Rishi Sunak approval rating: Chancellor accused of ‘stealth tax on the self-employed’

Budget 2021: Laura Kuenssberg's analyses Rishi Sunak's plans

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer is still regarded as the most popular Conservative MP, according to the latest polls. However, he has faced criticism for the budget he announced in October, with some accusing him of a ‘stealth tax on the self-employed’. So, what’s led to these allegations and have they impacted how the public perceive him?

According to the latest figures from YouGov, Mr Sunak’s approval rating was ranked at 35 percent for the start of November.

This was the highest of any Tory politician – including the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson scored an approval score of 34 percent in YouGov’s survey.

However, when compared with his approval rating for the second quarter of 2021, Mr Sunak dropped from 42 percent to his current ranking.

One of the potential reasons for this slump could be the changes to tax and public spending that the Chancellor announced outside of normal budgets.

Last month Mr Sunak also revealed his third budget, which he billed as a “tax, spend and save” budget.

The Chancellor faced criticism soon after his announcement and was accused of a “stealth tax on the self-employed”.

Attention was directed to a measure in the small print of the budget, which is estimated will cost sole traders more than £1.7 billion.

Within the budget, Mr Sunak changed the rules on how tax is calculated for unincorporated businesses – mainly sole traders and trading partnerships.

The change was made in order to simplify what was viewed as a complicated system.

However, the tweak will raise an additional £1.715 billion for the Exchequer, according to the Chartered Institution of Taxation.

In essence this equates to an average extra bill of more than £3,000 for half a million self-employed people.

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Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this month, Mr Sunak defended his budget and said that “there were no extra taxes for the self-employed” included within it.

He insisted that the rise was a consequence of “a timing difference that was reflected in the Budget scorecard”.

He said: “With regard to the self-employed, take a moment to reflect on the fact that this Government provided almost £30bn of support to millions of self-employed throughout the crisis and I am very glad that we did so.”

Will the Chancellor be the next PM?

Boris Johnson still has around two and a half years left of his current term as Prime Minister.

Despite facing criticism of his own in recent months, there are no indications that Mr Johnson doesn’t intend to stand for a second term in 2024 when the next General Election takes place.

There are also no signs that a fellow Tory MP – including Mr Sunak – will challenge his leadership with a vote of no confidence in the near future.

However, were circumstances to change and Mr Johnson leaves his position, then the Chancellor would be ranked as one of the favourites to become the next Prime Minister.

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