Westside business leader MIKE OLLEY has been scrutinising chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest handouts to help struggling businesses and vulnerable households. And his conclusion is that the government hasn’t been listening to what the country needs.
We hear a lot about big government and the need to reduce it. This of course is a mantra especially from the current government.
Don’t get me wrong I believe in government regulation and rules. I’m grateful we are all forced to drive on the same side of the road. I delight in having been given a free education (that included my law degree … yes I’m that old!)
I love the idea of having a free police force and a free road network. And so the government red tape to ensure all that, and more, is fine by me.
Yet small government also means appropriate and fair taxation levels, reasonable fuel and energy costs, along with credible costs for food. Is the government listening? Hospitality needs VAT to be kept at 12.5% for food and drinks. It also needs cuts on beer duty as well as fuel duty.
What hospitality doesn’t need it grand statements about how much they are benefiting business with this and that scheme or handout. The business community is aware that for every £10 billion the government claim to be benefiting us with, that’s only worth about £1,818 per business per year. Not a king’s ransom.
Consider the cost of electric for a small bar, maybe £2,000 a month. Indicators are that that will increase to £3,000 a month. That means a £10 billion benefit for business is only just about going to cover 15% of the annual electric bill increase!
Let’s get real with our taxation levels and let’s get real in how the government communicates with the business community. Am I reaching too high to ask for straight talking, small government?
Well yes and no, judging by the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent mini budget.
Fuel duty was cut by the equivalent of a £1 off a tank of fuel. Does every little help? Householders have a fund of one billion to help vulnerable households. Well, what is a vulnerable household? Frankly I don’t know!
Let’s assume that’s 10% of households (a conservative estimate). There are about 28 million households in the UK, so 2.8 million of them divided into £1 billion equals £360 per household.
Oh dear, that’s a drop in the ocean with energy bills set to rise by 40% in October . Not good.
However, by playing around with National Insurance, you do get to have an extra £330 a year as long as you earn less than £35,000 a year.
Let’s sum up: business wants fuel tax reduction. Great, we got that, thank you. But there was no real help with energy spiralling costs. There was no mention of beer duty reductions or further VAT holidays, so that means no tax reduction on beer and VAT will be going up to 20%.
That’s a blow that will put many a business out of business. On balance, therefore, methinks it is a “Thanks Rishi, but you most certainly could have done a lot better.”
Big government as normal then … and certainly not listening. What a shame!