A radical revision
I am prompted to write a response to the letter from Hugh Rogers (WEP January 21).
Your correspondent called for a root and branch revision of health provision in the UK.
I would like to do what he did not do...to imagine such a radical revision.
The biggest objection to VAT has always been that it is such a regressive tax.
Idealists would have it scrapped overnight.
However, that would be a mighty tall order.
Perhaps it would be better to think that it may be possible to justify a regressive tax in the right circumstances. Look at like this. Everybody potentially needs health care at some time. Trying to predict who, when, or how much care will be needed, is like trying to forecast a lottery result.
Most people would agree that it would be wiser to be insured, in case your number comes up and you then need a lot of expensive medical treatment.
The higher the number of people in membership of the same insurance scheme, the further the risks are spread, and the more cost effective it will be to insure each individual.
That’s the basic case for the NHS, which the overall majority of people find compelling.
My suggestion is let’s ring- fence VAT.
Let’s make it pay, not just for the NHS, let’s make it cover the cost of provision of all public services.
Let’s call it PBT – Public Benefits Tax.
Abolish the council tax and business rates, and let both be replaced by PBT.
As the number of people living in the UK rises, two other things will rise, the demand for public services and the revenues raised from PBT, precisely because it would be a regressive tax.
I understand it will be very easy for others to pick holes in my suggestion and that many will.
However, I am not about being prescriptive.
Rather, I am about launching ideas that perhaps other people could develop.
People spend their money in whatever ways it suits them to.
Generally, other people don’t have problems with that.
Lots and lots of people are happy to have taxes taken from them to pay for the NHS. Exceptions include people like your correspondent. Because he disagrees with it, he thinks it ought to be stopped for everybody else.
He must be hoping that he will never have an accident, that he will never be ill and that one day, in his old age, he will expire peacefully in his sleep. They’re sweet dreams, for the enjoyment of the short-sighted.
For everybody else we need a viable NHS, free at the point of need and adequately and fairly funded.
Coun Michael McLoughlin
Wigan Central Ward
Selling off the NHS?
Trump is a businessman and the fact he is now President of the US is not going to change that. As the US economy is three times larger than that of the UK, but the same size as the EU economy, the UK will not get a better deal than the US would be willing to give the EU.
So to get that “extra special” deal with the Trump administration, the UK is going to have to give something special, something the EU could not offer – perhaps privatisation of parts of the NHS? Maybe “special relationship” means giving opportunities to US businesses to exploit our NHS. Trump seems willing to start trade wars to benefit the US and as the EU will be weaker without the UK, that will be an advantage for the US. So if Trump gets his way, the US will be better able to exploit the rest of the world.
Bill Greene via email