Tax offensive selects the wrong target
In recent years we have watched the banking system in Britain and the rest of the world brought to its knees by incompetence and dodgy dealings.
On Monday you reported that the global super-rich are hiding £13 trillion from the tax man. Yesterday you printed an article on the Kay Report, condemning the greed and short-termism of executives in the City.
In the same issue there is “Anger over salary for national police chief”, another on outrage of fire chiefs’ luxury cars and the fact that they were criticised last week by the Accounts Commission because five of the UK’S most expensive services were Scottish.
However, also in Tuesday’s paper, we come to the real reason for all our fiscal and financial problems: joiners, plumbers, gardeners, and so on, have been working for cash in hand. Wow, hanging’s too good for them. Thank God we’ve cracked that problem then.
UK Exchequer Secretary David Gauke describes householders who pay tradesmen in cash as “morally wrong” (your report, 24 July).
I wholeheartedly condemn the cash-in-hand cowboys who undercut legitimate VAT-registered builders and give our industry such a bad name.
But there is a very simple solution to the problem Mr Gauke highlights, namely to cut the rate of VAT payable on building repairs and improvements to 5 per cent.
That would eliminate the competitive advantage of the cash-in-hand cowboys and help drive them out of the industry for good.
It would stimulate the construction industry and encourage home owners and businesses to invest in the measures needed to make our building stock greener and more energy efficient.
Above all, experience from other jurisdictions shows that it would stimulate activity to such an extent that overall VAT revenue to the Treasury would actually go up, reducing the £2 billion deficit it currently suffers through undeclared cash payments. With construction languishing in a second recession, we need more radical solutions to build a recovery.
Cutting VAT on building repairs and maintenance is already supported by the Scottish Government but is reserved to Westminster.
We now need the UK government to act and put this policy into practice.
Scottish Building Federation
So we are no longer to pay in cash. I might stop paying in cash when businesses stop taking money off me for the privilege of using a credit – or even debit – card. I recently took cash with me to the SRU ticket office to pay for season tickets, as I have previously been charged for using a card.
Last week, however, the sum I needed to pay Thomson for an upcoming holiday was more than I wanted to carry with me.
I was horrified to find that I had to pay £55 for the use of my credit card. Does one small transaction really cost the bank that much?
Does the travel agent, rugby club or any other business take a percentage of this fee too?
Maybe government ministers could look into this abuse, instead of making wild statements condemning those of us who are rebelling against extortion.
Newbattle Abbey Crescent
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