We all want excellent educational services. All car drivers would love to see pothole-free roads. It would benefit everyone if health treatment came without long waiting lists.
The sight of a policeman on foot would surely help reduce knife crime, now common. Teachers, nurses, doctors and others on the national payroll all feel that the pay they receive is not a reflection of their skills and experience. Social services are woefully short of both staff and resources to cope with an ageing population. Our armed forces are deemed to lack the money to adequately defend the country. The dilemma is clear. There are urgent legitimate claims across a wide range of services in real need of a major cash injection if they are to meet the needs of society. Major councils are heavily in debt with some already bankrupt. Council charges will inevitably increase in April.
We are told taking regular exercise will keep us healthy. Leisure facilities are feeling the strain with many forced to close through lack of funds. This will increase the pressure on the National Health Service at a time when it is already struggling.
The logic is clear – if you want goods and services you must pay for them. The way they are paid for is by tax and government borrowing. With many pressing demands the Chancellor looks likely to reduce some tax burdens. One penny off of income tax is one measure being mentioned. For the average working person this would save then about £450 a year.
Whilst working briefly in Norway I was struck by the very high level of personal income tax they pay. The result is that their public services are excellent. They have a superb transport network. Investment has been made in renewable energy and to bring industry to the countryside to prevent the urban drift to the city of Oslo. Travel time to work is reduced and a real sense of community has been developed. The Scandinavian countries are always voted the best places to live. We could learn from their operations. When people voted for Brexit they were promised prosperity with thousands of pounds being made available for the health service. Yet the result of cutting off normal trading arrangements with our close large European market has been a financial disaster. Goods and services from Europe have risen in price.
We need more tax revenue but the problem is that the average working family can hardly manage now let alone pay even more tax. How then can we increase tax revenue? There are some possible answers. First government must not continue to waste money. The Rwanda Scheme has cost millions with no end result in sight. Tax loopholes exist where multinational companies declare profits outside this country where they trade. We need to attract inward investment from successful companies to create jobs and profits from exports. More people in well-paid jobs increases tax revenue. None of this is easy but the idea that the average family can be squeezed even more by tax rises is not an option. The worry for many of us is that this spring will see tax cuts which the incoming government will be forced to backtrack on to fund the demands for an improvement in our public services. These are taxing times. In an election year it is not surprising that tax cuts are being touted. It will not save the Tory administration but is a headache for the new government.