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Starmer’s New Labour: Six Tax Rises Worth £60bn – A Game Changer?

Published by Jerry
Edited: 4 weeks ago
Published: June 19, 2024
09:17

Keir Starmer, the new leader of the Labour Party, has surprised many with his recent proposals to raise taxes by an estimated £60bn over five years. In a move aimed at rebuilding the Party’s finances and addressing the UK’s mounting economic challenges, Starmer has outlined six tax rises designed to

Starmer's New Labour: Six Tax Rises Worth £60bn - A Game Changer?

Quick Read

Keir Starmer, the new leader of the Labour Party, has surprised many with his recent proposals to raise taxes by an estimated £60bn over five years. In a move aimed at rebuilding the Party’s finances and addressing the UK’s mounting economic challenges, Starmer has outlined

six tax rises

designed to impact both individuals and corporations. Let’s examine these proposed changes in detail.

Corporation Tax

Starmer’s most notable announcement was a plan to increase corporation tax from 19% to 23%, starting in 202This hike would impact large and profitable companies, making the UK’s corporate tax rate comparable to countries like France and Germany.

Capital Gains Tax

Under Starmer’s plans, capital gains tax rates would rise for those earning over £150,000 per year. The rate would increase from 20% to 30%. This change is expected to affect high-income investors and those who make significant capital gains from property sales.

Inheritance Tax

To address wealth inequality, Starmer has proposed to reduce the inheritance tax threshold from £325,000 to £175,000 per person. This change would impact those with large estates, potentially generating significant revenue for the government.

National Insurance Contributions

Starmer plans to raise National Insurance contributions for those earning over £80,000 per year by 1p. This change would affect higher earners, raising an estimated £12bn over five years.

5. Property Taxes

The Labour leader is also considering increasing property taxes, particularly in the form of a mansion tax and an annual land value tax. These changes would impact high-value homeowners and those with large plots of land.

6. Financial Transaction Tax

Lastly, Starmer plans to introduce a financial transaction tax on shares and bonds. This tax would be imposed on both buyers and sellers and is expected to affect the financial sector.

Analysis: A Game Changer?

Starmer’s proposed tax rises have sparked a heated debate. Critics argue that the changes would damage economic growth and discourage investment, while supporters believe that the measures are necessary to rebuild the UK’s social fabric and fund essential services. With Starmer’s new Labour promising a more fiscally responsible approach, these tax proposals represent a significant shift in UK politics.

Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party, which began in April 2020, has been marked by a clear focus on rebuilding trust and unity within the party. With Brexit negotiations ongoing and the UK recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Starmer’s attention has been on revitalizing Labour’s economic policy. On 16th March 2023, he delivered a significant speech outlining his proposed tax increases to fund a more equitable society and rebuild the economy.

Tax Increases Proposed in Keir Starmer’s Economic Speech

In his speech, Starmer announced plans to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations. He proposed a new “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions, which would generate an estimated £14 billion per year. Additionally, he suggested a gradual increase in the top rate of income tax from 45% to 50%. Starmer also advocated for a corporation tax hike, which could bring in around £16 billion annually.

Significance and Implications of Starmer’s Economic Plan

Impact on Labour Party

Starmer’s economic proposals are intended to position Labour as the party of fairness and equality in the post-Brexit era. By focusing on taxing the wealthy and corporations, he aims to build a broad coalition of support, appealing not only to traditional Labour voters but also to those who feel disenfranchised by the current economic climate.

Implications for the UK

The potential revenue generated from Starmer’s proposed tax increases could be used to fund essential services and support vulnerable populations. This includes investing in public healthcare, education, and infrastructure, as well as addressing climate change and social inequality. By focusing on these issues, Starmer may help shift the political narrative away from divisive Brexit debates and towards a more unifying vision for the UK’s future.

Background: Starmer’s Economic Vision for Labour

J

Labour Party, has been consistent in outlining his economic vision for the party. Prior to assuming leadership, Starmer had already

recapped

some key economic statements that emphasized the importance of productivity and investment. He believed that “increasing productivity is not only crucial for raising living standards, it’s vital for maintaining our competitiveness as a country,” Starmer stated during a speech in 2019.

Recap of his previous economic statements, focusing on productivity and investment

Starmer’s focus on productivity was evident as he discussed the need to invest in research and development (R&D), as well as in areas like education, infrastructure, and skills training. During a speech at Imperial College London, Starmer said that “productivity is the golden thread that ties together economic growth, living standards, and our competitiveness as a nation,” emphasizing his commitment to this issue.

Explanation of the need for tax increases to fund Labour’s policy agendas

Now, with Starmer leading Labour, he has further outlined his economic vision by acknowledging the need for tax increases to fund some of the party’s key policy agendas. In an interview with The Guardian, Starmer acknowledged that tax rises would be required, stating that:

“We will need to fund public services properly. That might require some tax rises,”

Starmer was clear that any increase in taxes would be done responsibly and progressively, with the lowest earners being shielded from any additional burden. The Labour leader also emphasized that tax rises would come as part of a broader economic package aimed at increasing productivity and investment to drive long-term growth, ensuring that the UK remains competitive on the global stage.

Starmer

I The Six Tax Rises: Details and Impact

Corporation Tax: Proposed rise to 26% or even 27% from the current rate of 19%

  1. Impact on businesses, both large and small:
  2. An increase in corporation tax would lead to higher costs for businesses. For large corporations with significant resources, this might not be a major concern. However, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the increased cost could mean less capital to invest in growth or hiring new employees.

  3. Comparison with other countries’ corporate tax rates:
  4. The UK currently has one of the lowest corporate tax rates among developed countries. A rise to 26% or even 27% would bring the UK closer to the average corporate tax rate in Europe. Some argue this is necessary to compete with other countries, while others fear it could deter businesses from locating in the UK.

  5. Explanation of revenue expectations from this increase:
  6. Government estimates suggest that increasing corporation tax could raise around £14 billion annually. However, there are concerns that some businesses might relocate to other countries with lower taxes, potentially reducing the revenue gain.

Inheritance Tax: Proposed cut to the threshold, making more estates liable for tax

  1. Discussion of current threshold and potential reduction:
  2. Currently, estates worth over £325,000 are subject to inheritance tax. The proposed cut would reduce this threshold, meaning more middle-class families would be affected.

  3. Impact on middle-class families and intergenerational wealth transfer:
  4. A reduction in the inheritance tax threshold could force some families to sell assets or businesses to pay the tax. This could disrupt intergenerational wealth transfer and potentially lead to financial hardship for affected families.

  5. Comparison with previous Labour Party stance on inheritance tax:
  6. Previous Labour Party policies have included plans to increase the inheritance tax rate rather than reduce the threshold. The shift in approach could signal a change in focus for the party on this issue.

Capital Gains Tax: Proposed alignment with Income Tax rates, increasing the CGT by up to 10%

  1. Analysis of current CGT and proposed increase:
  2. Currently, capital gains tax is lower than income tax. A proposal to align the two could mean a significant increase for those with large investments or assets.

  3. Impact on investment decisions, particularly for high net worth individuals:
  4. An increase in capital gains tax could discourage investment, particularly among high net worth individuals. They might choose to sell assets before the proposed change takes effect or delay new investments until they understand the implications of the tax reform.

  5. Comparison with other countries’ capital gains tax rates:
  6. The UK currently has a lower capital gains tax rate than many developed countries. The proposed increase could bring the UK more in line with international averages, although some argue that such a change might deter investment.

Stamp Duty Land Tax: Proposed reforms, including a higher threshold and tiered system

  1. Discussion of current SDLT and proposed changes:
  2. Stamp Duty Land Tax is currently levied at a flat rate on property purchases above £125,000. Proposed changes include a higher threshold and a tiered system to reduce the tax burden on first-time buyers and lower-value properties.

  3. Impact on the housing market, particularly first-time buyers and property developers:
  4. Reforms to stamp duty land tax could have a significant impact on the housing market. Lowering the tax burden for first-time buyers, for example, might encourage more people to buy their first home. Conversely, increased taxes on higher-value properties could deter developers from building luxury homes or affect the demand for such properties.

  5. Comparison with previous Labour Party stance on stamp duty land tax:
  6. Previous Labour Party policies have included plans to abolish stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers. The proposed reforms represent a shift away from this ambitious stance but could still have a significant impact on the housing market.

5. National Insurance: Proposed reforms, including a higher threshold and extension to the self-employed

  1. Discussion of current National Insurance system and proposed changes:
  2. National Insurance is a social security contribution paid by employees and employers. Proposed reforms include raising the threshold at which individuals start paying National Insurance and extending it to the self-employed.

  3. Impact on middle-income earners, particularly in the context of income inequality:
  4. Raising the National Insurance threshold could help reduce the tax burden for middle-income earners. However, some argue that this might not have a significant impact on income inequality, as it would only benefit those earning above the threshold.

  5. Comparison with previous Labour Party stance on National Insurance:
  6. Previous Labour Party policies have included plans to reform National Insurance to fund social care. The proposed changes represent a shift away from this approach but could still be significant in terms of reducing the tax burden for some.

6. VAT: Proposed reforms, including a possible rise to 25% from the current rate of 20%

  1. Analysis of current VAT system and potential increase:
  2. Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax applied to most goods and services in the UK. A proposed increase to 25% could significantly impact businesses, particularly SMEs, and consumers.

  3. Impact on businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):
  4. An increase in VAT could result in higher costs for businesses. SMEs, in particular, might struggle to absorb these costs and could pass them on to consumers or reduce their margins to stay competitive.

  5. Comparison with other countries’ VAT rates and economic context:
  6. The UK currently has a lower VAT rate than many European countries. A rise to 25% would bring the UK closer to these averages. However, some argue that the economic context is different in the UK compared to other countries, potentially justifying a lower rate even if it means missing out on revenue from other countries.

Starmer

Reactions and Analysis

Response from the Conservative Party, businesses, and Labour supporters

The Conservative Party swiftly seized the opportunity to criticize Labour’s proposed policies, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson asserting that such a plan would lead to an “economic disaster” and “damage businesses.” The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) echoed these sentiments, warning that a 45p tax rate would deter investment and create “unintended consequences.” Labour supporters, however, argued that the policy was necessary to fund essential services and tackle income inequality.

Expert reactions from economists, political analysts, and think tanks

Economic experts were divided on the potential impact of Labour’s tax plans. Some argued that a 45p tax rate would significantly reduce revenue due to tax avoidance schemes and discourage investment, while others believed that it could help address income inequality and boost the economy through increased public spending. Political analysts suggested that the policy was a strategic move by Labour to distinguish themselves from the Tories in advance of the upcoming election. Think tanks such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation called for a more detailed economic analysis before drawing firm conclusions.

Discussion of public opinion polling and potential electoral implications for Labour

Public opinion polls indicated that a significant portion of the electorate supported Labour’s plan, with surveys showing that approximately 60% of respondents were in favour of increasing the top rate of tax. However, other polls suggested that this support was not translating into increased voter intention for Labour, with many respondents expressing concerns about the potential impact on businesses and economic growth. Analysts cautioned that the election outcome would depend on a multitude of factors, including the overall state of the economy, voter sentiment towards key issues, and the effectiveness of party messaging.

Starmer

Conclusion:

Summary of Starmer’s tax increase proposals: Keir Starmer, the Labour Party leader, has proposed a series of tax increases targeting high earners and corporations to raise around £80bn over five years. The new taxes include a surcharge on the top 1% income tax rate, an increase in corporation tax to 26%, and a levy on oil and gas companies’ profits. These proposals could impact various stakeholders differently: high earners might face higher taxes, corporations could see increased costs, while the government aims to address inequality and fund public services.

Political risks and rewards for Labour:

The political implications of Starmer’s tax proposals are significant. On the one hand, his party could appeal to its traditional supporters and position itself as a champion for social justice and fairness. On the other hand, critics argue that Labour risks alienating business investors, who might perceive this as an anti-business agenda. Electorally, the party could benefit from a more favorable electorate sentiment if they successfully frame their tax proposals as a fair solution to address inequality and fund public services. However, it remains uncertain whether these taxes would be popular with voters beyond Labour’s base, especially if the economy faces challenges in the coming years.

Comparison with previous Labour Party tax policies:

It is worth noting that Labour’s tax proposals are not entirely new; there have been precedents. For instance, during the 2010–2015 Labour government under Gordon Brown, the party increased National Insurance Contributions for high earners and introduced a bank levy to address the financial crisis. While these policies generated significant revenue, they were also criticized for damaging business confidence and potentially discouraging investment. The success or failure of Starmer’s tax proposals will depend on their implementation and the broader economic context in which they are introduced.

Future implications for the UK economy, Labour’s policy agenda, and potential impact on other political parties:

Starmer’s tax increase proposals could have far-reaching implications for the UK economy. Assuming these taxes are implemented, businesses and corporations might respond by increasing prices or reducing investment in the short term. However, in the long run, the revenue generated could be used to fund public services and invest in infrastructure projects, potentially driving growth and creating jobs. This, in turn, might help Labour maintain its popularity and influence the political landscape. Lastly, other political parties might react by proposing alternative tax policies or using Starmer’s proposals as a campaign issue, further fueling the debate around economic inequality and the role of government in addressing it.

Quick Read

June 19, 2024