Earlier this week, it was reported that the UK public could expect to face “sweeping tax rises” from 1st April onwards.
Of course, we are told that these measures are necessary to plug the £50 billion fiscal “black hole” left by the mini-budget, as well as to pay back borrowing that was used to fund the furlough scheme
during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Telegraph, the effect of proposed tax rises mean “stealth” increases in income tax and National Insurance over the coming years, by freezing the thresholds at which people start
paying different rates of tax.
And tax increases are not the only measures on the cards. It has also been revealed that the UK Government is currently considering a ratio of 50% tax increases and 50% worth of public spending cuts.
Resolution Foundation estimates that the greatest fiscal impact of possible tax rises and spending cuts could be felt by Health and Social Care, with levies expected to generate around £15 billion for
the UK Treasury.
It is also understood that the UK Government is considering offering public sector workers a 2% pay increase – well short of the 10% rise demanded by NHS workers and teachers to match inflation.
While the UK Government has attempted to stress that tax rises should be shouldered by the wealthiest, they also warn that given the “enormity” of the challenges ahead, the tax burdens will be
borne by everyone.
What this effectively means is that working families and the poorest in the UK will likely bear the greatest brunt of these measures.
This is not only due to families already being squeezed financially by rising energy bills, but also because they are likely to be more reliant on public services.
Indeed, as we have reported in our articles on child poverty and the cost-of-living crisis in recent months, Wales is likely to be the most adversely affected by austerity.
For instance, during a Cost of Living and Food Insecurity Debate in the House of Commons earlier this year, it was revealed that Wales has the highest rates of poverty in the UK, with one in four
people living in poverty.
In another indication of how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting Wales, analysis of Office of National Statistics earlier this year showed that Welsh consumers are paying the highest energy rates in the
UK, despite the fact that at a grand total of 30.2 Terawatt hours, Wales generates more than twice the amount of electricity it consumes and is a net exporter of electricity to the rest of the UK!
However, the fact of the matter is that Wales is inadvertently being punished by decisions made in Westminster and is certainly bearing the brunt of them.
We understand that some of the challenges we face are global, however short-sighted policies by the UK Government mean that we face a more profound energy shortage than other European
countries such as France and Germany who have filled up to 99% of their gas capacity.
And while the UK’s inflation rate is marginally lower than the Eurozone average, it is higher than countries such as Norway, Ireland and Switzerland.
Wales has not elected a Conservative government since 1859, yet Wales is continually subjected to harmful policies that it has not endorsed.
All this demonstrates that Wales has never been a priority for any Westminster Government.
An independent-run Wales would be far more likely to design economic and public policy with Welsh citizens in mind.
This is an article written by Maria Pritchard of Yes Milford Haven and published in the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper on 04.11.2022