Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Let's expand the welfare state

So says Gordon Brown by announcing a "National Care Service" modelled on the award winning (!) NHS.

Obviously the UK is running surpluses, taxes are low and there is an overwhelming need that couldn't be met by ensuring the incentives are right for people to save for their own care.

Obviously Gordon Brown thinks the British electorate is full of idiots who can't look at record public debt and record budget deficits and think, how the hell are you meant to be able to afford a huge expansion of the welfare state?

Some think it was only the Greek government that lied about public finances.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Darling's bribe with your kids' taxes

The budget 2010, a last chance for Labour to auction off the yet to the stolen loot from future taxpayers.

The deficit was predicted to be £178 billion, it looks like ONLY being £167 billion. That's around £2780 of borrowing for every UK resident, or more like over £8000 per household - borrowed on your behalf by the government.

The government predicts 3.5% growth next year, few believe it.

What will it go on?


- Every British citizen will be legally entitled to a "free" bank account, paid for by you;
- A "Green Investment Bank" is to be set up costing £2 billion, because the government doesn't have enough banks and there is nothing like being forced to "invest" in commercially unprofitable ventures;
- New national investment corporation to be called "UK Finance for Growth";
- Support for the mortgage interest scheme, subsiding home ownership and propping up the property market (thereby disadvantage aspiring home owners) will continue, paid for by you;
- Money not needing to be borrowed because of lower than expected welfare claims is STILL to be borrowed to pay to help those under 24 find work and training, because they aren't very good at it themselves;
- £4 billion more to support the military operations in Afghanistan;
- Public sector pay will still increase, but no greater than 1% for two years from 2011, because no doubt they still deserve increases while all others have had real reductions;
- A third of civil service jobs to be relocated outside London to less expensive locations, which wont necessarily mean net savings.
- More money for pensioners, because they haven't benefited from increased Labour spending and because their grandchildren and great grandchildren wont get angry at them for paying for it


- Stamp Duty to rise to 5% on homes over £1 million (expect homes up to £1.1 million being repriced to be sold for just under that);
- Fuel duty is to go up 1% on 1 April, 1% in October and 1% in January, instead of 3% in April. The government profit from the road network will exceed 300% after spending on maintenance and capital;
- National insurance (a form of income tax) is to go up 1% as already announced, but those earning less than £20,000 wont have to pay, the logical reason surely being because they don't impose many demands on the health system (!). Those over £100,000 will have personal allowances reduced, because we know what a burden on the state they are;
- Alcohol duty goes up 5% on Sunday, 10% on Cider. Alcohol duty will go up 2% above inflation for two years beyond 2013.
- Tobacco duty is to go up 1% above inflation over that time.
- Crackdown on evasion and avoidance, with tax information agreements to be signed with more countries
- Freezing inheritance tax threshold for three years, effectively meaning more will pay it.


- End of a small stealth tax, ISA tax free allowances to rise according to inflation;
- First time home buyers (like the sons and daughters of home owners) will be able to buy a home worth up to £250,000 with no stamp duty.
- Business rates cut for one year.


- Changes to housing benefit so that a threshold of property values will be set so more expensive properties occupied will not be eligible for the benefit. Estimated to save £11 billion.
- The Dartford Crossing (toll bridge and tunnels) and Tote (TAB) are to be privatised to raise cash to pay debt.

So the verdict? Dithering. No serious attempt to tackle the deficit, with the main news being around incremental increases in taxation.

This is the first bid in the advance auction of stolen goods called the forthcoming election.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Borrow for the internet

Budget deficit? National debt? What are you talking about?

According to the Daily Telegraph, Gordon Brown is promising to bribe current voters by borrowing from the kids some more by promising that every citizen will have access to broadband internet services, without saying when or how much he is going to spend to achieve it.

I will wait to see when he'll promise everyone will have access to uncongested roads, public transport that goes everywhere you want, and anything else people might want, but never mind, it's good old fashioned socialism - subsidise people who live in lower cost remote areas. Given he is already taxing every landline £6 (which just encourages more people to abandon such lines in favour of mobile phones), and is already subsidising to extend broadband to 90% of homes, it's just more largesse to bribe voters dressed up as "caring".

He put forward a semi-Orwellian vision of a single website for the state for citizens, personalised, so you can pay all of its varied taxes and levies, and demand information and largesse in return.

"a single website would offer people the chance to “manage their pensions, tax credits or child benefits; pay their council tax; fix their doctors or hospital appointment and control their own treatment; apply for the schools of their choice and communicate with their children's teachers; or get a new passport or driving licence - all when and where they need it"

Given the UK government record on so many IT projects, I am sure you can't wait to see how you'll be forced to pay for the failures of this idea, rather than simply letting providers figure out how to do this themselves.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Screw the deficit, build high speed railways

Unsurprisingly, Lord Adonis has announced a plan to spend £2 billion MORE of taxpayers' money (future taxpayers, since the country is still in deficit) on building a high speed railway from London to Birmingham.

Where is the money coming from?

Most of it NOT from the business users who are primarily expected to benefit from faster travel times, but from future taxpayers.

Contrast this to the Channel Tunnel, which was financed and built by the private sector, ultimately went bankrupt, but saw the banks bear the risk and help nurse it to profitability. The train companies using the tunnel pay for it, and this is passed on in fares and charges to passengers and freight customers.

This is a blatant election bribe, a grandious big project to capture the imagination and get foolish voters starry eyed about the ludicrous claim that politicians make projects like these happen. They don't. All they do is force the money out of taxpayers, or borrow from future taxpayers, to pay those who build it.

At the very least, it should be shelved until the budget is in surplus, but preferably it should be left to private enterprise. After all, why should users of high speed trains be given a subsidy on their rail fare?