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National Insurance for the self employed
I remember a secondary school history teacher remarking how one Victorian Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, had described ascending to the top job in British politics as climbing “to the top of the greasy pole”.
Of course, what goes up, must come down.
It must be strange for those who have risen to a position of power and influence to find themselves returned to the rather more mundane life on the back-benches or, indeed, out of parliament altogether.
So, there might be some who spare a thought perhaps for George Osborne.
The child of one co-founder of a successful wallpaper business, his descent from the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer following the Tories’ change of leadership in the wake of an unsuccessful Brexit campaign was cushioned somewhat by taking up not one but – at the time of writing – seven jobs.
Nevertheless, he has remained a voice of some relevance on the sidelines. That is principally due to his becoming Editor of the London Evening Standard and maintaining a regular output on social media.
Many articles and tweets have focused on the apparent destruction of his economic legacy by his successor at Number 11 Downing Street, Philip Hammond, and his boss, Theresa May.
One such criticism has been causing a bit of a kerfuffle overnight.
The Treasury, it emerged, has decided to postpone a plan announced last year by Mr Osborne to scrap Class Two National Insurance for the self employed from next year until 2019.
The former Chancellor had intended the cut to save the estimated 3.4 million individuals who work for themselves £148 a year each. The change would still require them to pay Class Four National Insurance Contributions (“NICs”).
Mr Osborne wasted no time in exercising his Twitter fingers, saying that he was “not sure why the government have delayed this tax cut”.
Even Treasury assurances that the move was due to concerns about the country’s lowest paid leaving themselves with insufficient pension entitlement have failed to assuage Mr Osborne or his fellow critics.
The Daily Mail reported that remarks by the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, for instance, that the deferral amounted to “a slap in the face” for the self-employed.
When Mr Osborne first announced his initiative, he suggested it would put “rocket boosters on the back of enterprise”.
In the desire to manage the country’s finances during the continued buffeting of the Brexit negotiations and reap up to £200 million which the Class 2 NICs delay is expected to deliver, it seems that this is one late take-off which Theresa May and colleagues deem perfectly acceptable.
I can almost hear Mr Osborne readying his smartphone and flexing his fingers for another tax-fuelled text in reply.
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