Will Brown back down over tax hike for low paid workers?

In his last budget as Chancellor, Gordon Brown announced he was scrapping the 10p rate of income tax – meaning that low paid workers will now pay 20p in every pound. You’d think a tax hike would’ve made the news but sadly not… Until now:

Gordon Brown has moved to quell a backbench revolt over the abolition of the 10p income tax band amid fears it will hit some low-paid families.

Mr Brown has assured former Labour whip Greg Pope – who tabled a Commons motion calling for action – he will look again at the impact of the changes.

Mr Pope has withdrawn the motion, which was signed by about 30 Labour MPs.

[…]

In his final Budget as Chancellor last year, Mr Brown paid for a 2p cut in the basic rate – to 20p – by abolishing the 10p lower rate.

‘Detrimental impact’

The change, which will affect people’s pay from Sunday, comes less than a month ahead of local elections in England and Wales.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that, with number of households affected by the income tax, national insurance and tax credit changes altogether, about 5.3 million families will lose out overall.

After withdrawing the motion, Mr Pope, who is normally loyal to the party leadership, told The Guardian: “I have been given assurances by senior ministers that they will look at its impact, especially on pensioners, some of whom are losing more than £200 at a time of rising fuel costs”.

Mr Brown was confronted by over the issue when he addressed the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday.

Former ministerial aide Nia Griffith, who was among those to tackle him, said it did “not look good” to voters.

“We should have woken up to it sooner and it would have been easier to do something about it earlier on. It’s something we should look at,” she said.

But the prime minister’s spokesman said: “Since 1997, as a result of all the tax and benefit changes that have come into effect, people on low incomes are significantly better off.”

‘Very concerned’

Labour Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said he feared the change would hit young, single people without families.

He said “a number” of backbench MPs who back the government’s general direction were “very concerned”.

Labour MP and former welfare reform minister Frank Field wrote on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site: “A home-made time bomb is ticking away under the government timed to explode just before the local elections.”

He accused the government of “crassness” in changing its taxation policy.

Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe sparked a row on Thursday after he told pub trade newspaper The Morning Advertiser he thought alcohol tax rises announced in this year’s Budget were wrong.

He said: “I think the industry’s right to be upset. We, and I speak as a champion of the pub trade, want the chancellor to change his mind.”

He later backtracked – after the Tories accused the government of being in “disarray” – saying “my comments do not accurately reflect my views”.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith denied the government was having difficulty maintaining discipline in its ranks.

Advertisements

Houses of Parasites – has the gravy train come off the tracks?

From The News Line:

MPs GRAVY TRAIN EXPOSED

Former Deputy Prime Minister Prescott claimed £4,000 in a year expenses to purchase food, while his former boss Blair even claimed £116 for his TV licence, MPs’ expenses claims revealed to the BBC show.

Details of the expenses claims of six senior MPs were requested in 2005 by the BBC under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

They were finally released yesterday.

Also revealed in the FoI request was that current premier Brown and former Tory leader Michael Howard had council tax bills for their second homes paid for in 2003-04.

Blair, Brown, Prescott and Howard, as well as former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and former Tory MP Jonathan Sayeed, all claimed large sums of money to pay mortgages.

In 2003-04, the maximum amount MPs could claim for on Additional Cost Allowance, for running a second home, was £20,902. It is currently £23,083.

Prescott claimed £20,057 for ‘additional costs’ – including mortgages, utility bills, council tax, phone bills, cleaning, food and provisions and household repairs.

Blair claimed £15,490 and current premier Brown £14,304.

Brown also claimed £11,826.81 for air travel during the period.

Former Tory leader Howard spent the most on ‘additional costs’, claiming £20,347, while Tory MP Sayeed claimed £18,618.

Following a separate FoI request by campaigner Heather Brooke, the House of Commons Commission has also released details of the second home costs of nine senior politicians from 2005-06.

Prescott claimed £2,300 for food, just over half the amount he did two years earlier.

Current Tory leader David Cameron claimed nearly all of his permitted allowance in mortgage interest/rent payments, £21,293, for his constituency home in Witney, Oxfordshire.

Menzies Campbell, then Lib Dem leader, claimed the most for food of the nine MPs that year, £3,700.

Brooke faces a High Court battle to get a more detailed receipt by receipt breakdown of the expense costs, after the House of Commons authorities rejected a request by the Information Commissioner to release them.

Following the BBC’s FoI request, the House of Commons Commission argued that a detailed breakdown of travel expenses could identify regular routes travelled by MPs, exposing them to a security risk.

However, in January this year the information commissioner ruled that the House of Commons should publish some of the details, such as individual amounts claimed for travel under three headings: MPs’ travel, family travel and staff travel.

On Thursday, the House of Commons Commission said it would not appeal against the ruling.

Labour MP Ann Cryer complained to the BBC yesterday that the pursuit of expenses details by journalists was ‘becoming a witch hunt’ and that politicians were ‘all being tarred with the same brush’.

She said: ‘We are all assumed to be wrong ’uns.

‘We are all assumed to be getting more money than we should be getting when, in fact, most Members of Parliament are honourable members and we aren’t on the fiddle.’

Journalists strike at the Express and the Star!

Richard Desmond pays himself a million quid a week for owning the bloody paper, yet won’t give a decent pay increase for those who write the paper! Desmond won’t be hit too hard by growing inflation, but his employees will. Hence the strike action:

NUJ members at the Express and Star are on strike today (04/04) following refusal by the papers’ management to meaningfully negotiate a fair pay deal for journalists.

Picket lines in London and Preston were manned from 6am this morning and over 100 messages of support have flooded in from journalists across the country. It is the first full-day strike by journalists on a major national newspaper in 18 years.

The strike at Express Newspapers follows a refusal by management to engage in meaningful negotiations with the NUJ on pay. The company is attempting to force a three per cent pay rise on journalists, despite having increased its printers’ pay by 4.3 per cent. NUJ members working on the company’s papers, the daily and Sunday titles of the Express and Star, say they are working under ever-greater pressures yet getting scant recognition for their efforts by management.

Union members on the picket lines are carrying placards with slogans designed to drive home their message, including: “3% is not OK!”, referring to the celebrity magazine also owned by Express proprietor Richard Desmond, and “pay up RICHard”.

Guess which political party this parasite supports? That’s right, New Labour…

RICHard says he’s a socialist. What – like Wendy Alexander is a socialist?

He’s having a laugh, isn’t he?