I would very much like to help out with paying towards the new health and social care levy but it seems that I’m not going to have to pay a single penny. The method deemed best for paying this levy is through national insurance, which I am not required to pay as my only income is a pension.
If the government had chosen to use an increase in income tax, I’d have to chip in but the term income tax has become dirty words in British politics. Since the 1980s, most governments cut income tax rates, sometimes at the expense of funding public services. Any argument to increase such taxes to pay for improved hospitals and schools or to help cut the nation’s deficit seem to fall on very deaf ears. In particular, since 2010, chancellors have shied away from using income tax increases to help reduce the UK’s deficit and instead imposed a devastating austerity programme – mostly for the poorer sections of society.
However, we now have a need to raise money to pay for our recovery from the Covid crisis. How can we pay to ‘build back better’ and pay off the massive public debt of around £400billion? Look at the initial moves from the government to cope with financial problems following the Covid crash: freezing most public-sector wages; real-terms pay cuts for NHS staff, police, teachers etc; cutting the foreign aid budget; discontinuing the £20 per week supplement to universal credit and now imposing increases in national insurance, asking the poorer and younger members of society to pay a greater proportion of their income for health and social care. There’s no mention of increasing income taxes – even for the very well off – unless the government carries through its plan to grow corporation tax. Basically lower-paid workers, public servants, hungry children and the World’s poor are going to pick up the tab for Covid.
How on earth can this country invest in the essential green new deal to tackle the climate crisis? What will be done to fund the NHS so that it can tackle the backlog of treatment, reduce waiting lists and prepare for future epidemics? When will schools receive sufficient funding to enable effective catch-up for our young people? Where is the investment in training for the future workplaces in which our businesses will compete with those from emerging and improving economies (eg India and China)?
I would like to help! I want our country to be a good place for my children to work in; for my grandchildren (maybe…) to grow up in and my wife and I to grow old(er) in. I demand the right to pay higher taxes to help that happen. Born in 1961, I’m a ‘Boomer’ – tax me!
Let’s make a start. I have a public sector pension and it’s a good one, if not exactly ‘gold plated’. I worked hard for it and, over the years, contributed rates varying between 6% and 13% (before tax) from my wages towards it. However, in order to help the country deal with at least two crises, I want to share it.
Not that I can afford much – I have a comfortable but not extravagant life-style and, with careful monitoring, rarely have a huge amount left over each month – but an extra 2.5% tax on my nett income gives maybe £450pa. It really is all I can spare but come back when I qualify for my state pension and you can double it.
The ONS estimates that round 10.4 million people were drawing private or public-sector pensions in 2016. So, back-of-a-fag-packet calculation maybe £4 billion pa could be raised, rising to £8 billion when that group reaches 67 years of age? I’m maybe in receipt of a fairly decent pension and can’t speak for people receiving less than me, so how about introducing a sliding scale up to 5%, depending on income, for the amount of tax to pay and introduce it over a period of five years to soften the blow?
If that’s a little unpalatable to the government – it is, after-all, an income tax – let’s think about making non-state pension payments eligible for deductions for national insurance or the health and social care levy. We know that increasing the national insurance rate affects relatively poorer workers disproportionately as the overall rate paid decreases on earnings above £967 per week. We also know they hit younger people harder as there is no requirement to pay national insurance on pensions. So take a bit off us oldies instead.
Finally, I’m happy to be relieved of some of my wealth. Like many people my age, I bought a house for about three times my annual wage and, despite down-sizing, am now living in a property worth twenty times as much. I don’t have a pension pot but my work-place pension has an equivalent value that I’m sure can be worked out. In addition to that, since my children finished uni, I have saved hard and have a good investment to see me through (hopefully) the next twenty years or so.
I’m worth quite a bit – nowhere near the millionaire bracket, mind you – so, if taxed on my wealth, might have to hand over a fairly big wad. However, in a matter of a few years, I’ll probably get it back in an increased house price and pay back on my investment – especially if the government spends wisely and invigorates the green economy. I suggest I could pay 5% (which, if you think about it, means I get to keep 95% – bargain). Apparently a wealth tax of 5%, which could be spread over five years, on wealth over £250k could raise enough to clear the Covid debt in one fell swoop. If you feel bad about it, why not give me the equivalent sum in government bonds, redeemable in 25 years?
I have developed my wealth through my parents’ and grandparents’ investment in me and, through fair taxation, in our education, health and security services. For a better World for my children and (hopefully) grandchildren, I want to pay my bit too. I’m a ‘Boomer’ – tax me!