Just a week after Philip Hammond delivered his first budget, he has been forced into a massive U-turn. Hammond announced that he was increasing National Insurance (NI) for self-employed people. But after a huge backlash, he has abandoned the policy. And he is now saying there will not be an NI increase this parliament.
Breaking manifesto pledges
Although Hammond was all smiles and jokes while delivering his budget, it didn’t take long for the fallout to begin. The Conservative government was accused of breaking its own manifesto pledges. And even the Conservative-loving tabloid press started fighting the corner of the self-employed ‘white van man’.
But there were further criticisms. As The Canary reported, the cuts to corporation tax meant that companies such as Uber and Deliveroo would pay less tax, while their workers footed the bill.
An embarrassment for Theresa May
Is it fair? I think it is fair to close the gap in contributions between two people doing the same work and using the same public services to make the same contribution to wider society.
But the government also faced criticism from its own party. Guto Bebb, a government whip and minister in the Wales Office, went as far as apologising for his government’s actions:
I believe we should apologise. I will apologise to every voter in Wales that read the Conservative manifesto in the 2015 election.
Hammond’s backtracking will come as welcome news to all self-employed workers struggling on low and precarious incomes. But the U-turn also shows that, given May’s small majority, there is a real chance of affecting and changing legislation before it even hits the statute books.
– Read more from The Canary on Budget 2017.
Featured image via Flickr