When governments look the other way

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HERE’s what all governments’ financial policy does:

It over-taxes, over-borrows and massively overspends.

It shields and rewards the irresponsible and profligate.

It taxes endeavour, inventiveness and sheer hard work and directs the resulting taxes to the idle and the financially irresponsible.

It punishes investors and savers with high inflation and low interest rates in order to placate irresponsible borrowers.

And then it pretends all of the above doesn’t happen!

Bernard Darbyshire, via email

School meals getting better

As the head of a school catering firm, I believe that Jamie Oliver’s recent attack on Education Secretary Michael Gove over school food could lead the public to believe that not much progress has been made in improving nutritional standards.

I’m a huge fan of what Jamie has achieved, and continues to achieve in raising awareness of the need for better standards of school food.

But I’m also worried this current debate ignores the high standards being set in our school restaurants.

We are making tremendous strides, offering wide choices of delicious, nutritious food which have tripled and quadrupled uptakes of school dinners. Can’t these kinds of achievements occasionally share the spotlight?

I welcome MP Zac Goldsmith’s early day motion to make government guidelines mandatory in all academies, with the added suggestion that successful academy kitchens could be used as models to help inform future legislation.

Steve Quinn, MD, Cucina Restaurants, via email

Undermining our historic buildings

A coalition of organisations has written to the Chancellor urging him not impose a 20% increase in VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings.

Seventeen organisations, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and the Royal Institute of British Architects, have signed a letter describing the disruption the budget measure is already causing to planned projects and the threat it poses to the future of the UK’s historic buildings.

All the organisations feel strongly opposed to the Government’s decision to remove the zero rate of VAT on approved alterations to listed buildings, because it makes it so much harder to give them a sustainable future.

Sympathetic alterations are needed to ensure our historic buildings continue to be of social, cultural and economic value.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t underestimate the role these buildings play when it comes to supporting our local economies. Heritage tourism contributes more than £20bn a year to the UK economy, supporting almost half a million jobs

We all saw recent figures showing a decline in construction sector output helped drag the economy back into recession in the first quarter of 2012.

So it is difficult to understand why the Government is taking a decision that will lead to a further fall in construction activity.

The Treasury has acknowledged this increase in VAT will have an adverse effect on the construction industry. Under EU law, once the zero rate of VAT has been removed it cannot be reinstated. Therefore, we are urging the Government to reconsider its decision.

Brian Berry,

chief executive, Federation of Master Builders