The budget is on 15th March 2023 and it is traditional for the government to leak various silly stories about budget measures beforehand. This tactic works up the media into a massive froth about things that were never serious in the first place, and serves to draw fire away from the things that the government really wants to do. And it may even keep some of those awful Hancock stories out of the papers too.
Here are some of the silly stories about the budget that you can expect to read over the next ten days:
A tax on social media posts
Taxes are always levied on things that we like, such as beer, fags, chocolate, windows, salt and working. So taxing social media posts is a no-brainer. A levy of 1p on each post would raise enough to buy Belgium, Bolivia and Bulgaria. Or we could give nurses a pay rise. Old Tory voters will love this tax but anyone younger than 70 will not be keen
The pasty tax and the caravan tax
These have already been tried and failed. That’s why George Osborne isn’t a politician any more. But some journo will try to pretend that the government will have another go.
ISA saving limit raised to £10m
Saving is supposedly a good thing (not sure who for with inflation at twenty-fifty-umpty percent). So raising the savings limit looks like a good thing. But the benefit here only really works for anyone looking to save a spare £10m. So this measure is more likely than some of the others.
A market in National insurance
At present you can only get National Insurance from the government, a notoriously inefficient, overmanned and bureaucratic organisation. Creating a market for private sector national insurance providers would bring in a valuable element of competition and make taxable profits for them. Workers will have the joy of finding cheaper providers using Moneysupermeerkat.com or Extremelyconfused.com.
Everyone to be on an apprenticeship by 2050
A plausible budget measure, especially as it kicks the can so far down the road that no-one will ever believe it. The government may have some difficulty in explaining why this would be a good thing.
Government to stop making payments by cheque by 2050
Tax rebate? Paid by cheque. And your nearest bank branch is now in the next county so you’ll never be able to pay it in. Road tax refund? Cheque. Premium bond win? Cheque. Making payments by those new fangled bank transfer things is a good policy aspiration, but government won’t provide the money to change the current systems, so it’s never going to happen. Not even by 2050.
Dog and cat licences introduced
Although we are allegedly a nation of pet lovers, this would be very unpopular. The government’s logic will be that pet owners are not paying for the cost of accidents caused by wayward cats, or for treating postal workers bitten by dogs. The government will argue that an annual licence fee of, say, £100, is immaterial given the lifetime cost of owning a cat or dog of around £25k. But pet owners will disagree. Expect to see TV footage of prospective candidates being chased off the doorstep by big dogs or scary cats.
If you see any of these silly budget stories appearing in the media, then you read it here first!
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