Wage, tax and cost of living claims verified

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By the Reality Check team
BBC News

Image source, British Parliament / Jessica Taylor

With Boris Johnson absent in the United States, it was his deputy Dominic Raab who replaced him for questions from the Prime Minister.

We’ve looked at some of the claims he – and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party Angela Rayner – have made.

Dominic Raab: “Due to the engagement we had with the US, they immediately gave us a boost in trade and business by re-establishing travel from UK to US”

Mr Raab was responding to Labor criticism that the Prime Minister had made “no progress” in concluding a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States.

It is true that President Biden announced this change yesterday, but it was not just for the UK.

The resumption of travel to the United States from November applies to fully vaccinated people from 33 countries.

They include China, India, Brazil and most of the countries of the European Union.

Angela Rayner: “His government has chosen to cut a worker’s income by over £ 1,100 to £ 18,000 a year”

This is Labor’s latest estimate of how the reduction in universal credit and the increase in the National Insurance (NI) rate next year will affect workers.

To arrive at this figure, £ 1,040 would come from the loss of the £ 20 per week ‘increase’ to universal credit.

And from next April, a worker earning £ 18,000 a year would pay an additional £ 105 in NI – as part of the increase to help fund health and social care.

Dominic Raab: “We have an increase in jobs and wages and it will benefit everyone”

The number of employees is indeed returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Salaries have also increased. The Office for National Statistics says the average total salary increased 8.3% between May and July of this year compared to the same period last year.

But not everyone will benefit, and the ONS says the hike was affected by two temporary effects.

What happened to the wages ?.  .  .

The first one you can see in the table above. Average incomes plummeted in the first few months of the pandemic as people were on leave, which in many cases meant their wages were cut or they were working fewer hours. The annual numbers we see now are compared to those at the start of the pandemic, pushing up the wage increase.

The other is that throughout the pandemic, more low-paid workers have lost their jobs than high-paid workers, which means average incomes have increased.

It is clear that some people like heavy truck drivers have seen their wages increase recently, but it is not true to say that the wage increase has benefited everyone.

In addition, according to the Resolution Foundation, 2.6 million workers affected by the public sector wage freeze will also not benefit from the wage increase and will have their purchasing power affected by the rise in inflation.

Image source, British Parliament / Jessica Taylor

Angela Rayner: “The government took the subsidy for green houses, removed the zero carbon house standard and lost the storage facility that contained three quarters of our gas.”

Angela Rayner has accused the government of a series of failures in the energy sector.

She is correct that the Green Homes Grant, which offered households grants of up to £ 10,000 to install low-carbon insulation or heating, was scrapped in March 2021 – after just over six month.

The zero-carbon house standard would have made all new homes carbon neutral by 2016. It was scrapped in 2015 – a broken promise we’ve already looked at.

Instead, the government announced a new target to make new homes ‘zero carbon ready’ by 2025.

The Rough gas storage facility off the Yorkshire coast in the North Sea was closed in 2017 and was responsible for 70% of the UK’s gas storage volume.

Dominic Raab: “We have lowered income tax, saving £ 1,200 per year for every worker”

The basic income tax rate has been 20% since 2008 – the Deputy Prime Minister refers to the personal allowance, which is the amount you are allowed to earn before you start to pay income tax.

When the coalition government came to power in 2010, the personal allowance was £ 6,475. It is now £ 12,570 which means you can earn an additional £ 6,095 each year without paying income tax. The base income tax rate is 20% – and 20% of £ 6,095 gives you £ 1,219.

This is a significant tax cut for many workers. But not all workers will save £ 1,200. People earning less than £ 12,570 per year, or more than £ 100,000 per year, will save less than that.

The Chancellor has already announced that the personal allowance will be frozen for the next four years

Angela Rayner: “Complains about having to share his taxpayer-funded 115-room mansion with the Foreign Minister”

This is a reference to Chevening House in Kent – a country retreat generally used by foreign secretaries.

Angela Rayner is wrong to claim that it is funded by the taxpayer – as Mr Raab pointed out.

Chevening was given to the government as a gift in 1959 and the running costs are covered by a trust, using a bequest from Lord Stanhope, the former owner of the property.

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