SPECULATION is reaching fever pitch about tax cuts in tomorrow’s Budget. In many ways, the Tories, lagging so far behind in the polls, cannot afford not to cut taxes but the real question should be not about the Tories but about whether the country as a whole can afford tax cuts.

Yes, everyone would like a tax cut, but, more desperately, everyone would also like to see a dentist or get an appointment with their doctor, or to get an ambulance when they dial 999, or to attend a school that isn’t crumbling. Some Conservative MPs argue that our public services need more efficiency not more money, yet surely reducing the amount of money that can be spent on them by giving tax cuts is unlikely to improve their efficiency or give the end-users – the people – a better service.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will, of course, will use jiggery-pokery to make the electorate believe they are getting tax cuts. There will be new taxes on everything from vaping to holiday lets and holiday flights in the hope he can raise enough money from us to give us a tax cut.

Even with last year’s National Insurance cut, the overall tax take is going to continue to rise until 2029.

If there are to be tax cuts, they have to be fair. New analysis shows that even cutting National Insurance benefits the wealthiest 20 per cent far more than it does the poorest 20 per cent, and it benefits households in wealthy London by on average twice as much as it does householders in the poorer North East.

Perhaps the fairest tax cut would be to raise tax thresholds – the point at which people start to pay tax. Thresholds have been frozen since 2021 meaning that as inflation forces up wages, more people are paying more. Raising the starting point would particularly assist the poorest – but will there be enough votes in it for the Tories to consider it?