Tories attack Osborne over 'inept' Budget

Chancellor's handling of freeze on pension allowances sparks fury on back benches

Senior Conservative MPs yesterday expressed anger over George Osborne's Budget raid on pensioners suggesting the Chancellor had been politically inept in his handling of the issue.

Some backbench MPs, normally supportive of Mr Osborne, questioned his strategy of trying to portray the freeze in pension allowances "simplifying the tax system".

They said while they were broadly supportive of the substance of the policy – which has been independently backed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies – its presentation had been botched, resulting in two days of bad headlines for the Government.

One suggested the episode had damaged Mr Osborne's reputation as the Tories' pre-eminent political strategist. Another said Tory MPs were now questioning his assumed position as the most likely successor to David Cameron.

But others were more supportive of the Chancellor and said he had handled the Budget presentation as well as could be expected given the difficult economic circumstances. They blamed their Liberal Democrat "colleagues" for only supporting the Budget's politically popular aspects.

But The Independent understands that Mr Osborne was warned by aides that his phrasing of the Budget announcement on pensions was likely to lead to accusations that he was trying to slip the news on pensions out. However, he resisted attempts to re-write the section – and made no attempt in his speech to justify the need to spread the tax burden.

Yesterday following two days of negative headlines, one senior Conservative MP said while he backed the principle of the move he was deeply concerned at the way it had been handled.

"I don't think that the reality is as bad as the headlines suggest," he said. "But given the person in charge of the Budget is supposed to be a political genius and first and foremost we are about the business of politics, that is a problem.

"We made the mistake of allowing a relative small change to generate some really bad headlines. In politics there is always a watershed moment when the trajectory changes. Backbench perceptions of George have altered significantly in the past couple of days.

Bill Cash, one of the few Tory MPs to openly question the policy, said he "remained concerned" about the surprise measure. Having examined it in more detail he was more reassured than he had been but it was too soon to assess how it would go down with voters.

The Conservative MP Brian Binley said: "Were they trying to get away with it? "If so, it failed. Did they overlook it? If so they will pay for it."

Rich pensioners should have their winter fuel payments taxed to spare the worst-off from the "granny tax," a Lib Dem peer said yesterday. Lord Oakeshott, the party's former pensions spokesman, said it was a scandal that 500,000 taxpayers on the 40p rate enjoy such "tax-free bungs".

Ministers have told him that taxing winter fuel payments would raise £230m a year – £1.2bn over a five-year Parliament.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions