Helping the poor requires knowing what it’s like to be one of them, says Fleet Street Fox
Image: via Reuters)
This week a man who has raised more taxes than any chancellor in the last half century will stand on his hind legs and tell you he wants to cut them. And then he won’t.
What it will do instead is cut a few pennies out of fuel, and while you might think that’s a great idea, it just cuts the cut from the government and leaves the profits to the oil companies who can , or not, decide to lower the price you pay at the pump.
By cutting the cost of petrol and diesel, Rishi Sunak will take money out of the NHS, road repairs, schools, rubbish collections, social work, home help and a thousand other things you don’t notice as much as the cost of a full tank, but need to survive, all the same.
James Maloney/Lancs Live)
The fact that it does this while telling you it makes life easier for the average man on the street is a flat lie from someone who isn’t likely to have to choose between refueling or of food. It’s classic Torynomics – the calculations to keep the rich rich, as opposed to making the poor better off.
But what more could he do, shout the backbenchers. Vladimir Putin has raised the price of oil and gas, the pandemic has caused supply chain issues, and working from home has taken a toll on the economy of our cities. We’ve lost £44 billion in trade since Brexit, there are traumatized Ukrainians and Afghan translators to house, we’re full, we’re broke, we’re motherfuckers.
Besides, it’s not easy, being green!
There are fairly cheap and easy ways that it COULD put some cash in your pocket, though. And he’s not going to bother with any of them.
1. Insulate every home in the UK
The fastest way to save money on energy bills is to insulate your home. The pace of this action has stalled, and while not everyone wants or can afford full net-zero compliance of the kind demanded by the crackpots of Insulate Britain, it is possible for many of us to do better – if we had help. Reducing VAT by 20% on insulation of any kind, plus the same for adding solar panels, wind turbines or heat pumps, would make a big difference. He won’t, because it’s not sexy, and why should you get anything for less.
2. Exceptional tax on energy companies
Shell is on track to post a profit of £23.6bn this year, while BP is expected to make £15.5bn. Oil companies are already heavily taxed – 40%, compared to 19% for most companies – but let’s face it, they face no labor risk. And that would produce a massive, immediate, unavoidable payday for the government to use to drive down bills. He won’t, lest it set a precedent, which was the opposite of his reasoning when he said he should raise taxes because of the pandemic.
3. Increase the NI threshold
Next month, everyone with a job and every business will pay more for this privilege. The 1.25% increase that Rishi will talk about is more accurately described as 10%, as NI’s contributions will increase by about one-tenth, from 12% to 13.25%. It is expected to bring in £12billion a year for the next 3 years and will be donated to the NHS to repair the damage caused by the pandemic.
But it is also asking the NHS to save £4.75billion in ‘waste’. If you think the NHS is currently a waste, it’s unclear how launching an extra £7.25billion will help. If you think the NHS is underfunded, giving it billions with one hand and taking billions with the other won’t help either. So what happens is you’re taxed 10% more for something that isn’t useful, in any scenario.
In any case, it should not be paid for by the poorest. Raising the threshold at which you start paying from £9,568 to the same level as the income tax floor of £12,570 would be fairer – and it won’t because it effectively creates a basic income not taxable for everyone who works. That would mean less poverty, less disease, better nutrition, better health and, in years to come, lower costs for the NHS and social care, but why should the obvious bleeding matter?
4. Improve Brexit
The UK said goodbye to £44billion of cross-border trade with Boris Johnson’s bad Brexit deal this year, just when the effects were worse thanks to the pandemic and, now, the frenzy of war crimes in Ukraine. There is, however, an easy way to recoup every penny, which is to end all tariffs and customs controls by complying with EU standards on goods and services.
Turns out they weren’t so bad after all. And there is not a human being in the world who wants to fill out 74 pages of customs declarations if there is an option not to. It won’t happen either, because it would involve a government based on lies and ignorance publicly admitting that it doesn’t know the first thing about what it’s doing, which would make Rishi look like the best economist when he stood in a field of financial morons.
The worst chancellors in British history are those who presided over growing poverty because they didn’t know what it was. They never went hungry, never shivered, never missed something because they couldn’t afford to exploit an opportunity. The best experienced it and knew the price of being poor – they knew it led to disease, misery, worse workers, lower taxes, public health problems and a generational and national failure. They could see how starving children led to a drop in GDP and wanted to fix it.
Little Rishi argued that feeding the children was too expensive. He said it was too difficult to help the self-employed unless they were able to provide PPE and have a curator’s phone number, in which case he happily threw billion, no questions asked. He had no problem giving visas to wealthy Russians, and now the government he is a part of is rationing the welcome mat for poor Ukrainians. He seems resentful of helping to keep factories open and Britons working, so if he withdraws P&O freeport contracts on the basis that he has laid off a third of his UK workforce and employed Filipinos at £2 an hour, realism itself will seek the therapist’s couch.
There are global economic problems that are difficult to solve. It takes someone with empathy, experience and imagination to approach them. Instead, this chancellor will do little things – jewel cashbacks, little lies, narrow-minded solutions that solve nothing. That’s why he is Little Rishi – think little, know little, do little.
The Spring Statement will be nothing more than Torynomics – bedtime stories of a man whose only real purpose in life is to replace the crazy party pillock in issue 10, rather than to heal a nation at the economic health.
You will never get any financial sense from a man who spends £180 on a cup of coffee and £95 on slippers.