Cut Some Tax. The Rest Will Follow | Andy Jaggard
The Prime Minister needs to cut some taxes. Actually cut it. He shouldn’t make another speech vowing to do something without really saying what it will be, or shake his head and wring his hands at the “aberration” that is the current tax burden; he should actually cut some tax. And it should be a big one, an absolute doozy.
He should cut fuel duty. Not by 5p, or even 10p (as suggested by the AA), but by 50p.
This would be a tax cut that couldn’t get lost in forecourt prices, it would make a real, noticeable difference the day of announcement. In one move, the PM could return prices at the pump to something close to palatable (relatively speaking) for millions of drivers. It would ease some of the pressure we are all under, and make people feel like the government actually cares about how we get through the next few months.
It would also blow a huge hole in the Government’s finances. Fuel duties as a whole are expected to rake in around £26bn in 2022-23, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Even if it wasn’t for a full year, that is a lot of money to lose out on.
That is actually a good thing. This government has got too used to turning on the taps and letting the hard-earned cash of the electorate pour out. With a big hole in the coffers, they might actually have to think creatively, to think beyond spending to salvation.
Might I suggest they start with that big, bloated money-pit that is the NHS? Perhaps if they no longer have the means to chuck good money after bad, they will undertake the root-and-branch reform that is needed to actually provide a bit of value for money. If the pressure is on and they can no longer be ‘the party that pumps the most into the NHS’, the government could try something completely different. You never know what could be achieved with north of £150bn a year.
Also, those 91,000 civil service jobs that may or may not be cut in the latest drive for efficiency? That may take on a little more urgency when there is a big fiscal hole to fill. Why not? Bring it on! The private sector job market has too many vacancies, after all.
If these reforms and cuts mean that the government doesn’t have as much time to meddle in our day-to-day lives, then the PM will have inadvertently scored another goal. With less money sloshing around Whitehall, perhaps we would be spared such things as the nannying, illiberal anti-smoking report that surfaced from the deep today. A chance would be a fine thing.
As if by magic, all of this added together amounts to the green shoots of an honest-to-goodness small-state, conservative government. After the last few years, who would have thought we could have one of those?
The Prime Minister would be on to a winner with this plan. He would regain his star with the public (and possibly his ability to win elections), shining bright as the man who thought big to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. He would also bump himself back into being a real conservative. He would see again the majesty of leaving people alone to spend their own money, of letting them make their own choices without the government popping up over the top of the fence to take a look and make notes for the wardens.
He would be the Prime Minister that people needed, and one that people wanted. He just needs to cut some tax.