Economy & welfare

Alternatives to the BI+FT

Various parties (the LibDems, UKIP and BNP, at least) argue for an increase in the income-tax personal allowance to address the same issue that we aim to address with the BI+FT. The LibDems, for instance, propose to increase the personal allowance from its current £6,500 (or so) to £10,000, so you only pay tax on taxable income of over £10,000.


UKIP supporters are right to be concerned about the cost of the EU to our economy, not only in terms of the direct cost of our net £6.4bn annual contributions (soon to increase thanks to Blair's attempt to buy the European presidency by surrendering our rebate), but also in terms of the heavier cost of economic inefficiency imposed through regulations and other instruments mandated by EU Directives.

But UKIP supporters are not well-served by their party:

Public Pension Fund Deficits. The fantasy world again.

It's very hard for private pension fund trustees to know where to invest pension fund money in view of the way that governments and central banks borrow from the future in order to keep in power. But the position for public pension funds seems to be very easy to manage.

Public pension funds apparently don't have to make pension fund recovery plans like private funds. As I handed in my nomination papers it was explained to me that this was the case with the local authority, because local authorities can't go into liquidation. Someone will always take them over. I am not sure what happened when Mr Hatton was prominent in Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, but it was very close to insolvency and the Government then was not keen on accepting its deficits.

The Iceland volcano

Having been in the renewables business longer than nearly everyone, we know a bit about the climate-change issue. I am not strongly on either side of the argument, which most people interpret as meaning that I am strongly sceptic, and that interpretation is entirely wrong. I have spent most of my life and risked most of my family wealth in developing systems to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable natural resources. Very few other people have gone that far, and virtually none has made a successful business out of it.

What I say is that when you see the effects of quite a small volcano on the environment and on business, you have to wonder whether the emissions from Man's rapid use of fossil fuels and of Calcium Carbonate, have anything like as much effect on us as the activity of the sun (whose reduction contributed to this cold winter in Europe and Eastern USA), or eruptions from volcanoes and other irresistible natural occurrences.

Debt and deficit

Debt is the total amount of money you owe.

Deficit is the difference between your incomings and your outgoings (between tax revenue and expenditure, for governments).

Your debt increases by the amount of your deficit each year. So if your deficit is falling, your debt is still going up, just more slowly.

Letting in the light on civil service spending

The government publishes vast quantities of information, and yet some of the most useful and important information is not amongst it. They provide an array of aggregated information about how they spend our money, but no specific information. We don't know how much is spent doing what. It's our money. We ought to know.


It is more difficult than it should be to extract from government figures exactly how our tax is being spent, in order to make precise judgments about what not to spend it on. But we committed ourselves to be frank about the tough choices to be made, and not to fudge, hedge, and dissemble like the mainstream parties. The following figures may well need modifying in the light of better information, but this is our best guess of how our proposed changes would stack up, and where cuts would have to be found.

Minimum standards of subsidised housing

The minimum standard of accommodation that should be provided by councils in accordance with their obligations will need careful consideration, but we suggest something like the following:

Standardised council housing charges

The standardised charges (by councils for provision of minimum-standard housing to eligible residents) would need detailed consideration, but we suggest that they might be in the region of:


Even though I like to go skiing in the Alps occasionally and Greece is great in the Summer (not mid-summer), the place where I really want to be, is here in my home country. I love our quiet hills and rocky coasts, the history and the cynical humour of the people. Even though I could afford to de-camp to Switzerland or the USA, I am not going. But we have a national failing. We all think that its going to be OK really, even when the opposite is staring us right in the face. In the end, we face the facts and pull ourselves together as we did after Dunkirk.

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