To try and prevent the complete collapse of the British economy after COVID, the government has, quite rightly, spent hundreds of billions of pounds on propping up businesses and preserving jobs. No doubt as lockdown measures continue to harm commerce across the country, the government will be forced to spend more, and in doing so, continue to pile more on top of the UK’s already ballooning national debt.
As we begin to move past the first peak of COVID-19, at least on paper, the main concern of the government must begin to shift from the medical to the fiscal. How do we rebalance the budget? Especially when that government was elected to deliver sweeping changes to the nation’s fiscal practices.
There are three lines upon which a post-COVID budget must be written. One; we are all in this together, everyone must give something, two; some are more affected by this than others as this lockdown has disproportionately harmed some (mostly young people in their last years of education and early careers), and protected others (such as the elderly), a new budget should recognise this, and three; this budget should be conducive with the progressive, pro-enterprise, pro-worker principles of Johnsonite conservatism.
Based on these objectives the government should introduce a Windfall Tax for the next 2-3 years on companies that make a profit during COVID, increase tax on Road Fuels in the UK, increase tax on tobacco products, replace the triple lock on pensions with a flat, inflation-plus model, close tax loopholes for large businesses and increase National Insurance and Income tax by 1-2%.
The government should also seek to press ahead with its promises to “level up” public infrastructure, especially rail networks in the North, and broadband in rural and remote areas.
The government should not, under any circumstances, cut funding for education or the NHS and must take the prospect of a public sector pay freeze off the table.
By implementing and avoiding these policies respectively the government would help to drastically remodel the economy into a greener and healthier model for the general public, whilst placing the greatest tax burden on those who have been protected financially and medically from COVID, and reward those who have given and lost out on the most.
The role of government is one of a great leveller, to make the game of life a fair one where you progress on your own merits and are rewarded for sacrifice to your community and country. That is what these policies do and that is what the government must keep in mind as we move forwards.