Hikes to national insurance funds a level of public services we can’t afford

The government’s plan to increase National Insurance has sparked the predictable furore.  The pressures to raise taxes to pay for the level of public services the electorate have come to expect is hardly new.  The welfare state was created immediately after the Second World War. For a time, the financial demands were held in check. […]

Burnley and Asda are unlikely warnings of debt-driven troubles

It has been a week of mixed messages. Not just on the release from lockdown, but on the economy. The Bank of England indicated that banks have been given six months to prepare for negative interest rates. The Monetary Policy Committee was quick to clarify that this did not mean that they would necessarily cut […]

In the case of sugar, the nanny state really does know best

Boris Johnson created a furore last week by announcing that he was considering getting rid of the so-called sugar tax. Was he right to question the levy, or does it serve a purpose? Introduced in April 2018, manufacturers now have to pay more tax if their drinks contain a high amount of sugar. The producers […]

Emojis are a better metric for wellbeing than traditional data methods

HMRC’s programme to make tax digital continues to roll out. Anyone with a small business will know about the imminent deadline of 1 April, when VAT returns become digital. Quick to seize an opportunity, several companies have developed software to ease the task. The digitisation of tax raises the wider issue of whether technology will […]

The misguided sugar tax is an ineffectual way to price the externalities of obesity

One of George Osborne’s last acts as chancellor in 2016 was to announce the so-called sugar tax. This came into force last week, in line with the original timetable. Drinks manufacturers are taxed according to the volume of sugar-sweetened beverages they produce or import. The tax increases with the sugar content. The aim is to […]

Less austerity will always mean more tax

Austerity

There is a great deal of discussion, following the election, of relaxing or even abandoning austerity. There is an equal amount of confusion about this, because the same word is being used to describe two quite separate concepts. The consequences of the government changing its policy on austerity are dramatically different, depending on which one […]

The UK could teach the Eurozone a thing or two about successful monetary unions

Euro sign

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published last week some figures which show how a successful monetary union works in practice. It is not obvious at first sight, from the dry heading: “regional public sector finances”. The ONS collects information on the amounts of public spending and money raised in taxes across the regions of […]