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The Budget must address the cost of living – especially for the young

17 March 2014


It is ruinous travelling by train these days. Have you tried it? My advice: don’t. Aside from re-nationalising the railways, the Budget could make some gesture of goodwill to the countless people whose entire earnings are being sucked up by our trains. One pal, who isn’t earning much, is commuting from Hampshire to London. It’s costing him around £450 a month – not much when you consider he probably takes home about £800 after tax. For him, I’d like National Railcards available to all those earning under £22,000. I’d also like off-peak train tickets to be fixed at 2/3rds of peak train ticket prices. Other countries have lower priced train travel – why can’t we? 



Interest rates are bound to rise, which will only bring misery to the young people who have bought property using Help to Buy. So I say scrap it. But we need to reduce the cost of housing. Let’s relax our Byzantine planning laws, and increase building projects. It will take more than one ‘garden city’ to solve the problem.

Cost of Living

There’s a pattern emerging here: life is expensive. Fine. But let’s try to help those at the bottom find a bit more stability (and joy) in their lives. I’d want an income tax cut for those earning under £20,000. 20% down to 15% would work. Plus, how about a lower rate of tax on alcohol bought in pubs, compared to shops, to help encourage spending within local communities?

Youth unemployment

Young people in Britain have borne the brunt of the financial crisis, with a larger proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds now out of work than any other age group. The jobless rate is 4.7% among 35- to 49-year-olds, but nearly 36% among 16- to 17-year-olds. Let’s support the young people of this country with tax breaks for young entrepreneurs. Tax breaks for apprentices and companies that support apprentice schemes would also be helpful. I’d also like to see National Insurance abolished for under-21s

On the evening of Wednesday 19 March 2014, Fraser Nelson, James Forsyth and Andrew Neil will be discussing what George Osborne’s 2014 budget means. Click here to book tickets.

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  • Julian Charles Bray

    POTHOLE FUND £200 million for potholes people!

  • manonthebus

    The easiest way to address the cost of living is to allow the £Sterling to rise by getting the Base Rate up. Petrol is cheaper now than last year because the GBP has appreciated from about $1.55 to 1$1.67. The price of food, unfortunately, is affected more by worldwide demand and shortfalls in supply. Still a higher GBP would still help a bit, I’m sure.

  • Makroon

    The usual self-indulgent claptrap from the ME, ME, ME, NOW, NOW, NOW !!!! generation. Is Lara Prendergast even a real name ?

    • laraprendergast

      It is.

    • La Fold

      Tax breaks for the lowest earners, encouraging apprenticeships by offering companies tax breaks, efforts to increase housing stock to reduce prices (although the market may be fatally skewed much like the Tokyo housing bubble which is well into its second decade now), even the proposal for discounted travel for low earners which we already do for pensioners is pretty reasonable.
      These are nowhere near the self indulgant hypocritical ignorance of say, your average Occupy Wall stree, or Russel Brand.

  • rtj1211

    You need to regulate private rental sectors if you cut tax for those earning under £20k. All that will happen is that landlords will up their rents, so the Government transfers more wealth to them, not the less well-off.

    • Daniel Maris

      This is very true. People can go without a lot of things, they can even cut back substantially on food – but they can’t forego a roof over their heads.

      This is why the current policy of mass immigration and huge population growth is so insane and so pauperising for most people.

    • Dan Grover

      I don’t think rent controls are the solution. The problem here is that demand outstrips supply and this is a problem that’s getting worse and worse. Regulating rents might seem to fix it, but it’s really only solving a symptom, not the problem. The issue with this is that it leads landlords with all the power still, which means they can eek out money in other ways (turning all the rooms into bedrooms, if they aren’t already, not needing to make any improvements to the property as competition for housing will still be rising and their income will have gone down, etc). The real solution is to rebalance the power by increasing the number of homes available by building more. This simultaneously would take people like myself (aged 25, pretty good salary, not a chance of buying a house thanks to the deposit required) out of the rental sector thus reducing competition, but also increase supply even for buy-to-let properties, so demand will fall and supply will rise for rental properties.

      This also has the great bi-product of offering lots of jobs in local communities where new homes are built.

      I think, given the potential profits to be made here, all that needs to be done is, as Lara suggests, setting fire to housing regulations (which were largely set by the post-war Labour government to stop urban sprawl – something we now actually want) and some sort of tax on unused land, to stop a sort of deflationary problem whereby land will always be worth more tomorrow than it is today. If needs be, local taxation reductions can be made to help areas where housebuilding is less likely to occur, thus spreading around a little more the benefits of the job creation and ensuring that the popular areas don’t get massively overcrowded whilst neighbouring towns see decline.

    • manonthebus

      I’m not sure where the connection lies. Rents are affected by supply and demand in the local area, not by the earnings of potential tenants.

  • saffrin

    1) Transport; Nationalise it, both road and rail.
    2) Housing; Kicking illegal immigrants out would solve the problem.
    3) Cost of Living; Raise tax threshold to £15k, cut/end VAT.
    4) Youth unemployment/all unemployment; With contributions based benefit claims only, they’d soon find a job.

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