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What could George Osborne’s rabbit be?

19 March 2014

Presuming that George Osborne isn’t sitting in the Treasury, perspiring slightly as he tries to work out what on earth he could offer as a big surprise in the Budget, here are some suggestions on what that surprise rabbit from the hat could be*.

  1. A lower AME welfare cap funds a higher personal allowanceThe Chancellor is due to set the level of the spending cap for welfare in today’s Budget. Could he set it much lower than expected, and use the extra money saved to raise the personal allowance much higher than expected? This would mean he can tie welfare spending to taxpayers’ money in an even more explicit way than he has done previously, and challenge Labour to vote against the cap by saying that they’d be denying taxpayers more of their hard-earned cash during a cost-of-living crisis. This would also tie in with the tax transparency statements pioneered by Ben Gummer: more here on why those are useful to the Treasury’s drive to cut welfare spending.
  2. Air passenger dutyA cut in APD would be a nice little treat style announcement along the lines of previous efforts on beer. And it’s something the SNP has campaigned on, so it would help the ‘No’ campaign.
  3. National Insurance is renamed to the Earnings TaxBen Gummer’s 10-minute rule motion calling for this name change has sympathy at the highest levels of government. Could today be the day it’s announced as government policy? It would be another trap for Labour, which is widely expected to use NI to plug the gap in 2015.

*Disclaimer: this is pure punditry. All we know is that Osborne loves playing a strategic game, so whatever he does pull out of that hat will probably be quite an obvious bit of bait for Labour to walk into a political trap.

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Show comments
  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    He will of course do only one thing – he will continue to LIE.

    Paying off the deficit = doubling the debt
    Shares for rights = zero hours contracts
    Help to buy = help to sell

    Renaming NI to earnings tax = increasing taxation levels

  • Daniel Maris

    When you’ve got £200billion stuffed up your sleeve, you would have to be supremely incompetent not to be able to produce a rabbit out of a hat.

  • HookesLaw

    I would have thought the budget would try to neutralise ‘cost of living’ claims. But we should remember the deficit which needs to be cut.

    My own policy as chancellor would be to have a ‘forward look’ policy where lowering the deficit and paying off the debt and lowering spending was linked to a programme of income tax cuts. Once spending and debt repayment targets are met they would trigger income tax cuts.

    • Rockin Ron

      Jam tomorrow in other words, yeah that is really going to help us all feel better. It is more desperate now for Cameron and Co. so this all about trying to convince us that the so called recovery is robust. Everything done by all politicians is geared to the 2015 General Election. It should be seen in that light. The Budget today has little to do with principles, convictions or a moral imperative. It is entirely about doing what is necessary to con the people into voting for the Tories. It would have been the same whatever party was in power.

      • Daniel Maris

        I would agree, since votes are the currency of a democracy and how politicians turn a profit.

  • Alexsandr

    ‘All we know is that Osborne loves playing a strategic game, so whatever he does pull out of that hat will probably be quite an obvious bit of bait for Labour to walk into a political trap.’ nothing about what is good for the country then?

    • HookesLaw

      All you are commenting on is speculation both on actions and motives.
      An ‘earnings tax’ could always be renamed ‘NI’. It would not raise a penny more no matter what its name and would simply label the tories with another invented ‘tax’.
      NI should be properly hypothicared to health and welfare.

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