Set the economy free to meet tough challenges ahead

Dr Richard Wellings writes for the Yorkshire Post

Despite the cuts, the coalition Government will raise our national debt by almost £500bn over this Parliament. This is just the official debt. When other liabilities such as pensions are included, the total debt is already £5 trillion and heading higher. This amounts to a staggering £80,000 per person in the UK.

If the Government thinks the cuts will solve the problem, it is deluding itself. In real terms, public expenditure will fall by just three per cent by 2015. Spending on politically sensitive areas such as health and welfare will be maintained, while the foreign aid budget will actually be increased. More money will also have be spent on interest payments as the debt continues to rise.

Recent tax rises won’t solve the debt problem either. Indeed they may even make it worse. When tax rates are already high, increasing them further tends to reduce the amount raised.

Take the 50p rate of income tax. This will deter hard work and encourage tax avoidance strategies. It will also make it harder for UK-based firms to attract top international talent. Some companies may even decide to move elsewhere. Higher taxes destroy w