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The 2013 Budget has created more perspiration than aspiration for those who keep on paying the Nations bills. It’s about time the Coalition Government started growing balls on their own Bench, rather than gifting their Opposition the opportunity to do it for them

March 22, 2013 Leave a comment

This week’s Budget has been received differently by us all and in a manner which illustrates all too clearly how shallow Policy making has now become when imbalance and impact are considered.

Talk of support for working mothers with young families, tax free loans for first time home buyers and even a 1p drop in duty on a pint of beer have done little to disguise the fact that there are so-called  ‘winners’ and then real losers at every turn. The Chancellor has done little to give any credence to his ‘Budget for an aspiration Nation’, other than the complexity of the words he used to speak this statement.

As a culture which now thrives on the use of labels and stereotypes, we have happily painted ourselves into a set of social pigeon holes where many of us hide from the realities which we share with many others. Successive Governments have formed policies on this basis which has left very few of us with any immunity from the pros and cons of a Taxation and Benefits system where the only thing universal is its level of unfairness and the disparity that now fails us all through its application.

Getting to grips with economic problems which are continuing to grow at an alarming rate will not be achieved by tinkering around the edges. Nor will we as a Nation be insulated against the gathering storm of explosive financial issues within the European project, such as those in Cyprus, unless Government begins to consider all Policies in terms of how they will impact upon all others and not just in the isolationist manner that they have continued to do so up until now.

A truly balanced and fair approach to formulating Government Policy now seems to be the most alien of concepts to our Politicians, particularly when party politics has been the long accepted means by which to target benefits to those whom are considered to be your bread-and-butter support.

But until the time that Politicians accept the principle of fairness in a meaningful way as a guide to Policy making, and particularly where Taxation and Benefits are concerned, nothing for anyone else outside the Westminster Village is going to change.

Government will soon have no option but to use systems such as a Flat Tax and wholesale simplification of the Taxation System if they genuinely want to treat everyone fairly whilst encouraging growth, prosperity and ambition in a way which balances the books.

Benefits must be targeted and restricted for the use of those who genuinely need them using common sense as a guideline, rather than the culture of tick-boxes which allows so may to play the System within a politically correct and fearful age.

Above all, Politicians must now accept that Policies created on the basis of improving rights in the workplace have now gone so far beyond their point of good, that they have made some of the very jobs they were created to improve unaffordable to the employers who at one time provided them.

Whether Westminster likes this as a truth or not, each and every Government Policy in existence today interchanges with almost every other, through the impact it has upon the lives of us all. Policy implementation may have its benefits to some, but this has for far too long been at the unacceptable cost to the many. This has to change.

Fuel Duty and the OFT: Forcing us to pay more and more Tax on the essentials of daily life demonstrates just how far apart our Westminster politicians are from life outside and the reality of being British today

February 1, 2013 Leave a comment

This week’s announcement by the OFT that the UK petrol market is working well had fudge written all over it and was unsurprisingly met with disdain by motoring organisations across the Country. But just how much does the Government response tell us about the missed opportunities that they could have used to help us, rather than simply using a clever play on words which completely ignores the elephant in the room?

Fuel Duty is of course nothing new where inflammatory issues are concerned. Since the Fuel blockade in 2000, the presence of the Fuel Price Escalator has become only too well known for its wholly disproportionate use as a revenue raising device for successive Governments who have failed to address almost every issue concerning overspending at its root cause.

Use of Fuel Duty in this way has been counterproductive for many years. Whilst making already stretched household budgets even harder to manage for those who have little choice but to use a car to commute, its impact on the all-too-tightly-margined logistics industry reaches into almost every part of our daily lives through the cost of the delivery and supply chains of products that we buy and use each day.

Taxing a product which is effectively the lifeblood of the Country so heavily, just because it is easy to do so is not only morally wrong; it demonstrates just how far detached from reality and void of understanding our politicians have become to the issues facing the Electorate and how desperate we actually are for Government that sees 5 years as an opportunity to do something, rather than the time it takes to work at little more than getting re-elected.

The UK Taxation and Benefits system is far too complicated to understand in almost every place that our lives touch it, and it is little wonder that an entire industry exists to assists to help those who have money to avoid paying every penny that they legally don’t have to.

Worse still are the plethora of revenue-raising taxes which have been put in place on virtually every item that we buy apart from the very minimum of bare essentials. This travesty makes the inability of our leaders to tackle the root causes of the Nations financial difficulties all the more serious when market manipulation and unscrupulous profiteering by the City and its Funds comes ever closer to pushing more and more families into the state of extreme poverty, when none should even be there in 21st Century Great Britain.

In 2007 and as a new Councillor, I argued on the Conservative Home Website that the then Labour Government should consider giving the Logistics Industry the same concession as Agriculture and remove Duty from Fuel.

As just an interim measure, I have no doubt that the impact from such a move would even now have massively positive implications for businesses and the prices of goods. I myself have been in that very situation where a contract has been negotiated which allows haulage prices to be tied and raised directly in line with fuel costs and it is no easy task when those costs will be passed directly to the end user price of the goods carried. But duty-free fuel at an industry-specific level itself would not go anywhere near far enough and attempted in isolation – the method classically used by Governments as an excuse not to do something – it would simply create more deficit of the kind that as a Country we can already not afford to sustain.

Tackling the disenfranchisement caused by our system of Taxation is no mean feat. But the simplification and application of our Tax system in ways that basically make sense to us all, without being left having the inherent feeling that those who give will always be asked to keep giving more has now become essential.

In order to do this, Government will have no option but to adopt and embrace a new and holistic form of politics which uses balance and fairness across all policy areas as the benchmark. It could then more readily face difficult decisions today for a better tomorrow, implementing systems such as a Flat Tax, which at its worst would be relative to income and expenditure, and at its best would be universally fair, proportional and easy for us all to understand.

Cheap political capital is of course made off the back of what each and every one of us does or doesn’t earn and possess. But forcing us to pay more and more Tax on the essentials of daily life, whilst at the same time telling us that the system is fair, not only smacks of a Government treating the Electorate like fools; it demonstrates just how far apart our Westminster politicians are from life outside and the reality of being British today.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all. Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Leaps in utility prices touch just about everyone’s lives either directly or indirectly. No less so because of the growing paradox which appears to be a guaranteed bottom line for shareholders, whilst customers continually carry the can for everything that any non-essential business would have no option but to absorb within what are today’s unalterable margins.

Public services such as Trains run under much the same guise, and the question really should be asked if the time has come when any provider of a key or essential service should remain able to have a free reign over charges and their levels of profit when the end user simply has no choice but to buy?

Similarly, margins drawn from the production and retail of essential basic items such as milk, bread, meats and vegetables must surely now be protected from City speculation and the stranglehold of the big retailers who are together endangering various food producing industries in what is little more than an obligation to sustain and build upon profits, laid down by the purely financial motives of their masters.

So what exactly is stopping the long needed change in direction which would embrace a true form of moral or rather responsible capitalism, which in its boldest form would serve to protect a basic and affordable living for all, whilst delivering an arguably much reduced cost for Government?

One of the key failings of many of today’s politicians is a fundamental lack of understanding, will and fortitude to deal with the deep rooted causes of the problems that we as a nation face; instead choosing to do little more than dalliance in dealing with the effects of bad or flawed decisions, then going on to repeat the very same mistakes when that latest remedy itself begins to demonstrate its flaws.

Be under no illusion, this process is not unique to any political genre or ideology. It is a deep seated and inherently progressive condition, made all the worse by a political party system which now serves only to propagate itself and those within it who effectively function to do the very same, placing electability before delivery.

Successive Governments, whether they have been Conservative, Labour or even Coalitions have done the very same things, albeit with a different wrapper. But with little more than a ‘fire and forget’ mentality, the consequences are plain to see and there for us all to share and experience in our everyday lives.

The commonalities within privatisation, right-to-buy, the evolution of the free market and even political parties themselves are that they were arguably all political creations with a great and beneficial purpose in mind for those who were the driving forces behind them.

However, like most great ideas in Government that come to be manifest, they have progressively moved beyond their point of balance or what some might choose to call good, and have gone in another direction entirely. One which has benefited the unscrupulous and cost those of us dearly who have the right to expect the protection of our everyday interests by those who we put in place to take that responsibility on our behalf to do so.

Acceptance that the evolution of policies can and will continue beyond their point of good is no enviable task. This is particularly so when many organisations, NGO’s and even Government Departments have been created simply to deliver upon questionable policies and their lucrative spin-offs. In many cases they arguably continue to exist for the sole purpose of existing.

Trades Unions, Health & Safety Legislation and European red-tape are all examples of well-intentioned principles which have gone way beyond their point of good. Even UK Taxation and Benefits no longer represent the equitable and fair approach that we should all be able to reasonably expect from a 21st Century Western Government and the implementation of truly fair systems such as Flat Tax are long since overdue.

Fear of driving the watershed of change needed in an age where we have laws for the sake of having laws; where blame is a national industry and where everyday people feel that Government of all levels has no understanding of the lives that they lead, is no longer excuse enough in itself to avoid it.

Painful as it will be, somebody will soon have to be big enough to take on big business, the City and the insidious money men who are continuously elevating the breadline, all in the name of profit.

Selfless politicians must set about the change of policy after policy which may well serve their political masters today, but remain lifetimes away from serving those for whose benefit they were apparently intended.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all and not least the most vulnerable in society and shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted does little to help after the event.

Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

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