Simoney Kyriakou  

A Budget borrowed from Labour's playbook

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget aimed to be a budget for all the nation - "one nation", as he repeated during his speech.

At one point, Mr Sunak belaboured the opposition's front benches and said: "Our economy is well-prepared for the future, and it is well-prepared because of 10 years of a Conservative government.

Later, he said: "This is a Budget that will deliver on our promises to the British people. 

"And it is the Budget of a government that gets things done", highlighting additional funding for the NHS, tax reliefs for small business owners and a rise in the national living wage as examples of policies set out by the government.

He said: "Our plan for prosperity starts immediately by putting more money in people's pockets. 

"It was a conservative government that introduced the national living wage in 2016 giving Britain's lowest earners the biggest increase in 20 years."

In just four weeks’ time, the National Insurance threshold will rise from £8,632 to £9,500, which equates to a tax cut for 31m people, saving a typical employee over £100.

"And taken together, our changes to the NLW, income tax, and now national insurance mean someone working full time on the minimum wage will be more than £5,200 better off than in 2010", Mr Sunak said.

"The Conservatives", he added, "The real workers' party", he said, leaning across the table.

Of course, this 'political content' has been removed from the speech uploaded on HM Treasury's website, but it is there to listen to on parliament TV.

But if this set of measures was meant to appeal to the mass populace, it seems to have alienated the hard right.

While Mr Sunak suggested gleefully that the Conservatives have taken Labour's best ideas and run with them, there was no glee to the post-Budget commentary from right-wing think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Speaking in response to the rise in the NLA, professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, said: "Big increases in minimum wages will raise employer costs disproportionately in those poorer regions of the country the Prime Minister wants to help.

"Already, the ratio of minimum wages in Northern Ireland, Yorkshire and Humber, the East Midlands and Wales is higher than the 66 per cent target the Conservatives have set. 

“The Chancellor has seemingly bought into Labour's view that pay can be permanently pushed up by central diktat without damaging consequences – namely reduced employment growth."

A "central diktat"; "bought into Labour's view". It's clear Mr Sunak has put forward some populist policies that will be welcomed by some voters and not by others; if it works it can ensure a political coup for the Conservatives; if he fails, then he will be blamed for losing core voters. 

But what of his policies for financial advisers?