Spreading prosperity around the country

I am all in favour of policies which promote growth and greater prosperity generally, and in support of any measures which can help catch up by the lower income parts of the UK. In many cases the policies required are the same.

The government is going to spend more and do more  on infrastructure. Ensuring good broadband with high speeds in all parts of the country is essential to faster growth. Much of the investment can be private sector, as it should generate its own return. Where public sector pump priming is necessary there should continue to be clawback provisions in the investment agreements to protect taxpayers.

Investment in better transport is needed everywhere in the UK. London has needed substantial extra investment in the tube network because it is being impeded by its own success, with crowded tunnels and trains often leading to temporary station or platform closures to handle the numbers. London does not get much investment in new roads as there is so little space to include them. Outside London more road capacity is needed for buses and cars  and more cycle lane provision. Commuter train services into many cities and towns need improving, with more trains, more comfortable trains and more reliable trains.

The government also needs to look at taxation. Too many taxes in the UK are set at rates that diminish the total revenue by deterring transactions and investments. High Stamp duties cut the volume of property transactions, which means sub optimal use of properties with people feeling taxed out of changing their property for one they can best use. IR35 is deterring self employment and losing the UK contracts. High Vehicle Excise duties have helped hit sales for UK made new  vehicles, though they are greener and cleaner than the old ones they could replace. National Insurance and the training levy are taxes on employment when we want to promote more jobs. The current rate of  Capital Gains Tax puts people off selling assets they hold that could be better developed or used by others.

The Chancellor needs a budget for jobs and growth. That should include reducing tax penalties on work, on investment and on transactions.

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89 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Remembering that many northern towns enjoy a far better quality of life and more effective wealth than the majority of Londoners. Newcastle for example. Party Central.

    On campsites the people in the most impressive camper vans are usually from the north. Foreign holiday resorts and cruises are usually packed with northerners.

    The poorest regions can be found in the Sth West. A very high cost of living with low wages.

    • Barry
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      “Party Central.”

      Not the most persuasive argument I’ve heard.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        Not an argument. A statement of fact – from my cousins’ Facebook entries.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Have you ever lived in the North, do you have relatives that live in the North West?
      A few northern towns enjoy a better quality of life and more effective wealth, the vast majority don’t and those that don’t are sometimes dire and frequently top the worst places to live charts! Doctors, teachers and others on the same pay levels as more prosperous areas are often more flush in say Stoke, Liverpool or Manchester but they often end up no better off because they chose to live in very small select areas that have a very ‘high cost of living’ and where properties cost as much as they do in the South.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 1:55 am | Permalink

        Have you ever had to battle Sth London traffic to make a crust ? Run the gauntlet of gangstas… Get crammed onto the tube in rush hour to make it back to your grotty little terrace in a litter strewn street that cost you £800k and you’re never likely to pay down ?

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:08 am | Permalink

          A-tracy.

          Really. I invite you to take a tour of London. Places like Tottenham, Nth Woolwich, Mitcham….

          • a-tracy
            Posted January 10, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            Really I’ve been quite often, my children use public transport in London all the time.

        • Barry
          Posted January 9, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Crime, crowded public transport, terraced housing and litter being confined to London?

          So far as crime is concerned, I suggest you pay less attention to very well reported stabbings in London (population 8m+) and look at West and South Yorkshire, for example.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 9, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

            I’m not trying to compete on the grim scale here.

            I’m just telling you that it is extremely simplistic to say London = Rich, Northern = Poor.

            That is far FAR from the truth.

            And the stabbings you talk of are only the fatal ones and the tip of a very big ice berg.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 10, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          I have two children that live in South London. I have visited the places you mentioned. Have you ever tried to catch public transport in the North West?

    • Yorkie
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Newcastle’s rubbish!

      • Fred H
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Yorkie bar kid – -you would say that wouldn’t you!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      It is true that many families in London, perhaps even earning well over over £100K in joint income (but with a family and high rents or mortgages) can have very little disposable income after huge taxes, commuting, child care and the likes unless they have social housing subsidised by others. Better to earn less up north often and have a cheap and spacious house.

  2. Mark B
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    The Tube is not a victim of its own success. It is a victim of MASS IMMIGRATION. We have been building a huge number of high rise apartments all over the capital.

    The extra schools, hospitals, prisons to name a few will take years to build. London’s roads need major repairs. So what the rest of the country needs is even more. Where is all this money going to come from ? You are at near maximum tax take. Interest rates are the lowest they have ever been and you want the BoE to drop them further. More QE will drive up inflation unless you keep immigration high to offset it. Problem is you do that you just make the situation worse.

    There has been no honesty when it comes to government economic policy. The game has been to just make the numbers (GDP) look good and hope for the best. It is obvious that there is no plan other than to try the old FDR trick of spend your way out of trouble.

    Those spinning plates are gonna fall soon.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Well done!
      True,true,true x eternity.
      Spinning plate analogy…spot on!!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      London’s population, after a low in the 1980s, has only recently exceeded – and just slightly – what it was right before WWII.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:04 am | Permalink

        Yes. Taking the Govt’s figures to be accurate. Any Londoner (me) will tell you that it’s not London any more and it’s a lot more crowded than when they (I) grew up there and lived there for 40 years.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 10, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        MiC but how accurate are the population figures. Just one example from last year:
        “The total number of those affected by the scandal remains unknown, but more than 5,000 people have been granted documentation by the Windrush taskforce in the past year” – this mistake was reported in the Guardian as costing up to £200 million to compensate.

    • Al
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      It would be truer to say mass immigration and poor planning. We have three new estates, multiple tower blocks, and many flat conversions in our constituency for a total of over ten thousand predicted extra residents.

      There are no extra school places, no extra doctors’ surgeries, no improvements in transport (train numbers have actually been cut), and no current plans to improve these facilities in the future. This is not sustainable. Either create the facilities for more people as they move in, or expect service levels to fall unacceptably.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I think JR alluded to the ‘success’ of London and it’s consequential knockon effect on the Tube. London is not a success unless success means grotesque overcrowding and high levels of violent crime with most of those who actually do the essential work of the capital being obliged to commute into London every day because of the cost of a property fit for human habitation.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        As to spreading prosperity, importing millions of assorted immigrants has the now well established effect of depressing wage levels hence causing the opposite to prosperity.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Agreed, the British Government’s have decided to con the public with a ponzi scheme, where they get the pretence of growth from increasing the population, not value added growth, with the result we aren’t getting the wealth but they are making everybody’s lives miserable as they overload the infrastructure.

  3. Ian@Barkham
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    It would be an easier to sum up with what is needed by saying we need less intervention by government.

    Successive UK governments have been on ego trips with the taxpayers money. Smart/now called Digital motorways leading to more accidents, deaths and congestion. Has anyone in Government tried using them at busy times, they are just cash cows for the contractors that manage them. High speed railways that are in fact old very expensive tech just dressed up to say Oh Look we have done something. Contractors earn taxpayer loses in every case.

    The UK tax system is overbearing, overthought, over complicated seemingly so successive governments can feel cosy at being interventionist.

    UK governments have a lousy track record when spending OUR money, you could even suggest their actions are some kind of fraud.

    Less intervention is needed. Yes government should invest, but investment suggests their will be a return to reinvest on the next project. Not more dipping into the taxpayers wallet.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Government investment is generally very inefficient indeed. Let the people who earned the money spend and invest it. They are so much better at it, this as they are using their own money and want a good return. Government, as we see with HS2, much university activity, the NHS, Hinckley C, green energy subsidies and countless other idiocies does not give a damn about getting a sensible return or any value for money.

    • Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      UK governments have a lousy track record when spending OUR money.

      I would love to see the actual accounting for that since it does not exist. If you are in business you should know what T accounts are ?

      Ian, a quick question.

      Where do you get your £’ s from that

      a) Allows you to pay your taxes

      b) Allows you to buy gilts

      Well it is written in the front of every note you have ever received.

      Trust me. You are not the MONOPOLY issuer of the £. Government is.

      It has never been OUR money it is merely an IOU a tax credit. Which we can do 4 things when we get it.

      Pay taxes.

      Spend it.

      Save it.

      Exchange it.

      • Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        When you spend it the next person in the chain pays the tax as it has become that person’s income.

        When you exchange it for another curency. All that changes is the name on the reserve account at the BOE.

        When you save it that makes up the budget deficit. Unless you swap the £ for a gilt then it makes up the national debt.

        John has been trying to tell you this for years now.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Government only invests by first taking the money off people who would have invested it rather better on average. Or by borrowing off the backs of these people.

      Beyond a few government rovided essentials like defence and law and order they do far more harm than good. At the current hugely over taxed levels the need to cut back the state is overwhelming.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Smart/Digital motorway management, in my opinion, is just a fine raiser. People stuck behind each other in two lanes doing 50mph with a couple of lanes clear as you say a congestion causer and results in people driving much too close together, there is also more lane hogging with drivers just sat in lane three tootling along, it just delays many journeys unnecessarily on a regular basis.

      A smarter motorway wouldn’t have needed bridge widening, the previous hard shoulder would have just been turned into the exit lane for the junction with good distance markers and the road terminating at the exit junction (mistaken drivers could get back on using the junction roundabout or traffic lights) the entrance junction for the four-lane motorway would then not need to merge for quite a while giving a long run on becoming lane one you can tell they never asked transport drivers for their suggestions! They also don’t ask for their feedback.

      Monitoring of breakdowns from the recovery services could tell the Highways authorities key breakdown points and where extra off-road breakdown zones are required. Motorway police could also identify accident blackspots such as those between junction 17 and 16 on the M6 this road needs serious research.

    • SM
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Whole-hearted agreement, Ian.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Ian

      Agreed.

      The most simple forms of getting money back into most peoples pockets is to raise the personal tax allowance. How about aim to make it £20,000 by the end of this Parliament.
      Other simple methods:
      Reduce the Level of Vat.
      Put the threshold up for inheritance tax to £1,000,000 each and or remove the FAMILY HOME completely from the IHT calculation so that it is exempt.

      By removing the family home from the calculation completely, you level the playing field, as those in the South are at a massive disadvantage at the moment to lower cost areas.

  4. DOMINIC
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    No comment about public sector reform which is vital to prevent the appalling misallocation of scarce resources that we currently see and even more vital to nobble Labour’s grip over this area of our economy. The liability of this politically acceptable waste of scarce resources is simply passed arrogantly and without concern onto the private sector because, they can, without political consequences. Unprincipled politics

    No comment about cuts in income tax rates. References to cuts in NIC and other minor taxes is mere tinkering at the edges and is meaningless in revenue terms

    We want to see radical policies that unleash the British people from the grip of political constraint. We don’t want Keynesian pump priming, preening politicians and pampered political headlines declaring how concerned the Tory party is for our welfare. We’re not children and Northerners don’t need patting on the head by Oxbridge types

    Have the political will to confront the real issues of the day which tend to be those issues that will trigger a political storm from Labour, the unions and their leftist allies in the public sector monster and the press

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Indeed and tax and red tape cuts cuts take some time to act, so they needs to be done now to have time to be effective for the next election in 2024. We need low/simple tax pro-business, easy hire and fire, cheap energy vision and we need this vision setting now.

      Javid does not look like he will do this at all if not he should go and go now.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Indeed Javid and this government has already done damage to confidence and investment by not having yet indicated a sensible direction of travel towards smaller government, lower taxes, cheap reliable energy and far less red tape.

        What is he (or they) waiting for? Or are they really just yet more tax borrow and piss down the drain Lefties? They should undo almost everything that Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond did for a start.

    • Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      I do not agree totally about your views on a Keynesian approach and JR was careful with his words. However the worrying thing is he neither mentioned reform or efficiency,

      So spot on with the rest of your comments. Obviously the government is in its post electoral win hubristic phase so the jury is still out but history tells us that the more they spend, the more they waste.

      Especially where there is a need to throw money at those previously Labour held seats, to retain them. We are told it is rebalancing the economy but its mainly about ‘buying’ political power.

      The country needs a Thatcheresque approach to resolve the problems you detail. I guess we have little or zero expectation but maybe pleasantly surprised.

    • Andy
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Public sector reform. Which bit do you went to reform – how and why?

      I find most of you don’t want to reform at all. You just want to tinker. Hence the Tory obsession with foreign aid – a negligible part of government spending.

      I want to scrap state pensions. I want to axe pensioner perks. I want to make old people pay for their own social care and extra to use the NHS. I want to scrap the MoD – scrap Trident, abolish them military save for a small force to help with emergencies and sell off all the bases to developers.

      You can disagree with my policies but they are bold and they cover about half of all government spending. Taxes could be halved. That’s reform. And that is before we start asset stripping inherited wealth to help the homeless.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Best of luck getting elected with that manifesto.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:28 am | Permalink

        Don’t really care what you think.

        You’re losing just about every vote. And I think in entertainment news (an important indicator) Ricky Gervais’ moment might have marked a turning point in the zeitgeist – not in your favour.

        It must have been sickening for Coogan and Grant to witness and surely even they must be having an epiphany now – that they might have caused Brexit.

        Give up, Andy.

        You’ve lost.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        Andy: With luck, the things you wish for, in the first sentence of the third paragraph of your post, will come to pass when you yourself are old.
        You may then want to ponder on the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’!

    • jerry
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      @Dominic; “No comment about public sector reform which is vital to prevent the appalling misallocation of scarce resources”

      One of the ways to invest in areas outside of London and the S.East is to relocate or congregate otherwise diverse (think DVLA) govt departments into such areas, at the same time reorganising/ re purposing and even abolishing them.

      “No comment about cuts in income tax rates.”

      My guess is that you didn’t read much beyond the end of the first paragraph, if even that far, before venting off on another rant, after all our host gave an entire (and the longest) paragraph to taxation, including income taxes!

      As for your last paragraph, yes and it will also fire off a storm amounts the average voter these days, we no longer live in the information ignorant 1980s, trying to put party interests before that of the countries will not wash these days.

    • Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Yesterday I was told of a naughty boy aged 7 – sorry a victim of ADHD – who was expelled from school and who was given, on the taxpayer, two hours tuition a week instead.
      Two teachers had to be employed (safeguarding) to do this. Then, of course, he had to be brought and taken back (two drivers because of safeguarding). In addition, there was an Inspector who came and checked on the lessons. And then – another Inspector to make sure that the first Inspector was doing her job properly!
      That makes no less than 6 professionals to look after a boy who ought to have been at school.
      And people talk of pouring yet more money into education!

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:32 am | Permalink

        ADHD is High Rate Dependency and qualifies the whole family for fast passes at theme parks and such like.

        It means an unemployed mum can remain a ‘carer’ for many more years.

    • Dan R
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Yes Dominic, radical policies will stir things up and show that this government can be different to all previous govs. Business has been on a journey of delighting the customer for some time now, is the Boris Band capable of delighting the audience? I’m still holding my breath.

  5. Ian@Barkham
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    More cycle lanes? In Wokingham that has meant getting rid of pedestrians, removing pedestrian footpaths and handing them over to the odd cyclist. Making traditional footpaths that are barely wide enough for pedestrians into seemingly exclusive cycle ways, sort of defeats the idea of getting people out of their cars. Walking to Wokingham train station is now dangerous, was that the concept behind the planning.

    The concept just as with many on ‘message’ ego trips has never been completely thought through. A case of let’s do it it will show our credentials, instead how does this improve the structure for the majority.

    reply cycle lanes that do nit take roadspace on existing roads

    • Fred H
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      The Winnersh Triangle to J11 cycle lane is mostly an expensive Marie Celeste. Paved, fenced, lampposts moved etc. Sometimes a jogger or two uses it! I even seen a cyclist use the road instead!

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    The one thing that any sensible Conservatives should understand is that people and businesses are far better at spending & investing their own money than is government. From the current, hugely over taxed (highest taxes for 50 years) position then far lower simpler taxes are the way to go. Javid does not seem to have grasped this.

    You say London does not get much investment in new roads as there is so little space to include them. Well most government efforts in London has been to block and constrict roads in London. Road can be built underground or indeed in the air or be double decker.

    High speed broadbands can be useful but is rather over rated for more businesses basic broadband is fine. The higher speeds are only really needed by people and families wanting to stream high definition videos or games. For most business communications a very wide bandwidth is not that vital.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the best investment Javid could make would be to make redundant the large number of people (over paid and pensioned in general) in government who do almost nothing useful or do positive harm perhaps as many as half of them. Release them all to get a productive job. Perhaps some will go into business with their redundancy pay offs.

      Then we need on demand cheap energy, far lower simpler taxes, some real competition in banking and simpler regulation of them, cull all the subsidies for green energy lunacy and electric cars, cull all the soft £50k loans for pointless or hobby degrees (about 2/3 of them are), relax planning rules and all the OTT green building regs. Release about 2/3 of university staff to get real jobs too.

      Then we need real competition in Health Care and Education not the rather dire (free at the point of use and totally unfair competition) state monopolies we have now. Freedom and choice please. We do need some more road space (with driverless cars and taxis coming too) and remove all the road blocking that has been done. The war on car users has been idiotic and hugely damaging. Go for easy hire and fire killing more parasitic jobs in law and HR and creating more real jobs.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      If that were true, then how come the Chinese have built a 55km six-lane sea bridge themselves, for about one-tenth of the cost that the private sector have quoted for HS2 here?

      The challenges were immense by comparison.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        They have just opened the world’s first automated high speed line too-the Beijing-Zhangjiakou line which,with a max speed of 350km/hr,has cut the journey time from 3hr to 47mins.

  7. Ian@Barkham
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    In an earlier post of yours, the subject of the obscene cost we are now faced with to get nuclear power back up to strength. This is another illustration of a lazy attitude government has to the bottomless pit the taxpayers wallets have taken on.

    Not forgetting the Labour party said there is no place for nuclear energy in a modern world, so Gordon Brown sold off our capabilities. We now pay the French over the odds to partially get some of it back.

    Government should focus on less intervention and manipulation of society. Left with their own money people can do it so much better. If government sees/feels the need to ‘invest’ it should be an investment with a defined return capable of being reinvested.

  8. Sharon Jagger
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Off topic.

    I was thrilled that my little grandson’s passport had been posted. When it arrived, although it no longer has the European Union on it…it’s still maroon in colour!

    I was under the impression the new passports were to be blue. Am I alone in thinking this?

    Unless you read the wording…it still looks like a European Union member country, passport.

    Oh, well…at least it is just us – the U.K. and NI now – written on it.

    • Peter Parsons
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:42 am | Permalink

      If your grandson had received a blue passport, there would always the chance that people would think he is Croatian as EU member state Croatia issues blue passports.

      The UK could have as well if the Westminster government had chosen to. Burgundy (not maroon) for passports has always been nothing more than a recommendation. Nothing has ever compelled the UK government to use that colour.

  9. Ian Wilson
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Plenty of good ideas here, but I wonder about London Underground being a priority when so few cities have an underground at all. Isn’t this perpetuating the gap between London and elsewhere?

    You are right that tax has hit car sales, but so has demonising diesel. What are the alternatives?
    Petrol? A more explosive fuel causing more deaths in car fires, small numbers perhaps but a singularly nasty way to die. Remember the Hagley school minibus tragedy and the 11 children who died in a petrol fireball.
    Hydrogen? The explosion at a Norwegian filling plan’t doesn’t give confidence.
    Electric? Certainly yielding less emissions in cities but the horrific mining practices for extracting the battery minerals render them anything but ‘clean’ or ‘green’.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Also they government need to stop the damage being down by idiotic employment tribunals extending protections for belief systems to vegans and the likes. As the sensible Charles Moore pointed out yesterday in the Telegraph. Cull these job creation schemes for parasitic lawyers and HR “experts” let’s create just non parasitic jobs please. Easy hire and fire is far better and more efficient for all.

    All but the duff employees (and lawyers/HR types) who parasite on the employers or the good employees that is.

  11. Newmania
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Spreading prosperity around the country- By this you presumably mean fiddling the Green book so areas with high productivity( The South East) are ignored while new friends oop North benefit from the outrageous debts you wish to burden our children with
    So we are now set on a lower growth trajectory and of that growth the South East will get less. Those people who work in services in the South East are especially expendable and we were the only tax exporting region outside London anyway.
    Fantastic !!!!

  12. Everhopeful
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Like telling bile-farm bears that their food rations will increase.
    Happy in a tarnished cage?
    No…we need our basic liberties returned..now!

  13. Oliver
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Eliminate CGT on Long Term gains.

    Distinguish between gains on “regular” listed assets – widely owned publicly listed securities held for investment purposes, and people artfully dodging tax by making income into dividends.

    Hardly rocket science.

  14. Everhopeful
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I wonder how the North will react to the terrible prospect of being “regenerated” aka totally destroyed, like the South has been?
    Spend money pretending to help people but really just vote grubbing and laying waste all obstacles…like fields, forests and familiar landscapes.

  15. Stred
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Lord Berkeley is right that HS2 is overdesigned and the very high maximum speed over short distances makes it expensive to build and run. But the government continues it’s mistake.
    Cycle lames built on arterial roads slow traffic and cause more pollution for cyclists to breathe in deeply. But Electric cars still cause particulates from brakes and tyres. But government carries on.
    Tax on ureal profits, high stamp duty and removal of Mrs T’s section 21 is killing investment in private rental housing, but this government is intent on it’s war on private investors.
    Expect more garden bridges and white elephants.

  16. Kevin
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    In recent posts you have discussed such matters as employment, taxation and transport. There is, however, a prior matter of Conservative policy – regarding the implementation of the People’s Vote – that remains to be clarified. Until that happens, one may well question what control an “independent” UK will have over “our other priorities”. In particular, take clause 77 of the Political Declaration (“PD”), which reads, in part: “[T]he future relationship must…[encompass] robust commitments to ensure a level playing field…. To that end, the Parties should uphold the common high standards applicable in the [EU] and the [UK] at the end of the transition period in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change, and relevant tax matters. The Parties…should rely on appropriate and relevant [EU] and international standards” (emphases added).

    Art. 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides that the UK will be subject to EU legislation for the entire transition period (with some apparent exceptions). So, we seem to face the possibility that the EU may legislate new “common high standards” in the above areas. Clause 131 of the PD, meanwhile, makes the ECJ the sole arbiter of concepts of EU law. This means we face the additional risk that the “level playing field”, as implemented in the final document, in some way comes within the scope of ECJ jurisdiction as incorporating concepts of EU law.

  17. Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I know a high flier who was offered a very well paid and very interesting job in Australia.
    He lives in Singapore.
    When he investigated the tax system in Australia he found to his horror that he would be taxed so hard that he would lose over half his income.
    Guess what?

    I think the UK is falling into the same trap and, apparently, the taxes (thank you Mr Brown) are so terribly complicated that they are easy to circumvent if you have the right accountant.

  18. glen cullen
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I can’t understand the fascination with broadband and why this government and the opposition feel that it’s their responsibility to get involve in what is a privately supplied service

    If its vital to a business….they already have it (even in so called remote/weak areas they use mobile broadband or satellite)

    Most home use are covered by cable or mobile data

    Why is the government trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist

  19. Fred H
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Election banner waving is all very well but proof of the pudding is in the eating.
    Many sound reflective points of view on here assembled a long list of corrective and positive measures which ought to be carried out in haste. We want none of the ‘years to bring them to the Bill stage’ – your colleagues need to get on with the job of dealing with recent years of Parliament obsfucation.

  20. Alec
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “….new vehicles, though they are greener and cleaner than the old ones they could replace.”
    Except that 90% of energy use and emissions are when a car is built. If you really want a greener and more efficient vehicle fleet keeping old vehicles on the road makes far more sense. Of course what you actually are arguing for is profit for manufacturers and tax for the government.

  21. agricola
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I think you could start by asking the question, does this government department have to be in London. The DVLA in Swansea And the DSS or whatever it is now called in Newcastle and Wolverhampton proves that most do not. Modern communications allow them to operate from anywhere, so get them away to the extremities of England. Their employees might then enjoy a healthier and less expensive lifestyle. The mandarins will quibble but they can always retire. The above is a very direct way in which the government can help the deprived regions.

    Freeports and tax free industrial areas around them seem very sensible. We are a nation of importers enhancers and exporters. Make this a process devoid of as much red tape and cost as possible.

    Self employment should be encouraged with low taxes, especially VAT, and administrative burdens. Let the self employed develop and slowly morph into centres of employment.

    One of our greatest problems is expanding population. It puts pressure on just about everything else. Apart from discouraging immigration do not encourage procreation with tax breaks or support payments. The target should be 40,000,000 max.

    Remove university tuition fees from subjects that are going to make a positive contribution to our well being, scientists, medical professionals, engineers, and business graduates. A definite no no for media studies and political students.

    Put a bulldozer through the tax system in favour of simplicity and encouraging wealth both individual and national. This as a result will contract government. While on that subject reduce the second house to 100 participants and the HoC to about 250. If the USA can run with this we should easily.

    Through budget and Boris’s plan A I will get a feel for where we are heading. After the rhetoric we need substance, which in my terms is a quiet revolution.

  22. Richard1
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Dead right. Boris also needs to have the courage to cancel the absurdly wasteful HS2 project. The £7bn spent already is embarrassing but it’s a sunk cost, and politically can be blamed on its numerous advocates from all parties. It just doesn’t stack up and the money would be far better spent elsewhere. Just think, another £10bn pa for the next 10-12 years at least for tax cuts and other much more sensible investment!

  23. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Our govts have been great at spending/throwing away OUR money, while they hide their own and their friend’s, cash in places like Panama, then stop us finding out who has done it. Our taxes go up – while what we get back gets less and less. The money is wasted or handed over to support anyone who sets off from Calais and calls for their taxpayer funded “ferry-to-England-and-a-free-life-Sir?”. Those reported nearly 1’900 that have got here from Calais in 2019 have already cost us millions and will inevitably cost us many more.
    The prosperity you hope for John is only for the already rich – and the ones who come here to gain – for committing a crime. The people like myself are only here to be taxed and told to accept it as we see our country handed over to an influx of people who have been told that they can do whatever they want, while WE have to “shut up and put up”. They come, then demand WE change to their ways. If their ways are so great – why did they move to a totally different culture, than want what they left?

  24. acorn
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    All MPs should have a read of what taxation is really meant to achieve, and it is not for financing government spending. Sajid Javid is probably the first UK Chancellor who actually knows how a sovereign fiat currency is meant to work; and how and where its “units of account” are created and extinguished.
    http://archive.economonitor.com/lrwray/2014/06/17/tax-bads-not-goods-2/

  25. Martin R
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The best action this government could take to spread prosperity (apart from leaving the EU on the spot on a “no-deal” basis) would be to repeal the insane Climate Act and equally insane commitment to “zero carbon” and in fact to reducing CO2 output. CO2 is immensely beneficial and its increase has boosted agricultural output world wide, with satellite imagery confirming the greening of the planet. But can I expect sanity from this government on the man-made climate fraud? No I can’t, not now or ever.

  26. Book
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    LIVE on Sky News in London
    The von der Leyen has landed

  27. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Boris’ free ports idea was good, I hope it hasn’t been forgotten (or more likely shelved due to to civil service complaints and resistance).

    Just off topic, but is there any employer in the country other than Parliament which provides a subsidised bar for its staff ? It is a bizarre anomaly and should be stopped.

  28. kzb
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    How much do transport infrastructure improvements cost in the UK compared to other countries?
    It is obvious to road users that everyone in the chain is milking the system.
    The week before Christmas, a large number of workers appeared on the M62 roadworks between the M6 and Manchester. More than the total seen to date in the whole previous year. Clearly they had some KPI to meet before the end of the year and thought they had better actually do something. This is just one example I am sure everyone on here could give a long list of such things.

  29. a-tracy
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “Ensuring good broadband with high speeds in all parts of the country is essential to faster growth.”
    Ensuring good low-cost broadband, please.

    Roads – speak to the employed drivers if you want to know how the Highways are performing, has the Conservative transport minister’s department team ever actually sat on service stations around the country and polled their opinions? Instead of calling meetings for their bosses who are often sat in their office – speak to the people who drive for their living. Our local council caused an half hour delay for everyone getting into work from the West on a key road by not notifying people of roadworks following a quiet three week period when most of this work could have been carried out, they decide to do it on one of the busiest days without prior signs or notifying the local business park manager to pass on the message, simple things that wouldn’t cost much but would make a big difference.

    Your government talk a good talk on productivity but it is often public services that slow everyone down.

  30. Rule Britannia
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  31. Yossarion
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    The West of England has been bypassed for to long, no upgrade on the 303 for nearly thirty years. , A350 a joke, and the Electrification to Bristol through Bath stopped at Chippenham, but I guess nothing will change.

  32. glen cullen
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    The new EU negotiator Ursula von der Leyen suggested today that freedom of movement may be a condition of an FTA and that negotiation will require a further extension

    Way on earth would anybody even start negotiations under these conditions….best just leave under WTO and stop wasting time

    Prosperity isn’t going to start until we are free completely free of the EU. The measure is when we can sign and start our own international trade ?

    • margaret howard
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      glen

      “Prosperity isn’t going to start until we are free completely free of the EU.”

      Makes you wonder why we begged to join them in the first place all those years ago.

      Could it have anything to do with the fact that we were then known as the ‘sick man of Europe’ and that EU membership turned us into the world’s 6th largest economy?

      So what guarantee will we have that we will not return to such a time? Let me tell you, I was there then and would hate to return to such a difficult and unpleasant era.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        We joined in the 1970s and we have had several recessions since then.
        Remember interest rates in double figures and several million unemployed?
        I find it remarkable that you count anything good that happened in the last 45 years as being entirely due to the EU yet anything bad as being entirely our own fault.

        • glen cullen
          Posted January 9, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          wise words and your assessment correct

      • Fred H
        Posted January 9, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Could it have anything to do with the fact that we were then known as the ‘sick man of Europe’ and that EU membership turned us into the world’s 6th largest economy?

        mh – – you have to wonder why this miracle from the EU didn’t work in other countries?

  33. MBJ
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    At the moment we seem to be cutting down on the paper clips to correct the biggest issues.

  34. John Partington
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    This is all very well but a lot of money needs to be spent on filling potholes in the roads we have now. The street I live on pays the highest council tax and is full of potholes. We need to fix all this in every part of the country.

  35. Rick
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Can’t listen to that Trump anymore- he’s starting to sound like the broken record- ‘everybody else is out of step except himself’- round and round- it’s so obvious to all right thinking people who is wrong in all of this and still our PM and Foreign Secretary continue to row in behind him like the proverbial lapdogs they are- always sucking up to the Americans- no matter what

  36. Addanc Monster
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    What did Farage say about liarfestos, see

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, it takes one to know one.

  37. agricola
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    A suggestion. On those days when you post but have such a busy day that you cannot moderate until very late, why not post zero the following day. This would give the original post time to run its natural course with cross comment. You would also benefit from a reduced workload.

  38. Arnie from Newington
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Section 24 is the most unfair tax at the moment and is going to hurt Landlords who will look to pass it onto tenants as the transitional arrangements are withdrawn and the tax goes full blown.

  39. Christine
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    A nice gesture from Boris would be if he promised to return your party conference to Blackpool from 2021. The Winter Gardens venue has been refurbished and is fantastic. The rail link has been upgraded. These were the two reasons given for pulling out and moving to the cities. It’s time to do something positive rather than just empty words. The residents of Blackpool have put their faith in your party by electing a Conservative MP. Please show some faith in return. Also help get Blackpool airport reopened by getting rid of the airport tax for regional airports so they can compete with the major hubs.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 9, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      and go away from the (tacky) Blackpool seafront and you will find awful deprivation. A recent Sunday Times featured the many schools who have terrible numbers of underfed, ill-clothed and unemployed mothers/fathers( where are there jobs?).
      The staff in some schools try to keep feeding children throughout school holidays, find imaginative entertainments, and rely on extra funds to stock basic clothes, etc.
      The election result was a cry in the wilderness for something to happen to address the misery of hundreds if not thousands.

      • Christine
        Posted January 11, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Food has never been cheaper. At my supermarket over Christmas bags of veg were 15p and I could get 3 chickens for £8. This easily fed two of us for a week for under £10. Deprived areas need investment, support and job opportunities, not welfare handouts. Unfortunately, by their policies, this Government has taken away opportunities rather than provide the seeds for growth and prosperity. I’m not sure what your point is. I know the town is deprived which is why it needs help.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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