Tag Archives: relief

Tax cuts proposed by both Truss and Sunak are unfunded. How are they affordable?

Grinning idiots: the tax cuts both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have promised will worsen the cost of living crisis and make it impossible for them to fund relief measures for struggling families, a leading think tank has said.

Oh dear, oh dear, it looks like neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak have bothered to think how they will make their tax cuts work.

The politically-independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said large, permanent tax cuts could make some spending unaffordable as the UK slips into the recession that Tory policies have triggered.

The claim seems to be based on a discredited economic model that says our taxes pay for public spending, meaning if taxes are cut, equivalent cuts must be made in spending.

That’s not true; governments spend according to their priorities and then borrow from the private sector and/or tax appropriately in order to prevent inflation from exceeding targets they have set.

In this case, the end result is the same: if Sunak or Truss is to cut taxes, spending will have to come down or inflation will rise above even the current high level.

And Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS, warned that spending will probably have to increase if the government intends to support families that will not be able to cope with the increasing cost of living and sky-high energy bills.

Truss has pledged to scrap April’s National Insurance rise to help households and cancel a planned rise in corporation tax, while Sunak as promised to reduce VAT on domestic energy bills from five per cent to nothing, and to cut 3p off income tax by late 2029.

Neither has explained how they will deliver this cuts without adding to inflation, although Sunak has said he will not implement his plan until the current inflation crisis has been brought under control.

So it seems they have been building castles in the air, rather than taking the grounded outlook on the economy that the UK needs. It is impossible to bankrupt an economy like ours, that can create its own money – but it seems both Tory candidates are going to try.

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If ministers are talking with energy bosses over bills, why wait until September to act?

Nadhim Zahawi: waving the flag won’t help his image if he doesn’t come back from his meeting with the energy firm bosses with a tangible plan to tackle the cost of living crisis – that can be put into practice IMMEDIATELY.

It’s only good news that Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and other ministers are meeting energy firm bosses to discuss ways to ease the payment burden on customers if that relief happens immediately.

So why are these Tories determined to wait until September, when the new prime minister is sworn in?

Here’s the gist of the story:

Ministers will hold talks with energy giants on Thursday to discuss measures to ease the cost of living.

The government says talks will focus on how energy companies can alleviate pressure on consumers.

But Treasury officials have stressed that any big decisions will be decided by the next prime minister, when they take office in early September.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said he would make sure options and ideas were in place for the new PM.

There is absolutely no reason to wait.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has made it clear that a precedent was set in May for the government to bring forward urgent relief measures that could save millions from poverty and associated mental illness.

In fact, a meeting today (Thursday, August 11) means a relief plan could be announced before the weekend.

That would be better for the nation, for the Tories, and even for the energy firms – as their bosses would know exactly what the government will do, well in advance, and will be able to plan their own strategy for it.

The longer the Tories delay, the more stupid, small-minded and petty they seem.

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Sunak & Truss damned over cost of living crisis: ‘They are not willing to do anything, they are not willing to work together’ [VIDEO]

This is the man who’s working for you: Martin Lewis has exposed the Tory government’s delay in dealing with the cost of living crisis as a nonsense. Why won’t they work out a plan now – or are they happy to manufacture an emergency to create huge stress and possible mental ill-health for millions of people?

Say what you like about Martin Lewis – he’s doing his level best to drag the Tory government – unwilling and surly – into dealing with the cost of living tsunami that is about to hit millions of us.

The Tories are saying they can’t do anything to help the poorest in society who are going to be overwhelmed by a debt disaster that will destroy their finances and attack their mental health – because convention dictates that an outgoing administration won’t impose on its successor.

But Mr Lewis points out that conventions are not rules and there is a precedent for acting immediately, set only three months ago, in May. There is nothing to stop Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss from putting all our minds at rest – apart from their own reluctance:

Will the politicians do anything? Probably not.

But at least now you know it is because they want to cause you huge amounts of unnecessary stress. This is a manufactured emergency.

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Boris Johnson refuses calls for emergency cost-of-living relief

His answer: Boris Johnson won’t bother himself to help us tackle the cost-of-living crisis. He says it’s due to a Parliamentary convention – but conventions aren’t rules and necessity should overrule tradition; This Writer thinks he’s backing out because he wants the rest of us to suffer.

Boris Johnson has ruled out any measures to relieve the cost-of-living pressures his policies have brought down on the people of the UK before he leaves office as prime minister in September.

Here‘s the BBC:

Boris Johnson has no plans to introduce big tax and spending measures before he leaves office to ease the cost-of-living crisis, Downing Street has said.

Business group leader Tony Danker has urged ministers to “grip the emerging crisis”, arguing it “made no sense to wait” for the next PM to arrive.

Downing Street said it recognised the public were facing “challenging times”.

However, Mr Johnson’s spokesman argued it would be up to his successor to make any decisions on further help.

Mr Johnson is due to leave office in early September, and No 10 said “by convention it is not for this prime minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period”.

It’s an excuse and a cop-out, isn’t it?

Johnson probably isn’t doing anything about it because he’s sulking about being ousted from office.

Alternatively, it is possible that he won’t act because increasing the cost of living until working people can hardly afford to live is exactly what he intended.

Either way, by sitting on this crisis, he is ensuring that no effort to help those of us facing poverty and deprivation will be brought in until months after it is needed.

But there it is. Why would anybody be surprised?

That was his response to Covid-19, as well.

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MPs split off from the Labour Party. Voters say ‘Good riddance!’

Chuka Umunna: Good riddance.

A group of seven MPs has split off from the Labour Party – to gasps of relief across the United Kingdom.

The reaction is probably not what they wanted.

The group includes Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith as expected.

Joining them are Luciana Berger – quitting before her Liverpool Wavertree CLP pushes through the “no confidence” vote that members have been readying? – along with Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.

The group has released a statement but it seems its website is having teething problems – odd since it has been registered since 2015 – and I can’t really be bothered unless Vox Political readers are genuinely interested. Are you?

It’s much more fun to highlight the public response, which is primarily relief. The flood of comments yesterday (Sunday, February 18) when rumours spread that the split would happen today, speaks for itself. Some thought this was another publicity stunt and they would not go through with it:

Others pointed out the qualities of the expected splitters and the likely tensions between them:

The prevailing mood – especially in the case of Mr Umunna, was clear:

And some posted wish lists of other Labour members they would like to see split off – for a very obvious reason:

Mr Jeffery will be pleased to see Ms Berger and Mr Gapes among the splitters. Mr Gapes is also on Matt Zarb-Cousins’s list:

Speculation on what the “Independent Group” would represent has been overwhelmingly negative towards them:

And the departure will provoke comparisons with the “Gang of Four” who formed the SDP in 1981. That decision led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a party that apparently killed itself off as a national political organisation by forming a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015. Here’s Martin O’Neill:

As ever, Tony Benn called it correctly – 38 years ago.

Last word goes to Liam Young:

Damn straight – good riddance.

Where are all the Grenfell Donations? The families aren’t getting them

A vigil near Grenfell Tower in London [Image: Victoria Jones/PA].

Is it true?

Will the money donated after the Grenfell Tower fire for the good of the victims be used to fund work by authorities that should be paying for it from their own pockets?

Apparently £20 million has been provided by well-meaning people including Adele and Usain Bolt (see below) – but if any of the former residents, or anybody representing them, asks for some of it they are refused.

Where is this money?

Why is it not being used to help the former residents of Grenfell Tower?

And who has decided to deny them this help?

Time for a Freedom of Information request, I think.

Thank you FA and Adele and Usain Bolt and all the wonderful people in this country and abroad who have donated money in response to this awful tragedy.

But the truth is that no one knows where this money is, who is controlling it, making decisions about disbursement. There have been rumblings for about 4 weeks now but finally the Residents got to vent about it in a closed door meeting with the people who’re supposedly taking care of the money.

With £20m in the bank RBKC is drawing down on this money ‘for ongoing voluntary organisation commitments’ and presumably interest is accruing on a daily basis too.

My sneaky suspicion is that RBKC will present a bill for the hotel accommodation and all the ridiculous keyworker system they put in place that had everyone going bonkers for over 6 weeks. All these expenses will be added up and my instinct is somehow deducted from the £20m donations. Wait and see.

Meanwhile some bloke I know has to rummage to find a pair of trousers to fit him, another a jacket and a woman who had the most miraculous escape from the jaws of hell, says ‘I don’t know what I can ask for. What can I have? I don’t want to be greedy or ask for anything.’

Source: Where are all the Grenfell Donations? – National & International Issues – Dorset North


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This is how the ‘annual tax statement’ SHOULD have appeared!

We all owe a debt of thanks to Richard Murphy, over at Tax Research UK. He has broken down the information in George Osborne’s misleading ‘annual tax statement’ into its component parts and then put a new version together, under categories that more accurately describe the spending concerned.

Then he turned the information into a handy pie chart – similar to Osborne’s but with one major change:

This version is accurate.

Here it is:

141105richardmurphy1

Let’s just compare it with Osborne’s…

141105osbornetaxsummary

Big difference!

The most interesting to Vox Political is the perception gap between Mr Murphy’s calculation of the total proportion of tax spent on unemployment benefits – 0.67 per cent – and Osborne’s ‘Welfare’ heading, which constitutes 24 per cent of spending.

Talk to most people about ‘Welfare’ and they’ll think you mean unemployment benefits – so the Osborne chart will make them think that government spending on the unemployed is no less than 36 times as much as is in fact the case.

When a government minister exaggerates the facts by that much, he might as well come out and admit that he’s lying to the people.

Mr Murphy wrote: “This is the statement George Osborne would not want you to see because it makes clear that subsidies, allowances and reliefs extend right across the UK economy. And they do not, by any means, appear to go to those who necessarily need them most. The view he has presented on this issue has been partial, to say the least, and frankly deeply misleading at best.”

He wrote: “Add together the cost of subsidies to banks, the subsidy to pensions and the subsidy to savings (call them together the subsidy to the City of London) and they cost £103.4bn a year – more than the cost of education in the UK.

“It’s also no wonder house prices are so distorted when the implicit tax subsidy for home ownership is £12.6 billion a year.”

He also pointed out that unemployment benefits cost only half the amount used to subsidise personal savings and investments.

For full details of Mr Murphy’s calculations, visit his article on the Tax Research UK site.

Mr Murphy tweeted yesterday: “Almost every commentator now agrees that Osborne is going to spend a fortune sending out tax statements that are wrong. Why not cancel now?”

He won’t unless he’s forced to; he has a political agenda to follow.

That is why Vox Political launched a petition to achieve just that.

If you haven’t already, please visit the petition on the Change.org website, sign it, and share it with your friends.

While you’re at it, feel free to share the infographic, created to support the petition:

ztaxleaflets

Please also read yesterday’s Vox Political article on Osborne’s ‘annual tax summaries’, if you haven’t already.

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Tax the rich? Hardship payments for benefit claimants? Sorry Nick – we believed you once before

Nick Clegg: He must have had his forked tongue in his cheek when he wrote the Liberal Democrats' latest list of pledges.

Nick Clegg: He must have had his forked tongue in his cheek when he wrote the Liberal Democrats’ latest list of pledges.

The Liberal Democrats have launched a desperate attempt to win back voters, packing their General Election manifesto with meaningless pledges.

Why are they meaningless? Because the Liberal Democrats, under the same leader (Nick Clegg), made pledges to us before the 2010 election – having already hammered out an agreement with the Conservatives that meant they would not be able to honour those commitments.

There is evidence that teams representing the Tories and Liberal Democrats negotiated what would be in a coalition agreement on March 16, 2010 – and abolishing student tuition fees, a principle Liberal Democrat pledge, was not part of it.

In this light, how can we believe Liberal Democrat plans to push for higher capital gains tax, bringing it more closely in line with income tax? How can we believe they would change tax relief for entrepreneurs, so it does not provide a tax loophole for the super-rich – or even the modest plan to cut tax relief on pensions from £1.4 million to £1 million? And how can we believe they will restrict access to “non-dom” tax status for foreigners living in Britain who do not pay tax on their earnings abroad?

The BBC has an even more hard-to-believe report that the Liberal Democrats will cut the Winter Fuel Allowance and free TV licences for better-off pensioners, in order to pay for a 66 per cent discount on bus travel (in England only) for young people aged 16-21.

This is doubly insulting to our intelligence. Firstly, a concession on bus fares is no consolation for the tripling of student tuition fees in which the Liberal Democrats participated after promising to abolish them instead – and don’t they know that means-testing benefits to discover who deserves them is not a simple matter? It is complex and costly – as Alex Little told us only a few days ago.

This comment of his is particularly apt: “Old Tories are often popping up to say they don’t need their £250 winter fuel allowance. It may be true that they don’t need it, but their motives for mentioning it are so these things will be means tested, the budget will be slashed and then they think they can ask for lower taxes, or more ‘contributory benefits‘ (code for benefits not available to the ‘undeserving’ who’ll need to rely on charity).”

The Liberal Democrats are being more than a little disingenuous with that promise, then.

And does anybody really think the plan to decriminalise possession of restricted drugs for personal use will ever happen? The Liberal Democrats know their performance in the Coalition means they won’t win any elections soon and are hoping to be part of another hung-Parliament alliance. This means they would be sharing public office with one of the other parties who, they state, have “blighted” UK drugs policy with “kneejerk prejudice and the wish to appear tough”. This is another pledge they can make safely, knowing it is never likely to happen.

You’ll notice, also, that the Liberal Democrats say next to nothing about the National Health Service – that foundation stone of British fair play and decency that they allowed the Conservatives to sell off to private companies (in which many of them are shareholders) in order to make a profit from the suffering of the sick.

They will increase its budget in line with inflation so the private companies leeching off of it won’t lose profit. How caring of them.

To cap it all off, Clegg repeated what has become the Liberal Democrat mantra ever since he first used it in December 2012: “Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling people to get on in life.”

It’s the ‘party message script’, you see. Back in 2012, he added: “We will stay the course on the deficit. We will cut income tax bills and help with childcare bills. We will invest in boosting jobs and we’ll reform welfare to get people into work.”

Considering his party’s record on those matters, there is certainly no reason to buy any of what he’s peddling today.

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The benefit debate is a diversion – that’s why it will go on and on

140218benefitstreet

How many of you tuned into the last episode of Benefits Street on Channel 4, and stayed on for the debate that followed?

Quite a few, I reckon.

They were worth watching, but the feeling that was left with this viewer (and I’ve been reviewing television for 20 years or more) is that we are talking ourselves around in circles – led by politicians with a vested interest in perpetuating the discussion.

They don’t want a solution. They want us to keep going over the same ground – which they have laid out for us with very specific limits – and they want to concentrate our anger about this issue so that we blame, not the people responsible – the tax dodgers who put money into tax havens that could be invested in British industry, the private landlords and low-paying bosses who are subsidised by the benefit system and the bankers who caused the economic crisis a few years ago – but the people who have been forced onto benefits through no fault of their own and are being persecuted for it by a punitive system that penalises them for failing to find jobs that really do not exist.

Look at the way David Cameron leapt forward with fistfuls of cash to pay for flood relief when Tory heartlands were affected, saying that money was no object and Britain is a rich country. We’re rich enough to look after the playing fields of Eton, but not our poorest citizens, according to his mentality. Property is worth more to him than people.

Why? Because the people who send their children to Eton are the people Cameron hopes will elect him (he can’t be re-elected; he didn’t win the 2010 election) in 2015. The unemployed are less likely to vote for him – in fact they are less likely to vote at all. It seems there is something about being rejected by society that instils a sense of listlessness and despair in the human psyche. People ask themselves: Why bother?

There are solutions, but it is cause for concern that we are not hearing about them from our MPs and politicians. Journalist Owen Jones came out with the clearest plan during the debate on Channel 4 last night, and it is well worth quoting in full.

He said: “Firstly let’s make it clear – work does not pay in this country. We hear that as a mantra, when most people in poverty get up in the morning and earn that poverty.

“We’re talking about people milking the system. Let’s talk about the low-paying bosses who are being subsidised with in-work benefits because, in the seventh-richest country on Earth, they won’t pay.

“If we’re talking about getting people into jobs I actually think we need to talk about solutions here. One in six workers in the last two years have claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance at some point; that’s a lack of security.

“What we need firstly is a massive house-building programme that would reduce the amount spent on Housing Benefit which, by the way, is not going into the pockets of these tenants – it’s lining the pockets of private landlords charging rip-off rents. If we build housing, it would create jobs and we would stimulate the economy as well.

“It goes the same with the need for an industrial strategy because what successive governments have done, and it started in the eighties, is let the secure jobs go to rot, if you like. Now, other countries like Germany, what they’ve done is had an industrial strategy. Instead of saying, ‘Hands off, let the market decide,’ they’ve said, ‘Actually we want to create jobs in renewable energy.’ Now we’ve just seen the floods; we’re going to have a lot more extreme weather, so let’s have an industrial strategy to go and create renewable energy jobs, giving people secure, dignified jobs, taking on the environmental crisis.

“These are solutions… We’ve got to change the debate we have at the moment where the real villains of the piece, like the tax dodgers who get away with not paying £25 billion a year in tax, like the private landlords and the low-paying bosses milking our welfare state, like the bankers who caused the economic disaster – they get away with it, but all we ever hear about is kicking people at the bottom.”

Absolutely right. And that’s all we’ll hear about it for the foreseeable future, as well. We won’t hear about returning to a full-employment society (which is perfectly possible), because that means the greedy rich will have less money for themselves in the short term.

In the long term, ensuring that there are properly-paid jobs for the most people, so they do not have to claim benefits, means that there is more money moving around the economy – and money makes money. The parasites – who are making a fortune unsustainably by working people hard and paying them poverty rations – would be just as rich in the long run, but they cannot bear to consider the possibility.

One has to consider whether they want to force people into poverty, just to make their own wealth seem more remarkable – the poverty trap as ego-trip, if you like.

But we won’t hear about that because it is politically inflammatory. Far better to set the lower classes against each other, laying blame on each other for problems that are caused by different people entirely – and laugh all the way to the offshore bank.

If I had to describe Britain to a foreigner, I would ask them to imagine a person being robbed outside a public lavatory, by the mayor of his town, while council workers started demolishing the building; the rich are destroying our public services and mugging us at the same time.

Very soon, the same people who are mugging you will be asking for your vote…

… while blaming you for problems they have done nothing to solve.

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Workplace battleground: Labour and Tories at war over employment

cameronmaths

Labour is forging forward with new plans to improve work prospects and the skills of those seeking employment, while the Conservatives are plunging backward with proposals to penalise people who lack the ability to speak basic English.

Already right-wingers in the media have been trying to undermine the policies announced by Rachel Reeves in a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research. They say Labour is planning to strip people of their benefits if they don’t take classes to improve their English and Maths skills, if necessary.

This talk of punishment for people who need help is completely wrong-headed. If someone can’t get a job because they can’t read, write or do their sums, then they should get help. Of course they should.

One has to wonder what has gone wrong in our schools, to lead to this situation. Perhaps Michael Gove would like to take responsibility? No, didn’t think so.

In fact, the plans announced by the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary are perfectly reasonable – especially in contrast with the latest Tory madness, but we’ll come to that soon enough.

We already know that the centrepiece of Labour’s economic plan is a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed.

This means anyone over 25 who has been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance for two years or more, and anyone under that age who has been receiving the same benefit for one year or more would get a guaranteed job, paying at least the minimum wage, for 25 hours a week – coupled with training for at least a further 10 hours a week.

This is perfectly reasonable. If you have been looking for work for more than a year, and couldn’t get it yourself, then the extra income provided by such a placement (especially coming in line with Labour’s plan to increase wages, in order to really make work pay, rather than depressing benefits and putting everyone in poverty, which is Conservative policy) will be welcome.

It doesn’t mean that people will have to put their own ambitions on hold. The best advice I ever received was to get a paying job during the day, in order to put food on the table and clothes on my back, and work on what I really wanted to do in the evenings. Eventually, with perseverance, it should be possible to replace the day job with what you really want to do.

Most of the jobs are likely to be in small firms where, once a company has invested six months in a new recruit, the chances are they will want to keep them on after the subsidy has ended.

The jobs guarantee would be fully funded by repeating the tax on bankers bonuses – they were in the news recently, when it was announced that these people would be receiving unearned bonuses worth twice as much as their salary so they’ve definitely got the cash to spare – and a restriction on pension tax relief for those on the very highest incomes.

But – of course – putting people into a job isn’t much good if they don’t have the knowledge of English and Maths that most of us use without thinking in our everyday lives.

In her speech, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “The shocking levels of English and maths among too many jobseekers are holding them back from getting work, and trapping them in a vicious cycle between low paid work and benefits.

“Nearly one in 10 people claiming JSA don’t have basic English skills, and over one in ten don’t have basic maths. IT skills among jobseekers are even worse; nearly half don’t have the basic email skills which are now essential for almost any job application.

“And we know that this keeps people out of jobs: those out of work are twice as likely than those in work to lack basic English and Maths,” she said, proving that her own lack in that area hasn’t held her back. Twice as likely as those in work, Rachel.

She said research has shown that, when people who lack these skills do get jobs, they too often find themselves in short term or temporary work, with a swift return to benefits. Nearly one in five of those who have made multiple claims for unemployment benefits have problems with reading or numeracy.

The response: “A new requirement [will be] for jobseekers to take training if they do not meet basic standards of maths, English and IT – training they will be required to take up alongside their jobsearch, or lose their benefits.

“[We] will ensure that people’s skills needs are assessed, and basic skills gaps addressed, from the start of a Jobseeker’s Allowance Claim, not after months and years of neglect.”

Contrast this with the Conservative Party’s latest plan to hammer immigrants and people on benefits – announcing a new policy of repression every week ahead of the election in 2015, according to politics.co.uk

It seems right-wing Australian election chief, and tobacco lobbyist, Lynton Crosby thinks this kind of bully-boy behaviour will make the Tories more popular! Don’t laugh.

This comes after satirical radio comedy The Now Show featured a sketch in which people tried to justify xenophobic attitudes without saying the words “I’m not racist, but…”

Let’s try the reverse – putting those words into the new policies announced on politics.co.uk:

“I’m not racist, but we should strip benefits from anyone who can’t speak English!” (Does this include the English people who can’t speak their own language properly, who Labour plan to help?)

“I’m not racist, but we should axe the service telling people about benefits in foreign languages!”

“I’m not racist, but we should end translation services in benefits offices!” (According to politics.co.uk, David Cameron is very keen on that one).

The site said “Iain Duncan Smith is understood to already be working on them”. (He’s not racist, but…)

Tory backbencher and former scandal Liam Fox tried to justify this lunacy by saying: “The ability to speak English is one of the most empowering tools in the labour market and we should be encouraging as many people as possible to learn it.” By cutting off their income? How does that work?

Plans to focus on the government’s increasingly racist tough anti-immigrant message come despite warnings that a reduction in immigration would make it harder for Britain to pay back its national debt.

The site said that, last week, a long-awaited report into benefit tourism had to be shelved in secret, after failing to find any evidence of it.

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