Labour seizes on banker tax cuts

Coalition moves shows it is ‘out of touch’, claims opposition

Labour will seize on the coalition’s decision to cut the top rate of tax to 45p as evidence that David Cameron is “totally out of touch” with the average Briton after awarding millionaire bankers at least £35m in tax cuts.

The opposition has calculated that 643 millionaire bankers working in five prominent UK banks will receive a combined tax cut worth at least £34.6m. The figures are based on details published by the main banks in recent weeks outlining the number of employees earning more than £1m last year and their salary bands.

Chris Leslie, shadow Treasury minister, said the figures would “appal” people on low and middle incomes struggling with child benefit and tax credit cuts as Labour sought to extract maximum political capital over the tax change. “Forcing millions to pay more while millionaires pay less is the act of a government that is totally out of touch and consistently stands up for the wrong people,” he said.

“Bankers are getting a bonus from David Cameron and George Osborne, while Britain’s families pay the price for their economic failure.”

Most of the tax cuts go to bankers at Barclays, with 428 employees sharing a combined tax cut worth at least £22.9m. Bankers at state-backed RBS and Lloyds are set to get a tax cut of more than £7.5m. HSBC and Santander are the two others included.

The attack comes after Mr Osborne this week defended the decision to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p, describing the “controversial” measure as an “economic essential” for the British economy.

“In a modern global economy, where people can move anywhere in the world, we cannot have a top rate of tax that discourages people from living here, setting up businesses here, investing here, creating jobs here,” the chancellor said in a speech defending the government’s tax policy and welfare caps on Tuesday.

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