In the run up to the General Election, Labour and the Lib Dems banged on about the need for a “fairer” society – the argument being that redistribution from the haves to the have-nots was a no-brainer, and a risk free strategy to grab the moral high ground. Conveniently forgotten was the other side of the equation, namely, that those who pay should also be treated fairly. That was why I am delighted to see the Chancellor remind the public of that fact in his Summer Budget.
I welcome the changes to Inheritance Tax, although I would like to see it dumped completely. I saw what happened in Australia when I lived there. Queensland got rid of it in 1977 and it eventually resulted in the migration of 10,000 people a month from the Southern states, citing climate and death duties as the reason. It’s a basic human urge to want to leave a legacy to help your children, so raising the threshold on IHT to £1 million for a couple comes across as fair and reasonable. Buying and keeping a family home has never been easy for most people, and we rightly feel good that our efforts can be passed on in large measure to those we love the most.
It’s also somewhat Alice in Wonderland for a taxpayer on £20,000 a year to see some of their cash being handed to someone living on the state getting £25,000. So the lowering of the Cap on Benefits to £23,000 in London and £20,000 elsewhere is another good move towards fairness.
And what a big finish! George Osborne’s new Living Wage, compulsory from next April, and set initially at £7.20 will surely help those getting off the bottom of the ladder.
Fairness should always cut both ways.