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MPs from five other parties back Plaid Cymru bill to avoid second dose of ‘hyper-austerity’

15 Nov 2022 6 minute read
Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts. Picture by UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor.

MPs from five other parties have backed a Plaid Cymru MP’s bill aimed at avoiding another dose of “hyper-austerity”.

Liz Saville Roberts’ Tax Reform Commission Bill has been backed by MPs from Labour, the SNP, the Greens, SDLP, and Alliance.

Ahead of Thursday’s Autumn Statement, the party said that “a new era of hyper-austerity is not inevitable” and will outline plans for the establishment of a new commission to examine alternative ways of raising public funds.

Liz Saville Robert said that her party were “debunking” the “phoney economics” pushed by Conservative chancellors who claim that “ordinary people must suffer higher taxes and cuts to public services simply because there is no alternative”.

MPs backing the bill include SNP Shadow Chancellor, Alison Thewliss MP, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP, and Labour’s Clive Lewis MP and Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP.

“Time and again the phoney economics of ‘balancing the books’ have been pushed by Conservative chancellors,” Liz Saville Roberts said.

“We’re told that ordinary people must suffer higher taxes and cuts to public services simply because there is no alternative. Today, Plaid Cymru are debunking that narrative.

“A new era of hyper-austerity is not inevitable. There is another way. Choosing to enact equality is a strategic choice dependent on political and ethical values.”

‘Morally repugnant’

Liz Saville Roberts added that there was “no lack of wealth” in the UK but that it needed to be distributed more evenly.

“The financial wealth held by the richest 1 per cent of households is greater than that held by 80 per cent of the population,” she said.

“When 34 per cent of children in Wales are living in poverty, that is morally repugnant. The UK Government may well have valid reasons to reject different ways of raising money. If they are confident of their own arguments, they would support Plaid Cymru’s Bill today.

“This afternoon, I will present the Tax Reform Bill, which would establish a commission to look at fairer ways of raising taxes in the UK. The commission would examine how to extend National Insurance Contribution rates to income received from investments.

“That could raise an additional £8.6bn every year. Reforming National Insurance so contributions are equalised for higher earners could raise up to £19.7bn. Ending the non-dom tax status could raise more than £3.2bn per year.

“The global norm of profit taxation on oil and gas companies is 70 per cent – in Norway it is 78 per cent. The UK government could choose to give households certainty for when current energy support packages come to an end in April.

“The commission would also look at ways to improve our devolution system so that works for each nation of the UK. Setting our own income tax bands in a way that recognises who profits from what sort of wealth in Wales could provide a more sustainable source of income for Welsh public services.”

Living wage

Yesterday Rishi Sunak said pensioners were “at the forefront of my mind”, in a sign the triple lock could be protected as the Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepare for Thursday’s autumn statement.

The pair are considering imposing up to £60 billion in tax rises and spending cuts in Thursday’s autumn budget, but Mr Sunak hinted they could avoid real-terms cuts on state pensions by increasing them in line with rocketing inflation.

Members of Mr Sunak’s Cabinet including Michael Gove have previously warned against going back on the 2019 manifesto commitment of maintaining the pensions “triple lock” as inflation soars past 10%.

Despite the state of the Treasury’s finances, Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak are expected to increase both pensions and benefits in line with rising prices.

The Times also reported Mr Sunak will announce a significant increase in the national living wage – from £9.50 an hour to around £10.40 – and hand cost-of-living payments to around eight million households on means-tested benefits.

Those on universal credit could receive £650, disability benefit recipients £150 and pensioner households £300 – with some people able to claim all three.

But the energy price guarantee is set to increase from a £2,500 bill for the average home to as much as £3,100 from April, The Times said.

Treasury sources would neither confirm nor deny speculation ahead of Thursday’s statement.

Mr Sunak hinted at keeping the pensions triple lock – which guarantees an increase in line with average earnings, inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher – as he spoke to reporters accompanying him on his trip to the G20 in Bali.

He said: “My track record as Chancellor shows I care very much about those pensioners, particularly when it comes to things like energy and heating because they are especially vulnerable to cold weather.

“That’s why when I announced support earlier this year as Chancellor we made extra provision for pensioners to receive up to £300 alongside their winter fuel payments to help them cope with energy bills over the winter.

“So I am someone who understands the particular challenge of pensioners.

“They will always be at the forefront of my mind.”

He declined to comment on any specifics in the financial statement, but stressed that “we will put fairness and compassion at the heart of all the decisions we make”.

‘Lots we can do’

State pensions and benefits increased by 3.1% this year, after the triple lock was temporarily suspended for a year.

Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss had promised to retain the triple lock during her brief stint at No 10.

Ms Truss had also planned supply side reforms and the liberalisation of planning rules in her quest for economic growth.

Asked whether he will push ahead with those plans, Mr Sunak promised “an approach to planning that ensures that we get homes built in the places that we need them to be built, bring communities along with us on that.

“With regards to supply side reform, I think there’s lots we can do – not just planning, freeports are a good example of that, the labour markets are another opportunity, regulation when it comes to technology and innovation, there’s a bill going through parliament on gene editing, or financial services.”

The Prime Minister and Mr Hunt are considering allowing local authorities to impose larger rises in council tax next year to raise money for social care, among their tax-hiking measures.

Current rules mean local authorities with social care responsibilities must trigger a referendum to increase council tax by more than 2.99%.

The Daily Telegraph reported that figure could increase to allow rises up to 5% without a public vote, something which could result in B and D houses paying £100 a year more, with annual bills topping £2,000.

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Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 year ago

Well done Liz. Much of Tory economic policy isn’t guided by sound economic arguments it is driven by Tory ideology. One of the main reasons why the UK (and unfortunately Welsh) economy is in the mess it is today is because of the first (and ongoing) dose of Tory ideologically pushed austerity. Austerity not only damages peoples lives, employment (full-time) and communities it damages individual and business confidence. It negatively impacts on government tax revenues. Tory austerity is one of the reasons why the UK had a comparatively high Covid19 death rate. The government has a duty of care to… Read more »

1 year ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

Sanctions are a major reason. Keep them in place and Europe won’t drop like a stone, but will sink slowly into the swamp. Perhaps, as a small country, we could organise things in a communal manner, as we still have some sense of community. But we will need a government with a tad more spirit.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago

Ain’t Liz great? She’s landed a big right hook on the Tories’ weak jaw and even though the hate people party will use their big numbers to stamp on this bill, it can be brought back after the next election when the little band of Tory scumbags that are left sitting in the naughty corner of the commons won’t be able to do anything about it.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Don’t jold your breath waiting for that to happen. Such reforms smell of Socialism and the current Leader of the Opposition is not very comfortable with that sort of thing.

1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Too true! I’m on the Right, but feel quite a Lefty listening to his drivel.

1 year ago

A measure gaining support is that of a one-off tax on Millionaires. Primary abodes and Agricultural holdings would be excluded. A tax of 10% on 1 million is £10,000. Such a tax would raise, apparently, £270 billion. That would transform society and set matters straight.For what right thinking millionaire would begrudge a relatively paltry sum in order to live in a settled society?
Also, tax ghe Nom Doms, apparantly that’s worth £10 billion a year

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