Westminster: A look back at 2014 budget

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The budget recently unveiled by the Chancellor provides direct relief to thousands of families both here in Lincolnshire and around the country.

The personal tax allowance has been increased so that 25 million earners will be able to take home more of their salary, while nearly 300,000 will be taken out of paying income tax altogether.

By April of next year, the average basic-rate taxpayer will have saved £805 through Conservative tax cuts since 2010. Meanwhile, the tax on income from savings – formerly 10 per cent – has been eliminated altogether for the first £5,000 of saving income.

George Osborne also had some good news for drinkers in his budget. 1p in tax has been shaved off beer duty – every little bit helps – while the duties on Scotch whisky and other spirits are being frozen, with the planned increases cancelled. The wine duty escalator, which automatically increased the duty on wine over time, has also been completely abolished.

We are providing real results for working people, but I have been pressuring the government to do more. When the higher rate of tax was introduced by Nigel Lawson way back in 1988, a mere 1.35 million people fell within its remit. Now there are 4.5 million paying it, and it is clear that too many ordinary hard-working people are increasingly coming under the higher rate.

Small business men, police sergeants, senior teachers, and many of our long-serving nurses may find themselves paying the higher rate of tax.

This is wrong and inequitable. Raising the threshold to £60,000 would liberate hundreds of thousands of these hard-working middle earners, but indexing the higher rate is another solution the government needs to look into.

I regret that this budget has tweaked too much and cut bureaucracy and red tape too little. We are already ensuring that workers are keeping more of their pay packets than they would under Labour, but we need to do more to cut the level of waste in government spending which remains far too excessive.

As a member of Lincoln Cathedral council, I was exceptionally pleased to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put aside £20 million for the repair of our ancient cathedrals. Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world and as a centre of pilgrimage it was part of a network of cathedrals and shrines that spanned the entire European continent.

This year we are embarking upon a series of anniversaries commemorating the horrendous losses our country suffered during the Great War.

Not a single family up and down the country was left untouched by the slaughter in the trenches, and Britain lost many of the best and brightest who otherwise would have helped guide the ship of state in later years.

Cathedrals will play a central role in these commemorations and acts of remembrance, and it’s appropriate that the Government is making sure they have sufficient funds to enact the repairs necessary to preserve this monuments and places of worship for future generations.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

MP for Gainsborough