Last Friday marked 100 days since the result of the General Election. While the political focus has been elsewhere in recent weeks, the majority Conservative Government has been getting on with implementing the manifesto on which we were elected.
The Budget last month was the first step in our plan for the next five years. The Chancellor delivered on our manifesto pledges on tax, with the personal allowance – the amount you earn before paying income tax – rising from next year to £11,000, with the aim remaining to raise it to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament. Similarly, the threshold for the 40p tax rate will rise to £43,000 as a first step towards taking it all the way to £50,000 in five years’ time.
A new and compulsory National Living Wage will be introduced from April next year – set at £7.20 an hour and expected to reach £9 an hour by 2020. At the same time, we have combined the increase in the personal allowance to a pledge that once the new, higher threshold of £12,500 is reached, no-one working up to 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will pay income tax in the future.
We are also clamping down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, by abolishing permanent non-dom status and ensuring that British people pay British taxes on the income they earn here. Labour had wanted to scrap even the non-dom statuses that earn the country money, but our approach will deliver the best of both worlds – attracting people who genuinely are non-doms, but undoing the farce of people using quirks in the law to inherit the status.
Guaranteed increases in the state pension will remain, as will pensioner benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance and free TV licences for over 75-year-olds. At the other end of the age scale, we are maintaining the Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers and introducing Help to Buy ISAs, which will offer government support for people saving up to get their foot on the housing ladder.
Concerns about defence spending were also put to rest with the confirmation that we will continue to meet the NATO target of two per cent of spending on defence. Indeed, the defence budget will rise in real terms each year.
The election feels much closer than 100 days ago, yet the Government has hit the ground running as other parties argue among themselves about their own futures. We will continue the focus on the economy, strong public services such as the NHS – which will receive a funding increase of £8billion over the next five years – and education and employment. The argument the Prime Minister made during the campaign was that the job of rebuilding the nation’s finances had been started but by no means finished. Having been rewarded with a majority by the British people, the aim since the campaign has been to waste no time in returning to that job and making swift progress.