POLITICS

Ed Miliband Warned 50p Top Tax Rate Plan Gives Tories 'A Free Hit'

17/03/2014 16:01 GMT | Updated 17/03/2014 16:59 GMT
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (L) walk together through the Members' Lobby of the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster toward the Chamber of the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament in London May 9, 2012 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the coalition government's legislative programme in a speech delivered to Members of Parliament and Peers in The House of Lords. AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEFAN WERMUTH (Photo credit should read STEFAN WERMUTH/AFP/GettyImages)

Ed Miliband and the Labour party risk giving the Tories a "free hit" by depicting them as anti-business due to their plan to reinstate the 50p top rate of tax, a Labour peer has warned.

Despite widespread public support for bringing back the 50p top tax rate, former business secretary Lord Hutton warned that the move will "make things harder for ourselves".

“I think it is possible to draw up and implement a radical set of reforms without running the risk of being portrayed as anti-business,” he told the Times. “Labour did this very successfully under Tony Blair in 1997 but we had a clear position that we wouldn’t increase personal tax rates.

“We will make things harder for ourselves if we are boxed into a corner and accused of being anti-aspirational. This is the danger of our current position on income tax for higher earners. It gives our opponents a free hit.”

A Conservative spokesman seized upon Hutton's remarks, telling HuffPostUK: "Business leaders say that Labour’s opportunistic gimmicks would endanger the recovery. They are jeopardising the economic security of hardworking people."

The shadow chancellor said he would reverse the decision taken by the coalition to reduce the amount levied on Britain's highest earners - those on more than £150,000 - so he could help reduce the deficit.

Ed Miliband PMQ's Faces

Ed Balls told the annual Fabian Society conference in January that "those with the broadest shoulders" should bear a "fairer share of the burden".

He said: "The latest figures show that those earning over £150,000 paid almost £10 billion more in tax in the three years when the 50p top rate of tax was in place than when the government conducted its assessment of the tax back in 2012.

"When the deficit is still high, when tough times are now set to last well into the next parliament, when for ordinary families their real incomes are falling and taxes have risen, it cannot be right for David Cameron and George Osborne to have chosen to give the richest people in the country a huge tax cut."

Balls continued: "That's why, for the next parliament, the next Labour government will reverse this government's top rate tax cut so we can finish the job of getting the deficit down and do it fairly.

"For the next parliament, we will restore the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000.

"Reversing this unfair tax cut for the richest one per cent of people in the country. And cutting the deficit in a fairer way."