George Osborne is under pressure to provide relief to the middle classes in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, with a former Tory minister telling the chancellor to "step up and produce the goods".
Tim Loughton, who lost his job as children's minister in September, told HuffPost UK he wanted to see specific action to help the middle classes including scrapping the planned rise in fuel duty pencilled in for January and a tax break for married couples worth £150 a year.
“It’s the squeezed middle who are suffering on the whole range of fronts at the moment,” he said. The East Worthing and Shorham MP said Osborne needed to take account of just how much the economic downturn had "impacted on the middle classes compared to many others".
"I'd like to hear him [Osborne] stick to his guns and continue to get down the deficit, specifically I'd like him to honour our commitments to introduce a marriage allowance in full rather than tinker with phased introductions."
The chancellor is faced with disappointing all sides of the coalition however as Lib Dems fight to limit cuts to benefit payments and Tory MPs urge help for the so-called middle class ‘strivers’.
Loughton said he feared the realities of coalition and having to accommodate “Lib Dem pet projects” meant that any tax cut for married couples would likely be a “half hearted, token measure that wouldn’t cut the mustard”.
He added: "It's time to step up and produce the goods but I fear it's not going to be a full blooded solution."
Osborne is expected to announce a cut in benefits that will see welfare payments only rise below inflation, having been blocked by Nick Clegg from introducing a real-terms freeze.
A move Loughton would welcome: “It was a huge mistake to uprate benefits and inline with inflation at a time a when most working people, not least those in the public services, were facing real terms pay freezes, if not cuts in their take home pay.”
However even the cuts in benefits believed to have been agreed to by Clegg are likely to unsettle the Lib Dem side of the coalition. In September the party’s deputy leader Simon Hughes told HuffPost that it would be “unacceptable” for the poorest to bare the brunt of further cuts.
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