In the UK, budgets are normally presented in November. This week, we look at media commentary on an unusual spring budget.
The Guardian writes that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was right to break an election promise and to raise taxes on self-employed workers. But the chancellor needs to do even more in response to Brexit and to improve healthcare and adult social care, the newspaper writes.
…At the heart of this budget was a promise to put up taxes on self-employed workers, who are disproportionately working-age men, to pay for health and social care services which benefit young families and pensioners. … This is a repudiation of a Thatcherite myth that the self-employed were all entrepreneurs whose virtuous animal instincts should be rewarded by being taxed at a lower rate than traditional employment. …
The Daily Telegraph agrees that Hammond’s budget should have done more in response to Brexit. But the newspaper’s editorial writers do not believe that raising taxes on the self-employed will lead to a more equitable society.
… The assumption here is that since they pay lower National Insurance Contributions (NICs) than people in employment they should pay more to make things “fairer”. Mr Hammond has been guided in this approach by a review commissioned from Matthew Taylor, a former Labour strategist who was head of Tony Blair’s policy unit. Inevitably, the outcome was an instinctively Labour one — equalise by putting up taxes — not a Tory one, which should equally instinctively seek to close the gap by reducing taxes. …