Budget 1999: Even the Cabinet come out winners

The Budget and You

UNLIKE KEN CLARKE and his eminently taxable tipple of whisky, no one could ever accuse Gordon Brown of devising a Budget with his own mineral water drinking habits in mind.

However, no cabinet minister is an offshore, tax-free island and even the sober Mr Brown and his colleagues will feel the personal impact of the contents of his little red box.

Though John Prescott may proudly proclaim that he is still working class, the average cabinet minister's salary of pounds 90,000 means that they would have been the first against the wall for any pot shots at the middle classes. Soaking the rich was never an option for Mr Brown, but his complex tax and benefits changes will give most middle-income households little more than the equivalent of a vigorous rub down with a wet flannel.

From the Prime Minister down, the Cabinet will be hit by a range of Budgetary assaults on Middle Britain, particularly the scrapping of mortgage tax relief and the married couple's allowance.

But this will be more than offset by the surprise cut in the basic tax rate to 22p, a move that will benefit the higher rate taxpayers more than most.

As the announcements were aimed largely at parents of young children and pensioners, however, few ministers will be singing in the streets about large boosts to their income.

In line with New Labour's more puritanical streak, not a single senior minister smokes cigarettes, let alone the Havanas beloved of Cuddly Ken, so the 17.5p price hike on a packet of 20 will involve not a shred of self-sacrifice. Drinking is, of course, a much more acceptable vice and Robin Cook, Mo Mowlam and Alan Milburn must be delighted by Mr Brown's decision to freeze duty on wine, beer and spirits.

So on the whole, the impact on ministers has been neutral or even beneficial. Bearing in mind that all political careers end in failure, even those in the Cabinet who are in danger of being fired will be comforted by one of Mr Brown's less headline-grabbing moves - to help the over-50s move off the dole into work.

Tony Blair

With three children, Nicholas, Kathryn and Euan, and a QC wife who is earning up to pounds 200,000 a year, the Prime Minister will be relieved that child benefit will not be taxed this year at least. But the Blairs' beloved silver Ford Galaxy people carrier will be hit by the new pounds 100 charge being levied for tax discs on large cars.

Robin Cook

"Cookie the Nookie", as the tabloids dubbed him, has recently done his own bit to recast Labour's definition of family values. However, with grown-up children, the Budget will have a neutral impact on his affairs. The Cabinet's best-known gambler will welcome the cut in football pools duty and raise a wee dram to the spirits duty freeze.

Mo Mowlam

With a husband who earns more than pounds 120,000 a year as a merchant banker, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland enjoys one of the highest joint incomes among cabinet members. With no children of school age, however, she will lose out because of the abolition of the married couple's tax allowance.

Gordon Brown

As a childless single man, Mr Brown will receive no direct personal benefit from his "Budget for families". Sadly for his girlfriend Sarah Macauley, the scrapping of the married couple's tax allowance means he has even less incentive to tie the knot. John Prescott will have to make another conference speech telling him to get a move on and propose.

Margaret Beckett

The Beckett household currently benefits from the taxpayer to the tune of more than pounds 120,000 a year as the Leader of the House of Commons pays her husband Leo to work as her secretary. However, as the owner of a flat in central London, she will be hit by both the scrapping of Miras and by the rise in stamp duty should she wish to sell up.

Alan Milburn

As the youngest parent in the Cabinet, the rap-loving 40-year-old Chief Secretary to the Treasury is famed for pushing a pram around Whitehall and at party conferences. Like Mr Blair, he will still be able to claim child benefit but, as both he and his doctor wife are higher-rate taxpayers, they will not be helped by the new children's tax credit.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape