Early thoughts on the Conservatives' tax announcements

The Conservative Party’s Social Justice Policy Group will be presenting its findings tomorrow. It has been widely trailed in the media. Two stories today, in the Financial Times and the Telegraph, will leave taxpayers with mixed feelings.

On the positive side, David Cameron said yesterday that he will go into the next election pledging a full review of Britain’s tax and benefits system to make it more marriage-friendly. If this results in tax reductions for married couples (rather than tax rises for single people and unmarried couples), it can only be a good thing. Families have had to endure years of inflation-busting tax rises, with little to show for the extra spending it has financed. Recognising their difficulties and doing something to reverse Gordon Brown’s tax raids will be good for the economy and a popular electoral move.

On the negative side, however, it is reported that the Policy Group will tomorrow recommend a tax hike on alcohol to tackle binge drinking. We have no issue with the diagnosis that there is a serious alcohol problem in Britain that is leading to social and family breakdown. But we question whether hitting the hard-pressed taxpayer yet again will solve the problem. Why should ordinary people enjoying a pint after work have to pay more? Politicians should realise that raising taxes is not a solution to all the world’s ills.

We look forward to reading the report in full tomorrow.

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