Thursday, 9 March 2017

A Dog's Breakfast

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back? Answer: A stick. What is a party Manifesto pledge? Answer: Balls. What do you call a tax on pay that isn't officially a tax? Answer: An increase in National Insurance.

What is National Insurance for? Answer: State pensions, welfare benefits for sickness and unemployment and allowances. It's all part of the comprehensive safety net envisaged by William Beveridge seventy years ago to combat the the Five Giants of squalor, want, ignorance, disease and idleness. It wasn't intended to be a way of boosting central government reserves to pay the European Union up to £60 billion for leaving the European Empire.

Which brings me to an associated part of Philip Hammond's Spring budget announcement in the House of Commons: the £2 billion for extra social care provision over the next three years that the National Insurance hike for the self-employed is supposed to pay for.

Former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbitt has said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's explanation - to equalise the contributions of the self-employed who pay a lower rate of tax with the tax contributions by the employed - is reasonable. Nevertheless, he described the budget as a "dog's breakfast".

What is a dog's breakfast exactly? Something that cats and human beings would find undigestible? The real question is this: Local authoritities already have the power to raise extra money from Council Tax to pay for Social Care. In view of the £2 billion tax grab from the self-employed for the same thing, will this power be removed from local authorities for the next financial year?

To this bear of astonishingly little brain, the uncertainty (a subject already covered in a previous blog) over Brexit is being used as an excuse to rack up price increases all round. The power company cartel, for example, is getting away with rises of up to 15 per cent. They blame mandatory carbon capture and lower emissions costs imposed by the European Union and signed up for by Ed Miliband when he was Gordon Brown's Secretary of State for the Environment.

The BBC, though, doesn't appear to be interested in the connection between higher energy prices and the cost of European Union legislation to the tax-payers of old Britannia.

The Corporation's bevvy of political and economics editors, though, have yet to find a way of blaming Donald Trump for the Chancellor's dog's breakfast. Give them time.

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