The cost of living

 

Today I am inviting you to send it good ideas of how the government could help get the cost of living down and the standard of living up. It was welcome yesterday to learn that the Chancellor can freeze fuel duty for the rest fo this Parliament. Every little helps, as they say.

I have recently blogged on ways to cut the costs of energy. More gas fuelled electricity generation, shale gas extraction, more competition in the main energy markets, lower government fuel taxes, calling a halt to highly subsidised and expensive ways of generating power would all help.

The costs of housing also need attention. Stamp Duty should change to a system where the higher rates only apply over the thresholds which trigger them. The Energy certificate, the residual from Labour’s HIP, should no longer be compulsory. Money laundering regulations should be enforced by strong scrutiny of cash and money from poorly regulated jurisdictions, removing the need for the passport and utility bill procedures for cleared funds from regulated UK/EU bank accounts. Local authority search charges and planning permission fees  should be reviewed to make sure they are not exploiting their monopoly position, but just recouping reasonable costs.

A wide range of government fees and charges should be frozen for a couple of years whilst real wages catch up.

What would you like to see done to cut the cost of living?

It goes without saying that people keeping more of what they earn would also help boost living standards. We want more people in work, and less tax on work – it should be a combination which is mutually reinforcing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

83 Comments

  1. Richard1
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Shale gas and the removal of green taxes and associated subsidies. Abolition if the BBC license fee and its replacement by a voluntary subscription. A ‘burden of proof’ exercise for all quangos – they get closed unless they can show a clear net benefit. Freezing of all central and local govt charges to the public. Tax cuts. That should be a good start.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with all the above.
      The debt interest costs us more than what we spend on defence, and is approaching the entire education budget. It is huge and growing very fast.
      If we could end the complacency and stop drivelling on about cuts and austerity, it would help.

      • wab
        Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        “If we could end the complacency and stop drivelling on about cuts and austerity, it would help.”

        OK, the annual budget deficit is around 120 billion. The annual pension expenditure is around 140 billion. Why don’t we just divide the state pension by 7 and solve the problem in one go. No, I didn’t think you would be too keen on that approach, no matter how much you claim to be concerned about the deficit.

        • Richard1
          Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Why would we need to to do that when we could instead cut the deficit by cutting quangos, green subsidies, wasteful bureaucracy etc? There’s no need for any drama, just a common sense test on public expenditure.

  2. colliemum
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    The one most important issue in regard to living costs is to scrap the infamous CCA – now!

    Not only would this mean an immediate lowering of energy bills for all households, it would also mean more money for government because the tax subsidies for e.g. renewables can be used for something else.
    Then there are the subsidiary savings for transport and industrial manufacture – the economic benefits all round are huge.
    I really do not understand why Parliament, why the parties, are only fiddling around the edges, especially since it should now be abundantly clear that this horrible bill is making us pay for something which does not exist.

    Without a repeal of this CCA all other measures are nothing more than a band-aid and an aspirin given for a heart attack …

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      On of the best things you can do with chest pain (heart attack) is give 300 mgs of aspirin.

  3. Brian Taylor
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Cost Of Living,the following points I have raised before on this site.
    Energy, no more subsidies for renewables,that money to get the base load on to nuclear and gas.
    Housing, as a self builder (4houses build in last 30 years) cut these stupid Zero targets on the effiency on houses, in the countryside with no mains gas in future you will not be allowed to use oil fired oilers only air or ground source heat pumps which use expensive electricity.
    Europe, invoke article 50 which will allow us to keep in the single market but have control of agriculture,fisheries and immigration.
    Employment,without the above(Europe) we cannot hope to control our borders,much more control of gang masters and those on Job Seekers should be sent to work with these Eastern Europeans as the long term unemployed I would think are only suitable for manual work.
    Local government, long term only unitary councils and much more working together.
    Police,only one chief of police for areas of say 1 or 2 million the county forces with all the duplication must go.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Sending middle aged men from unemployment black spots to live with East Europeans in areas like Norfolk? Interesting idea who would go and who would pay for their accommodation or would they all live five to a room and send money back to their home town? Would you do this? I rest my case.. RWC at its best. LOL!

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Brian

      As a fellow self Builder 32 years ago, and as a past small Contruction design and Build Company owner, I would agree with your suggesttions on scrapping Zero emissions, which very often require huge amounts of money to be spent in order to conform.

      What we need are plenty of “good value for money houses” not some pie in the sky dream.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 5, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Life of Brian. (Taylor)
      Got any other gems Brian or have you been laughed off the site?!

  4. zorro
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    John, you will probably find that the best way to control housing costs is not to allow the government to ridiculously underwrite/subsidise house purchase costs and allow prices to find a sensible level with more building undertaken with appropriate building regulations. All you are doing is creating a false boom and will put prices even more out of reach. It is the height of irresponsibility. But your previous blog was effectively encouraging a housing economy. You have obviously been watching too much Location, Location, Location! In its place it’s ok, but it’s no way to run a modern industrial economy.

    zorro

  5. lifelogic
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Simple more real competition in Banking and Energy get rid of confusion marketing and have a standard format. Sort out the over paid professions, particularly Law and Medicine. Sort of insurance fraud scams and the uninsured that we all have to pay for. Reduce the over the top regulation and cost of pensions let people manage their own with no intermediary needed and let them invest as they wish.

    Reduce absurd building regulations and over the top fees for land registrations, building control and utility connections. Then fire the 50% of the state sector that does little of much use.

    Stop any system where the state sector or quangos can fine the public and then benefit from the fines and penalties. That way the state just becomes a legalised mugger and a growing malignant tumour. As with hatch junctions, parking, bus lanes …………. they just deliberately design the system to mug the public.

    Make MOTs just about safety not trivial chips & things as now and make them once every two years.

    Reduce daft regulations and pointless licences everywhere.

    Stop subsidising daft things like most trains, HS2, PV and wind. Let them compete on a level playing field. Get out of the EU. Introduce a state sector private sector pension equalisation tax so that the state sector do not have 6-10 times the pension paid off the backs of the often far poorer & more productive workers.

    Scrap the climate change act. Stop giving soft loans to the PIGIS and IMF. Stop the pointless counterproductive wars. Concentrate on catching real criminals and preventing/deterring them and not cash cow fine criminals that the authorities far prefer.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      More RWC that has been challenged a number of time. Trains passengers being put on the road for example. Pure propaganda and thickness.

    • Edward2
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Another excellent post LL, I agree with all you say.
      Did you notice how in the USA when Obama had to draw up a list of “essential services” to keep going, over one third of State employees were left out.
      ie 700,000 staff
      Gives you a rough idea of just how many unnecessary bureaucrats there are in this country.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 4, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        I think 50% of the state sector is either pointless or worse just does damage to the productive.

        The other services could be provided at about 70% of the current cost with some proper efficiencies. So the cost of the state sector could be reduced to about 35% of current cost with no loss of any public services that are actually needed and of any value. While releasing millions to do something useful with their lives and generate some wealth for the country rather than just wasting it.

  6. Old Albion
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    One of the most insidious taxes foisted upon us (and i confess i can’t recall which government introduced it) is the Insurance premium tax.
    The law requires me to insure my vehicles (rightly) then taxes me for doing so!
    Any sensible person insures their home and contents. The Gov. then taxes them for doing so……………….disgraceful.
    I agree with you Re. Stamp Duty. The current system distorts house values.
    But number one on the hit list must be the removal of ‘green tax’ from our energy bills.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Insurance is a racket too huge margin on many products claim only about 20% of the premiums. Hard to compare the policies at all without a weeks free to spend reading and a good knowledge of risk probabilities and law.

      Not to mention Cameron’s idiotic “gender neutral insurance and annuity nonsense” which acts as a further tax on millions. Economic illiteracy from the Coalition as usual.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Needless to say it was the still unapologetic fool who buried the Tory party (still) with the ERM and 17% mortgage rates -the BBC favorite “wise statesman” one John Major (etc ed)

      Anyway usually best not to insure and pay as you go where it is legal. Like a lottery ticket in reverse – you usually win this way. Only insure if you think you are a bad risk is the best plan – but read all those tricky policy documents.

      • Richard1
        Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Is this fair? Margaret Thatcher was PM when the UK entered the ERM, and whilst Major signed Maastricht, he did keep the UK out of the 2 big measures of that treaty – the Euro and the social chapter.

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 4, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

          Yes it is perfectly fair Major was chancellor when we went to the ERM in he only kept us out under duress from the sensible “bastards” as he called them.

          Thatcher was pushed into it by idiots. She should have stuckmore closely to her sensible adviser Alan Walters and ignored Howe, Major and the rest of the wet fools.

          “I don’t have a shred of regret about entering the exchange-rate mechanism.” John Major.

  7. Gary
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Just listen to Cameron on Radio 4 Today. If you aren’t scared by his economic illiteracy, you should be. The man is a complete fool and dangerous to our future. If you want to tackle the economic problems start by getting rid of Cameron and Osborne, water carriers for the bankers.

  8. libertarian
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Easy you should have stuck to your promises and NOT raised VAT so put it down to 15%

    Raise the tax threshold for lowest paid to at least £12k pa

    Stop wasting taxpayers money and spend it on core services

    Drastically cut the amount of government

    Reduce or even eliminate UBR its killing the High Street your government has been told this by everyone involved even your own TV personality consultant so when are you going to do it?

  9. frank salmon
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Scrutinise all subsidies. Subsidies are for bankrupt ideas. Windfarms, Rail and housing for example are massively subsidised. Get rid of the subsidies and we will be better off.
    Also look at errant and opportunistic taxes. Carbon tax, car tax and prosecution, fuel taxes, the BBC licence. All could be reveiwed and brought down or abolished. Then look at the public sector, the gold plated pensions and the monopoly unions as well as the monopoly providers of our goods and services. Bring back competition and profit. End the minimum wage. Stop over-providing education. All of these things will bring the cost of living down and drive the standard of living up.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Your forgot that oil and gas are also massively subsided (tax breaks are a subsidy).

      Ending the minimum wage won’t bring down the cost of living. All it will do is convince people that working isn’t work doing and make a life on benefits much more attractive.

      • Mark
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Tax allowances are NOT subsidies – they simply reflect that capital investment is a cost, just as consumable raw materials or labour are. Oil and gas production firms pay tax at much higher rates than any other kind of business.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Who will pay for the ending of minimum wage? The taxpayer would have to to bring up the pay to liveable levels and less education would raise living standards not for those with no education.Why don’t we all just live five to a room/car instead to lower costs living costs? A new low in the race to the bottom fantasy from someone who will never have to take part.

      • libertarian
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Baz

        You haven’t got a clue what you are talking about. The national minimum wage has been a disaster for the unskilled, low wage worker.

        Employers would pay, that’s who

        • Bazman
          Posted October 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          The national minimum wage has been a disaster for the unskilled, low wage worker is an absolute fantasy. Without a minimum this group of people in the UK would have been not only competing with those willing to live five to a room/car, but also with those who, maybe are the same, or maybe just willing to work for next to nothing, because they can. The job would be of use only to the employer and no one else. In what way has it been a disaster for this group? Not allowing competition to find who is the most desperate and get the job? You work for less than six quid. Anyone with any sense would not.

  10. Roger Farmer
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    All of which you draw attention to is valid with a particular reference to nothing being allowed to stand in the way of fuel cost reduction because the price we pay impinges on about every other wealth creating activity .
    I would like to see a serious value analysis of many of the prices charged in UK supermarkets. I see them as excessively profiteering. Last time I was in the UK this summer, miserably small prawns were priced at over £20.00 per Kilo, while at the same time ones around three times their size were priced at Eu 6.50-8.50 per Kilo here in Spain. Why the difference when they come from the same sources. It is cheaper to buy Scottish Langostinos, Scampi, Dublin bay prawns, in Spain where they go under the name of Cigalas than it is in the UK. For all the work that Rick Stein has done over the years to promote fish and shellfish, the UK supermarkets see it as a rip off opportunity.

  11. lifelogic
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Also stop the European Union spending more than Coca Cola in advertising (actually Pro EU propaganda) €2.4bn PA I understand.

    Doubtless the UK government and local government waste similar sums trying to buy votes. In Camden we used to get a full,totally idiotic, propaganda magazine from the council. I looked at one and threw the rest in the bin as did everyone else did. I suppose now at least you can burn them to keep warm or is that banned too?

    (Photo: REUTERS / Francois Lenoir)Brussels chiefs are accused of wasting millions on advertising.
    (Photo: REUTERS / Francois Lenoir)
    Brussels chiefs are accused of wasting millions on advertising.
    The European Union spent more than Coca Cola in advertising after it stumped up €2.4bn

  12. James Strachan
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    We have a bloated public sector.

    Cambridge City Council has a telephone directory with twelve hundred names in it. They are all desk wallahs – the people who empty the bins or clean the streets don’t merit an entry.

    So we must reduce the number of bureaucrats to give the rest of us room to breath.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Hugely bloated, massively inefficient and 150% over paid and pensioned.

      About half of whom do nothing of any real use at all. Many actually doing positive harm, inconveniencing the productive at every opportunity or encouraging the feckless to remain so with tax payer’s monies.

  13. Andyvan
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Thats easy.
    Re living costs- reduce taxation and regulation on employers which would free money for more investment and higher wages. Reduce income tax, VAT, fuel taxes, council tax and all the unseen myriad of costs that push prices up.
    Re housing- stop manipulating interest rates to try and gain votes and keep government borrowing costs down. Free the market to find it’s real level. That level would have to be affordable for the majority or it would be unsustainable without government rigging.
    Cut both central and local government to the bone, do away with pointless departments and the legions of useless civil servants that do so much to impede day to day life here in the real world.
    In short stop government meddling and let people manage their own lives, they do it better than a bunch of out of touch political hacks and Whitehall warriors could ever do.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Re living costs- reduce taxation and regulation on employers which would free money for more investment and higher wages.

      No chance of this ever happening. Employers would rather make bigger profits or give their directors a bigger bound than give their employees higher wages.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Remove subsidies for inefficiency. ROCs are a prime example, no doubt there are plenty of “nudge” inspired wheezes that should also be removed starting with the yet to be implemented plastic bag tax.

    Remove inefficient taxes where the cost of collection barely covers the amounts raised and/or inhibits the free operation of the market.

    Simplify taxes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Nudge plan to save lives and money. Make people opt out of organ donations if they wish to, on their driving licence, passport applications etc. The default should be that they can be used.

  15. alan jutson
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    The simple fact is, if the Government spent far less and was rather more efficient, then it would not need to take so much in tax, thus leaving people with rather more of their own money to spend on items of THEIR choice.

    We need SIMPLIFICATION and a reduction in all things where the Government (and Local Authorities) has wormed its way into peoples lives over the past few decades.

    The Government should of course be responsible for overseeing the basics of life for a civilised and developed Society, but it has to remember we do not want a Nanny State.

    We have so called privately run utilities, railways etc so why is the government still subsidising such with taxpayers money.
    If Private companies cannot be trusted, then take the whole lot back under State control.
    If they can be trusted, then release them to operate without taxpayers funds or government/taxpayer cost at all.

    Simplify the Tax system
    Increase the personal allowance for all to the minimum wage/living wage rate.

    Simplify the National Insurance rate for all.
    Insurance payments only starting at the minimum wage/living wage rate with qualifications for Benefit based upon a contributions record.

    Simplify the Benefits System
    An effort is being made here with a so called universal system.

    Simplify the Legal System
    We have far too many laws, far to may complicated rules and it is far too expensive to operate at the moment, to a degree that you can only get justice if you can afford it.

    Get out of the EU
    We do not need anyone else to make rules for us and pay a heavy price at the same time for it.
    Otherwise why bother to elect MP’s !

    So many, many more, just look at how many new taxes and tax rises have been introduced over the last 20-30 years, and it will give you a clue of the scale of Government theft, waste, and inefficient working, because that is what it really is.

    Taxes should really be no more that 25% of GDP in an ideal World.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Simplification! Simplification

      Ha ha! Andrew Neil had a minister on a few months ago and harangued them soundly.

      ‘You said you would simplify the tax code …. when you came into power in 2010 it ran to 13,000 pages – now it is 18,000 pages … what do you have to say about that?’

      The answer was ‘Errr, tax is more complicated that we thought it was and you have to make it more complicated to simplify it’.

      I jest not.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I think you have covered everything of any major importance . There are many wasteful aspects of national and local government costs that do impinge on the high cost of living ; keeping a watchful eye on these and imposing stringent conditions and restrictions would help . My 6 year old attends a school approximately five miles away ; she has to be taken there by car in the morning and picked up in the afternoon . The associated fuel costs are circa £24 per week ( by the way , there are no buses ) . Car sharing is not an option ; the only other children in our village are older and attend different schools . Adding the weekly cost of car servicing , insurance and road tax would add another £8 per week . The car is not a luxury , it is a necessity ; in my book I would advise you to concentrate on the high cost of “moving” around as the place to start .

  17. alan jutson
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Almost forgot two elements.

    To keep Government spending under strict control they should only be allowed to spend 80% of the previous years tax take, in the following year, the balance going to pay off debt.

    Thus we should never be running a deficit at all, which so many get mixed up with real debt.

    Make it illegal for Government to borrow money at all (without a referendum vote of 75% in favour), other than in time of war to defend the homeland.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Alan – accept an accolade for sheer common sense (again!)

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Alan, been saying the same thing myself for years.

      BUT, how can you legally bind a government to not borrow – or not borrow more than a certain percentage of GDP (accepting that, sometimes, infrastructure spending funded by borrowing may be necessary) – when the government can simply change the law!

      Gordon Brown had ‘Golden Rules’ on borrowing. As soon as he couldn’t claim to meet them, he changed the rules!

      It’s almost funny, but I find myself, instead, weeping for my children.

      • Neil Craig
        Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        In the US if they ever passed the Balanced Budget Amendment it would only be possible to repeal it with a 2/3rds majority (this is probably why they don’t pass it).

        There is much to be said for such a written constitution but even without that it would be possible to put the 2/3rds limitation into law. If 2/3rds of those elected are loony parasites the country would deserve it.

  18. lifelogic
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Stop the NHS paying for daft quack and vanity medicine (at tax payers expense) and start to charge for a fee for all NHS visits and give that money back to tax payers too. Will a provision for the very, very few who really cannot pay anything at all.

  19. ralphmalph
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Car insurance – allow no whiplash claim to come to court without medical evidence from a machine not a doctors opinion. Allow no claim to be claimed after three months of the accident. If a claim is viewed to be a spurious claim by the courts then heavily fine the claimant and the solicitors. Will reduce car insurance.

    Bring in a system that a physical disc like the Tax Disc has to be shown on the car to prove the car is insured. Get the Police, PCSO’s, Traffic wardens to enforce as they walk around. Lower cost of car insurance.

    Ban all govt departments from translating anything. Get the ethnic minority groups to translate themselves on a voluntary non paid scheme, big society in action. Cut council tax bills.

    Ban doctors from issuing National Health numbers for free treatment on NHS. Use home that when they issue visas the visa clearly states no NHS. Then enforce that any person attending a GP or A&E for non emergency care proves they are entitled. Enforce all charging for medical care in hospital. Non payment means deportation.

    Enforce that any business bringing in non eu people to work here have to provide three years private medical insurance upfront for these employees purchased from a UK medical health insurer. A brit going to work in a non EU country has to have private medical insurance.

    All non-eu students must have private medical insurance prepaid for the length of thier course. Non US students studying in America do not get free health care with their tuition fees.

    Ban all green taxes on energy, immediately by reducing the foreign aid budget by the corresponding amount. Or put the green tax on goods from countries that are ignoring their CO2 emissions if it is so important to the world.

    Charge all non UK registered vehicles to use our roads. The French have tolls, the Austrians have a vignette. This should be charged at a high rate.

    Stop paying DLA for ailments like alocholism or drug dependency. Only pay DLA when the machine has proved an illness. i.e it is not good enough to say I have a bad back and the machine not find the cause.

    Fund Nick Cleggs free school meals by reducing child benefit by the amount the free meals cost per pupil.

    Stop the Doctors dishing out drugs like confetti.

    Ban all non common sense compensation claims. If a child falls over in school that is part of childhood not the cause for a claim against the school. Same with the NHS, introduce a series of fix compensation payments for mistakes and only allow gross negligence claims to go to court to save the legal fees, administration costs and Doctors time.

    Thats a good start I would have thought.

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Which, if any, of your ideas will be adopted by your party’s leadership? I suspect none.
    Yesterday, we heard a pledge from Osborne that he will eliminate the deficit by 2020 – you know the one he said before the last election he was going to eliminate by 2015!
    Frankly, the Conservative MPs who could sort out this country’s economy have been side-lined and ignored by a leader who doesn’t know the price of a loaf of bread, not because he doesn’t do the shopping, but because he says he has a bread maker.

  21. Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Many useful ideas in these comments, but two points.

    Shale gas. American success does not necessarily relate to conditions here e.g. population density and water resources.

    Major cost-cutting = leave the European Union = V.A.T. = reduction in bureaucracy = control of borders = lower health costs = lower education costs = lower interpreter costs.

    John Wrake

  22. David
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Reduce the benefit cap and use the savings to increase the tax threshold.
    In 2000 I got a good job paying £20k p.a., I was quite happy with it until I realised that a relative of mine who is a pro single mum was getting more than my tax home pay in housing benefit and other benefits.
    If people like her, didn’t get given housing in London then there would be more housing for people who work in London and of course more supply of something makes it cheaper.
    The benefit cap is the best thing any Government has done in the last 50 years but it doesn’t go far enough.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Where exactly would you prefer the unemployed to live? If it’s somewhere with few jobs are you happy with them effectively being trapped in a life of benefit dependency?

      • alan jutson
        Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        uanime5

        You cannot have it both ways, many at the moment live in areas where there ARE jobs but still will NOT work, so why not make room for those in those areas who want to work !

      • david
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Pro single mums are not normal unemployed. They are people who made themselves unemployable.
        They can either live with their parents, a hostel or go back to their original country.
        When we stop giving them an incentive to become pro single mums then we won’t have any.

        BTW this is not an attack on all single mums but those who become pregnant to get benefits. Some even come here from other countries because we are one of the few countries that offer this “career”.

  23. alexmews
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    thx John.

    Air Passenger Duty should go. It is a constraint on the business travel that is otherwise categorised as ‘essential to ensure Britain’s future as a trading nation…’

    In other news – I was interested to hear the Chancellor state that he hopes to be running a budget surplus in the next Term. I am less sure on how he gets there given past performance and the current trajectory. I would love to have the mortgage paid off and be living off the interest income from my savings in the same time frame. If I look at my finances today however -there is no realistic scenario where this could happen. Same for George?

  24. lifelogic
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Credit reference agencies should be prevented from registering searches on your credit file as this damages the credit file and is clearly anti-competitive discouraging shopping around for cheaper credit. Enabling the banks to over charge customers.

  25. Iain Gill
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I have said this before on this site before…

    One of the few things the government could do which would genuinely improve things, and which would genuinely repay the investment…

    Significantly improve the home insulation of all homes across the country. Shift some of the money being thrown at “green” issues into extra home insulation and guess what we as a country get the money back in reduced energy bills.

    Lots of ways it could be done. From the government simply placing orders with big building companies to double the loft insulation in all houses, to gentler ways. But to have dramatic quick wins and to force those houses where it’s hard to get grant aided insulation done (private rental properties for one where there isn’t really anything in it for the landlord) probably just cheaper for the government to place the orders.

    Gets some folk working doing this, so helps get the economy moving too.

    On new houses increase the insulation requirements.

    • Mark
      Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I looked at this using data from the Energy Savings Trust. They suggest that 270mm of loft insulation would save £180 per year in a typical semi, and cost about £300 to fit. The same cost is quoted to replace existing insulation of 100mm with 270mm, with energy savings of £25 – a payback period of twelve years, before allowing for the cost of borrowing (or income foregone) on the investment. At credit card rates of interest the extra insulation would never pay for itself. It is very marginal for those borrowing at mortgage rates, and could easily be outweighed by the costs of dealing with consequent loft condensation, or freezing water pipes in the loft.

      I think it makes more sense to encourage measures that have a payback of under seven years – which would still take rather longer to generate a reasonable positive return. Then the installer stands a chance of benefiting before they move house. The new Part L building regulations go way beyond this in insisting on very costly measures (or fines used to pay for your local windmill).

  26. Border Boy
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I know it is not immediately practicable , but withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy would help cut the cost of living. Food prices have risen more than other things over recent years and, like paying the green levy for energy, the CAP imposes a Euro levy on food prices.

    • peter davies
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      CAP is tip of the iceberg – BREXIT would probably bring huge benefits

      • Border Boy
        Posted October 1, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        I am comfortable with Brexit. Maybe we could provoke it by being awkward about CAP?

        • peter davies
          Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          the thing is they want to keep net contributors so being awkward is not enough.

  27. ferdinand
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    A really serious attack on Council profligacy. They just aren’t doing enough to reduce costs by still doing too much as Councillors. Surrey County Council and Mole Valley Council DC for example just are not trying enough. If it was business in trouble the cutting would be drastic but in the end rewarding.

  28. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    In every review of a government service the first question to be asked should be:

    Does the government need to do this?

    That should free up tax money so that people can invest it where they want

  29. peter davies
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Given that everything we buy is cascaded from the cost of energy/oil I would say that you have covered what needs to happen quite well though I doubt that by staying in the EU not to mention being in a coalition with fanatical Lib Dems any of this will be possible.

    I have recently been buying wood for building fences/sheds etc and the costs are shocking! When you ask what has changed the simple answer is nothing apart from the cost of transportation and the energy used to move and process the product. Put this into the context of someone who constantly buys raw materials and you can clearly see how the cost of living has got too high.

    Increasing capacity and bringing down wholesale costs of energy via fracking and building more nuclear and gas power plants along with removing climate change subsidies seem the only way to solve this issue – anything less and your tinkering around the edges.

  30. peter davies
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

    Here’s one which could help public finances, personal finances and general energy provision plus should not be too difficult to implement if DECC had anything about them and could find a way of enticing councils to replace their stock with the buying power they have (which I’m not holding my breath):

    Change all light bulbs in ALL public buildings including street lights, industrial buildings and private homes to LED.

    It took a fair amount of research to source the right types of bulbs (there are many) and we spent around £250 in total at home (ebay, China etc). This has resulted in a 40% reduction in our monthly electricity bill meaning a payback in 8 months – I think that power usage for lighting is now so low that the light circuit could be run on a small bank of batteries with some PV panels to charge them.

    In my mind the logic goes that rather than focus on subsidizing solar, windmills etc (production) start with measures to REDUCE consumption. Most LED bulbs run at 3-4 watts whilst the average spot light GU10 bulb is around 50 watts.

    This would be an easy win which with all the Climate Change Hangers on surprises me that it hasn’t caught on. I would guess that most large companies would buy into this if it a corresponding saving going forward for them could be presented.

    Shall I write to my MP and ask him to take it to the HOC?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      We have recently had downlighters put throughout most of the ground floor of our house. And we lashed out on the LED variety as we were told they were very cheap to run.

      Can you get LEDs for normal light fittings? Or have you got downlighters everywhere.

      • peter davies
        Posted October 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        @Mike

        There are LEDs available for just about every standard light fitting now. On some of the candle lights they can be an issue because they tend to be bigger so may not fit:

        These are the standards I have replaced bulbs for E27 (wide screw) B22 (wide notch) E14 (Narrow Screw) GU10 (Spot Lights) MR16 (bathroom spot lights) G9 Candle 78 mm linear

        Its important to go for the right one – day white gives a blue tint and not v pleasant – the warm white ones work well.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      You must have no or very little load without the lighting. My house uses 7 kwh a day without anyone there. Aircon units, clocks satellite/cable equipment. Etc.The bill are still low though as little else other than clothes drying, lighting and some aircon is used. LED’s are bit expensive per lumen and the light a bit harsh. but will improve in coming years leaving florescent still in front for now. One day though as you point out lighting will be so low energy a separate power system will be required for this due to step down losses. Never was going to be easy though was it!? Lighting can be seen as a measure of mas progress. Fire to LED and beyond. Firefly technology. Living lighting..

      • peter davies
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        The warm white versions are not harsh. Due to high production levels they have recently come down in price.

    • Mark
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      I doubt there is a need to legislate if returns are as good as you suggest. When I last looked into LED lighting some months back, prices were still too high to offer rapid payback for domestic use, and the blue/amber spectrum emitted lacking in green – acceptable for street lights, but not really for domestic use. Research is proceeding apace, and costs have been falling rapidly, so it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Remember that at least in winter incandescent bulbs provide useful heat, so the overall energy saving is not quite as great as the reduction in electricity use might suggest.

      • peter davies
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Maybe no need to legislate – some sort of inducement could surely be worked out.

        BTW LEDs do produce a lot of heat like normal bulbs – the strip light versions have been known to set fire to wood if they are not mounted correctly so that statement is not correct.

        I have tested all the bulbs in the house with a consumption meter – the digits barely move when you switch the lights on.

  31. Neil Craig
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I agree about cutting electricity costs (90% is possible) and housing (at least 3/4 state parasitism).

    Nursery care in Britain costs 40.9% of average wages, an enormous burden. In Estonia, a very libertarian nation (also an EU member so for once they aren’t to blame) it is 6.6%. This can only be our regulatory parasitism. How about allowing an unregulated “child minding” industry and let parents choose whether they want regulated or not.

    There are 200,000 elfin safety mafia. The rule of thumb is that each state inspector cost industry 20 times what they cost government so that is 4 million worker’s work destroyed. 18% of gdp. In turn, since wealth is correlated to safety that means they kill 1,000 times the 100 odd people they save annually.

    I assume the government has at least another 200,000 regulators in other fields like environment.

    A legal right to challenge regulations if they have a cost benefit ratio 4 times higher than in some comparable industry would exercise downward pressure on parasitism.

    Automated rail would cut cost by about 1/3rd and more than double capacity, reducing fares and goods transport costs.

    Go for land value tax with owner’s valuation and the right to buy at 3 times owner’s valuation. That would grease the wheels of progress.

    All together that looks like it would more than double the individual’s disposable income even without cutting the 40% of gdp the state spends or making an allowance for increasing growth.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      There already is an unregulated child minder service called relatives. A unregulated childcare industry for profit? As if. No checks or anything. Child molesters fantasy no less. The car industry could also sell cars for ‘safe drivers’ with no crash test red tape too? You have clearly never worked in any dangerous industry such as the metal or building trades where 100’s die each year due to lack of elfin safety Mafia. If a workers death costs less than the safety then it is cost effective?! Maybe I could become a doctor as there is to many regulations around this and the pay is pretty good I hear. I would love to be the dentist of race to the bottom fools like yourself… Ram it.

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The biggest cost of living – from most people’s salary – is income tax, national insurance, VAT, council tax, duty on fuel, duty on alcohol, tax on insurance. Add it all up and even people on modest incomes give half their money to the government.

    So, it’s very simple really, CUT THE SIZE AND COST OF GOVERNMENT.

    But, not, that is something no politician will do.

    After you’ve had all the tax taken off you – what is the next biggest cost of living. For most people it is housing costs. Either the cost of a mortgage or rent.

    So, allow the housing market to find its own level and prevent, by law, lenders lending high salary multiples and insist affordability calculations are not done using today’s ‘lowest interest rates in living memory’.

    But, no, you won’t do that either. On the contrary, you have decided to underwrite mortgages instead.

    You couldn’t make it up. I’m beginning to get very bitter about the whole matter – on my children’s behalf.

    I don’t think you realise Mr. Redwood just how many people are sick to the back teeth with the platitudes and nonsense emanating from the whole political class. I’m not sure you realise quite how the world has moved on since the credit crunch. I know so many people that are going to vote UKIP next time.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    “The Energy certificate, the residual from Labour’s HIP, should no longer be compulsory.”

    An EU requirement, JR:

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/buildings/buildings_en.htm

    And like the last government this government will never break EU law on that or anything else; the last government wrapped up the core element required by the EU to disguise its origin, and this government has stripped off some of the wrapping, but it dare not touch the Energy Performance Certificate.

    As we know, legally the government could ask Parliament to authorise it to break EU law; but it will never do so because it is politically committed to the eurofederalist principle that EU law must always have primacy over our national law.

  34. Antisthenes
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    First on the list of course is to leave the EU but remain part of the common market in a similar way to Norway. The most effective way of doing that is to invoke article 50. Contrary to popular belief this will not damage trading relations with the EU even though europhiles will give out scare stories that it will. The EU will be very loathed to lose the UK because the EU has more to lose than the UK has (the reasons why this is true would take too many column inches and this is a comment not an article but I can assure that it is). Thus the EU would fight hard to maintain our presence and may concede much to keep us in, enough perhaps to satisfy the majority of us eurosceptics (reverting back in fact to just a common market could possibly do that). If not then the UK would leave under very favourable conditions as the EU would not want to lose such a large lucrative market as the UK in which to sell their goods and services. The next important measure would be to roll back much of the social democracy (a misnomer as it really is only hard socialism in sheep’s clothing) that has been imposed on the UK over the last many decades by Labour and some well meaning right wing wets. Of course to do this and to stop it’s further advancement Labour must never be allow to govern the UK ever again. That will have the effect of ridding us of statism, reducing incompetence, waste and inefficiency. Both of suggestions of course unlikely to come to fruition but if they did then all the ideas mentioned above would mostly be taken care of.

  35. M.A.N.
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Far too much ‘knee jerking’ policy announcements most of which are useless or worse. The whole mechanism of government is basically non functional. Clegg and Cable have ZERO, absolutely ZERO positive input into the everyday decision making of government. Too many career politicians who have never done an honest days work in life, and boy does it show.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      I fear that some of this is true, M.A.N. There is much vanity in politics.

      It’s all very well being up-beat about how to reduce the cost of living and improve living standards but what would be more honest is a debate on managing our decline and trying to level it out.

      Our young seem unable to compete globally and it is often the case that where they can they flee. This is not the case for all of them, obviously.

      We ought to be talking about how to maintain quality of life and by this I mean preserving as much of our culture as we possibly can and resisting endemic corruption throughout our state apparatus so that we eventually become like any other leftist, tin-pot nation.

      There are no quick fixes to our finances or to improving the way we feel. Yes. Tax cuts beget a shrinking of the state but to deny that this will cause great pain and unemployment in the short term would be foolish. That said it must be done.

      We simply have to get better at what we can do and corner niche global markets where we can.

  36. wab
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    The number one expenditure each and every month for most households with non-old people in them is housing. Unfortunately it seems that Mr Redwood and the Tory party are happy to have high housing costs. The Help to Buy scheme will push up house prices and so will push up mortgage payments for anyone buying a house. So the first thing Cameron should announce in his speech is that this idiotic idea has been binned.

    The next expenditure for most workers is likely transport. Unfortunately this government, as with all past governments, has decided that motorists are a soft target. For example, the government is about to convert the A14 into a toll road, even though motorists have paid many times over for that road. And the government is expecting local councils to help foot the bill, even though it is a national road. Instead the government wishes to throw tens of billions of pounds at a sub-optimal transport network, i.e. the railway, in particular HS2, because apparently the poor dears who use railways shouldn’t be expected to pay for the service they are receiving. So the second thing that Cameron could announce is that the government is not going to waste billions of pounds on sub-optimal transport schemes. And he could announce that Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, and any other airport, can have more runways if they want them.

    The next expenditure is energy. Unfortunately Cameron has reiterated this week that he is keen on expensive (i.e. inefficient) forms of energy. I guess he will have a psychological setback if he discovers that his bread machine is not run using solar energy. Nothing the government has actually done has changed this bias towards expensive energy.

  37. Max Dunbar
    Posted October 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Many very good suggestions made by the commenters on this article which it is hard to add to.
    Rather than mention particular taxes here, I would identify those which without doubt are intended to target specific groups, hurt people or punish them for doing well financially. Needless to say the vast majority of these taxes will have been introduced by Labour, the party of envy, malevolence and mediocrity.
    This would not only reduce the cost of living but create a feel-good factor for those who are prepared to work hard. The Conservative Party has lost it’s way and this would be one way that it could get back on track.

  38. James Winfield
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Instead of paying the winter fuel allowance to all born on or before 5 January 1952 – means test it and include the poorest in society no matter their age.

  39. Narrow shoulers
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    The cost of living has not been helped in living memory by benefit increases outstripping real earnings. This ensured that housing costs and staple goods were not subject to the same downward pressures as other items.

    hopefully the cap on total benefit and housing awards together with reduced benefit awards (1% increase I believe) in future will remove this price stress from those of us who have to actually pay their own way.

  40. Mark
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    On energy we should keep our coal stations operating, saving the need to invest in new capacity (including extra grid capacity that windfarms require), and freeing gas for domestic heating (more thermodynamically efficient than burning it in power stations) or reducing gas import requirements – at least until gas prices fall to the point where they are cheaper than coal (as they have in the US).

    On housing,stamp duty reform would only affect a small proportion of people who buy properties – it’s worthy, but doesn’t tackle the problems of bubble prices that affect private rents as well. We need to deflate the property bubble. Lower rents would leave money that could be saved towards a deposit for those who wish to buy property or towards a pension, or otherwise spent in the economy. Lower house prices are more affordable for those who wish to move to a better property, or purchase for the first time.

  41. Tony
    Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi John

    Lots of people have posted peeves about one tax or another, and there’s no doubt about it the tax system is way to complex. A tax system that discourages work and innovation will utimately achieve its aim – nuff said.

    However, there’s lots of talk about how government borrowing is basically leaving the following generations to pay the bill. People complaining about this forget to realize that this started decades ago, and we are now paying THAT bill. When people complain about the cost of living they should be reminded that it’s not just their cost of living they are paying for, they are also paying for their ancestors.

    Because we aren’t yet reducing the national debt this is currently evidenced through benefits for pensioners and the interest on the national debt. Has the cost of living really gone up, or is the problem just that you are paying for your cost of living and for someone else too?

    With regards to fat cats/poor wages for workers – this was predicted almost 20 years ago by a harvard professor

    To summarize (although the original paper was ubelievably eloquent by spelling it out with simple arrithmetic): the LSE market cap is around £3trn. The national debt recently went through £1trn. What would UK plc look like with 33% more capital? You can probably imagine but here’s the simple economics: return on capital would be a lot lower, and demand for labour (and hence wages) would be a lot higher.

    The simple facts are, our cost of living is so high because we’re paying interest on our predecessors cost of living (currently around 3% of GDP) and because we’ve chosen to preference capital over labour.

  42. Robert Phillifent
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Might it not be a good idea to absolish the socialist concept of PAYE on earnings and return to the system of letting people keep their money,with the exception of NI contributions, a system that used operate in his country and still does in the US. YOU, the individual, would have to put money aside to meet your tax bill.It would be up to you to pay your tax bill not for the Government to take it from you!

    What gives Government the right to effectively steal your wages before you even get them?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page