It would be foolish to suggest that all is well in relation to how Liz Truss has kicked off her premiership, but she is seeking to curb rising living costs by easing the tax burden on all households, capping the unit price of energy and attracting inward investment and growth with a globally competitive low-tax regime.
These principles in themselves are not negative and a Conservative budget of this type would not come as any surprise to taxpayers prior to the financial crash 14 years ago. The fair criticism would be that there was little supporting evidence published to back up the growth plan and reducing the tax burden specifically for very high earners has the effect of a clanging symbol for those who are ‘just about managing’. However, if these issues can be addressed and, as the pound recovers against the dollar, it is the ‘just about managing’ that should find this budget most helpful.
The PM and the Chancellor believe that they have taken decisive and necessary action and they may be right, but work needs to be done to win over Conservative MPs, influential commentators, investors and ultimately households up and down the country.
Being PM is a very difficult job and Liz seems to have made it even more difficult but I’m of the view that things can and will recover but a little wisdom, maturity and humility from our senior politicians is needed to assist the recovery. However, the thing to remember is that electricity bills for households and businesses are considerably less than many had been anticipating this month due to the action of the PM to cap the unit price of electricity. This has saved businesses in particular from uncontrolled energy price increases and ensured the future of many businesses and millions of jobs. Although attention has been elsewhere, it is difficult to overstate how important this measure is.
It is also the main reason why the value of the pound has fallen against the dollar because wrongly or rightly the Government has signed a blank check for businesses and householders (not knowing exactly how much this measure might cost) and financial markets hate uncertainty when it comes to Treasury policy. The wise move by Government would be to do everything to minimise the cost of this measure by driving up renewable energy production and driving down energy use by making homes more efficient. A rapid plan in this direction would also drive growth and ease our dependence on oil and gas which is the root cause of the inflation pressures we are all subject to.
I’m not at conference and on Monday the low-carbon transport team (of which I am a part) met at St Ives Guild Hall to progress our plans cleaner transport in the town. I also met with the new Business Improvement District team to plan some work in support of local businesses and I’m visiting nursing homes to progress some work to address the delays Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust experience in discharging medically-well patients.