Will Truss Evolve or Revolve?

I spoke with a former Treasury mandarin during the recent PM selection period who had worked under Truss and Sunak. She said the difference was “chalk and cheese” with Sunak a diligent minister who paid attention to detail while Truss was – well the opposite.

I thought this might be a little binary till last week. It now seems perfectly likely that as well as causing carnage for pensions and mortgages, she is willing to terrify pensioners and those on benefits by breaking promises on the uplift of state support by inflation.

Let’s be clear, the Government is getting a lot of extra revenue because of inflation, many will be paying higher rates of income tax because of the freezing of tax thresholds, indirect tax receipts  on goods and services are soaring. The bulk of taxes that the low and unpaid pay are on the things they buy. Which is why fairness says they should be given inflation upgraded benefits. As David Gauke told the BBC yesterday, increases in benefits and state pensions don’t get hoarded, they are paid straight back into the economy and raise the revenue to pay for them.

This is why the idea of a Conservative Prime Minister breaking a manifesto pledge by even considering not uprating benefits at this most needy time – is unthinkable. But it is not unthinkable, it is happening.

It is happening because we have a Prime Minister (and a tame Chancellor) who are prepared to run with personal prejudices as a guide to policy. Clearly Liz Truss is modelling herself – in style at least – on Margaret Thatcher. But in content, she is not Mrs Thatcher – she is quite the opposite, she is not following monetary rules but throwing the sheets to the wind knowing that the DWP is the soft underbelly that can be carved open to pay for “growth”.

How many people will have to worry through the winter as the Truss playbook is revealed?

If the big idea is that growth is achieved by getting the economically inactive into productive labour, then cutting benefits is clearly an incentive. It assumes of course that those claiming are malingerers who have been cosseted over the past 12 years of Government by a different kind of Conservatism that used such liberal policies as “austerity” to feather-bed the poor.

Meanwhile, the idea that those who have got rich over these years are now idle – doesn’t appear to be in circulation. Actually, we are less productive than many of our neighbours and economic peers because for a decade we have failed to invest. The last time we had the 2.5% growth needed to pay for the current borrowing was under a Labour Government.

The failure to use these 12 good years to grow Britain was not because we failed to squeeze the poor (for whom austerity bit) but because we did too little to take tough decisions to incentivise the mass affluent to get off our arses and do some work. I cite the failure to reform pension taxation in 2015 as one example. Rather than focus spending of tax relief on those who most needed incentivisation, we continue with one of the most regressive pension taxation systems in the world.

It now appears that the hardcore of Truss supporters (her power base of 80,000 Conservative members) are intent on driving home a self-serving agenda that rewards wealth and indolence and targets those who have no prospect of work because they are old, infirm or caring.

Evolve or revolve?

This Liz Truss is not for turning, even the U turn on the abolition of the 45p income tax-rate is conceded with ill-grace. Liz Truss thinks she is an iron lady but she will find that iron can be very brittle when bent out of shape.

She has two choices, either she evolves her views and starts to do the job properly or she revolves out of the turning door of number 10.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Will Truss Evolve or Revolve?

  1. Brian G says:

    In the path to evolution there are many mutations that die out. Let’s just say Truss is not on the path to evolution. Good riddance to an unprincipled, undiplomatic, rude, inadequate mutation.

  2. RWT says:

    “If the big idea is that growth is achieved by getting the economically inactive into productive labour, then cutting benefits is clearly an incentive.” I suppose that, in the short term at least, this is the case if the economically inactive are actually a) where the jobs are; and b) appropriately skilled to fill those vacancies.

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