To try to put such a mind-boggling figure in some sort of perspective, that tax take is fully £55bn – or over £1bn a week – more than Labour raised during its last year in government. So much for out-dated notions about tax-cutting Tory chancellors.
Nor is this a statistical blip or short-term trend. Last year’s tax take was £123bn – or substantially more than £2bn a week – higher than the total deemed necessary to sustain the state a decade ago. So much for wicked Tory cuts.
Cameron insists that “there is no alternative” to the coalition’s plans for austerity, yet these plans seem all rhetoric and no action. Editor Allister Heath despairs:
Cameron agreed that “there are times when you can cut a tax and find it almost pays for itself” but the only one he could identify was the 50p tax rate, which won’t reduce revenues when it is cut to 45p next month. He didn’t mention capital gains tax, for example, which would almost certainly bring in more money if its rate was trimmed. For Cameron, the only option is either the status quo or unfunded tax cuts; there was no mention of cutting faster, for example, and no recognition that the coalition is happy to spend lots on the public sector in an unfunded fashion as it stands.