Tag Archives: windfall

Rishi Sunak’s cost-of-living complacency evaporates as public opinion turns on the Tories

The bribery brothers: Rishi Sunak has u-turned on his opposition to a windfall tax for fossil fuel companies because he will use the cash to bribe you into supporting the Tory government again, after Sue Gray’s revelations about Boris Johnson’s wild Downing Street parties brought it into disgrace.

The Chancellor whose government spent thousands of pounds teaching civil servants how to juggle balls, while millions of households facing the cost-of-living crisis tried to juggle their bills, is now scrambling to help us in a meaningful way.

It’s a huge u-turn from the Chancellor who couldn’t care less a week ago.

At a time when the government has been enjoying record tax receipts – having raised taxes 15 times since Boris Johnson became prime minister and due to inflation that increases the tax attached to certain commercial items (like fuel) – Sunak had rejected proposals to reduce the tax burden on ordinary people.

Only days ago, Tory MPs rejected calls for a 40 per cent cut in fuel duty and VAT after a petition received more than 102,000 signatures, thereby forcing a discussion in the Commons.

The Government used a false argument that drivers are already saving £1,900 on their annual fuel bills compared with what they might have been paying had a pre-2010 fuel duty escalator remained in place. The pre-2010 rates were altered because times had changed; times have changed again.

And Sunak himself has been dodging the issue, claiming he could not affect the global circumstances driving the crisis. But that isn’t what he has been asked to do.

He had been asked to respond to the crisis in a way that saves ordinary people from impoverishment and prevents a recession and, until today, he had shown no interest in either goal.

George Dibb, in The Guardian, claimed solutions were staring Sunak in the face. He said:

Sunak’s first step should be investing in social security via increases in universal credit and legacy benefits to prevent families falling into destitution.

Second, we need a serious industrial strategy to boost confidence, give long-term business certainty and restore investment in the UK’s productive capacity. Sunak promised to increase private investment with a “super-deduction” incentive, but in fact it fell in the last quarter. To make this long-term vision work, Sunak should break up the Treasury and form a new Ministry for Economic Strategy with the target to drive investment-led, green growth.

Third, rather than continuing to slip on our green ambitions, every home should be insulated and more wind turbines erected across the UK in an investment needed before 2050 anyway. Green power is now the cheapest way of generating energy.

Next, the government must make clear to businesses that just as they were supported in the pandemic, now companies must themselves act responsibly by reducing their profits to keep prices down. Profits have gone up, particularly in uncompetitive, concentrated sectors – so for example petrol stations haven’t passed on the fuel duty cut to customers, benefiting their bottom line at the public’s expense. Evidence from the US suggests that recent rising prices have been disproportionately driven by rising profits, not wages.

Finally, as fossil fuel companies pile up huge, unexpected profits from the crisis that is pushing millions into absolute poverty, it is fair for the government to redistribute these into welfare and income support via a windfall tax.

Well, as I was typing this, Sunak u-turned on his opposition to a windfall tax and will impose a 25 per cent levy on oil and gas firms’ soaring profits, for precisely this purpose.

This isn’t a display of leadership; he has merely caved in to a reasonable proposal that he has previously – unreasonably – rejected.

Sunak is saying that his one-off charge will “tax extraordinary profits fairly and incentivise investments” – so it seems likely he will offer firms a chance to avoid paying the full amount by diverting the money into investment in green – unpolluting – fuel development.

This is another admission of failure, of course. Boris Johnson and others have spent weeks – months? – telling us they didn’t want a windfall tax because they wanted these companies to make the investments on their own initiative. Clearly they have not and, having ignored the carrot, must now endure the stick.

Sunak is using the money to scrap his hugely unpopular and controversial plan to provide £200 to everyone in England, Scotland and Wales in October – and then force us all to pay it back over the following five years.

Instead, he is doubling the amount to £400, which will be non-repayable; we get to keep it.

The poorest households will also get a payment of £650 to help with the cost of living. Eight million households on means-tested benefits will get the money paid directly into their bank accounts in two lump sums – one in July, the other this autumn.

There will also be separate one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits – groups who are “most vulnerable to rising prices”.

The whole package of payouts will be worth £15 billion – to be partly paid by the windfall tax. We know that inflation is set to increase UK tax receipts by £12.5 billion per year. And of course the National Insurance increase will bring £13 billion into the Treasury.

So the Tory government will still be quids-in and the offer to the people is, to quote Boris Johnson, “chickenfeed”.

But it looks good – and that is all Sunak hopes to achieve.

Remember: prime minister Boris Johnson took a huge hit to his credibility when Sue Gray published her report on the party culture he promoted at Downing Street while the rest of us were enduring Covid-19 lockdowns.

Johnson attended and fully participated in these parties and then lied about them to Parliament and to the public. His claim that he was assured they were permissible because they were “works events” is nonsense because such gatherings were not exempted from lockdown rules when he himself announced them – and he must have known that (otherwise he would be admitting he is too stupid to run the UK).

So Johnson currently stands exposed as unprincipled, untrustworthy and corrupt – a despot who habitually ignores his own laws and treats those he forces to conform to them with contempt. That’s you, by the way.

He desperately needs to bribe the public with an incentive to support him again.

So today, here’s Sunak with a handout for us all. How utterly cynical.

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Windfall tax on pandemic profits should wipe out Covid-19 related debt says McDonnell

John McDonnell: he would have revolutionised the UK’s economy. Instead, the Tories have saddled one-tenth of the population with debt so great that they cannot pay their regular bills.

A former Shadow Chancellor has proposed a radical set of plans to clear the debt created by the Tory government’s cack-handed handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

John McDonnell pointed out that the richest firms in the UK have profited hand-over-fist during the crisis, and should pay a windfall tax to help pay for the measures to end it – which would ultimately help them, of course.

His proposals were not an attack on businesses, though – they were a criticism of a speech by current Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose best idea was to get members of the public to give all the money they have managed to save during the crisis to a new investment bank – meaning the nation’s poorest would foot the bill (again). What a socialist Starmer is!

In fact, according to Citizens Advice, more than six million people have fallen behind on their bills because of Covid-related hardship, and the number in severe, problem debt has doubled to 1.2 million.

They don’t have any spare cash for castle-in-the-air investment banks!

McDonnell said a comprehensive package of debt cancellation was needed to get the UK back on its feet, including high-cost debt, old debt, unmanageable rent and student debt – all to be supported by a windfall tax on businesses that have raked in billions of pounds over the last year.

He called for the creation of a ‘Debt Charter’ to tackle the causes and consequences of debt in UK society.

Improved benefits and a £10-an-hour living wage, along with restored universal basic services, should be deployed to prevent people from getting into debt in the first place, he said.

He called for a cap on interest rate charges and a ceiling on overdraft fees and interest payments to “rebalance power between lenders and the indebted”.

And he said bailiff visits should be suspended at least until the whole of the UK has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

This is the kind of thinking we need at this time.

We could have had it, too – if only millions of people had not been hoodwinked by anti-Labour propaganda at the 2019 general election, including a Tory campaign that was found to be more than 80 per cent lies.

So if you find yourself struggling with debt for years to come, while the Tories, their client media and their business-oriented doners tell you you’ve never had it so good, just remember that you could have had it better.

And remind everybody you know not to be fooled again.

Source: Impose windfall tax on pandemic profits to wipe debt slate clean, says McDonnell | The Independent

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Theresa May’s 70th birthday present for the NHS: A big, fat funding LIE

Unconvincing: Theresa May couldn’t make her announcement seem realistic, even under the friendly interrogation of Andrew Marr.

UK prime minister Theresa May has said the National Health Service in England is to receive a funding boost of £20 billion a year by 2023, with money from a so-called ‘Brexit dividend’ and a rise in taxes.

She said: “There will be that Brexit dividend. We will have that sum of money that is available from the European Union.”

There’s only one problem: Like most things she says, her promise is a big, fat lie.

For a start, there is no Brexit dividend.

If you’re a Tory, or a Leave supporter, this may be hard to accept at face value. Let’s have an educated opinion on it – from Paul Johnson, director of the financial think tank, the Institute of Fiscal Studies:

Here he is on the BBC’s Daily Politics, explaining the facts to a reluctant Sarah Smith:

There is no Brexit dividend; Theresa May lied. Are you happy with that?

The Patients’ Association isn’t. It responded, “A giant sticking-plaster is still a sticking-plaster.”

The IFS itself said the NHS needed an increase of more than four per cent per year to modernise; any less would be treading water. It is getting 3.4 per cent.

Here’s another thing: Theresa May has said there must be “efficiencies” alongside the new money. Why? The NHS has already been pared to the bone and there is no more efficiency to be squeezed out of it. In fact, the reason extra funding is required is that her government’s ruthless cuts and introduction of profit-grubbing into the UK’s healthcare system has made it more inefficient.

And she has refused to say which taxes will rise to pay for her mythical spending splurge – possibly because this is the only part of the announcement that might actually come true; the promise of more and better service hides the threat to take more money from a population that has already been squeezed hard over the last eight years.

Mrs May said only, “We will be contributing more as a country.” As a resident of Wales, I find this extremely disturbing as the funding increase is said to be for the NHS in England only.

I see no reason why the other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (what will the DUP think of this?) should pay for funding increases that will not benefit them.

So why make this rash, and completely false, claim?

Simple: Theresa May needs to talk up the benefits of Brexit.

Her EU Withdrawal Bill is returning to the House of Lords for further consideration over the next few days, after Mrs May lied to her colleagues in the Parliamentary Conservative Party in order to prevent a rebellion that would have harmed her as a credible prime minister.

Without any factual benefits to talk up, she has latched onto the biggest lie told during the EU referendum campaign – that, after leaving the European Union, the UK would be able to spend £350 million more, every week, on the NHS.

Her current offer is even more – £394 million a week – but that doesn’t really matter because she is lying.

She has invented a fake boost to the National Health Service in just one part of the UK in the long term, to generate a short-term lift for her government and to hide an increase in taxes – most likely for the poor majority of the population, rather than the obscenely rich minority in whose interest she governs.

It is not a birthday present for the NHS – it is the foretelling of a further theft from us.

This announcement, like Mrs May herself, is nothing but a mealy-mouthed con.


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