Slashing income tax won’t help pensioners, Mr Sunak – they need urgent help NOW

Britons warned of damaging impact of rising inflation

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Just nine weeks ago, in his March Spring statement, Sunak unveiled a £22billion emergency spending package that left everyone feeling shortchanged. He daren’t make that mistake again.

Sunak softened the blow of April’s National Insurance hike, but this move was seen as woefully insufficient.

Cutting 5p off fuel duty offered little help with a litre of petrol accelerating towards £2.

Dangling the prospect of a penny off basic rate income tax in 2024, just before the next election, was rightly slammed as a cynical vote winning ploy.

As inflation hits nine percent and pressure to help a desperate nation builds, Sunak is said to be giving it another go.

Action is urgently needed, with Ofgem warning that energy bills are on course to hit almost £3,000.

So what can we expect?

Sunak’s package is expected to include an increase the Warm Home Discount scheme. This could rise from today’s £150 to £500, helping three million of the poorest households heat and light their homes.

This is exactly the type of targeted support that Sunak must come up with, now.

Other options include a one-off payment to households in fuel poverty, an increase in benefits such as Universal Credit, or more funding for the Household Support Fund.

Sunak is also toying with the notion of slashing income tax but personally, this feels like the wrong move at the wrong time.

As does a VAT cut.

Almost everybody is finding it hard right now, as the price of everyday essentials such as food, fuel and home energy rocket.

Most of us will muddle through, one way or another, but the very poorest face a threat worse than any I have seen in my lifetime.

I’ve been interviewing pensioners who are now wondering how they can survive on £600 a month, when more than a third of that goes on gas and electricity alone.

Yes, they can turn the heating right off and shiver through the winter, but they still have the standing charge to contend with.

Plus they also need to eat. Some need a car to drive to the shops. A splash of hot water doesn’t go amiss, either.

That’s the level of poverty Britons are contending with today. It is also why Sunak needs to target his support at the very poorest.

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I’d love to see Sunak could reverse last year’s decision to freeze personal tax allowances for five years, which is ramping up income tax bills.

Yet that will do nothing to help pensioners, the disabled and the vulnerable, who often pay no income tax at all.

Cutting VAT, say, from today’s 20 percent to 15 percent sounds terrific, but it would benefit wealthier spenders more than those at the bottom.

Most of all, Sunak should resist the temptation to make wafty promises, such as tax cuts further down the line.

We’d all love a tax cut, but if Sunak thinks he can get away with promising a penny off income tax in 2023 or 2024, he’s got another thing coming.

The very poorest need life support today.

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