Budget Spring 2017

In the March 2016 budget the government decided to increase total public spending from £681 bn last year, to £694bn this year and to £706 bn next year.  For 2017-18 we are going to need a higher total, given the pressures on social care, the NHS and schools budgets.

The argument over the budget is less about the need for some more spending on priorities than on how this will be paid for. Some of us say that as the Treasury will be able to report stronger revenues than the Autumn Statement there is no need to hike individual tax rates or find new taxes to impose. Indeed, some selective cuts in rates on enterprise would be welcome, and likely to augment the revenues. Mr Osborne’s  Spring budget last year slashed property transactions with higher Stamp Duties. The revaluation of Business rates will damage some smaller businesses that face high increases with no small premises exemptions.

It is most important that the budget promotes growth, investment and more productive working, rather than taxing it more. Treasury officials are ever minded to look for new sources of income, but the Ministers are there to protect taxpayers and to be a voice of commonsense about how far we can go with increasing tax rates. The UK economy has done relatively well in 2016 and so far this year, but could do better. It will need substantial new investment in broadband, water, electricity, and transport to overcome obstacles to growth and to lift it further. Anything the budget can do to speed these ideas, the better.

With the USA planning major tax cuts and with places like Ireland and Luxembourg also offering an attractive tax package to investors and business, the UK must stay competitive.


  1. l'Esprit
    March 8, 2017

    Business owners in rented premises are at the bottom of the food chain, paying for the services of the local community but without any capital stake in the property. Usually the owner of the premises is merely biding his time till he can cash in the value of the premises in huge revaluation into residential change of use.

    The government needs a root and branch reform of the commercial property market so that business lessees who are the backbone of the community affording employment and paying for services through rates, should automatically gain a capital stake in the premises they rent.

    As a capital stakeholder, rate revaluations to pay for local community services will be more palatable. Currently, they are little more than rent slaves

  2. Mark B
    March 8, 2017

    Good morning.

    So there are pressures on our services? I guess all those foreigners we have imported are not contributing to their fair share. They too have become consumers of the truly free NHS, schools etc.

    The economy is in danger of overheating with rising inflation and possible interest rate rises.

    This government is only interested in spending on large projects that only large corporations benefit from using cheap labour. And it is we the people and SME’s that will be the ones who will pay for it.

  3. Narrow Shoulders
    March 8, 2017

    My own view is that there is plenty of funding already within government spending requirements. Government really needs to choose what it spends £700 billion on more carefully.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      March 8, 2017

      The Chancellor would do well to say that government spending in cash terms will not rise for three years and that certain areas where government currently interferes will disappear.

      Areas that needs extra funding include, education, defence, tax collection and social care.

      The NHS should keep its funding but be asked to use it much more wisely.

      All other areas should be looked at very closely. Top up benefits for EU immigrants can go, as can the foreign aid budget. The benefits system should be slashed and public sector pensions are due for a trim. We do not need so many MPs, nor as many Lords. The Civil Service is ripe for review and how about the bonfire of the quangos?

      EU budget contributions?

      There is plenty of scope within current funding levels to spend more where it is actually needed. Please get the hand of government out of my pocket.

  4. Lifelogic
    March 8, 2017

    As you say “some selective cuts in rates on enterprise would be welcome, and likely to augment the revenues”.

    The UK has absurdly high (and absurdly complex) taxes. These are doing huge damage to its ability to compete in the world and damaging the tax base hugely.

    Tax rates go up to 45% income tax + NI at up to 23% (both employee and employers), 15% stamp duty, 12% IPT, 40% IHT, 20% VAT, 28% CGT without indexation, 55% on some pensions pots, plus business rates, vehicle duty, sugar taxes and countless others. All the above are far too high, even for maximum revenue. In the case of landlord’s Osborne even decided to tax them when profit was not even being made.

    We should for example be encouraging private provision for education and health care not the reverse if only to save money. We should be attracting the wealthy and hard working to the UK, not forcing them to leave.

    I have very low expectations indeed of Hammond. The man seems to have no vision nor any real grasp of economics, business or logic, let us hope I am surprised today.
    Anyone who thing HS2, the green energy grants and Hinkley make sense must surely be innumerate and daft as a brush or perhaps corrupt. What alternatives to this are there?

    1. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      He has indeed fully justified my low expectations. He is I suppose better than Labour but not very much. Socialists just the same just slightly lighter.

  5. Ian Wragg
    March 8, 2017

    Big government. High taxes. Massive waste.
    Welcome to 21st century conservatism.
    Today’s papers. Middle class prepare for tax rises. Same old same old.
    Meanwhile America winds back the state and we build more useless windmills

    1. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      Indeed another hugely damaging tax & NI grab budget. Once again killing the productive sector off which the (largely parasitic) state sector feeds. Totally misguided. Nothing on cheap energy, nothing on tax cuts or simplification, nothing on red tap, no vision at all. Full steam ahead on the bonkers sugar tax, HS2 and the rest of the lunacies.

      Brilliant proposal to have another layer of triage GPs at A&E’s. What on earth were the A&E doing before surely triage was the first part of their job. Why do we need two layers of triage at A&E sounds absurdly inefficient? I assume they will be another layer of delay and rationing to treatment.

    2. rose
      March 8, 2017

      And prepare for revaluation of houses and flats. To force old people out and to raise revenue.

      1. rose
        March 8, 2017

        And prepare for billeting to come back.

  6. eeyore
    March 8, 2017

    Those who need social care now have had a whole lifetime to prepare for it. Why haven’t they? Interesting to see that Mr Corbyn is with the majority on this one: his taxpayer-funded income is nearly five times the average but his savings are so small they only earned £78 interest.

    Clearly saving’s strictly for mugs. Shouldn’t the Chancellor come clean and say so?

    And what does Corbyn spend it all on? Clothes?

    1. a-tracy
      March 8, 2017

      Why would a civil servant have to save? They have a gold plated final salary pension (guaranteed by future taxpayers? I think MPs have a fund) and many get a nice promotion shortly before they retire.

      1. Lifelogic
        March 8, 2017

        MP certainly have a (defined benefit RPI index linked fund) and one of the best ones going. Also many stay on until (or almost until) they pop their clogs. So they get a salary plus the huge pension for perhaps 30 years or so.

        Still we are all in it together as they say!

    2. DaveM
      March 8, 2017

      Turnips and beetroot.

  7. Ian Wragg
    March 8, 2017

    So 30 years too late Hestltine has been sacked.
    A very big ego with little ability.
    Let’s hope there’s a cull of ineffective peers straight after the election.

    1. David Price
      March 8, 2017

      Agree and hopefully it is the first of many, not just in the Lords.

    2. Richard1
      March 8, 2017

      Come on! Michael Hesletine is one of The stars of the Comservative Party in electoral terms – had he become leader the Tories might even have won the 97 election, or at least massively cut Blairs majority. He was the star performer in the 92 election. I don’t agree with him on much inc the EU / euro, but he is entitled to go on arguing for for what he always has. Brexiteers should lighten up, it’s a democracy!

    3. Chris
      March 8, 2017

      Agreed. Heseltine seems incapable of understanding what democracy is and has apparently been completely blinded by his EU vision.

      I am hugely disappointed by Hammond’s budget. This does not seem to represent Conservatism at all. What is going on?

  8. alan jutson
    March 8, 2017

    If government spending has been going up, and up, as you suggest, why are the government saying austerity must continue, and FURTHER CUTS must be made.

    Inflation has only been running at just over 1% or so we are told.

    Is someone living in cloud cookoo land, if so who, and why the mixed messages.

    1. oldtimer
      March 8, 2017

      The nation, or certainly a large proportion of it, is living in cloud cuckoo land. This section is encouraged and supported in its belief by the Labour and LibDem parties and also by news media like the BBC.

      The reality is that the National Debt burden is close to being out of control – and will be if interest rates go up – and the national tax burden at around 37% of GDP is now at its historical (last 30 years) high point. There is virtually no room for adding to the tax burden without negative consequences as people either sit on their hands, do not move house, vote with feet and wallets to emigrate to more attractive climes or otherwise act to avoid the consequences of an overbearing tax regime. What seems to me to be more likely will be an attempt to shift the burden between age groups, with the removal of some current entitlements from the over 65s to help pay for their care in old age.

  9. Bob
    March 8, 2017

    Mr Redwood
    The debate for abolition of the BBC TV Tax is scheduled for 8th May.
    I hope you and like minded colleagues will attend to press the case for the abolition of this anachronistic tax.

    1. Ed Mahony
      March 8, 2017

      To try and destroy the BBC would be act of philistinism and anti patriotism.

      Yes, get rid of the left-wing/liberal bias of BBC reporters/news but not of the BBC’s independence to create great arts, nature and history documentaries, children’s programmes, entertainment, comedy, films, and dramas such as the great 1995 production of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

      1. Ed Mahony
        March 8, 2017

        We don’t just want a Conservatism all about money (important as that is). We also want a Conservatism with soul and a love for country which the BBC, at its best, helps to achieve, not forgetting the key role of the arts and culture in patriotism / love of country.

        1. Ed Mahony
          March 8, 2017

          ‘Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing’ – Oscar Wilde

      2. fedupsoutherner
        March 9, 2017


        Yes, have to agree with the first part of your sentence. Keep the rest though because I think I might go mad if we had to listen to advert after advert like we do on ITV. We hardly ever watch anything if there are adverts involved. I get bored. We watched something the other evening and after only 10 mins we were subjected to 5 mins of adverts and this went on for the whole hour.

        1. Ed Mahony
          March 9, 2017

          Now Paxman’s gone, replace him with another (centre) right-winger for fairness. And get rid of News 24. Waste of money. Commercial TV can do it.

          Give BBC benefit of doubt over Strictly Come Dancing. but wasting money over entertainment in general.

          BBC is obsessed by ratings. Ratings are key to commercial media but not BBC financed by license. We should judge content not by ratings but value. Needs to spend less on entertainment and more on arts, film, drama, documentaries, and good TV in general that is too risky / difficult for commercial media to do.

          1. Bob
            March 10, 2017

            There can be no place in the 21st century for a broadcaster that depends on force of law to guarantee it’s revenue, especially when that organisation is so obviously politically polarised.

            The BBC ignores it’s stated objectives to inform, educate & entertain. What it actually does is to disinform, indoctrinate and distract.

            An impromptu weather report on R4 this morning said,
            “it’s a gloriously sunny morning in Brussels today, while the UK is overcast and grey”
            This is the kind of subliminal messaging permeates throughout the BBC, including drama, children’s programs, news, current affairs and comedy.

            Sunderland voted 61% to 39% in favour of Brexit and yet yesterday’s QT panel from that City was 80% Remains.

            The QT audience in Clacton on the day of Douglas Carswell’s massive win when he first stood for UKIP contained just one ukip supporter.

  10. Excalibur
    March 8, 2017

    “It is most important that the budget promotes growth, investment and more productive working, rather than taxing it more.”

    That being the case, JR, why do we not see more radical measures to bolster the economy ? I’m referring to dramatic reductions in corporation tax, and tax incentives for investment and enterprise. Why can’t we take the lead instead of following. The constant flow of tepid half measures means that ‘slowly. slowly catchee monkey’, means we never do.

  11. agricola
    March 8, 2017

    There are a plethora of subjects ripe for discussion, before worrying about a budget, the detail of which will not emerge for a fortnight.

    1. The future of the House of Lords.

    2. The creation of an NHS that works for all.

    3. Energy and fracking.

    4. Creation of social investment fund from fracking tax take.

    5. Water dearth and excess in the south east.

    6. Pensions, the great rip off.

    7. Time limit on “Nimbyism”

    8. Right to strike in the public and essential service sector.

    9. Police and policing in the UK.

    10. How to maintain our border integrity after Brexit.

    No doubt there are many more that need thought in depth and an action plan. How about opening up the debate.

    Reply I have written on energy, water, borders etc before and will do so again. There is no wish to open up Lords reform this Parliament, and no wish to undertake major reorganisation of the NHS so I am not currently planning pieces on those.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 8, 2017

      The future of the House of Lords should be one in which all public Bills are treated in the same way that Money Bills are treated now, so that once they are passed by the Commons they can only be delayed by the Lords for a maximum of one month.

      Which would be a very simple modification of the Parliament Acts:


      “If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session, is not passed by the House of Lords without amendment within one month after it is so sent up to that House, the Bill shall, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill.”

      That’s apart from a Bill to postpone a general election, where the Lords – however they may be composed – could retain their present absolute veto.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      The NHS is dire and in desperate need of reform and breaking up. This should take the form of encouraging everyone who can to go privately and charging everyone who can pay. Tax relief for private medical insurance (and part vouchers to encourage people to go privately) plus abolition of the now 12% IPT tax would be a very good start.

      The current virtual monopoly of the free at the point of rationing and death NHS is a disaster. The same is true in education but with rather fewer deaths resulting.

      We have taken your money already so you get what you are given or not given and like it mate. This is the NHS in a nut shell. Delay, deter, inconvenience and just do small temporary procedures rather than the real operations and treatment that is needed (this to immorally fiddle the waiting figures and the NHS statistics).

  12. Bert Young
    March 8, 2017

    Couldn’t agree more . The priorities John outlines are absolutely right . The economy does need a shot in the arm and we must be competitive with other countries . Osborne’s taxing of properties has brought about a stalemate in the market and a fall in revenues ; it shows how his youth and inexperience was a complete disaster in Cameron’s choice of Chancellor .

    Hammond has inherited a difficult situation ; he needs to turn his back on the traditional ” neutralising” balance approach and show some enthusiasm for our “Brexit” opportunity . Reducing taxes is the way to go and getting rid of the ridiculous spend in foreign aid .

  13. Mick
    March 8, 2017

    Mr Hammond could save millions every year by scrapping the House of Lords, it’s about time these unelected toffs were put out to grass because they certainly don’t live in the real world

  14. Oggy
    March 8, 2017

    The chancellor should take the money required for the NHS and social care out of Foreign aid – as charity begins at home.
    Is it right that services in the UK should be suffering so much while we are giving away £12Bn in foreign aid.
    We gave Pakistan nearly 400m last year while they have just ordered 8 new submarines at a cost of £4Bn in addition to their nuclear arsenal. It is obscene that this continues.

    1. Graham
      March 8, 2017

      So true

      It makes no sense to do this when recipient countries have the resources to tackle their own problems but choose not to.

  15. Antisthenes
    March 8, 2017

    Government spending creates a culture of entitlement and dependency leading to the demand for more spending. As every individual and group with a cause believe fervently that their demand is just and it is their right that it should be satisfied. This type of spending creates an environment that eschews self reliance and personal responsibility and diverts investment away from the productive side of the economy. Spending also has a debilitating effect on the productive side of the economy as behaviour is changed to favour one group usually at the expense of another and creating imperfect markets. Creating lobby groups to influence who receives that spending. Politicians as well benefit from this spending as they can use it as a bargaining chip and to influence the vote.

    The way we tax and spend grew out of good intentions but rapidly got out of control as it relied on human behaviour to be exemplary which is it is not. The one characteristic that ensures that any socialising of society by doing good deeds or creating a socialist economic system will always fail. The one reason why free market capitalism works is because it is born out of human behaviour not as in socialism in opposition to it.

  16. Edge of my seat.
    March 8, 2017

    It’s exciting waiting for Chancellor Hammond isn’t it.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      Yes sure he will set the place on fire with his terrifically exciting agenda!

      All the bad news and the further damaging tax increases will not be announced anyway. Hammond has not got the courage to do so.

      They will be hidden away in the documents to be released later.

  17. Lifelogic
    March 8, 2017

    Hammond says:

    Hammond says he will use the budget to put some flesh on Mrs May’s ‘sharing society’ idea.
    and that he needs “some fuel in the tank”.

    Where does the dope think the “fuel” comes from? Clearly it comes from the private sector, the one the government keeps nobbling & inconveniencing at every turn so less fuel is the result.

    The man is clearly another deluded, big government, socialist. The Tories are alas infested with them. PPE graduates should perhaps be banned from government until they can prove they have a grasp of real economics.

    Cheap energy, lower taxes, less red tape, a smaller state and lower taxes nothing else will work. “Sharing society” is just vacuous political drivel, grow up man and get real.

    1. A different Simon
      March 8, 2017

      “The man is clearly another deluded, big government, socialist.”

      Got to agree .

      2% employment taxes to punish the self-employed tell us he sees them as the Enemy of the State .

      Expect the number of ICT Visa’s being fast tracked to go up as HM Govt tries to price the self employed out of business .

  18. Bob Dixon
    March 8, 2017

    Osbourne brought in a dividend tax of 7.5% after relief of £5,000.00.

    Do you have a view?

    I have not seen any comments by anyone.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      Plus endless other tax increases added to further by P Hammond.

      IPT at 12% now for example, Stamp duty at the insane 15% top rate.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 8, 2017

      Now just a £ 2000 threshold. ANOTHER TAX GRAB.

    3. Roy Grainger
      March 8, 2017

      Hammond has now reduced the tax free limit to £2000. That impacts me significantly. The problem has been the likes of the BBC forcing their staff to set up personal services companies and pay themselves via dividends thus saving NI payments for the BBC. The result is pensioners relying on investment income from dividends get punished. Just another tax on the middle-classes.

  19. Denis Cooper
    March 8, 2017

    Off-topic, if anyone wants to read the two Lords amendments they are here:


    In essence the first says that if the government cannot negotiate a deal on something with the EU within three months then it must capitulate and just give the EU whatever it wants, while the second says that the Lords shall have a veto over withdrawal from the EU.

    1. Scottspeig
      March 8, 2017

      They are shocking!

      Cannot believe that MPs would be stupid enough to vote for it would they?

    2. bratwurst
      March 8, 2017

      Denis, I read the first amendment as saying the government must bring forward proposals regarding EU citizens in the UK within 3 months of invoking Article 50. No mention of a deadline for negotiating the deal.

      1. Denis Cooper
        March 9, 2017

        “… bring forward proposals to ensure that …”

        Incidentally, JR, this Captcha system is really annoying!

    3. Mark Parker
      March 8, 2017

      It could be worse. It could require the approval of the Scottish parliament and the Welsh and Irish Assemblies. That would push Brexit into a distant future.

      Do note that this is a Act of Parliament like any other and can be amended any time the government chooses to put time into doing that. Those causes can be deleted even if passed this time.

    4. Anonymous
      March 8, 2017


  20. DaveM
    March 8, 2017

    Some of the main reasons for discontent with politics over the past few years have largely been related to high taxation of those who work for a living and the government’s eagerness to either waste it or to give it away to people who don’t necessarily deserve or need it.

    Has the penny still not dropped in the Westminster bubble?

  21. Richard1
    March 8, 2017

    Hopefully one of the most positive things to come out of Brexit will be a recognition of the need to remain competitive. I think Brexit will have the effect of moving the Country to the political right – people will recognise we can’t afford big govt collectivism. With the EU comfort blanket that’s less clear. But it will take time. So let’s not complain too much about Mrs May and Mr Hammond being communists, they aren’t but they do recognise that the Country needs to be taken with them given it’s a democracy.

  22. Derek Henry
    March 8, 2017

    If British Airways suddenly announced today that they are going to give away 100 times more free air miles from 12 o’clock onwards.

    Is anybody seriousley going to ask ” Where do they get their frequent flyer miles from?”

    No that would be crazy and only fiscal conservatives and John Mcdonnell, the BBC and the rest of the UK MEDIA, would be stupid enough to ask such a stupid question.

    The questions all of them should be asking is does British Airways have enough seats and enough airplanes and pilots and cabin crew and airports to accomodate all of these new free flights.

    “How are you going to pay for it ” is an ideological question filled with nonsense when the monopoly issuer of the £ is concerned. We can’t run out of £’s.

    The question should be about what skills and raw materials we have as a country as these are the only constraint as we can run out of these.

  23. acorn
    March 8, 2017

    JR, you are quoting “current” expenditure. TME was circa 756 billion last fiscal year; 778 likely this year and forecast, last November, to be 797 billion for 17/18, with circa 60 billion deficit.

  24. Jack
    March 8, 2017

    What a disastrous budget. Fiscal deficit too small to sustain high GDP growth.

    Ireland and other countries vastly outpacing us as we languish with stagnant productivity and absolutely awful GDP per capita annual growth rates of 2% (which seems the upper end of the forecasts!)

    Prepare for resentment among the population. Hopefully Trump will expand the U.S. deficit with unprecedented tax cuts and be a beacon of hope to a world of austerity, but unfortunately I fear getting the tax cuts through Congress would be close to impossible …

  25. David Price
    March 8, 2017

    Looks like everything is hunky dory, unless you are a self employed Wokingham council tax payer

  26. Chris
    March 8, 2017

    Note in the post above the boost to small and medium sized businesses (as well as large) – a group which Hammond is hitting hard with his self employment “punishment”.

    1. Chris
      March 8, 2017

      As my main comment, to which I was referring in the above post, has not been posted, the comment above makes little sense. I was comparing Hammond budget to the measures Trump has taken, and the huge bost they have given to employment, including SME. I linked to a Bloomberg article commenting on the fact that in February alone, Trump’s policies have already resulted in a 298,000 increase in the workforce, with manufacturing and construction flourishing, as well as services. Also unemployment benefits are apparently at their lowest for almost 44 years in the US.

  27. a-tracy
    March 8, 2017

    Employee’s national insurance does not pay for workers holiday, the business that employs them pays for that.

    Employee’s national insurance does not pay for sick pay or holiday pay whilst sick, the business that employs them pays for that.

    Hammond has not increased national insurance he has stopped a rebate for the self-employed to try to bring all workers into line with the employed workers who are paying 12%. The employed worker also has 13.8% employer’s national insurance that pays extra towards their nhs healthcare, unemployment protection insurance cover, basic state pension.

    The employee also has a 6% employee and employer Nest pension contribution, 3% funded by the employer.

  28. Chris
    March 8, 2017

    This article by Ross Clark on Coffeehouse blog is, I believe, absolutely right, and the blow to the self employed is very significant. How can this be Tory policy? It is interesting to see who Clark thinks is the main beneficiary of this budget, and who is the biggest loser, with all the “broken promises” to taxpayers:

    Biggest loser from this Budget? The credibility of Tory tax promises

    “There is a very big winner from today’s budget. Not adults in social care, not schools, but Ukip. Philip Hammond has handed a huge political opportunity: to position itself as the party of the self-employed: the taxi driver, the brickie, the plumber, the small shop-owner. These used to be natural Tories. From today, with Hammond imposing a two per cent extra tax on their income, and breaking a manifesto commitment in the process, they will be looking for a new political home. No wonder Suzanne Evans was tweeting about the change within seconds of it being made……

  29. agricola
    March 8, 2017

    Post budget , Sir Godber Evans 10 , tax paying citizens 0. An uninspiring effort, where we looked for leadership we got government at it’s negative worst. Just the sort of ammunition that an aspiring UKIP are looking for.

  30. Ed Mahony
    March 10, 2017


    ‘An impromptu weather report on R4 this morning said,
    “it’s a gloriously sunny morning in Brussels today, while the UK is overcast and grey”
    This is the kind of subliminal messaging permeates throughout the BBC, including drama, children’s programs, news, current affairs and comedy.’

    – WHAT?! This is Brexit paranoia, I’m sorry. There’s far, far, far more to life, happiness and our peace of mind than whether we’re in or out of Brexit (important as it is). People are just getting obsessed by it. This is really unhealthy. And it’s got nothing to do with the future of the BBC. Come on. Please stay objective and keep a sense of perspective over Brexit and the BBC.

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