A number of your correspondents (Letters, 9 and 10 July) deplore the reduction in benefits set forth in the recent Budget. The fact is that the vast majority of the people in this country enjoy a modestly affluent lifestyle.
Many attribute this happy state of affairs to their own industriousness and prudence and would resent giving up more by way of taxation to support the less well placed, some of whom they suspect of lacking these virtues.
No political party seeking office can afford to antagonise this large constituency or, if, you like, squeeze the middle.
Some would no doubt argue that the necessary benefits should be paid for by “that man over there” (TMoT), presumably the company executive, banker, top public servant and high earners generally.
TMoT, of course, believes his more prosperous state is fully justified by his enterprise, acumen, unique qualities and so on.
Furthermore, there are not all that many in this stratum of society and some, if pushed too hard, might remove themselves.
Whatever the reasons, neither of the two major parties has shown much enthusiasm for trying such an approach.
I do not doubt the sincerity of your correspondents but, given the parlous state of the public finances, if they cannot show how higher benefits can be financed, I would suggest they may be succumbing unwittingly to a degree of emotional self- indulgence.
In the second half of his Budget, the Chancellor is going to tackle the worst housing crisis north and south of the Border since the end of the Second World War.
Existing legal protection for the Green Belt will remain but he has ordered sweeping reforms of the planning system to fast-track the construction of more than 500,000 homes.
Ministers will take over planning authority in areas refusing to meet targets while building on unused development sites and brownfield sites will get “automatic permission”.
Plans to build new houses were a campaigning feature of 20th-century British politics, with the Liberal Lloyd George and Labour’s Herbert Morrison giving particularly lavish promises.
But it was Tory chancellors like Neville Chamberlain (1930s), Harold Macmillan (1950s) and Nigel Lawson (1980s) who actually delivered and George Osborne aims to join them.
(Dr) John Cameron