With the UK economy borrowing 11% of GDP, it is undeniable that spending cuts are needed. Of course, the big question is should they be occurring now or delayed until the recovery is more stable. However, another question is now being asked. Should taxes be cut to help the worse off? David Cameron says that this is out of the question. While he is a ‘tax-cutting Tory’ who ‘believes in tax cuts’, any significant cuts in taxes specifically aimed at the poor would simply make matters worse, especially as the Coalition government is already helping to move thousands of families out of taxation altogether, albeit by increasing taxes on the better off.
“It’s no good saying we’re going to deal with the deficit by cutting spending, but then we’re going to make things worse again by cutting taxes. I’m afraid it doesn’t add up.”
Those in favour of cutting taxes include John Redwood, the head of the Tory’s economic affairs committee, who argues that they would help to boost the economy, by ‘encouraging the wealth creators and the private sector’. By reducing the burden on residents, disposable income will increase, helping to stimulate consumption and investment, which should in turn boost aggregate demand. This would be a much needed stimulus following the latest data which showed: a shrinking economy once again in the last quarter of 2010, consumer confidence at its lowest level in the past 20 years, the possibility of unstable markets should the government be seen to ‘twitch’ on the austerity drive and 57% in a YouGov poll saying that the cuts are ‘being imposed unfairly’. Public approval for the Coalition’s budget deficit reduction strategy has fallen from 53% in June 2010 to 38% in February 2010. Add to this rising inflation and unemployment and the last thing people want to hear is surely ‘No big tax cuts’.
However, the budget deficit must be tackled: now or later. Whenever it happens and whichever party is in power, spending must be cut and/or tax revenues must rise and everyone will have to play their part.
Cameron: ‘Tax cuts impossible right now’ Sky News (6/2/11)
David Cameron says major tax cuts not possible BBC News (6/2/11)
Cameron vows ‘No to big tax cuts’ The Press Association (6/2/11)
David Cameron: Sorry, but we can’t afford tax cuts Telegraph, Patrick Hennessy (5/2/11)
George Osborne faces Conservative pressure for tax cuts BBC News (1/2/11)
Nick Clegg’s tax cuts will cost £4.3 billion, says IFS Telegraph, James Kirkup (2/2/11)
Doubts mount over Cameron’s austerity drive Associated Press (6/2/11)
Sorry it is so complicated BBC 2, Daily Politics, Stephanie Flanders (14/6/10)
- What is government borrowing? Who does the government borrow from?
- Analyse the impact of tax cuts on the economy. Think about which groups will be affected the most and in what ways.
- Which components of aggregate demand will be affected by cuts in spending and rising taxes?
- ’Cuts in taxation would boost the economy.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement?
- What will be the impact of tas cuts on the government’s macroeconomic objectives, given your answer to question 3?
- What are the arguments (a) for cutting the budget deficit now and (b) for cutting the budget deficit later?