DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Spike the hike to beat cost of living crisis
Across Britain today, as one crisis finally fades, another looms with terrifying speed.
The pandemic appears to be over in all but name. But a cost of living emergency threatens to engulf hundreds of thousands of families – and strangle our post-Covid recovery at birth.
Soaring inflation is eroding pay packets and savings. Energy bills and food prices are increasing. Today we report that even home broadband costs are being hiked. No wonder household budgets are more strained than ever.
But the worst hasn’t even happened yet. In April, national insurance contributions will rise by 1.25 percentage points for employers and employees alike. A worker earning £30,000 will lose £255 a year.
Soaring inflation is eroding pay packets and savings. Energy bills and food prices are increasing
And the impact will be huge. The tax will pull in £12billion a year for the coffers of No11.
When it was announced, it was portrayed as a rescue package for the social care crisis – a continuing injustice that this newspaper has campaigned to end for a quarter of a century.
Indeed, when Boris Johnson announced the new levy to tackle the issue last September, we welcomed his willingness to grasp the nettle, if not his very un-Tory like solution of raising taxes.
But there was a catch.
The cash would not go to social care. Instead, for the first three years it would help to clear the NHS backlog caused by the pandemic.
Put aside for one moment the highly questionable wisdom of lavishing further billions on a health service that continues to swallow more funds per head than most developed nations – yet delivers some of the poorest outcomes.
It is patently clear that in today’s extreme circumstances – and with the knowledge that this money is not going to help the elderly and their care costs – this levy must be put on hold.
Don’t just take our word for it. As our coverage today shows, business leaders, MPs and economists agree that for the short term it must be spiked.
And the NHS? Yes, it has been hard hit by the pandemic. But if more cash is the answer it is surely not beyond the wit of government departments to find savings, not least in the sprawling financial black hole that is the Health Department itself.
The pandemic appears to be over in all but name. But a cost of living emergency threatens to engulf hundreds of thousands of families – and strangle our post-Covid recovery at birth
When the cost of living juggernaut hits, many will suffer real hardship. It is the Government which will inevitably get the blame.
The Prime Minister must do all he can to mitigate the ruinous effects of this looming squeeze on ordinary families. Deferring this tax rise would be a perfect place to start.
End Whitehall WFH
Anyone strolling down Whitehall this week might have assumed they were in a country still in the grip of a pandemic – not one in which the virus was on the run.
Streets are empty – and as our investigation reveals today, government buildings are largely deserted.
Forget the inefficacy of civil servants operating from their cosy sitting rooms or the mental toll on junior employees, for whom working from home often means confinement to a cramped apartment with little contact with outside world.
It’s an insult to the key workers who continue to keep our streets clean and our supermarket shelves stocked with vital supplies.
Well-remunerated mandarins should be setting the example. They must heed government orders and get back to their desks immediately.
No one doubts the high esteem in which David Dimbleby and Andrew Marr are held at the BBC. So when these doyens of public broadcasting both say the days of the licence fee are numbered, they should be listened to. The sooner corporation bosses remove their heads from the sand, the better for the BBC – and for Britain.