“The age of tax cuts for baby boomers is over,” Lord Willetts has told wealthy members of that generation, who have become accustomed to being the Government’s favoured sons and daughters.
The Conservative peer and chair of the Resolution Foundation said that the spiralling cost of health and social care threatens to put the equivalent of 15p on the basic rate of income tax for working age adults.
“Is that kind of tax really the legacy we – a generation who own half the nation’s wealth – want to bequeath our children and grandchildren?” he asked.
No one with a conscience would say yes. But then, his is the generation that served up Brexit, perhaps the biggest kick to the guts by one group of people to another we’ve seen outside of starting wars, while being coddled and cosseted like no other.
The Conservative Party, of which Lord Willetts is part, placed the burden of austerity chiefly upon the young while protecting benefits for the old, who duly delivered for them as they always have.
There are many who respond to this type of argument by declaring that this is only right because they have “paid in” and should get their share. But they haven’t.
They are poised to receive a bumper 20 per cent more in support than they will have contributed in taxes over the course of their lives.
Hence the prospect of eye popping tax bills falling upon their offspring and their offspring’s offspring, which would be immoral even had the latter not seen a scythe applied to the support offered to them, to their economic prospects, to their wages.
I should say here that there many baby boomers who, like Lord Willetts, see this as a problem, are infuriated by the unfairness meted out to the young, and are opposed Brexit too.
Those people might see the solution he proposes as a sensible one: He argues that the balance should be redressed by taxing the wealth of those who can afford to pay via reform of council and inheritance tax.
This would target what has been built up by wealthier home owners through the ponzi scheme of rising house prices. I should declare here that I would be among those affected through being a home owner on the edge of London, so it’s not as if I’m not prepared to practice what I’m preaching here.
Trouble is, whenever anyone in power moots reforming property taxes – the Liberal Democrats have long been proponents of it – the squealing can be heard from Land’s End to John O’Groats and beyond. An example would be when politicians have looked at, for example, revaluing property for the purpose of assessing council tax bands. They’ve tended to take note of the reaction and run away in a hurry.
Politicians know which side their bread is buttered. They’re not the sort of turkeys that vote for Christmas. They also know that turn out is highest amongst the oldest.
It is this that serves to stymie reform despite the looming fiscal crisis forecast by Lord Willetts, whom it should be noted kicked the young with tuition fee rises when he was universities minister.
The young really need to learn to vote. Perhaps the equivalent of 15p on the basic rate of income tax on top of everything else will rile them up sufficiently to do that.