Following the unpopular but potentially lucrative spare bedroom tax, George Osborne’s latest proposal for a levy on spare change that is just rattling around unused in people’s pockets led to angry scenes in parliament yesterday despite government claims it could bring in to the Exchequer up to 3 billion pounds and 27p this financial year alone.
Opposition leader, Ed Miliband called the proposed tax ‘a pick-pockets’ charter’, a ‘small amounts super sting’ and a ‘nickel-plated copper Con con con’ before settling on the far catchier ‘Coin Tax’. Opposition MPs have been instructed to sew up their trouser pockets in solidarity with anyone who sought to evade the new tax by stashing coppers away in an undeclared piggy-bank.
Under the government proposals, anyone with more than two coins in their wallet, purse or pocket or hidden on-shore in a box under the bed will be required to forfeit 50% of the total amount on demand. The tax will also apply to anyone between the age of 5 and 16 who has a surplus of change in their school satchel or rucksack.
Over 2,500 new HMRC inspectors have been recruited to roam the country and have been being trained to recognise various sounds of rattling and jingling coming from the pocket area. After successfully completing their course, the inspectors are authorised to frisk anyone whose pockets appeared even slightly bulgy, with particular attention being paid to people staggering away from pubs late at night.
But opposition is growing from all sides of the debate. Liberty Director, Shami Chakrabarti, expressed concern that HMRC’s actions threatened to undermine the rights of honest muggers and stalkers, a point dismissed by Whitehall as blatant scaremongering. But on the plus side, the government pointed out, sweat-shops up and down the country are reporting a 70% increase in demand for pocket mufflers and SUBS – padded coin containers which can be hidden by strapping them under bollocks – providing a huge boost to the economy.
The cost of the scheme to the tax-payer, year on year, including recruitment, training, metal detectors and IT infrastructure has been estimated to be in the region of 3 billion pounds and 27p.