AFTER months of speculation, it was thought when the chancellor rose to his feet, to deliver his first budget, plans for Britain leaving the European Union would dominate his speech.
Despite the Office of Budget Responsibility, the independent body which analyses the budget, expressing uncertainty about any future forecast following Brexit, the Chancellor only mentioned it once.
After failing to set out any concrete plan, quite rightly the business community is concerned about the post-Brexit world. Rather than giving them assurance, Phillip Hammond responded by hiking up National Insurance Contributions for small businesses.
A government which in the past has allowed large corporations like Starbucks, Vodafone and Café Nero to get away without paying a penny in corporation tax clobbered the hairdresser, the plumber and the electrician. This government is more comfortable getting into bed with large corporations rather than supporting people who have chased the dream of running their own business.
Under the plans anyone who earns £27,000 a year would have to pay an extra £30 a month. These are the people who are working day in day out, with no holiday or sick pay keeping our economy moving. In Islwyn these changes would have affected 3,300 people, to me this was an outrageous attack on aspiration.
It was not until the Chancellor was reminded he had broken a manifesto commitment not to raise VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance, the government decided to make an embarrassing U-turn. Amazingly, instead of admitting their mistake, the Prime Minister and others tried to defend the tax hike as fair.
Is there any wonder why people have little faith in politics when a government can so blatantly ignore the promises they made during election time?
Even though the government has now shelved the plans, there is still a black hole in the budget to the tune of £625 million a year. When I asked the Chancellor in Parliament whether this was just a stay of execution for small businesses and if he was planning another tax hike at a later date he could not give me an assurance.
This government has been very good at peddling the myth they are on the side of the small business. As long as they allow large firms to get out of paying their taxes while chasing the self-employed that claim is laughable.