Govt tax promises 'will isolate the young and poor'
Tax breaks for 30 million people and help for the squeezed middle is what's being promised by the Conservative party but it's all at the cost of those at the lower end of the spectrum who are seeing their benefits not so much squeezed but garrotted.
Ending the Tory party conference, prime minister David Cameron pledged to raise the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,000 by 2020 and increase the threshold for the 40% higher rate of tax from £41,900 to £50,000.
The pledges play to the concerns of the middle classes, who we are frequently told are being squeezed until they squeak, battling increasing house prices and living costs while the government cuts income tax rates for millionaires.
Targeting the young
But where will all these tax breaks come from? It goes without saying that the country is skint so if we're being offered tax breaks there must also be cuts.
Unfortunately the cuts are not being primarily aimed at the wealthiest in our society. Instead, the government is jumping on the increasingly popular tabloid rhetoric of benefit scroungers and targeting the least fortunate in our society.
The benefit cap will be reduced from £26,000 to £23,000 per family per year if the Tories are elected next year and 18- to 21-year-olds will be stripped off jobseeker's allowance and given a six month limited allowance instead (keep in mind that Cameron has said he will already abolish housing benefit for those under 25).
More pain instead of help
Young people are already struggling to find work. They being asked to pay £9,000 a year on education, and are struggling to put a roof over their heads. Yet they stand to take more pain as a result of Cameron's tough love tax pledge.
You could argue that the knockon-effect of helping the squeezed middle is the holding down of the younger generation.
They will not get the chance to become the 'middle' if the government insists on withdrawing funds to help them make the step up, effectively ghettoising young people from poorer backgrounds as second-class citizens.
The options open for young people are narrowing; either work in a minimum wage job with less help from the government in terms of top-up benefits, eking out an existence, or go into education and lumber yourself with £30,000 worth of debt with no guarantee of a decent job at the end.
The middle may be feeling squeezed but the solution isn't to put the pressure on those who do not have shoulders big enough to bear the burden.
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