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On air today

On air

Alistair Darling: Now is not the time to scrap 50p tax rate



  • 14:17
  • Alistair Darling MP
    • 21/03/12
    • Alistair Darling MP, Former chancellor of the exche...
    • Sky News


Alistair Darling said the 50p tax rate brought in under Labour was meant to be temporary, but now is not the time to reduce it.

"It was temporary, but I don't think my first port of call now, when an awful lot of people in this country are being squeezed, would have been to reduce the 50p rate."

"You have to look at, overall, what is happening to people on lower and middle incomes, they’ve got the VAT increase, they’ve got the child benefit changes which are still going to affect a number of people who I don’t think would regard themselves as being hugely well off.

"He’s also done something very odd to the pensioners, the tax allowance. He said that nobody would lose in cash terms, which is another way of saying you’re going to lose in real terms. And if you look at the numbers in the Budget that is published, it is quite a substantial sum.

"So I think that when people look at the figures during the course of the day, they will see that certainly people at the top have done quite well, I think people at the bottom will remain squeezed.

"And one further thing, when you cut tax, you lose the income. People do not buy a house every day of the year, they do it periodically, so you can’t equate the two."

17.20 BBC News

He questioned the Chancellor’s figures about the amount the top rate of tax brought in and how much the replacement measures would save.

“I don’t accept it’s useless. According to the Treasury’s own figures it brought in £1bn in its first year of operation and when you’re calculating how much tax will bring in, there’s always going to be a variance as to exactly how much you bring in. And it’s equally so when you talk about the tax avoidance loopholes that are going to pay for this – you can never be sure with tax avoidance how much you’re going to bring in.

“And I simply find it very odd and very convenient that the Treasury say ‘look, we’ll lose £3bn but we’ll get £2.9bn back in’...

“I think the real problem here is George Osborne, for political reasons, wanted to say that he was going to cut it. As I say, I do not have a philosophic objection to that, but I think it has led to him to then have to look at other things at the bottom end of the income scale which I think are going to cause real problems.”

He backed many of the Government’s measures announced today, but pointed out many of them had already been trailed and not implemented.

“I welcome a lot of what’s been announced. The only thing I’d say is that some of these things have been announced two or three times – some of them have been announced by me – and they haven’t actually been implemented yet, like the Green Investment Bank which I announced in my last Budget, or the tax relief for the games industry which I announced and then the new government said it didn’t want to  - now they’ve changed their mind, saying their prepared to look at another runway in the south-east.

“All these things, I think, are good. My question is is there enough there to boost confidence and to send out the right signals that ‘yes, we’re preparing for recovery’.”

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