The Chancellor and the Government have listened to the Treasury instead of using their political judgment. Of course the Treasury prefers employment to self-employment; it’s easier to collect tax from them. But the self-employed generate many of the jobs and wealth this country will need in the future.
It is a crass blunder to renege on a manifesto commitment because people want politicians they can trust. To increase National Insurance contributions after promising not to will haunt this Government if it goes through with it. It will be flung at every future promise.
This also sends the wrong signal. The self-employed are aspirational, with many taking risks in order to succeed, and they receive fewer social benefits than employed people. We should be supporting and encouraging them, not punishing them. Plans to raise their National Insurance have been delayed. They should be binned.
The Government can recover from the embarrassment of a U-turn, but not from the shame of a breach of trust.
Dr Madsen Pirie, President, Adam Smith Institute
Londoners will punish the Conservatives for this tax on work with a hike in National Insurance contributions. This is an unfair tax on 850,000 Londoners denied the benefits of a staff job.
First, the Government broke its manifesto commitment to stay in the single market, now they have broken their manifesto commitment on NICs.
After a dozen Tory MPs and now even a Government minister have come out against the policy, surely it is time for the Chancellor to execute a graceful U-turn?
With the plan to leave the single market, the shambles over business rates and now NIC hikes for entrepreneurs, it shows that the Conservatives have lost any right to call themselves the party of business.
Theresa May can’t claim to be helping the just-about-managing while also clobbering them with tax rises.
Baroness Kramer, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor
I am fed up with how the Government tries to link self-employment with tax avoidance so that it can justify yearly tax rises — going against what it said during the elections.
The Government should be working to support flexibility in the way people work. Instead, there appears to be a worrying tone emerging where those in self-employment are painted as some sort of tax cheats, as opposed to the strivers which they typically are.
I might expect this from Jeremy Corbyn but certainly not under a Tory Government.
Time to invest in future workforces
We welcome the Chancellor’s Budget statement allocating £500 million for new T-level qualifications. This initiative, together with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and new proposals for Institutes of Technology, will encourage businesses to support more training for their staff.
There are concerns in business about filling jobs once their access to EU labour is restricted. Our research found 66 per cent of London business leaders thought Brexit will cause staffing problems, while 44 per cent saw training an apprentice as a means to help this.
Now is the time for those businesses concerned about skills gaps to join with colleges to convert the funds provided by the Chancellor into training their future workforce.
Andy Wilson, CEO of the Capital City College Group
Fact-based sex ed is what schools need
It beggars belief that Jennette Arnold commends the Government’s plans for compulsory sex education after (quite rightly) lamenting the fact that “a third of girls in relationships aged 13 to 17 have experienced sexual violence from their boyfriends” [Letters, March 8].
Where does Ms Arnold think the “unrealistic representations of sex and relationships” are coming from, if not from a school curriculum that tells kids it is natural for them to be sexually active; and which, by supplying contraceptives, also encourages it?
Let's hear it for the back of the theatre
I understand why food and drink are banned during Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, due to the need to respect “quiet moments” in the play. If by “quiet” the theatre means lines spoken so softly as to be rendered inaudible for anybody beyond Row G, then the theatre is correct.
The entire last scene between Martha (Imelda Staunton) and George (Conleth Hill) is delivered sotto voce, and in Row N we could hear only some of Hill’s lines and none of Staunton’s. For those in the (not so) cheap seats, speak up.
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Cyclists need to ride with courtesy
Thank goodness that the Royal Parks has the courage to stand up to the cyclists who make visiting a London park these days an increasingly stressful experience [“Cyclists get the hump over speed curbs in Hyde Park”, March 9].
Anyone trying to cross the cycle path that runs parallel to the Serpentine in the morning will tell you that cycling within parks isn’t working. It isn’t even the minority who behave irresponsibly; cyclists are riding across our open spaces with complete disregard for other park users.
While we all want to see cyclists being able to ride safely, something has to be done to remind cyclists that these green spaces can be shared but only if they ride with courtesy.
Selfish minority are affecting our city
I was dismayed and speechless when travelling through London this afternoon and saw a young man in a car drop a takeaway bag out of his window — about a metre from a rubbish bin.
It is so sad that our beautiful city is being affected by the thoughtless actions of a minority who apparently are unwilling to consider the good of the environment, as well as society.
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Wenger deserves more fan respect
The recent protests against Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger convince me that football has lost its perspective and moral compass.
Yes, Wenger is finding it difficult to motivate his players after 21 years at the club. But he at least deserves to be respected more by the club’s fans before his probable departure this summer.
Football is no longer “the people’s game” but one that it is now dominated by corporate greed, overpaid players and agents angling for better contracts for their clients.
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