Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 15:24 GMT
The Budget: Your views
Your Views pre-Budget day
I work in the public sector where we have had our pay increases at below inflation rate for over 5 years. Added to that, I work hard and therefore have a mortgage, I am penalised for that as the Government (and the previous one) considers having a mortgage a luxury, it is a necessity. They should reinstate full MIRAS relief.
Why should I and others pay for teenagers to have more babies, get council houses and have two cars in their driveways, they are not hard up they are scroungers using up our taxes when they should be doing some kind of work to earn their benefits instead of sitting on their backsides all day doing nothing while some of have to work to have a mortgage.
Come on, try and be a bit fairer.
If the chancellor really does mean to give a laptop to every teacher at a cost of four hundred million, it is a waste of money with a vast number of Norfolk schoolchildren taught in huts.
Please don't abolish the Miras tax relief on mortgages. I have just purchased my very first home and without tax relief I will be struggling to afford the monthly repayments.
Make the best of this budget because if Blair has his way and joins the Euro, we won't have the power to do our own budget for much longer, it will all be done by non-elected gravy train persons in Brussels.
I think that tax, National Insurance and benefits should be combined into a single seamless system so that everyone either pays or receives money according to their circumstances. This would save an enormous amount of money in administration. Everyone could fill out something like a tax return and the responses could be fed into a computer database against which the government's "rules" could be run to see who pays/receives what.
Married couple's allowance should only apply to couples with children under 5. Gone are the days, when a wife would give up her job to look after the home and children. Both parties usually work full-time today.
If single mothers feel that they would be worse off financially by working then clearly their benefits are far too high and should be reduced. Why should families who have to work hard and struggle to pay taxes support so-called 'alternative lifestyles? Why should people expect something for nothing?
I have returned to work teaching full time at a university a year after having my daughter. Both myself and my husband teach at a University in the NE of England. My daughter who is 18 months is at a local private nursery full time. My husband and I both have good jobs, however almost half of my own salary (£432/mnth) goes on childcare. I find it very frustrating that no tax relief or some other help is not available for families like us.
Why all the fuss about Child Benefit? Scrap it completely, and give extra money to those who really need it! Nobody should be paid for having a baby - if you can't afford it, don't have one!
Increase the tax on tobacco? The first thing people will do is get in their cars, burn petrol down to Dover and for a tabloid special offer, go to Calais and fill up with tobacco. At that point, we'd only gain money from the smoke from their exhausts. As an ex-smoker, I would have done that.
I come from a rural town, there is very poor public transport, if the petrol prices (which are already higher in the countryside) were raised, then you're crippling a large majority of underpaid voters - your choice.
I disagree with a tax on pet ownership, quite simply because some people would rather abandon their animals than pay this premium! Surely it would be the good owners who ended up being penalised by the introduction of this tax.
Continued petrol tax increases are a real threat to life in the countryside, particularly for the poorer members of the community for whom a car is not a luxury but a lifeline.
If the trend continues I see real problems looming for schools and services in the less populated areas as commuting becomes less of an option.
Gordon Brown's persecution of a small section of the community is deplorable. Smokers are already paying through the nose for their vice, as are drivers and drinkers. Surely it would make more sense to hit the Tobacco companies rather than the people who enjoy smoking as part of their daily routine.
If the Chancellor wants to affect cars and their pollution he should look at women taking to school in their cars. These cars are often taken on short journeys, and exhaust fumes show that they are hardly warmed up, and are at their most inefficient pollution-wise!
These cars often only contain one driver and child, and I predict there are multiple cars from almost next door neighbours.
These are the people to target - not the main car user, and wage earner who now needs to drive to work to earn his family's daily crust.
The Chancellor should either abolish the Married Couples Allowance or extend it to cohabitees and same-sex couples. Why should the taxpayer subsidise breeding?
If you work they tax your pay,
Where a married couple has only one partner in paid employment, the other partner's single person's tax allowance should be transferable to the partner in paid employment so the family reaps the benefit.
This would support families who choose to sacrifice lifestyle & career to bring up their pre-school children - an investment in the country's future.
I work hard for a modest salary, I have two young children and my wife gave up work to look after them. We have bought our house and every year seem that we are being penalised for having "old fashioned standards". We are the ones that cannot afford Satellite TV and expensive holidays that our friends on benefits can. Where is this country going?
Tax the railway operators for ANY delays. In the past 18 months my "success rate" for rail travel has been 3 OK journeys: 3 failures. Thus I have been forced to use the car further polluting the atmosphere and arriving at business meetings late and unduly frustrated!
I've voted labour all my life but the continued attacks on motorists mean I won't be doing so again.
Invest in Education - the average IQ is dropping in the UK and many well educated are going abroad. ALL UK citizens should have a right to further and higher education whatever financial backing they have. The government must encourage this for the country to have a future in a global economy - give the students financial help and not debts, debts and more debts. After all many students pay it all back in taxes once they can start earning.
How about a tax on pet ownership (cats/dogs). This would also help to cover the introduction of pet passports and abolish the cruelty of quarantine.
My view is that it is time that National Insurance and Income Tax were combined. This would vastly reduce the administration required for two taxes that are treated by Government as general taxation, and provide a more accurate value for true levels of taxation. Very rarely do discussions on taxation include National Insurance.
For the long term the Chancellor should consider the following point - money mostly always determines behaviour in the long term. For example if the chancellor raises child benefit this may cause a corresponding increase in child births, and as a consequence of the mechanism that this is directed there will be a similar affect.
Similarly, the chancellor should also consider choice, and freedom of choice. Current thinking is that choice should be given to everyone, even if this means that you remove choice from others by subsidies and therefore higher taxation. Like most people I think that taking from some people to give to others so that they can live the lifestyles they have chosen or through stupidity have found themselves in, is inherently wrong, depriving those people contributing the right to live the lifestyles they would like to choose. The Chancellor has an obligation to keep public spending out of the politics of choice, especially if this entails subsidy.
I understood the current Labour Government to be a supporter of families and marriage. Is reducing the married man's allowance and increasing single parent allowances the right way to be doing this?
The budget should be about family values - higher allowance for MARRIED couples, higher child allowance for children with MARRIED parents. We are fostering a society where marriage doesn't seem to count for anything.
As an economics graduate working in the financial services, I am constantly reminded that people want things to be simple. Yet the government seems determined to make things ever more complicated... ISAs, Stakeholder Pensions, Reform of Car Tax and now it seems likely that we will have a new 10% Income Tax Band - it sounds great, but is it anything more than a gimmick, instigated because of election promises but ill-conceived and causing further complication of the tax system.
Would the government, in its prudence, not consider the best policy to be one of 'simplification'. For example - why bother with ISAs which are far too complicated to be properly understood by many of the people for whom they are designed.
If the government wants to encourage lower-earners to save more, why not abolish tax on interest in Notice Accounts, or introduce a tax-free interest thresh-hold.
Like any economist - I could go on for hours. The point is, at the end of the day, make things simple. A modern, thriving economy is best managed with a simple, yet effective economic regime.
If he's going to cause petrol prices to go up, the Government should at least insure that a decent proportion of money is being spent on the roads (especially with extra money currently in the Treasury).
Re: Petrol Costs
One small point Mr. Brown, I'll just spend my hard earned cash in the forcourt rather that the High Street!
Predictably the masses are being hit yet again with petrol increases. This is unfair when there is no real alternative and no future prospect of a viable public transport system as all the petrol revenue is being spent elsewhere!! We will never abandon our cars unless there is a working alternative for transport so the chancellor holds us to ransom in the meantime.
Attempting to reduce CO2 by taxing road fuel is like trying to lower sea levels by handing out drinking straws. This is because 96.5 per cent of all CO2 emissions are naturally sourced from animal respiration. (Schimel, DS, Global Change Biology, 1995, pages 77 to 91). Of the remaining 3.5 per cent, only 13 per cent comes from cars. So all tax on fuel can ever do is attempt to reduce a maximum of 0.5 per cent of all CO2 output.
Other western economies manage with lower fuel taxes, why can't the UK?
If the government is so keen on people using public transport instead a cars, why do the public transport companies actively discourage people from using public transport (especially the rail companies). I live in Guildford, Surrey. If I want to go to London for the weekend to visit friends or relatives, my partner and I have to get a single ticket for both journeys at a cost of nearly £50. The reason for this is unbelievable, because I live less than 30 miles from London, I can't by a weekend return ticket. The rail company is actually encouraging me to drive into London. So much for public transport!
Sheridan Jones, UK
Why should single none home owners subsidise other peoples' families through MIRAS and married persons tax allowances? Surely the fairest tax allowances should apply not just to those who choose to live their life in one particular way.
As a working Mum, paying astronomical nursery fees out of my taxed income, I'm sick and tired of hearing that Child Benefit should be means tested or taxed.
Children are not a luxury, and the current system of tax allowances makes no account of how many people an individual supports out of his/her income. By all means scrap the Married Couples Allowance and means test Child Benefit, but instead, let's have transferable tax allowances (including an allowance per child).
It seems pretty stupid to pay tax on the one hand, and claim benefit on the other.
I believe that the expected changes to road tax are an unnecessary complication. Surely the scrapping of road tax alongside an increase in petrol tax would make much more sense.
The benefits would include:
This proposal seems to be a simple start to an increasing problem.
Why does the government refuse to consider it?
I work in the public sector, where pay increases have been set at 2-2.5% for the past five years and more.
If the chancellor scraps Miras and the married couples' allowance and raises fuel by up to 15%, what price saving for ones future?
On £75,000 a year and more, you don't have to think twice about what to reduce or stop buying.
Try the same exercise on a third of that income and that's when Budgets really hurt those who see their standards of living diminish.
If the chancellor wants to encourage family life he should raise Miras to encourage home ownership.
He should also give tax concessions to families where there is only one wage-earner and where the second parent stays at home to look after the children.
Successive governments seem to have forgotten about their social responsibilities.
Higher paid people (eg over £52,000pa) should pay higher taxes; this level of earnings is obscene when so many are still in poverty.
If Gordon Brown wants to help the family he should raise mortgage tax relief and married couples' allowance.
To suggest that the chancellor should even consider encouraging 'family life' by financial mechanisms is ludicrous.
Marriage and the decision to have children should be based on love and responsibility, not on economics.
If the government is trying to encourage single mothers in particular back to work, I think that they should give tax relief on nursery fees.
They should also make it easier for them to have time off without feeling guilty when their child is ill - for example by making it a stipulation that if their child is ill then they should not have to use up thier holiday entitlement.
Rename employees' National Insurance contributions as income tax. This is the 10% tax band we all pay already!
I'm fed up of seeing motorists hammered again and again by successive Budgets. Successive chancellors dress up this continual ripping off of motorists as concern for the environment, but the truth is that it is purely done to raise money.
Since building a car produces more pollution than the car will ever make while it is on the road, the solution is to tax the purchase of new cars, not petrol.
I work 50 miles away from where I live, and there is no public transport.
Taxing the motorist is all well and good, but how does it help when there is no alternative available?
I have no objection to tax on fuel if the profits are used for public transport, but the motorist has been an easy target for too long.
Hiking up the tax on petrol seems to be done without any regard to the adverse social effects in rural communities where there is no alternative to the car for transport.
Rural depopulation is a problem which is being ignored. Perhaps the solution is a regionally graded petrol tax - high in cities and lower in rural areas.
As a lone working parent of delightful but expensive teenagers, I'd like some sort of single parents' petrol allowance.
My salary has been frozen for four years, but I live in the country where public transport is poor.
Why are motorists still being penalised for driving, despite oil-prices at a 10-year low
and despite no improvement in public transportation in rural areas?
Trying to encourage more people to use public transport by increasing the petrol price has not really worked.
Why not grant tax relief to commuters for season tickets? Whilst this would cost money initially, it would revitalise the transport industry and provide the incentive to encourage further investment. This would attract more commuters and lead to a better infrastructure.
Why should certain people finance government tax increases more than others? I would like to see zero tax on tobacco petrol and alcohol.
i think that instead of giving all the money to the unemployed and one parent families, you should give more to students - by giving them more of a grant, instead of stopping it.
Instead of punishing drivers, drinkers and smokers, shouldn't the so-called government concentrate on getting the lay-abouts we have in this country to work.
Instead of handing out benefits like confetti, get them to work for it. I am sick and tired of my taxes paying the scroungers to live in luxury.
Now there are so many more dog owners in the country, why doesn't the government bring back the dog license.
It could be brought in at about £25. This would help clear up the mess.
The chancellor should announce better returns for people investing cash in the new ISAs.
After all if 'tax free' is the only incentive, why does he think that new savers will be encouraged to save in ISAs with say a 4% gross return for cash when they wouldn't save when interest rates would have paid 6%net ?
If the chancellor wants to encourage the family then he should raise married couples' tax relief not abolish it.
Secondly, rather than introduce the 10p tax rate to win headlines, he should raise personal tax allowances instead.
The government should allow us all to make our own tax free savings provisions by introducing savings accounts run by traditional institutions like building societies where we can make contributions from our gross income and withdraw those savings at age 60.
This will help reduce the pensions scandals that will still emerge over years to come.
I think the chancellor should look at the childcare system in Belgium.
Latchkey kids don't exist here - a school-age child can be dropped at school from 7am and left until 6pm.
Infants have a similar system and it only costs aboiut £1 per hour. The rest is raised in taxes.
The government must release rural communities from the strangling effect of crippling petrol taxes.
While rural communities are being forced into seclusion by this disastrous policy, urban commuters are still not adopting new means of transport.
The government must, for the good of the country and the environment, reduce petrol taxes and tax road use where alternative transportation is available.
I think that child benefits should be means tested For instance, they should only be paid to those below a certain salary - say £20k per annum.
To encourage people to take out fixed rate mortgages, the government should abolish Miras on variable rate mortgages but retain it on new fixed rate loans.
Gordon Brown should provide a radical overhaul of indirect taxes. For a start, an increase of at least 50p per packet of 20 cigarettes would generate a huge amount of extra revenue because those smoking will continue to do so no matter what the price - to an extent, say £4-5.
He should also consider VAT in much wider areas, the revenue then being used to improve education and the NHS.
VAT on children's books, for instance, may cause an uproar but those shouting would not have bought the books anyway or couldn't afford to in the first place!!!
Petrol prices should rise sharply. There are far too many vehicles on the road.
Petrol prices really need to go up every month.
Pensioners have been hit hard by lower interest rates, which is largely out of the chancellor's control. However, the removal of tax credits are not.
He ought to give them back to the people who worked and fought for country, so they can live without further burden to the state.
The constant increase in petrol prices are ridiculous. As a full time student forced to work unsocial hours in order to top up my grant, it becomes more difficult to pay the increases in petrol duty.
It's not only married couples who are worse off tax-wise. What about the hardworking single parent who will have to pay extra tax from next month too?
It's even harder for those who have a son and/or daughter in college. It seems that no matter how hard you work (especially so in the education field - I am employed by the local university), the more one seems to have to pay out.
I would like to see a Budget that stands behind the family, giving a benefit to married couples where one parent is not working.
The present system encourages both parents to work and could be addressed by a transfer of part of the unused tax allowance to the working parent.
Charge drivers car tax by postcode. Those that live in large urban areas have excellent public transport, while those in rural areas are more dependent on cars.
The extra revenue can be spent on better transport infrastructure.
Reduce the basic 23p rate of income tax and increase the tax-free allowance. This can be financed by the a further reduction of mortgage interest tax relief (Miras).
Increase stamp duty for property over £180,000 and raise tobacco tax by at least 40p.
I think the chancellor should increase taxation on higher earners. Then relieve the worst of this by increasing the band of the lower rate of tax.
This would relieve the risk of price inflation, allowing interest rates to continue to fall, reducing the exchange rate.
On road tax, I would like to see the introduction of motorway and inner-city tolling, and large investment in public transport. This means greater convenience, greater frequency and greater reliability.
As an ex-pat, I am appalled at the demoralising level of taxation in the UK. I wonder how people manage to have any sort of a reasonable standard of living.
I wonder when those in power will realise that the tax burden is stifling the country rather than growing it.
The solution is not to keep piling on yet more taxes, give people a chance to spend what is their own money, not the government's, and the tax revenue will still flow in.
Having read many of your comments. I can't help but feel that (as I have for a long time now) proportional tax is the way to go. Surely it's the only fair way to tax.
As someone mentioned, national insurance is a sham - it all goes in the pot as does our income tax. Replace it all with an across the board percentage.
I for one have been getting more frustrated with the expense of the UK. Tax free havens and less exspensive parts of the world are becoming more inviting.
Don't you think it is about time governments stopped using taxation as a means of social change?
I'm delighted if smokers want to pay for the NHS and die early (thus saving pension costs). They pay more than they cost - lets keep it that way.
People use cars because they find them the best way to get around - what's wrong with that? If car usage is truly nasty - why does (virtually)everyone have one or want one.
If we really must try and shape society through taxes, how about:
What about pumping some well deserved cash into London Transport, Mr Chancellor?
We pay more tax than anywhere else in England and Wales, we are the cash cow and we end up subsidising the rest of the country whilst our needs are completely ignored.
We need a decent transport network if you want to get the cars off the roads and get the workers to work.
When you think about it sir, it makes perfect sense.
Putting up petrol is a stupid way to get people onto public transport.
Until I can catch a bus from outside my house and go direct to work or town when I want why should I give up my car?
Even if petrol was £20 per gallon I would pay that rather than get on a stinking bus where I have to sit next to someone who no doubt will be coughing all over me!
The manner in which private motor vehicles are taxed is entirely wrong and actually promotes the overuse of cars.
Each year, I pay £150 in road tax, a few hundred pounds in insurance and probably about the same again in general maintenance.
These costs are fixed and don't change, whether I do one mile a year or 15,0000. The only variable cost of motoring is petrol (and servicing to a minor extent).
Therefore, once I have incurred the fixed costs of putting my car on the road, why should I use public transport rather than my car?
The bus or train fare probably costs more than the petrol would for the same journey, so there's no saving to be made there. I might as well use my own car, and travel when I want, be warm and listen to the radio etc.
However, if motoring were taxed on a usage basis, it may well be much cheaper to use public transport.
Imagine if car tax was 15p per mile, rather than a flat annual charge - then people would pay more or save, depending on whether they chose to use their cars or public transport.
Having seen the comments about car-related expense, let's grab the bull by the horns - double road fund licences, increase the duty on petrol by at least 10p per litre and introduce tolls on motorways, all to reduce the number of cars.
Allow the road haulage industry 3 years to switch to rail/road transport after which increase taxation relating to lorries to reflect the environmental cost.
Taxable bands on car engine sizes are definitely a way forward.
Single parents should receive full benefits for their first child and for subsequent children half.
Benefit fraud should be dealt with by way of setting up of task forces with the authority to stop benefits for a time limit of 1 year.
Families with combined earnings greater than £70k a year should be made to pay their parents' pension.
Motoring Taxes should be thoroughly overhauled.
The road fund licence should be altered so that small cars, say with engines less than 1.3l, are free, average sized cars stay at the same level, and large engined cars pay proportionally more.
I also believe that taxing company parking spaces in city centres where real public transport alternatives exist is a step in the right direction.
The inflation plus 6% on fuel is theoretically a good idea, but realistic alternatives need to be presented.
Cycling should be encouraged. Cycle lanes which don't stop and start for no reason would be nice, and parking on them should be punished in draconian ways - I would suggest automatic towing - but funding should be made available for the improvement of cycle lanes all over the country.
New Road Building should be all but stopped, but the current infrastructure is crying out for some investment, and should get it. Maintain and replace.
Hiking up petrol prices, without any decent public transport, UK wide is just hurting people!! The only thing it's helping is the governments cash flow!!
The next Budget will be like the past two Budgets, in that it will be concerned with making the headlines.
The tax burden will increase and the prime minister, along with some of his cabinet colleagues will continue to 'bury their heads in the sand' and refuse to accept the British economy is on the verge of recession.
All this whilst the British people are being hit by tax after tax. Car drivers are being hit the worst, this Budget should relax some of the burdens placed on car owners.
It is time for this government to wake up and start living in the real world.
You need to come to Ireland where income tax is at 27% for low paid and 46% for others.
Increase the tax threshold by £1,000 to help those on low incomes.
I'm absolutely fed up with the insidious cumulative changes and increases in tax. Last year I bought a house, a newer car and am looking forward to getting my first ever share option.
I'm now faced with the dropping of married couples tax allowance, possible abolition of mortgage tax relief, doubling of car tax, increase in insurance tax and the lowering of CGT allowances.
All the revenue from road tax should be spent on road infrastructure rather than the 8% now.
The chancellor should put 1p on the basic rate of tax and be done with it or go for a flat rate at say 10%. The amount of money saved in paperwork
and beaurocracy trying to collect taxes now would be enormous.
Now is the time for a 10% flat tax". It's time to get rid of the old income tax system.
I feel that the Labour Government's 10% income tax level is a pipedream, I believe that it was purely a ploy used by them to get into government.
I believe that they will wait until the last minute before the general election and then anounce its introduction, should they get back into power.
God help us all.
1) Abandon the name 'National Insurance' and collect it through taxation - no point in fooling ourselves that our NI payments go to the NHS or Pensions.