Jeremy Hunt and the Conservative Party hailed the 2024 Budget as one that would reduce the scarily high taxes. He announced a 2p cut in National Insurance, extended the fuel duty freeze and smoothed the High-Income Child Benefit Charge so money is clawed back when a parent earns over £60k, rather than £50k, with smaller deductions as salaries increase.

No one could question that these policies are, in themselves, positive developments. Many parents, for example, have been paying some of the highest marginal tax rates in the UK, often over 70%, and far too many families were having to pay back their child benefits when it remained important to their income.

Yet, after years of waste, scandal and incompetence, this government is once again presenting a false vision to the British people, hiding the reality that taxes on individuals and families will continue to increase exponentially under Conservative plans. Crucially, the  Budget failed to make tax bracket thresholds rise in line with inflation. As wages continue to respond to inflation, this “fiscal drag” will result in millions, including those on the lowest incomes, having to pay tax at higher rates and cancelling out reductions in National Insurance.

Rather than a return to low-tax Britain, the Budget represents a commitment to raise taxes a little bit less.

And what do we get in return? Ever-declining public services. I fear for those growing older who, despite having their personal allowances reduced in the Budget, will find it harder to access a GP, or community wellbeing and transport resources, and for families who will struggle to find affordable childcare. 

Our situation in Woking is an extreme example of where the attitude of Hunt and his colleagues can lead. Our taxes are spiking and services crumbling because of irresponsible Conservative politicians making decisions for political vanity, rather than for the interests of the people of Woking.

We need fresh voices in Woking to deliver community-oriented policies.

By Danny Simpson