What would be your dream budget?

Formally, it is the Spring Statement. But to many facing soaring energy, fuel and food prices – not to mention the National Insurance hike and suspension of the triple lock – it is a budget that could make the difference between being warm or being hungry. Being able to afford a few luxuries or having to skimp on essentials. For some it will mean trips to the food bank.

Much has been written on the spiralling cost of living. Just today, I received a polite note from my home energy provider saying announcing a 42% increase from 1 April. Many people don’t notice the incremental costs when taking items from the supermarket shelves and putting them in the trolley. But they notice with a shock when they get the bill at the till.

Some years back, a budget  statement would have been a secret until the chancellor spoke from the dispatch box. Now, the possible content is leaked slowly to test the political and public mood. Perhaps we will see a cut in fuel duty. Perhaps we will see a rise in the threshold for National Insurance. Perhaps we will see a pasty tax. No, not that!

What would be your dream Spring Statement? Let us know.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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14 Comments

  • A rise in world commodity prices inevitably means that living standards will fall. Some honesty from the Chancellor on this matter would be useful. He should concentrate the funds available on those most in need – for instance by increasing universal credit rates. What he should not do is cut fuel duty. We wish to reduce the burning of hydrocarbons and if possible hit Putin income by reducing his exports of oil. High petrol and diesel prices are useful in reducing demand. Give those most in need a boost in incomes – do not scatter funds indiscriminately by subsidising prices for all.

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Mar '22 - 7:35am

    Buy it’s not indiscriminate. The rich who drive more in fuel hungry cars – a rangerover has a 105 litre tank – will do much better than the small car owners. And much much better than those that can’t afford a car at all. Subsidise the rich Mr Sunak? I note that labour also think a fuel duty cut is a good idea. So much for the party of the working class.

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Mar '22 - 8:39am

    Ps. Actually it would be better to increase fuel duty by 5p. As it would be felt most by the rich, they would be able to avoid it by buying electric cars. This expensive option is not easily available to those on lower incomes (although EVs 2nd hand can be bought for about £5k). The £5Bn or so from the combined impact of the increase and avoided decrease in fuel duty should be targeted to Universal credit claimants and low income groups- and rural motorists, maybe. Or cancel the NI rise.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Mar '22 - 8:50am

    @Jenny Barnes
    “The rich who drive more in fuel hungry cars – a rangerover has a 105 litre tank – will do much better than the small car owners.”

    There are working people who drive ‘fuel hungry’ vehicles – vans etc. for work needs. People working for themselves or for a small business – e.g. plumbers.

    Mightn’t this be a case for increasing vehicle excise duty on some types of vehicle – range rovers being an obvious example (Chelsea tractors)? DVLA should have the relevant data for managing this.

    https://www.theukrules.co.uk/rules/driving/vehicle-tax/ved-tax-rate-tables.html

  • Phil Beesley 23rd Mar '22 - 10:21am

    When charges for “single-use” plastic bags were introduced, I was sceptical. I belong to the minimum waste mindset and “single-use” bags always had multiple other uses for me. I couldn’t see how charges would change behaviour. Why waste a bag? To my surprise, charges worked.

    In the case of unnecessarily fuel-hungry vehicles, owners are already heavily taxed on fuel and vehicle excise duties. The economic logic for switching to a more fuel efficient private car is already pretty clear — or so it would appear rationally. Maybe even higher vehicle excise duties for particular cars might make a difference, but I’m not sure. The economic nudge (remember nudges?) is already far greater than 10p for a carrier bag.

    Other vehicle charges — road usage and town centre/work parking — are ostensibly attractive. I fear they’d work as another middle class handout, primarily benefitting those wealthy enough to buy a government subsidised electric vehicle.

    If there is a sudden move away from fuel-hungry cars, do we scrap nearly all of them? If such cars fall in value and trickle down to lower income owners, should government continue to penalise usage — noting that fuel duty is a high proportion of cost of ownership for people (eg rural owners) who do not experience road usage charges?

  • Jenny Barnes 23rd Mar '22 - 3:18pm

    “There are working people who drive ‘fuel hungry’ vehicles – vans etc. for work needs.”
    A renault Trafic, a typical white work van, does over 45 mpg. Typical range rover gets 25mpg.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Mar '22 - 3:41pm

    @Jenny Barnes
    “A renault Trafic, a typical white work van, does over 45 mpg”
    Is that all?

    “Typical range rover gets 25mpg.”
    And the owner is highly likely to be wealthy enough not to notice or care about the 5p cut in fuel duty announced today. But I haven’t seen on the news anyone impressed with that cut in terms of peoples’ cost of living problems – it isn’t going to make a significant difference to the small van running cost.

  • @Nonconformistradical – Yes the mpg of modern vehicles is depressing, it is perhaps because the focus in recent years has been on emissions to a far greater extent than efficiency and mpg.

    I suspect many of the SUV’s with poor fuel efficiency are actually company owned vehicles, so a way to get these off the road will be to modify the tax breaks on these vehicles making them less attractive for companies to have in their fleets and more expensive for owners.

  • Phil Beesley 24th Mar '22 - 2:55pm

    Roland: “Yes the mpg of modern vehicles is depressing, it is perhaps because the focus in recent years has been on emissions to a far greater extent than efficiency and mpg.”

    Err, mpg is a good measure of efficiency and almost an exact measure of CO2 emissions for a particular type of fuel. For petrol and diesel engine cars, you burn air and chuck out a mucky mess. We are most aware of NOx emissions in relation to car manufacturers made stuff up. Appalling behaviour, and something which distracts us from how urban architecture makes mucky cities less healthy.

    The marketing problem is that manufacturers have reduced cost of ownership (mpg) of rather silly cars. I don’t think that Jenny’s label of Chelsea tractor is helpful, it might appear resentful, but vehicle taxation could be improved.

    Length multiplied by width. How much road or parking space a car occupies. Mass or weight. How much a car damages the road on which it passes. None of these factors are in the current rules.

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Mar '22 - 3:54pm

    Phil “If there is a sudden move away from fuel-hungry cars, do we scrap nearly all of them? ”
    Well, why not. It’s one way of getting green steel.

  • Phil Beesley 24th Mar '22 - 4:49pm

    Jenny Barnes: ‘Phil “If there is a sudden move away from fuel-hungry cars, do we scrap nearly all of them? ”
    Well, why not. It’s one way of getting green steel.’

    Ever since I researched an undergraduate essay in 1982, I have wanted to understand the energy ratio between manufacturing an object and how much productivity it might provide over life time.

    We like to think that we dispose of things optimally when we understand its cost, in monetary or energy terms. Companies are pretty good at determining the cost of running an oven, whatever. Individuals have less information and less analysis.

    I’ve read loads of reports about energy consumed over the life of a car (mostly assuming that you live in the USA), the efficiency of steel and aluminium recycling (insufficient to meet demand), EVs (requiring metals from conflict areas). It is just horrible, disappointing data.

    Based on the reports, I am guessing as much as the “experts”. But smelting cars because Jenny doesn’t like them is a bit daft.

  • @Phil, to illustrate my point, although not to advocate a return to the past…
    The switch to unleaded petrol resulted in a reduction in performance and mpg, the addition of catalytic convertors etc. further reduced performance and mpg. So manufacturers have in some respects done well for the average car to have a similar bhp and mpg to one that ran on 4-star leaded petrol.

    With diesel things are similar, yes CO2 emissions might be the same, but the focus has been on the other emissions (hence AdBlue), which we are getting in larger volumes due to the more efficient and complete combustion now being achieved. [Aside: This is one reason why in urban areas condensing gas boilers are now a significant contributor to air pollution.]

    >how urban architecture makes mucky cities less healthy.
    The blame for that can be placed squarely on the pro-car modernist mindset of the early 1960’s, which still infects planners, although some are beginning to wake up, eg. look at the rationale for the proposed Hertfordshire-Essex Rapid Transit (HERT).

  • Phil Beesley 24th Mar '22 - 7:57pm

    Roland: ‘The switch to unleaded petrol resulted in a reduction in performance and mpg, the addition of catalytic convertors etc. further reduced performance and mpg.’

    The thing about the unleaded petrol campaign is that the campaigners never asked engineers what needed to be done.

    When tetraethyl lead was introduced into petrol, it was observed as a problem. It was observed as a problem in Avgas, aviation fuel for piston powered aircraft. Lead fuel clogged up valves and it has taken a long while to fix Avgas.

    There was so much lead in petrol, such that engines requiring a bit of lead only needed it a third or quarter of the time.

    Fixable.

  • Jenny Barnes 25th Mar '22 - 4:56pm

    @phil ” smelting cars because Jenny doesn’t like them is a bit daft.”
    Well, they use too much space on the road, used far too much material too make, and burn too much fuel. Nothing personal.
    It’s noticeable that the comments have been around whether SUVs should bear more tax – something of a no-brainer in a time of incipient climate disaster one feels – and not around the additional funds that could be supporting the lower paid.

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