This is the third in ConservativeHome's series of posts counting down to the Autumn Statement. Yesterday, Tim Montgomerie said that George Osborne's economic narrative is taking shape. And, earlier today, Peter Hoskin urged Mr Osborne to ditch his current fiscal rules.
Getting rid of unnecessary tax breaks and welfare for the rich is sensible at a time of fiscal consolidation. It will make the tax and benefits system fairer, simpler and more balanced. It will raise substantial revenue for the Treasury. And it will help to convince voters that George Osborne is genuine about us all being “in it together”.
In the build up to the Autumn Statement, there has been a lot of speculation around whether the Conservatives will bite the bullet on “wealth taxes” (a blanket, and arguably not very useful, term) in exchange for Liberal Democrat approval on further welfare cuts. But the conversation behind the scenes is likely to be less polarised. Wholesale rejection of “wealth taxes” by the Tories would be bad politics and depart from what Paul Goodman tells us are Osborne’s intentions.
As our submission to the Autumn Statement demonstrates, asking wealthier individuals to make a sacrifice like everybody else does not necessitate a fully fledged, President Hollande-style wealth tax. Osborne can be more judicious than that.
He can start by taxing universal pensioner benefits. Last week, the Conservative Free Enterprise Group called for free bus passes, free TV licences and winter fuel payments to be withdrawn entirely from the wealthiest pensioner households.