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The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Posts Tagged ‘stealth taxes

We need wholesale tax and benefit reform, not meddling

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The news that the Liberal Democrats wants to reduce income tax for middle and low income earners is welcome news, albeit the chances of them getting sufficient votes to deliver on this commitment is unlikely. However, it does appear that they are willing to fill the void left by the current reincarnation of the Tory party.

The conservatives have traditionally been a party of tax cuts, not something that is always justified, but nonetheless, for the most part that is how they are perceived. David Cameron does not seem to want to make this commitment, because he is justifiably concerned that the Labour party will scream that the conservative party will hit schools and the NHS to fund the tax cuts. Rather than fighting this unsubstantiated claim, David Cameron is avoiding the fight and in my view, showing how incredibly weak he is, both as a person and a politician.

Gordon Brown said in 2004 that he could save £20bn per annum in an efficiency drive within high spending departments. He has not delivered on that commitment in fact, quite the reverse, we have actually seen an increase in public sector spending. Neither the LibDems nor the conservatives are willing to look to fund tax cuts from an efficiency drive, yet only an imbecile would claim that government departments are efficient or not guilty of waste. There have been numerous reports lately claiming that £billions have been wasted.

What we need is wholesale reform, not tinkering, backed up by a firm commitment to reduce taxes. The government, and it has to be said, the opposition parties believe it is okay to keep taking more and more of our money, every time they screw up, they either borrow, which lets face it, we will have to pay for, or they will introduce more stealth taxes. It has to stop. Under this Labour government, more and more people believe that they have an automatic right to look to the state, more accurately the tax payer, to provide them with an income, housing etc. There are nearly 870,000 people claiming unemployment benefits and 2.5m on some form of disability benefit. That is 3.4m people that require some form of tax payer funded benefits.

Now I accept that there are people with genuine disabilities and they should receive our support, but how much longer can the tax payer be expected to fund 3.4m people (and rising), that are making no contribution? I have deliberately ignored pensioners given many have contributed to state pensions for most of their lives.

Someone needs to say it how it is. There are just too many people expecting too few tax payers to fund their living costs, subsidise housing costs, as well as provide free education and health. Enough now, some of these people, probably that vast majority, can help themselves and they must. In these difficult economic times, those working have to make significant cuts, or take on extra jobs, or both. Why? Because we are expected not only to cover our own cost of living increases, but also the rises faced by those who make no contribution, in other words we pay twice.

Uncontrolled immigration places a further burden on the tax payer. It does not take a genius to work out that the contribution in taxes and national insurance made by many immigrants seeking work in the UK, does not cover the free education and health benefits received by their offspring. So, what happens? There are fewer jobs available for the 870,000 people claiming unemployment benefit, so we have to keep forking our our hard earned money providing them with tax payer funded benefits. Whilst the people coming into the UK and accepting low paid work, cannot possible pay enough tax and national insurance to cover the free benefits they receive.

There is nothing wrong with immigration, provided they can make a genuine and a net contribution to the UK economy, not simply provide employers with a source of cheap labour, which in itself is exploitation of the individual and the tax payer. There are many people that have genuine disabilities that prevent them from taking any work, but this is by no means the majority, those genuine claimants are entitled to our help, because that is our way. The rest must find some form of gainful employment, even if it is part-time. There will always be people unemployed and of the 870,000, some of these may be between jobs, but once again, they are likely to be in the minority. The others, well some will have never held a job and they must be required to make a contribution.

Redistribution of wealth may be a fine goal, but not if the hard pressed tax payers are simply expected to reward people that are making no attempt to make a contribution to society. Successive government have failed to grasp the nettle, but they must, we need to urgently reform our whole benefits system, so that the genuinely needy receive an appropriate level of help and support and the others, those that refuse to make a contribution are forced to go to work.

Very wealthy people are able to employ clever people to avoid paying too much tax, but the rest of us, who do not have that luxury are expected to make up the balance, simply because we are the easier target. It is far, far easier to hit the lower and middle income earners than it is to get the long term unemployed back to work, to determine which of the 2.5m people are genuinely unable to work and tackle those guilty of extravagant and complicated tax avoidance schemes.

Think about it for a moment. We tax and insure our cars, because if we didn’t, we could expect to be arrested, charged and fined, because we are, for the most part, law abiding tax payers. The others, well they won’t tax or insure their cars, if they are arrested they skip bail, if they get caught by a camera, then it doesn’t matter, because the car won’t be registered in their name. It is estimated that there are 1m uninsured and untaxed vehicles on our roads. We tax payers, received our pay, with tax and national insurance deducted, why, because we are law abiding citizens, the others, well they work cash in hand, because the chances are they won’t get caught? Why, because it is just too difficult to track and too costly to enforce?

We need wholesale reform, after all, any money earned, starts off as our own. That’s right, when you apply for a job, you get told how much your employer will pay you. Then the pimp, sorry the government comes along with hand extended and says, well you have a “social responsibility” and we are going to-redistribute some of your income to those less fortunate than you and to pay for things like health, education and pensions. We all sit there and take it, why, because we are law abiding and of course, we don’t have any choice? If government gets it wrong, no matter, they will just come back for more, perhaps in the form of direct tax, such as that on petrol, energy, insurance, vehicles etc.

Some people don’ realise this and of course the government won’t tell you. But when you buy petrol or a new car for example, the government add the duties and then VAT to the duties. How bad is that, not only do we pay VAT on the cost of the goods, but we also pay VAT on the duties! No wonder they think we are a bunch of mugs.

Someone, perhaps a political party, needs to stand up for the hard-pressed tax payer. Accept that there is a disproportionate amount of money taken from us and that the system needs serious reform. The LibDems have suggested that they could provide some tax cuts by tackling waste, but they have set the barrier way, way too low, even if this is a paradigm shift by the LibDems. If you are going to take flack for suggesting that we can keep some of our hard earned money by the government tackling waste, why not also target abuse, not just the wealthy, but those happy to receive tax payer funded benefits?

We need a party for wholesale reform and they need to tackle the people that are registered as disabled, but are able to work. After all, those that use or abuse the system are just taking it away from the genuinely needy, who should receive our help. Those claiming unemployment benefit must be required to work within a given period or lose all benefits. It is enough now, for far too long we have heard (and have allowed to pass unchallenged), people on benefits saying that they would be “worse off if they went back to work”. Surely this means that the benefit payments are too generous?

Why can’t lone parents group together, so that some can go to work, whilst the others look after the children? In the real world of the tax payer, that is what we do. What makes lone parents any more deserving? Why should someone that has never contributed anything in the form of income tax, be entitled to housing, benefits, free furniture, free health and free education? If they have an automatic entitlement to receive these benefits, what incentive do they have to work and make a contribution? Successive governments have added to the notion that everyone is entitled to state aid of some sort. Why should these people not be encouraged to help themselves, rather than helping themselves to the hard-earned money of honest tax payers.

Unemployment figures have been massaged by this government by allowing more and more people to claim that they are unable to work through disability, there are currently 2.5m in this category. It is a fair bet and some government ministers have alluded to this, that as many as 1.5m are able to do some form of work. So is the true unemployment figure actually 2.4m? Those that are workshy as opposed to genuinely disabled, must be identified and should be forced back to work. If necessary, through a steady decline in the benefits they are receiving, if that means that some become homeless, so be it. They always have a choice.

I accept, that if there are no jobs available, then we must take that into account, but whilst there is, those able and capable of working must be dissuaded from claiming benefits. Not incentivised, because that is morally wrong, they must be dissuaded through a steady fall in their tax payer funded benefits. We must also change some of our language, for example, state benefits should be changed to tax payer funded benefits, which is a more accurate statement. The state is faceless, but everyone know someone who is a tax payer, they will invariable be the people looking knackered without the ability to buy a pint in their local.

Many low paid workers are claiming that they need more money to deal with the rising cost of living, well firstly I should like to point out that the problem is not uniquely theirs and it is wrong to play the victim as if it is an exclusive right, everyone is suffering. But, more importantly, they need to approach it from another angle, they should not be looking for more money funded, in the case of public sector workers, by the tax payer, instead, they should be entitled to keep more of their own money. By tackling government waste and making more people contribute, we can all see a reduction in our taxes, we will all feel better off and this country will prosper again.

I cannot see any of the political parties tackling this issue. The LibDems have moved from a party of higher taxation to one that is now talking of reduced taxes. Albeit it without the support of the entire party and, it has to be said, with a limited remit in terms of what aspects of abuse they will tackle. The conservative party has consistently refused to address taxation as if it is a poisoned chalice, because they don’t want to take on the current government on regarding waste, and abuse of the benefits system. Then the Labour government, who, through their self-righteous programme of re-distribution have built up this waste and allowed a situation where even they know that there is no more money to be had from the hard pressed tax payer. What hope is there for us with such weak politicians?

I am not advocating that everyone who is claiming unemployment benefit should lose, it, nor am I suggesting that everyone in receipt of disability benefit is workshy, far from it. I am arguing that unless we reform our tax and benefits system, this country will be bankrupt. We already have a massive accumulated deficit in public sector pension schemes, an aging populating and high borrowings. We also have hugely expensive PFI schemes that need to be paid for over the next 20 years. The tax payer is straining under the additional burden placed upon them by this government’s failure to tackle the issues in case they lose some of their core vote. However, unless we address the issue of those that are contributing little of nothing in the form of income tax and national insurance, then we will reach a stage where those currently funding this largess will no longer be able to cope themselves.

There needs to be a reduction in those claiming tax payer funded benefits, a corresponding increase in the number of people contributing income tax and national insurance and a halt to immigration unless or until they can demonstrate that they can provide a net contribution to the UK economy, taking account of their needs, such as free health and education…the government has no right to exclude this cost when making statements about how they contribute. If we don’t, we will reach the point of no return, where we have to borrow more and more money just to fund our pensions and benefits system, until one day, our government bonds will have the same status as junk bonds. By then, it will be too late and there will be considerably more people that will need some form of tax payer funded benefits, but with no-one left to turn to. Doomsday scenario or basic economics, you choose?

 

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Gordon Brown, economic competence and his Legacy

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Most politicians worry about their legacy, Tony Blair for example seemed to be permanently preoccupied with how his tenureship as prime minister would be viewed by future generations. No doubt, it sometimes pal, Gordon Brown will have similar thoughts. So I have taken a moment or two to list some of his ‘achievements’ which will hopefully act as an aide-memoire when he comes to having his autobiography written. No doubt I will have missed one or two, so please feel free to fill in the blanks, he may need all the help he can get.

  1. Raided private pension schemes to the tune of £100bn over 10 years, whilst allowing public servants to retain their gold-plated, index linked, early retirement pensions.
  2. Introduced more stealth taxes than any other chancellor in history, equivalent to an extra 10p in the Pound on the basic rate of tax (source: Grant Thornton).
  3. Sold the UK’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market despite expert advice not to.
  4. Introduced ‘green taxes’ knowing full well that the revenues gained would not be spent on green initiatives, another successful stealth tax to add to the collection.
  5. Successfully achieved goal of becoming prime minister without going through the inconvenience of being elected by the people.
  6. Sold out the UK’s sovereignty to unaccountable, foreign elections, in spite of a promise to allow the public to decide through a referendum.
  7. Destroyed the union and in the process, ensured that his countrymen received more money per head than those in England and Wales.
  8. Missed virtually every financial growth target announced in each successive budget without so much as a murmur from the press.
  9. Successfully managed to dupe and the press into believing that he was an iron chancellor driven by prudence, when in fact he was a spendthrift.
  10. As the architect and driver of the revised PFT initiative proposed by the conservatives, saddled the country with a bill of £170bn which must be paid by 2032, without having to include the figure as part of the public sector balance sheet.
  11. Managed to keep the £780bn public pensions deficit off the books, even though this is equivalent to over £30,000 per household and must be paid out of future tax receipts.
  12. Managed, without any consideration of the irony, to lecture people on their level of borrowings, whilst building up nearly £500bn of dept of the governments own ‘credit card’.
  13. Introduced a complicated tax credit programme that managed to lose £2bn every year through fraud and errors.
  14. Left the taxpayer saddled with £1.7bn of Metronet’s debt having been the person that pushed through the Private Public Partnership initiative for the London Underground.
  15. Managed to convince the public that local authorities are responsible for the doubling of council tax, whilst actually placing responsibility for all additional services firmly with the local councils.
  16. Managed a real blinder, by camouflaging the inflation rate by changing the measurement from RPI to CPI.
  17. Underwritten £17bn of debt for Network Rail, without having to include it on the public balance sheet.
  18. Survived the embarrassment of claiming in March 2006 that 31,000 government employees had been trimmed off the payroll, whilst the Office for National Statistics claimed one month later, that the headcount had actually increased by 62,000 a difference of 93,000!
  19. Managed to introduce such a complex set of rules and regulations, designed to extract maximum tax take, that the annual Finance Act  (summary of tax changes in the budget) has increased from 300 pages or so in the 1980’s to over 10,000.
  20. At a time when businesses are struggling and people are having to tighten their belts, presided over a government that has some 78 acres of empty space if office buildings and grace and favour homes.
  21. Managed to push another 3.5m people into the higher income tax bracket, using a favoured trick of ‘fiscal drag’, where the tax threshold is raised more slowly than earnings are rising, so that workers end up paying a higher proportion of their income in tax
  22. Twice shifted the timing of the ‘economic cycle’ in order that the so called “golden rule” would not be missed, resulting in a brazen massaging of the figures.
  23. Ensured that there are now twice as many tax collectors as there are nurses, demonstrating firmly where the government’s priorities lie.
  24. Managed to convince people that they are “better off under Labour” even though each family pays more than £5,000 in extra tax, compared to 1997.

I could continue, but there is a real risk that this page would just take too long to load. Perhaps I should keep a copy for Gordon Brown’s ghostwriter!

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