Are we at a tipping point? So many troubles are close at hand: Covid still on our doorstep, hot war in Europe, every business, household and family being hit by energy prices, rising taxes, supply chain shortages and higher costs of imports. It can be difficult to remain positive. On the other hand, is this the moment we should do things differently?
The energy price crisis is making us think hard about driving and heating our homes. It is clear, though, that for those with the fewest resources this has become an existential matter. For Ukrainians the choice is “fight or flight”, for the poorest here the equivalent is “eat or heat”. The Spring statement tinkered with the cost-of-living crisis. Smoothing the numbers, playing shops and politics with the various taxes, thresholds, tapers and clawbacks and keeping back a substantial contingency is the modern-day moral equivalent of a combination of “jam tomorrow” and “let them eat cake”. The present challenges are too significant for the marginal changes proposed and warrant more fundamental thinking.
The logic of a windfall tax or a bold cut in VAT remains strong. The former could deliver substantial revenue not subject to the vagaries of future economic performance and which could be used directly to fund a reduction in VAT. This would relieve price pressure across the economy and be felt immediately by everyone. Big companies such as the energy giants invest where they see a good risk/return profile not because they have unexpectedly large surpluses. A windfall tax or the threat of it might even be used to pump prime further renewable energy projects. Whatever happens, the poorest and most vulnerable householders need continuing help now in the face of sky-high energy costs.
The case for a wholesale, properly joined-up review of the Dorset Local Plan is just as strong. There is cogent thinking and wise judgement flowing through the Dorset Deserves Better campaign from Dorset Climate Action Network and Dorset CPRE. Another tipping point in how so such Plans are made?