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Philip Hammond: It’s such a giggle paying for your failed economic policies with other people’s pensions, isn’t it?

You know a Tory policy idea is pants when even the right-wing papers are panning it – and both the Express and the Daily Mail have pummelled this one.

It’s also yet another indication of the devastating failure of Tory austerity policies.

I’ll explain:

Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond needs to find £20 billion by 2024, in order to meet a pledge by his government to increase funding for the National Health Service.

He can’t use normal tax receipts to pay for it because there isn’t enough in the annual tax take – that’s the failure of Tory austerity policies. They said they would reduce the national debt but instead they have doubled it, meaning significant amounts of government tax income are diverted into interest payments.

The government currently pays £48 billion per year servicing the national debt – more than twice as much as Mr Hammond needs. The money simply isn’t available to him if he continues to pursue austerity policies – and he has insisted that this is what he will do.

So he wants to raid the future pensions of every working-age man and woman in the United Kingdom instead.

In order to encourage everyone to pay into a pension pot, the government offers tax relief on the amount people set aside for their retirement. It uses the rate of Income Tax you pay to calculate how much tax relief you get.

This means that, if you want to pay £100 and are paying 20 per cent Income Tax, you only need to pay £80 and the government pays the rest. If you’re paying the higher rate of 40 per cent, you only need to pay £60.

This only applies to payments of up to £40,000 every year. There’s no tax relief on sums paid above that amount.

Mr Hammond is considering either cutting the rate of pension tax relief, or cutting the tax-free annual allowance.

Either way, if you’re a working-age citizen of the UK, you’ll have less money in your pension fund by the time you want to start drawing it out.

Hammond will probably present it as a fait accompli – if you want the NHS to continue functioning (and remember, that service has only fallen into difficulties after the Tories allowed private companies to cherry-pick profitable services for them to provide at a high cost to the taxpayer) then you must accept poverty in retirement.

It isn’t true, though.

He could try expansionist economic policies that would build up the tax take – or he could close down the tax havens that currently hold more than £498.2 billion, according to recent research.

But he’s not going to. Why not?

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