Osborne: Budget will be harshest for 30 years

Chancellor George Osborne will claim today that the harshest Budget for 30
years will squeeze the rich more than it hits the poor. He will seek to sell his
package of record spending cuts and tax rises as being stamped by fairness as he
tries to win public support for a four-year austerity drive.

Nick Clegg moved to pre-empt any revolt by Liberal Democrats last night by
insisting that his party’s values were at the heart of Osborne’s assault on the
deficit. “This is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do,” he wrote
in an e-mail to party members, an acknowledgement that the pain to come will put
the coalition under immense strain,

When he delivers the Budget statement, at 12.30pm to the Commons, Osborne
will insist that everyone is making a contribution as he tries to distinguish
his measures from anything that Labour could portray as a Thatcherite attack on
the poor.

A table in the Treasury Red Book, broken up into ten different income bands,
will show that the wealthiest will be hit proportionately hardest, according to
The Times. This does not factor in how cuts to public services will affect
different parts of the country and income groups, nor does it include the
Government’s impending drive on benefits.

The Budget will take 880,000 people out of income tax altogether by raising
the threshold at which tax is owed by £1,000. Future Budgets will raise the
threshold, taking hundreds of thousands more out of income tax — a key Liberal
Democrat policy.

A key Tory policy — saving employers the cost of national insurance
contributions — will mean that 650,000 workers will be exempted by raising the
earnings threshold at which bosses have to start paying.

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