Sunday , July 14 2024

Hammond’s chance

Assuming he is not replaced, UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is shortly to present his Budget, outlining spending and taxation plans.  This will be the first time we have the budget in the Autumn.

There has been conflicting talk of loosening the reins and then of tax rises.

First, let us  be clear, we have not really experienced so called austerity.  That is just a lie put about by Labour and its fellow travellers in the media and the self-interested ‘grievance industry’.

So, spending must be cut and cut significantly.

The minor spending reductions that we have seen since 2010 have had some effect on reducing the deficit but zero effect on National Debt.  This continues to climb.  Not surprising really – we are now borrowing money to give away in foreign aid – of course, this is madness but what could we expect from Red Tory Chancellor Osborne and ‘virtue signalling’ call me Dave Cameron?

I outlined, last November  the spending cuts that could be made.  These were the work of the Tax Payers Alliance (a worthy champion of taxpayers and very deserving of your support)  These are shown  here  (  The effects of some will take time to filter through but stopping HS2 must be an immediate action.  Spending £50, 60, 70 or 80 billion so as to save 20 minutes on a trip to Birmingham, is simply madness.

In the post-Brexit world, Britain needs to increase its attractiveness for business.  This means lower Corporation taxes and lower personal taxation.  We need to become a low tax low spend economy.  Yes I have no doubt this will upset the other EU countries but that is tough!  We will once again be an independent sovereign nation and can do what we want.  Probably, such an approach might influence the Brexit talks – so be it.  We are a free nation and that freedom includes the ability to simply walk away from the talks if Barnier and company seek to hobble our ability to run our country as we see fi

The UK, for the benefit of future generations – your children and grandchildren – needs to urgently reduce public spending.  At the same time, we need a simplification of the UK tax code.  I would contend that one of the major contributors to the industry that has sprung-up around tax avoidance, is the current complexity of tax law.  Indeed, I would suggest that there are parts of it that no one really understands!

In addition to the cuts proposed by the Tax Payers Alliance, I offer the following:

Public Sector Pay

The 1% pay cap should be maintained, however, in the NHS Jeremy Hunt should be encouraged to take more direct control over hospital trusts.  Trusts should immediately undertake a complete review of all of their middle management positions.  That is, not doctors, nurses or direct support staff but those other roles that hold the NHS up for ridicule.  Posts such as Diversity Directors or Assistant Diversity Directors or Equality Directors or Nursing Management coordinators etc.  Any role, yes any, that is not involved in the direct hands-on care of patients or in the day-to-day support of them (porters, cleaners, catering staff etc.) should be terminated.  The funds ‘freed-up’ can then be used to fund increases for nursing and/or extra nurses.  An Assistant Director of Diversity can easily command a salary of £45,000.  Add in around a minimum  20% for other costs and you could have £54,000 to distribute – do three or four of those and all front-line nurses in a given NHS Hospital Trust, could have a flat £1,000 increase.   No extra cost to the taxpayer, increased efficiency for the NHS and happier, better remunerated staff – simples!

Talking of simples – end the translation farce which costs the NHS £millions each year.  Signs and pamphlets shouldn’t need to be translated into 12 or 14 different languages.  English is the language of NHS England and that’s it.  I know, you’ll say that’s racist and such but think about how many commercial, private sector businesses put up menus and price lists in 12 different languages.

Public Sector Salaries

In addition to the current 1% cap, set a ceiling on public sector salaries.  The level should be £140,000.  No public sector employee, none, should be earning more than the Prime Minister. May and Hammond should ignore all of the usual ‘pay the best to attract the best‘ clap-trap from self-interested civil servants and town hall employees. At just under 6 times the national average wage £140,000 would still give the country a wide range of candidates.  There is a strong feeling that many of the current crop of public servants would have a very hard time commanding salaries of 50% of their current level, outside of the cossetted public sector.


Time to ‘bite the bullet’.  Yes people are living longer and other such arguments matter but fundamentally, we cannot afford the current provision.  So, from 2037, increase the current pension age from 66 to 67.  Then from 2040 increase it to 70.  This will give people plenty of time to plan for the change – some will and some won’t but none can say that they didn’t have time and so on.

Also on pensions, remove the ‘triple lock’.  Pension increases should be linked to an agreed and then non-changeable, version of the Retail or Consumer Prices Index.  That’s it.  State Pension income shouldn’t be allowed to accelerate ahead of other incomes.

Finally on this subject, end so called Final Salary schemes for Public Sector workers or rather, end all new entrants.  We must honour commitments made to existing staff, even if those commitments are over-generous but we don’t need to keep digging ourselves ever-deeper into an unfunded pensions hole.

This is what a Conservative Chancellor should be proposing – cuts to expenditure, cuts to the deficit and cuts to National Debt and of course, to promote growth and invectives, cuts to taxation.

Don’t think it will happen though.  Hammond will be timid (maybe he would be less so if he focused on the economy and kept his nose out of the Brexit talks) and he will show his Red Tory credentials by punishing core Tory voters and rewarding the various special interest groups who make the most noise.

Shame really but that’s the likely outcome.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog:


About Tom O'Brien

Tom is an English Conservative Christian currently working as a Finance Manager in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq. When not in Iraq, his home is in Grantham, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom; also the hometown of Margaret Thatcher.

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