Islington People’s Panel - the 2012 Budget

Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed the 2012 Budget. The much awaited announcement included the lowering of the controversial 50p tax rate to 45p, limits on who can get child benefits, and the so-called granny tax, which means some pensioners will now have to start paying into the public purse. Reporter Sam Richardson asked people on Upper Street, Islington, how the budget would affect them.

Phil Williams, 39, of Cross Street, Islington, a florist said: “The reduction in the 50p tax doesn’t affect me, however I think it’s politically naive. Even if it doesn’t generate a great deal of money, it’s totemic and the overall balance and the headline of the budget is taking from the poor to give to the rich. I think it’s all about tinkering round the edges, they did all the important stuff a couple of years ago – it’s a non budget, budget really. They should consider not having a budget.”

Kalla Sashidharan, 49, an accountant who lives in Islington Green, Islington, said: “In terms of pensions we are in a position where we are going to have to somehow find money for the future and it is a very, very difficult decision. From my career as an accountant I’m afraid I can kind of see why these tough decisions having to be made and people having to work longer years as well as contributing more.”

Imogen Erskine, 33, a PR officer and young parent said: “Obviously, as a five year government he had to make decisions that will put them in good stead for the next election, but I’m still finding it really difficult to see why the drop to the 45p tax that affects so few people has happened. I like the fact that the threshold for paying tax has gone up as that directly affects me and my husband because we have our own business, and we have to pay corporation tax, and it particularly helps me because I will be a low earner when I go back to work after the baby.”

Gillian Comins, 78, a pensioner, said: “It’s a good budget, the chancellor made good arguments. Taking so many people out of tax is a good thing, as it helps the lowest paid. I personally think it’s quite fair that elderly pensioners should pay a share as they have been shielded from the problems – we haven’t lost our free travel, we haven’t lost our TV licences, we haven’t lost our fuel allowance, and everybody else is having to make sacrifices.”

Andy Chakowa, 57, a pharmacist in Essex Road said: “In a way I agree with the increase in price of alcohol and tobacco, and in a way I don’t. I myself am a smoker and I’m thinking 37p on a packet of cigarettes is going to make me think seriously about giving up, I think that be an incentive for people to kick the habit.”

Graham Perkins, 67, a pensioner, said: “The effect’s going to be fairly marginal for me. The 50p issue is one where you get a conflict between people’s emotions, where everyone begrudges the fat-cats’ lifestyle and the reality of it where I guess there may be some truth in the fact that we don’t want to drive these people into tax exile as happened three or four decades ago, when everyone from wealthy business people to the Rolling Stones just upped and left the country and didn’t pay any tax anyway.”