Will the figures actually add up?

By Michael Burton | 14 March 2017

Considering the Budget was supposed to be a low-key affair with ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ Hammond dulling our senses with low-level tinkering at the edges, his tax raid on the self-employed nonetheless delivered the national media their headlines.

It was the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Paul Johnson, (pictured) however who put this row into perspective. A long-standing critic of the gap in tax and national insurance rates between PAYE employees and the self-employed, he was asked at the IFS Budget briefing last week what would happen if the chancellor were to subsequently reverse the tax. Mr Johnson replied: ‘If the chancellor does a U-turn on the self-employed then the public finances won’t collapse in the short-term. But his move puts a bung in the dyke. As more people become self-employed over the next five years the £5bn loss of tax just erodes the tax base.’

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