Published on 11 Apr 2012

Budget pursues PM all the way to Jakarta

On normal work days I share a postcode with the Prime Minister, but he’s decided to do his first UK TV interviews since the Budget in Jakarta. You can see mine on Channel 4 News tonight at 7.

The issue of the day that is dogging him is the Budget fall-out on capping tax relief for charitable donations. The PM sounded in his joint press conference with the Indonesian President like a man who was ready to look again at all this.

Hard to see how he avoids it given the voices and arguments raised against it and the stinking letter from philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley that’s sitting on his desk when he gets home. The total amount scored in the Budget Red Book for savings from capping all unlimited reliefs, not just charitable giving, is north of £1b … so consulting with philanthropists is probably something that should have been done earlier.

Anyway, the PM says they’re consulting now.

Once upon a time, early in the Coalition, David Cameron used to say to aides that the public didn’t mind “U-turns” – a press obsession they didn’t share. But the risk of looking like a government that can be pushed around (and a government that doesn’t always do its homework) is a badge he doesn’t want.

Of course, the tax reliefs clampdown is part of the general multi-billion pound tax avoidance clampdown which is supposed to more than cover the government’s political backside as it reduces the 50p tax rate for those on £150k+. But how reliable are those avoidance clampdown revenues? And doesn’t the whole saga start with the government throwing in the towel on the £150k+ bracket because they successfully duck and dive taxes due, and get a new reduced rate of tax at 45p as a reward?

Those folk who reversed an old adage and said a Budget with immediate bad reviews might turn out to get better ones over time still have some time to wait.

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3 reader comments

  1. Denis stephens says:

    Why do you have to talk about nonsense items of domestic policy when the Prime Minister is on a flag waving trip to Indonesia.

    You and your colleagues at C4 are just out ot cause mayhem. You do not support Britain

    You are always trying to make the news not report it.

  2. Richard Woodhouse says:

    Just heard the interview on Channel 4 news. I would much rather rich people pay their taxes so that elected officials can decide what to spend their tax on rather than millionaires deciding which “good” cause they would like to support. MPs have to justify to the electorate whilst millionaires can give to whoever they want. We need to ask the question whether we want a funded NHS, army, welfare state or whatever rich people want?

  3. Cynical one says:

    I can only echo the above comments. We need accountability and however imperfect that is what our political system is for. Do we want taxpayers to support welfare benefits/defence/NHS etc or to have unaccountable individuals funding for instance new facilities at their alma mater?

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