Tories announce new tax?

(Fri 2-Nov-2018)

The Conservative Party have the mistaken belief that I’m a supporter, and every so often illegally email me (I never opted in to get these emails from them), trying to get me to join, or buy a tea towel. I tried replying to the latest, but their email server rejected it.

Here’s their latest, marked as coming from Philip Hammond, with some comments from me.

On Monday I delivered this year’s Budget, and I want to let you know what this means.
Austerity is coming to an end.

Oh good. An end to the cuts, public service salary freezes?

That means more money for the NHS – and a tax cut for 32 million people. Back these policies? Then join the party delivering them.

The “more money for the NHS” is the same money that was announced back in June, when the government announced an “extra” £20 billion by 2024 – having introduced £22 billion in cuts. FullFact covered this back when it was announced in June, when they noted “Health experts have said this money will “help stem further decline in the health service, but it’s simply not enough to address the fundamental challenges facing the NHS, or fund essential improvements to services that are flagging.”” ( and “In 2013, NHS England said it faced a funding gap of £30 billion by the end of the decade, even if government spending kept up in line with inflation. So it needed that much more to deliver care to a growing and ageing population, assuming it made no savings itself.” (PDF)

Together, as a country, we’ve had to take some tough decisions. To sort out the mess left by Labour.

And that’s taken nine years? And “left by Labour”, rather than banks, who you have continued to fail to regulate?

But because of our balanced approach, the economy is growing and debt is falling.
So we can spend more on the public services we all use every day.

“Can” spend more, not “will”.

Like the biggest cash boost in the history of the NHS. We’ll be committing an extra £20.5 billion every year by 2023-24. Making sure the NHS is there for us when we need it.
And increasing the National Living Wage. Giving a £690 annual pay rise to some of the lowest paid.
We’re able to increase our spending – while giving a tax cut to 32 million people. So if you back these policies, then why not join the party delivering them?

The very lowest paid – those only getting part-time work, unreliable hours on the minimum wage – don’t benefit from this, but those earning over £50,000 a year (nearly twice the median average of £27,531) benefit more.

We’re raising the personal allowance next year. That means a tax cut of £1,205 for a typical basic rate taxpayer since 2010-11.
And we’re freezing fuel duty for the ninth year in a row. Saving the average car driver a total of £1,000 by 2020.

Again, a bigger gain for the wealthy with big cars, big engines, and who do lots of traveling than for those who can’t afford a car or only a small car. The fuel duty escalator was introduced to help encourage people to move away from burning more oil products, because of the impact on the environment and to prepare for increases in oil prices. The Conservatives have turned it off.

Don’t let Labour put it all at risk. Jeremy Corbyn wants to raise your taxes to the highest level in peacetime history. He’d undo all the hard work we’ve done together, as a country.

The highest band of income tax was around 90% in the 1950s and 60s, and reduced to 75% in 1971. Labour’s plan is to put the top rate back to 50% for earnings over £123,000 (the Conservatives reduced it from 50% to 45% in 2013), and for the rest of us promises:

95 per cent of taxpayers will be guaranteed no increase in their income tax contributions, and everyone will be protected from any increase in personal National Insurance contributions and VAT.

Some interesting things not mentioned, but in the Government’s Budget 2018: 24 things you need to know

The government is providing £500 million of additional funding for departments to prepare for Brexit for 2019-20. This is on top of the £1.5 billion already announced for that year.

Despite other government ministers and former ministers promising us Brexit would give us money.
And then there’s this:

A £28.8 billion National Roads Fund, paid for by road tax, includes £25.3 billion for the Strategic Road Network (motorways, trunk and A roads). The largest ever investment of this kind.

Given that road tax was abolished in 1937, announcing what is effectively a new tax in this was is somewhat burying the lede. There’s also no detail about how this will be set or collected.



Copper pans at Shugborough Hall

(Sun 18-Mar-2018)

Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire

In the kitchen, servants’ quarters, Shugborough Hall




(Mon 5-Mar-2018)

Lauren had me read from the Bible study she is working through at the moment. The main reading was Exodus 18 v1-27, in which Moses’ father-in-law Jethro visits and advises Moses to appoint people to help him with the work of resolving disputes – ‘“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. ‘(Exodus 18:17 – 18 NLT) and additional readings from Deuteronomy 17 and Acts 6

The readings are all about seeking help, and sharing the work, not relying entirely on ourselves:

Don’t miss this: The concept of self-reliance is wholly foreign to the Christian faith. We are created to need God and others. We are designed for interdependence and community. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. It matters that we understand this as we listen for the echo of our own story in that of Moses.

Self-reliance is so often held up as a goal we should all be aiming for and should all be able to achieve, but these passages show how Moses, other old-testament time leaders, and the apostles leading the early church not only needed, but were actively told to seek help from their communities.



LEGO caravan

(Sun 4-Mar-2018)

The children have been discovering the joy of LEGO, which means I have been re-discovering it, building together just before bedtime.

We’ve not got much – I gave all my childhood LEGO to my younger brother when I left home – and this is nowhere near as good as most of the stuff I see online, but I really liked this caravan I made:

Nowhere near the level of amazing I often see online, but I'm pretty pleased with this caravan I made with the children last night.

I’ve started our collection with sets from Sainsbury’s, which seems to often have some good value smaller sets on offer or in the clearance, but I think it’s time to go and spend too much money on ebay…



Photo: The Dudson Centre

(Sun 19-Nov-2017)

Dudson Centre, Stoke-on-Trent



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