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Chancellor Philip Hammond has tackled claims that he broke a manifesto promise with the tax rise on the self-employed revealed in his Budget yesterday, telling Sky News that “my job is to do what needs to be done to get Britain match-fit for the future”.
The controversial tax rise, which has drawn the ire of some pockets of the right-wing press and some fellow Tory politicians, clashes with repeated promises by former PM David Cameron, and from the 2015 Conservative manifesto that national insurance contributions would not rise. He defended the rise as a step towards funding the social care package and supporting the NHS.
“We are all Conservatives. No Conservative likes to increase taxes, National Insurance, or anything else,” Mr Hammond said.
“We face uncertain times ahead. That means making tough decisions,” he added.
Mr Hammond later told the BBC Today programme: “No chancellor can ever rule out future tax changes, that’s a golden rule of chancellorship”. The government, he said, made a “broad commitment to lock taxes so there would be no tax increases and that is what is we have done”.
He argued that 60 per cent of self employed people would see a reduction in their NICs and added that “what mustn’t get lost” was the spending commitments the government made to support social care and the NHS.
He pointed out many spending commitments were ringfenced and in framing the budget he was “navigating within those confines”.
“The decision to leave the European Union has changed the game and Britain needs to prepare for the opportunities and challenges,” he said.