancellor. The year before that, it was Sajid Javid who came to Think Tent. Alas, this year, Jeremy Hunt won’t be there. We invited him, but he did not accept our invitation.
It’s disappointing that the current chancellor has decided not to use this opportunity to present his case, like his predecessors. We’ve seen repeated warnings that tax cuts are “virtually impossible”, yet it’s clear this is a political choice. Taxes are at a postwar high already and, if thresholds remain frozen, they look set to rise ever higher. And it’s far from clear exactly what taxpayers are getting in return
There will, of course, be other discussions, panels and interviews about tax and spend. But the direction of travel has been concerning for taxpayers, as outlined by the IFS’s report, and it would have been an opportunity for Hunt to give some indication of his priorities and the level of his commitment to cutting waste. We’ve heard, of course, that he wants to slash Whitehall waste, but what progress is he making? What is he planning to do to stamp out the civil service jobs boom?
Answers on a postcard. But those of us who see easing the burden on working people and business as a priority will be there at Think Tent, so please join us to hear a range of authoritative voices discussing spending restraint, foreign aid, local government, immigration and a whole host of other topics.
See you in Manchester!