The Chancellor’s budget fails to address the burden falling on low earners

The Chancellor, today, delivered a budget which unveiled targeted spending and reforms addressing issues of the pressures on taxpayers and individuals on low incomes. We welcome the cut of the Universal Credit taper rate to 55%, as called for in our 2016 report ‘The Aspiration Tax’, and an increase to the National Living Wage. But, these measures do not reduce the continued burden on low-income individuals, leaving millions struggling to afford the rising cost of living this winter. 

With interest rates on public borrowing at some of the lowest levels since the 1950s, and the UK at risk of a faltering recovery from COVID-19, now is the time to supercharge the economy with investment, focusing on a green and care led recovery – providing the economic backing to match the government’s ambitions on ‘levelling up” the UK’s regions.  There is also a desperate need to make the UK’s tax system farrier and more equitable. There must be genuine engagement with the idea of wealth tax – this has widespread public support. And, tax on work should not disadvantage lower earners. It seems clear that the Government is not going to be able to deliver progress on their plans of “levelling up” the UK and tackling economic and social inequality by efficiency and growth alone.

Fran Darlington-Pollock , Chair of The Equality Trust commented:

“What we really need is a fundamentally more equitable distribution of income and wealth in the UK. Since the start of the pandemic the UK’s billionaires have increased their combined wealth to a staggering £597 billion. The money to improve the UK already exists, it’s just concentrated in the hands of a very few people. This gross injustice must be remedied, else we will all continue to suffer a poorer quality of life. Today’s budget, while including some positives, was not nearly radical enough in addressing our deep-seated and extreme inequality. What is really needed is a comprehensive Inequality Reduction Strategy embedded across all government departments. Only then can we transform to a more equal society.”


Notes to editors

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2. The Equality Trust is the national charity that campaigns to improve quality of life in the UK by reducing economic and social inequality. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and evidence shows that in countries with higher levels of inequality, we see higher rates of mental and physical ill health, higher rates of imprisonment and violent crime, worse educational outcomes and lower levels of trust. Inequality is not inevitable.