I’m not a great one for politics or politicians, even though my late grandfather was one, God rest his soul. But I’m getting a bit fed up with the way the government and its media spin keep raising people’s frugal hopes only to dash them again.
Is it me or do we keep being tantalised by the hint that something good is going to happen, that people who are struggling will receive a windfall, only to find out that this is hogwash? OK, so the cynics among us may have second guessed this already, but it’s still a disappointment.
When rumours began to abound that the government was considering a stamp duty holiday to kick-start the housing market, I dared to dream it was true. But when I spotted a unidentified flying object outside my window answering to the name of Piglet, I quickly shook myself out of my reveries. What a lot of codswallop. Alistair Darling et al generate so much revenue from stamp duty on property sales that it’s impossible any major change would be implemented. It was bound to be a little meaningless tinkering, that’s all. And what did they announce this week? Oh yes. Stamp duty is to be suspended for a year for first time buyers on properties between £125,000 and £175,000. Of course, if you live in the South East, South West or Northern Ireland you’ll be lucky to find one. Although, hopefully it may make a difference to those in Scotland, the North, the Midlands and Wales. But it’s hardly going to save the housing market, is it?
Then the story circulated that utility companies would be subject to a gritty windfall tax on profits from soaring energy prices. Oh yes. The money would be diverted to help people struggling to pay their fuel bills. An image of Gordon Brown in green tights aiming a bow and arrow at the Sheriff of Nottingham entered my head. I almost choked on my cereal…
Rumours were that the payments could be as much as £150. Today, of course, we know better. The government, which has been busy talking to the utilities, isn’t considering a windfall tax at all. It’s more interested in getting poor people to lag their lofts instead. Meanwhile dividend payments to lucky shareholders of the six energy majors are thought to have jumped by 19 per cent.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for loft lagging. Or even rat-shaped draught excluders. And as former stock market journalist I have nothing against company shareholders. But cold hard cash in people’s pockets is what’s needed right now. Might I suggest that instead of a windfall tax the government makes companies donate shares to its poorest customers! At least, that way they could make good use of these nice dividend payments.
Have a good weekend xxx Piper
What should be done to help people struggling to pay their energy bills? Do you think a windfall tax on energy companies is the answer? Are the utilities too greedy or are they being unfairly targeted? Leave a comment and let me know.