Emma Ann Hughes 

Hammond is a joke of a chancellor

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

As we face the uncertainty of Brexit we need to be confident in the wisdom, strength and conviction of our nation’s leaders.

Which is why it is shocking and quite frankly disgusting that chancellor Philip Hammond in the space of a week went from announcing he would “level the playing field” between different employment forms to reversing this key decision.

Last week Mr Hammond said lower National Insurance contributions from self-employed workers was forecast to cost public finances £5bn this year alone. 

To make the system "fairer", he said that National Insurance contributions would increase for the self-employed by 1 per cent to 10 per cent from April next year. 

That would then increase again to 11 per cent in 2019.

Yet exactly a week after announcing this plan in his first Spring Budget, Mr Hammond announced he would not raise national insurance contributions for the self-employed.

This is one of the swiftest and biggest Budget U-turns in modern British history.

On Wednesday (15 March) morning the chancellor released a letter saying there was a “clear view” among colleagues and the public that his proposals, announced in the Spring Budget on 8 March would have breached a manifesto commitment.

“In light of the debate over the past few days, it is clear that compliance with the ‘legislative’ test of the manifesto commitment is not adequate,” he wrote.

The move, just minutes before the weekly session of prime minister’s questions, came after days of pressure from Conservative MPs who were astounded that Mr Hammond would raise taxes on “strivers”.

I am not saying that the decision to turn on his heels and ease up on the self-employed was a bad one.

What I am saying is the fact he so swiftly did an about-face on something that dominated the Spring Budget tells the world he doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

I am sure some of you would argue, to err is human, and to admit a mistake was made and swiftly rectify it is to be applauded.

I truly believe humble leaders ask for feedback or constructive criticism and listen when it is dished out.

They admit their mistakes and aim to empower teams.

They show courage by being comfortable with calculated risk, failure and tackle errors head on.

However to announce a massive overhaul of the way the nation’s self-employed were taxed and then do a U-turn just a week later doesn’t show courage – it shows Mr Hammond is an idiot.

Why didn’t he seek the views of his fellow MPs and tax experts ahead of his Spring Budget?

If it became evident in just seven days how bad a move his tax grab on self-employed individuals was it suggests to me he didn’t spend long enough thinking or discussing what the measures would mean before he announced his Spring Budget plans.

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