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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 10:42 GMT
Pre-Budget report: Your reaction?
Chancellor Gordon Brown has unveiled his pre-Budget report to the House of Commons, announcing a significant increase in spending on the NHS in future years.
Saying he was "cautiously optimistic" for the British economy despite uncertain times ahead, the chancellor used his pre-Budget speech to announce an extra £1bn for the health service next year, committing the government to a "world class", publicly-funded healthcare system.
Mr Brown said he believed the economy would grow at 2.25% this year, compared with his estimate earlier this year of 2.25% to 2.75% growth.
Among other measures announced were a £100m boost for new equipment for the armed forces to pay for extra costs from the war on terrorism, plus £20m for the intelligence services.
What is your reaction to the chancellor's pre-Budget speech? Do you think the government is now on course to deliver on its economic promises?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
David Hazel, UK
As a radical and politically high-risk solution, why not offer people who currently pay BUPA/PPP etc a large amount of money for private care the option of paying that to the NHS. In return the NHS could guarantee those people a higher level of service and no waiting - exactly as BUPA provides.
People say they don't want a 2-tier health service - but wake up we already have it. The one for poor people is the NHS and the one for the rich is called BUPA. As a comparison, we have a 2 tier football sport - but at least the upper tier does a little to help the lower tier - as we have seen over the last few months.
I am glad these people who are advocating paying more tax think they can afford it. I am a carer at home looking after my severely handicapped daughter. We don't want hand outs but since this government has been in power they have taken away all married tax relief all of the tax relief my husband used to get for my daughter and myself he is now taxed at the same rate a single man is. He is however taxed heavily on the private healthcare that his company provides I think asking people to pay more tax is an insult beyond belief, Our income has dropped dramatically since Labour got in power, Socialist my eye,
Tax premiership footballers - they earn obscene amounts of money to kick a bag of air around a patch of grass....
If around 8% of GDP has been spent on the NHS over the past few years during what is generally viewed as a positive and buoyant economy with (as the Government tell us) very low unemployment and presumably good tax receipts, how does the Government explain:
I belong to a private organisation that provides medical care, consultations and operations should the NHS fail me. This costs approximately £50 a year. Or £1 a week. This taking out additional private medical care is (I believe) a common practise in Europe.
So presuming 60 million people in the UK, this extra care to bring the NHS in line would cost £3 billion extra a year. Are you willing to pay the extra tax or do you want to pay 'top up' private insurance? Or do you want to put up with the NHS (which is good in parts) but still has a lot of failings.
Volker, England (ex Germany)
I heard you read out an email this morning regarding paying more tax for an improved NHS, the email was from a young lady who said that she should not have to pay for the NHS as she had her own private cover. This is a sad reflection on today's society where a money, shares, greed and a lack of morality have devalued the fact that we should care for others not just ourselves. It could be her mother, sister, neighbour, even herself later in life, or more importantly a complete stranger that needs the NHS. We should not give up on the NHS even if it does mean paying more tax (at least it will be a direct tax). And no, I do not have plenty of money, I just care about others.
If I am to be forced to pay higher taxes to shore up the NHS how can I be sure that the money will go the service, or will the money go the same way as the road fund licence money? I hope that this is not just another means to pave Blair's yellow brick road to his presidency.
The failures of the NHS that we read about in the newspapers are rarely directly about money. There are appalling mistakes due to the inattention of doctors, there are constant rescheduling of urgent operations due to mistakes in allocating resources. There are deaths due to errors in using equipment, such as giving patients nitrogen instead of oxygen, not to mention constant errors in cancer testing. And of course there are scandals such as organ-stripping.
Throwing money at the problem won't solve a single one of these issues. The only thing that will fix things is a complete change in attitudes inside the NHS and the medical profession in general. Doctors and surgeons have to start accepting that they make the same errors as the rest of us, and then they must install tests and checks to catch errors. At the moment, doctors behave as though they make no errors, and so when they do, and there are no checks, the results are usually catastrophic. Gordon Brown thinks money will help, but the truth is that money is the only tool he has, and yet it is not the right tool for the job.
Adam Taylor, UK
Can someone work out how much the average family with one smoker, a car & a middle income already pays in direct & indirect taxation ie. Tax, NI, VAT, Community Tax, Road Tax etc. Just how much tax do the government get from us already?
Getting rid of stamp duty in deprived areas will not help the poor. All that will happen is house prices (and consequently rents) in these areas will rise as people from outside move in induced by the lower costs of buying there. Eventually no one will gain as the house prices will increase to compensate for the fact that people can afford to pay more. An ill conceived idea (like most of labours ideas)
I'd be happy to pay more into the NHS through my taxes... but I'm a nurse. We need decent salaries to recruit more nurses and retain the ones we've got. Will WE be paying more tax to improve our own working conditions?
Roger Hart, Deal, UK
In response to recent comments regarding there being a sea change within the NHS, this has been happening recently. When in his teens, my 51 year old husband broke his toes and was offered amputation, which he declined. Last November, after years of pain and discomfort, he was admitted as a day case to have his toes straightened and it has been a complete success. Let more money be spent on day case surgery and ways of utilising resources most effectively. One final comment, who paid for the training of doctors within the private sector? The taxpayer!
Dr Andrew Kitching, UK
Wow... the military are getting more money to fight terrorism! Might I suggest that they use some of it to feed and clothe the soldiers. As it is now, we have to buy our own kit, buy our own food... In Oman they wouldn¿t supply us with desert boots as it was not legally summer in UK! We had to buy our own. Some of the soldiers who couldn¿t get them suffered the misfortune of melted boots! This government needs to take a close look at how they treat the people of the military.
I really get fed up of the British complaining all the time about this when in actual fact they don't realise how good they've got it in the grand scheme of things. For pity's sake, stop your whinging.
Kevin, United Kingdom
I am a Canadian living in the UK and support G. Brown's idea of raising taxes in order to support public services. The UK already has been voted to have the worst in public transport and health services so where do the people think the money comes from? Of course, taxes - that is how other countries do it! Canada, Sweden, Switzerland etc all have high taxes, great standard of living and great public services.
I pay £11k a year in Income Tax which is fair tax for what I gross but I do not consider myself lucky to earn that amount because I have the intellect and purpose work hard to achieve, so don't belittle people who earn the country's wealth.
Dave Hitch, England
I am very confused - what happened to Education, Education, Education?
I wish people would stop the "eat the rich" chant. It isn't a privilege. We work hard and long hours for our money.
How much healthcare could you buy for a grand? You should find out, because that's what you're already paying on average via taxes (£54bn expenditure on health last year).
Kate Gould, UK
Lynne - I would give up Child Benefit provided that my partner's tax code could be added to my own, as she cares for our children. We would be better off if we both worked and my earnings were split between us. This will never happen because the government is not interested unless you have an income and can generate tax. Therefore as long as I pay into the system, I will take everything I am entitled to!
Abolish Child Benefit. People on low income benefits would not be any worse off as they are means tested anyway. People just above the benefit level would become eligible. This would mean that the likes of Cherie Blair would no longer be eligible - and why should she be? Put the money for Child Benefit directly into the education system and stop handing cash to the well off. People having children should take the responsibility for looking after them.
Sam Archer, Boston, USA/UK
I want to pay taxes for the NHS. I don't want to pay taxes to support American armed forces whenever they decide to go tramping on foreign powers. And I don't want to pay for the Royal Family for that matter. Can't we become the best at providing public service and not be the poor man of Europe? One of the greatest achievements of this nation was not its militaristic past but the provision of the NHS. Will we be remembered as the generation that lost it? I want a fair and equitable Britain that provides decent public services. Let's concentrate on our internal infrastructure, education, health, and transport.
Increasing road tax is only a temporary solution to raise money for public transport. If people did indeed begin to take trains and buses instead of cars, then the revenue from road tax would decrease, just as the running costs of public transport increase. There needs to be another source as well. As for stealth taxes, they are nothing but fashionable buzzwords used by people who would rather not pay too much tax on their already sufficient incomes. The government does not deceive us on this issue. If they tell us about the taxes, how can they be stealthy?
Phil Wade, England
We have heard this all before from Gordon Brown. We have been paying extra taxes for the last four years, so when will Labour finally fulfil its pledges?
Every penny spent on the NHS is money down the drain - par for the course for this government.
The chancellor has repeatedly failed to do anything to help the disabled. Labour is no longer a party for the normal person. It no longer even attempts to protect the weak and disadvantaged. The government only wants to help its friends in big business.
Once again Labour wants to tax us more while giving us less, what a surprise. When are we going to have a real democratic party in power?
Roger Thompson, UK
In America, taxes are low, the rich are very rich and the poor are very poor. In Europe taxes are high and everybody is well off - what does that suggest we should do?
I'm not hugely familiar with all the ins and outs of British finances, but I think the fact that the chancellor opened the debate, and seemed to welcome it, is a sign of a really strong group of people who aren't afraid to enter the arena of ideas with an open mind. Bravo.
John, Reading, UK
To John of Reading, UK, have you not been watching the news? Keynes is back - it's official. Just look at the state intervention we are witnessing both in the UK and over here in the US. To pick but one example, the US airline industry, faced with ever mounting losses, turns not to the market but to dear old "nanny state" for assistance. Gordon Brown, for his bit, has always recognised the value of sensible state intervention and today is just one more example of that.
I applaud the chancellor's efforts to assist older people and to increase NHS spending, but it's still not enough. Once again those in receipt of an incapacity allowance have been overlooked. It is not generally known that they have to pay towards rent and council tax, for their prescriptions, but also full rate for public transport and so on.
Come on Mr Brown, what about some consideration for this forgotten group of people?
Has Gordon Brown ever used the word disabled in the last five years?
So, no perks for single non-pensioners again then? While falling interest rates have helped younger people who have mortgages, they have been a disaster for people who have worked hard to pay off a mortgage and who are trying to live off income from savings. The chancellor should recognise this and act accordingly.
M Ward, UK
Looks like the British might just be waking up to the fact that our so-called health service is a disgrace. But still the socialists will not accept that a monolithic state monopoly was not successful in the Soviet Union and it's not very good at delivering healthcare. Still at least the Brits can pat themselves on the back for providing everyone the same level of service - what a joke! Well, if they keep voting for socialists that's the service they'll get.
I am very pleased to see those on the right are finally voicing the ideas that they have thought in private for over 20 years - more expenditure on healthcare either through patient charges or insurance premiums will yield the right quantity of service (that which people are actually prepared to pay for, rather than what Gordon Brown tells them is good for them). I seem to remember coming to this view about 15 years ago. It was pretty obvious really. Why won't politicians catch up?
Stop paying those that make no serious effort to find work, or keep it once found, regardless of whether or not they have children or other commitments. If they really cared for their young, they would go out and get a job. I am sick to death of seeing young single mothers and hoards of young men hanging around the town while I slave away earning their "pocket money" for them. They should perform council contracted tasks for their pay with supervised job hunting sessions and interviews every week before and soon after employment to satisfy the government, and the money saved could go into business funds.
The government has not told us what the NHS will cost now making it difficult to assess what difference the addition of £1bn will make. Judging by past experience one would conclude "not much".
NI was originally brought in to ensure that we would all have a pension, healthcare and benefits if needed. So those who have private pensions and health cover and do not take benefits should not have to pay for NI since it does not do anything for us! It causes much anger and bitterness. Either we should not have to pay NI if we make our own provisions or it should be scrapped altogether with income tax slightly increased. Also, the tax system should be more accountable to reassure people rather than going into one large pot with us having any idea where it really ends up going. For example it should be stated that 10 percent will definitely go to the NHS and 10 percent to education.
Simon Ferrigno, UK
When are some people going to wake up and realise that heavy taxation on high earners does not work. This was tried before and resulted in a brain drain as they all took their skills abroad. And no I am not a high earner, just realistic.
The only way to ensure a fair budget that helps most people is by taxing the very high-income earners, high profit companies and share holders. This is where the main bulk of the tax should be obtained. If a wealth redistribution policy was implemented the monies gained could be invested into sustainable and fair transport, health, education, childcare etc.. The outcome would be the majority of UK's population might actually enjoy living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
If interest on savings is to continue to be
taxed, only tax on interest after inflation
has been taken into account
should be payable. Capitol gains tax allows
people to take account of inflation,
so why can't inflation be taken into
account when savings are taxed?
Mick Deal, UK
My wife and I have 2 children under the age of three. My wife is a fully qualified and experienced primary school teacher and desperately would like to return to the workplace. However, the cost of full time child care for 2 children would amount to over £1000 per month in the area that we live. The only option we now have is for my wife to stay home, her teaching skills wasted (when there is a national shortage), and the government being worse off from her not paying tax. Gordon Brown's solution - reduce childcare allowance! An insane solution for an insane world!!!
I would like to see the government stop using the drivers of the UK as an easy way to generate revenue.
After all, do you think 75% tax on petrol is fair?
Reduce Petrol Tax Now!
Either that, or make it cheaper for people to get their cars converted to use alternate fuels. Currently they only allow cars that are less than a year old and less than 20,000 miles on the clock have a grant towards conversion to LPG.
Paul R, Wales
Abolish the anomalous ceiling on NI contributions. VAT on private health insurance and private school fees. 90% income tax rate for income over 100,000 per annum. Restoration of maintenance grants and abolition of tuition fees for students. Phased restoration of expenditure on the health service to its former percentage of GDP.
I would like to see the raising of the stamp duty threshold from the present £60,000 to a more realistic figure of about £125,000+ and at the same time raise the amount from 1% to 2%. This would mean that the lower end of the housing market prices like in the North of England would benefit, while the "Upper Class" of society would pay extra for the privilege of buying their "Mansions".
I would also like to see a massive increase on the tax on tobacco products
How about more money for the NHS? And for once I don't mean doctors and nurses, thousands of other people work for the health service, clerks, secretaries, cleaners and the rest. I'm a web designer for West Sussex Health Authority and I'm paid about six thousand pounds less than I would in the private sector. Is that right? It's no wonder the NHS needs skilled workers, everyone needs a decent wage, and the government spends far too much time thinking about these so called "front-line" staff and no time at all on the other people who keep the wheels rolling.
A simplification of the tax system. One simple income tax and nothing else. That way we know what we are paying, with no room for stealth taxes and less of a burden on businesses and individuals wrestling with complex rule systems.
The government should seriously consider repealing IR35. Small businesses employ 98% of the working population, yet how can the UK economy grow, if all small businesses and entrepreneurs are taxed to death. We want to grow our companies and employ people.
The measures included are so short sighted that within a few years the enterprising culture within this country will be completely diminished. Well done Tony!
I would like to see some sort of sliding, realistic National Insurance contributions. For example, if one has private medical insurance (non-company), the NI charge should be less, etc. Better still, scrap National Insurance and be more realistic about what it is - a tax.
K Sadler, UK
Reduction of the tax burden on the high earners that generate this countries income. Increase taxes on motoring to get the numbers of cars down. Close the loopholes that allow shirkers to live off welfare. Bring back tax relief on mortgages for the benefit of those that bother to buy their own homes. Massive increase in tax on tobacco. Bigger tax relief for couples where on partner stays at home to bring up the children.
How about a tax break for single employed people with no offspring? Surely we have less of an impact on the services that taxes pay for. Also, if the government is serious about tobacco use, ban it. Stop messing about hammering people addicted to nicotine.
As a tax accountant and someone who trains people in tax I would like to see the government stop introducing gimmicky tax breaks or increases for the sake of a good headline in the newspaper while the tax system becomes more and more unnecessarily complicated.
Surely it is time to end the outdated stamp duty when buying shares, especially as increasing numbers of people use electronic brokers. Even a token gesture to reduce stamp duty from 0.5% to 0.25% for pure electronic trades would be welcome. Come into the 21st century Gordon, paper certificates are a thing of the past!!
I would like to see something done for all those people who choose not to marry or have children and who, up until now, have been paying out and not receiving anything in return.
I would like some honesty. If it's now prudent and wise for the Chancellor to raise money in the city, then why can't new hospitals and schools be funded in the same way? If it's okay in 2003 to raise National Insurance to pay for the running of our crippled hospitals and schools, then why wasn't right to do so in 1997 and 2000? Never was prudence so dear!
My wife and I are both in our 40,s and chose not to have children. We are both fed up with paying more and more tax to support those who choose to have children, with all the allowances that families receive. We would like to see more money in our pockets for a change.
How about lowering employers NI contributions for those companies employing people over 50.So we can start to attack this stupid age discrimination policy in our society. So much knowledge and experience going to waste, its nothing short of criminal.
Time to stop pandering to the middle class and start pandering to the UK as a whole
Chris Barnett, UK in Germany
Things I would like to see are an increase to the tax on cigarettes to offset a drop in the tax on wines, beers and spirits. I would like to see some sort of benefit for childless single people (regardless of gender) as we seem to get forgotten about each budget to cater for family friendly politics. Abolishing tax duty on house purchases (or at least increasing the limit to something more reasonable like £250,000) would help the housing market.
Increase Higher Education funding. This is long overdue, considering
that it's in an appalling financial state at the moment, and the purpose of charging tuition fees was supposed to be to get more money into Higher Education (rather than a substitute for cutting funding elsewhere).
Treble the tax on petrol for personal use, and direct the proceeds to the railways. I'm sick of the amount of traffic on the roads most of it needless.
How about a tax on things that annoy me? People driving with their fog lights on, people getting in my way when Xmas shopping, people who don't vote, excessive packaging, people who don't recycle, millionaires, American tourists...
More money for the armed forces. The government jumps at every opportunity to send the forces into action, but are loathed to provide them with funding for the equipment they need for such operations. If the government is serious about keeping the UK a major military power (which I sincerely hope they are) then they must be prepared to invest in the armed forces.
I would like to see our financial services industry put on a level footing with its' competitors by the abolition of stamp duty on share dealing.
I would like to see some REAL PLANNING based on a REAL STRATEGY and then some REAL BENEFITS from the taxes that we pay. Telling us about how much they have got to spend does not get the job done and benefits no-one except the egos of the politicians. We voted for you to get the job done - we can vote you out just as quickly.
Richard N, UK
What would I like to see? Ideally the government making a firm choice between European levels of public services and taxation or American levels, and the British public accepting the fact that you cannot have US taxes and European public services.
The current Government sees that increased taxation is a good thing. There is the astonishing arrogance with this particular government that means they are more interested in pushing forward their own personal philosophy than they are of empowering individuals and giving back their money. What is it with these people who wish to control more than they wish to empower? Taxation is supposed to benefit all, not just the few!!!
Jason, Manchester, England
A repeal of IR35 would enable me to employ someone. Not all IT contractors just take the money as dividends - some of us are trying to run and grow a business!
Abolition of tax on savings income to compensate pensioners and other savers for falling share values and interest rates. Simplification of tax regulations, particularly capital gains tax which no human being can actually understand at the moment. Abolition of income tax for the poorest households, by raising the minimum threshold to a subsistence level. Abolition of National Insurance contributions, which are now a farce and should be replaced by higher income tax rates instead. Removal of excessive burdens on small businesses, particularly IR35 and the working time directive. And best of all, a simple, unambiguous report, devoid of spin, that does not have to be read a dozen times between the lines before anybody can understand what it says.
He should also resist the temptation to splurge large dollops of cash at the Health service. Sure it needs extra money, but it needs reform and proper management much more. Another recent report said that we waste up to 10 billion in the NHS every year!! This is a disgrace and must be addressed before we throw more good money after bad. Raising taxes and pulling the rug from under consumers who are propping up the economy with their spending would not be a good idea! A strong economy is the best way to get more tax revenue, not an economy weakened by tax rises!
When will any government realise that increasing spending may look very good, but actually achieves nothing? There is already plenty of money going to the various sectors, such as health and education. The problem is simply that they throw most of it away. The level of waste and misuse is amazing. Reduce this and make them more efficient and more money will not be required. This would be good for everyone.
Christopher Laird, Japan
The question is not what the individual wants to see included, but what the government has planned for this country. It's not up to the individual to demand the use of taxation. We voted them in, now let them do their business.
Any chance of the middle-class taxpayers getting to not only keep at least some of our hard-earned cash, but also getting something back for the tax we already pay? I am sick of paying £20k+ in tax and getting nothing back for it.
Wow! I wish I was in John B's "middle class". £20k in tax - what must he earn? I would like to see the upper limit on National Insurance contributions abolished. It seems somewhat unjust that those earning less money have a greater overall "tax burden" all things considered than the rich. I would also (even as a car owner) like to see pollution and congestion charges introduced with the money ring-fenced into a decent PUBLIC transport system run for the public by the public sector - not money-grabbing private companies.
John B, I'm intrigued to know what someone who earns enough to pay £20k+ tax could possibly require from the government? I assume then that you don't use roads or have your rubbish collected?
A lot of people seem to be completely missing the point here. You don't pay tax in order to get services back to the value of what you paid. It's all about contributing towards society as a whole according to your means.
I want to see our country with good basic publics services - health, police, transport and education. Like John B I utterly detest paying tax but I don't mind it going up a couple of percentage points if it is being spent on those things I think are essential.
Secondly the tax and benefits system should not encourage people to sponge. Rather we should all be encouraged and even forced into work. Benefits should be slashed as should taxes on the low paid. Make it both essential and worthwhile for people to enter the job market.
Lastly I would like to see the government come up with a tax system that rewards environmentally friendly persons and companies and batters those that aren't. Similar idea to the benefits system, people should have real incentives to become greener, with huge financial penalties for those that don't.
John B, the whole idea behind paying tax to the state is so that it caters for everyone. There are plenty people either unemployed or too poor to pay tax who benefit from the likes of yourself paying just that tax. Where's your social conscience?
To John B and all others who 'detest paying tax' - sooner or later you will need a nurse to care for you, teachers to educate your children, skilled people to work in the companies whose profits pay for your pension etc. The point it this - you don't live in complete isolation from other people where everything you have is due solely to your hard work and diligence. No, you live in a society and are dependent on other people in every aspect of your life. It is to your benefit as well as theirs that there are good public services, a well-educated and healthy workforce etc. And the only way to pay for it is through taxation. If John B earns enough to pay 20k in tax, he ought to be intelligent enough to grasp this.
Having had a recent experience of the inside of an NHS hospital, I can confirm that it is not just money that is the problem. It is poor management that is pervasive throughout the organisation. For example, the stay in hospital was a day longer than necessary simply because the paperwork had not been done. Multiply this by the thousands of patients in hospital, and you can see why there is trouble. That said, the quality of treatment was excellent - no complaints there. Similar to John B, I am fed up with paying a fortune in tax, and seeing a very large percentage wasted.
David J, UK
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