Jack Lesgrin’s week: Government U-turns on Triple Lock and National Insurance, but still the young lose out

by Jack Lesgrin

Double U-turn on Triple Lock and NI, but not on preferencing old over young 

Last week saw two U-turns by the government. First, they temporarily suspended the Triple Lock for pensioners because of an unusual and statistically anomalous rapid rise in earnings caused by the pandemic.

The second U-turn saw Johnson finally putting meat on the bones of his famous pledge, delivered in his first ever speech as PM in Downing Street in July 2019, to “fix the crisis in social care…with a clear plan we have prepared”. Tuesday’s mini-budget announced a National Insurance-funded Health and Social Care Levy. Note the sentence that preceded this: “My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care.”

The government made the levy apply to some share income and on state pensioners’ income if they continued to work, in an attempt to mitigate criticism that using the National Insurance mechanism makes younger people, by definition of working age, subsidise benefits enjoyed by the elderly.

Yet this was only a fig-leaf, covering the sensitive nether regions of our system of taxation: namely that we have for too long preferred to tax income from work over other forms of income derived from other forms of wealth. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, the excellent Rachel Reeves, eloquently put it thus: “Which types of income will be paying no additional tax after today? They include those who get their income from financial assets, stocks and shares, sales of property, pension income, annuity income, interest income, property rental income and inheritance income… Some 95% of the revenue the government plan to raise from this tax bombshell comes from employment. What a contrast.”

The new NI levy shone a light on electoral demographics that no fig leaf is big enough to obscure. It was no surprise to read YouGov’s snap poll on the day of the announcement that over-65-year-olds supported the government’s reform with 68% in favour and 23% opposed, while 18-24 year-olds opposed it by 26% to 47%.

And it really shouldn’t be any surprise that someone’s age is an important predictor of how they will vote, and that the older you are, the more likely you are to vote Conservative. The House of Commons Library note about the 2019 general election pointed to YouGov research that the chance of someone voting Tory in 2019 increased by nine points with every 10 years of age and Ipsos MORI’s estimation that the Conservatives had a 47-point lead amongst voters aged 65 and above.  The Commons’ research paper also noted the surprisingly unsurprising trend that constituencies with more homeowners were more likely to vote Tory. YouGov themselves said that “age is still the biggest dividing line in British politics”.

It isn’t hard to work out why, then, that a government supported disproportionately by older voters, a group that is by definition more likely to own assets such as property and annuities, would choose NI. More broadly, it is obvious why they continue to eschew a wealth tax, which could, if implemented properly, pay for policies such as social care, and ease the tax burden on the working young.

This column previously called for the Triple Lock for pensioners to be replaced by a Triple Pledge for young people. The greatest political leaders do what is in the national interest, even if this runs contrary to the interests of their party and the bulk of its supporters. They lead rather than follow their parties. Even though young people tend to tilt more towards Labour, it too has been timid in the face of the electoral might of the elderly. It’s time for political leaders to shift their focus from the older to the younger generation. Neither old, nor young should be abandoned, but if we are asking the young to subsidise social care and protect the older generation’s property and ability to bequeath wealth to their children, it is only right that the body politic bequeaths more opportunity, attention and wealth to them.

Afghanistan coverage marred without Marr

Normal service resumed at 9.00 a.m. on Sunday on BBC 1, with the return of the inimitable Andrew Marr. For those like me who grew up on, but grew tired of mainstream broadcast news and even Newsnight, the Marr Show is the one unmissable programme of the week. An hour invested in watching it, over a strong coffee, is worth one hundred hours following the rolling news or immersed in Twitter’s toxic quagmire.

For anyone who cares about UK politics and world affairs, it’s an elixir of perfectly chosen ingredients: Marr’s almost poetic intro to camera, summarising succinctly yet philosophically the previous week’s domestic and global affairs; the paper review that almost removes the need to read the papers; the high calibre guests facing hard-hitting questions delivered without pomposity or self-regard; a healthy dash of culture; and, in the past at least, some live music (please bring this back!).

The show came into its own covering the Brexit debacle, but reached its apex during the pandemic. It routinely featured the leading scientific experts and political commentators from this country and beyond, who, with Marr’s guidance, were able to determine what slight vestiges of clarity and sense that existed amid the collective brain fog brought about by this terrible disease. It was then, and is now, public service broadcasting at its best.

Strange then that the Beeb takes it off the air for the whole summer so that Andy and team can have a holiday. They deserved it, but we Marr-Show-philes, would have benefitted from the show being on air as we witnessed the shameful retreat of the West and with it, of liberal values from Afghanistan.

Here’s a suggestion already mooted in this diary: keep it on air and allow some younger, less famous proto-Marrs (not necessarily male!) to have a crack at presenting the best political programme of the week. That would be another fitting transfer of opportunity from the old (sorry Andy) to the young!

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18 Responses to “Jack Lesgrin’s week: Government U-turns on Triple Lock and National Insurance, but still the young lose out”

  1. A.J. says:

    The young need to start looking over their shoulders, with worried concern etched into every pore and wrinkle. Social and racial divisions are probably growing wider – all because of fifty-odd years lack of grasping reality on the part of successive governments.
    Also, I’ve never known the young more conformist or miserable – or less likely to join a political party (let’s say Labour) in order to try and make any kind of difference. Often ‘pro-EU’ but fixated on computer games.

  2. Tafia says:

    Something has to be done. We are nearly 500bn in debt due to Covid. To put that in perspective, the money owed for the banking collapse wa about 100bn. 10 years of near-austerity had reduced that to about 21bn – the Covid bill is 5 times the size of that.

    People have known somnething had to be done about social care for years. It was 25 years ago that Blair said he would do something – he did nothing. Including him, there have been 5 Prime Ministers, ten Health Secretaries, two Commissions and nothing has been done – absolutely nothing. Now something has been. It might not be perfect, but successive governments will have the opportunity to amend it – and it’s far easier to amend something that exists than it is to create it in the first place. Nothing stopping Labour from saying at the next General Election that they’ll scrap it. They won’t. They haven’t got any bottle and they haven’t got any ideas other than Burnham’s ‘Death Tax’ proposal from when he was Health over a decade ago, which the leadership of the party back then said was unacceptable – as did the unions. Or Miliband’s re-hash of it in 2015 which was mocked by the voters.

  3. Tafia says:

    And now the moment you have been waiting for – polling figures for August.

    Across August there were 18 polls conducted at various times by all the major polling agencies. Polling average was (figure in brackets compared to last month)

    Con 40.4% (-0.6%)
    Lab 34.8% (-0.2%)
    LDem 9.6% (+0.4)
    Grn 5.9% (+0.1%)
    Oth 10.6% (0.3%)
    ave lead Con over Lab – 6.78% (-0.62%)

    August was pretty mixed for all major parties as the month rolled on. The Tories ranged between 37-43%, Labour ranged between 31-35% and the LDems between 7-13%. At no point during the month did Labour get any closer to the Tories than 3% and at times trailed them by 11%. But across the month, there was actually very little movement. Tory ‘slippage’ tends to go to ReformUK as opposed to going leftwards, and would probably return to the Tories in an election for the most part due to RefUK being so small it will not field many candidates.

    General Election 12 Dec 2019:
    GB only – Con 44.7%, Lab 33.0%, LDem 11.8%, Grn 2.8%, Oth 7.7%
    GB lead Con over Lab – 11.7%

    Polling figures for 2021 (164 polls)
    Con 41.8%, Lab 34.8%, LDem 7.9%, Grn 5.4%, Oth 10.1%
    (Oth includes SNP, Plaid, Reform, UKIP)
    ave lead Con over Lab 2021 – 6.75%

    Polling figures for August (18 polls)
    Con 40.4%, Lab 33.6%, LDem 9.6%, Grn 5.9%, Oth 10.6%
    ave lead Con over Lab Aug – 6.78%

  4. Tafia says:

    From elsewhere. Italics are mine.

    It seems Sir Keir’s been so busy writing his 14,000 word Mission Statement (he would fail a management degree with that. Mission Statements should be short, one pargraph, that all involved can commit to memory instantly otherwise they are ignored – if you can find someone dumb enough to read such a tome. This will go the same way as the over 200 policy announcements that have been made since he became leader, none of which anyone can remember), he forgot to use the weekend to come up with an answer to ongoing press questions about Labour’s alternative social care plan. Today listeners had the pleasure of hearing Angela Rayner squirm three times when faced with the question, diverting to the old classic, “There is a lot of ways you can do”.

    Rayner: People are actually ending up in hospital and it costs more money to put people in hospital. It’s actually cheaper than paying to keep them in care in a lot of cases. A care home costs about a grand a week

    Studio: Indeed that’s why everyone’s agreed the system need reforming

    Rayner: But we did do that (no they did not – nobody has), when Labour was in government we did all of those things and we brought waiting lists down as well to an all time low.

    Studio: I understand your analysis of the problems but I’m interested in your solutions! (Don’t hold your breath) And so the government’s planning on bringing in this new levy from national insurance, would you reverse it?

    Rayner: Well we’ve been clear that the government shouldn’t be breaking their manifesto promises by hitting working families with a double-whammy of the national insurance hikes. (NO government, ever, has stuck to Manifesto committments. Government’s have to adapt to the situation as it is and as it develops. Manifesto commitments are made in anticipation of things going to plan – which as von Moeltke once said ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Manifesto committments are

    Studio: So you’d reverse it?

    Rayner: So, we would have to look at that once we were in a position of putting our manifesto forward at a general election. (In other words, No. We’ll pretenmd we will in the short term, but let it quetly die)

    Frankly, Labour need to keep Rayner away from the media, shoved in a corner somewhere with a biscuit and a bottle of pop doing what she’s good at – munching crayons – and ban her from giving interviews. She is a dullard and way, way out of her depth and interviewers incrreasingly are finding her easy meat to tie up in knots as do adverseries across the dispatch box. She is little more than an albatross round Starmer’s neck.

  5. Tafia says:

    That last one was from Radio 4’s ‘Today’.

    She was on BBC Breakfast as well and made a complet cock of herself. Dan Walker made her look a moron. Easily.

    Can’t wait for Kay Burley or the like to get hold of her – that’ll qualify as a blood sport.

  6. John P Reid says:

    The FBPE lot who joined labour who’d been libdems don’t like the liked of Wes Streting as he writes for the sun we don’t want him they’re half the remain Corbynites and blairites who agreed with Corbynites on trying to get A 2nd referendum for remain for labour, It’s like saying when asked do you like tea or coffee s and saying I prefer both
    Well there’s a 3rd option on The 4 Yorkshire men they say we didn’t have a tea bag in our cup of tea and ate
    Mud , it’s the sorts of Labour not had a year zero moment and there’s A Nigerian pastor in Dagenham or Merthyr Tydyll And seats held by the working class held on by labour voters voting labour through the grit of their teeth, I Could see working class labour voters voting for for Liz truss if labour became A orange book Libdem and remain libdems Voting tory for her ,And labour lose Dagenham if Nigerians get the right tory And Andy Burnham view of appealing to labour voters of saying yes it coffee ? I prefer both!, The fact Twitter had its own away
    Saying one thing to someone who agree one to another Twitter reveals it, Blair couldn’t do that now We all do it, to appeal to different wings of the Labour Party, But Playing to the Crowd plays into the hands and Andy Burnham disgraced himself

    “speaking to blairites and Corbynites it’s both their fault “Caroline Flint

    they need to disagree with both Jez and Blair about uniting to win, It’s like saying try the other voters they need, You didn’t just say there’s enough Muslim votes and enough mythical Libdem remain orange bookers to win.

    It’s need both sides to both say they’re wrong there’s other sides The others there was a need to admit acknowledge the members who lost the members who lost who the one. Who were the right to get them, Back the sun back, get back the working class leave voters. acknowledge the brexit stopping was wrong and get on our knees and Apoloigise to blame Starmer a never Forced to do it again and apologise they’re The ones who were Thd ones that they need to grovel to the public to get them to get their voters back

  7. John P Reid says:

    The thing with the sdp
    It sent 2 messages 1 to the Labour Party it had to completely top and change if it was going to have the working class vote up to and including those who’d stuck with the Labour Party in 1979 And The Tories not to be so right wing,
    And now someone needs
    To shock labour Into realising that if Labour wants to win ,it needs to change to get back the working class votes the way blue collar conservatives or those in the reform party and labour need to apologise to labour brexiters to get back working class votes

  8. Anne says:

    Thanks Jack for the article. While I agree with some of your points but not all. The NI increase has been promoted as an increase necessary to fund social care, but really the majority of this money will be going to the NHS. What will probably happen will be the cost of implementing the cost of social care will fall to local authorities. Now given that local authority budgets have been cut the only way to find this money will be to increase community charges – being that the elderly have the most expensive property they will be paying higher council taxes. Agree with your age definitions regarding voting intentions.
    Nick Robinson presented the Andrew Marr show this past Sunday- what an improvement. The BBC should be looking at replacing Marr.
    An excellent speech by Francis O’Grady of the TUC.

  9. Tafia says:

    And crayon-muncher Rayner has had to re-pay some of her expenses, namely various iPad accessories. The £256.24 total for her Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and Smart Folio case was repaid earlier this month. The taxpayer is still footing the bill for her top-of-the-range £1,900 iPad and £249 AirPods Pro noise cancelling ear phones, presumably because the lower-end tech couldn’t keep up with all that invaluable tweeting.

  10. Tafia says:

    Snouts In The Trough.

    The highest-paid trade union boss, outgoing General Secretary of the GMB Tim Roache, bagged £288,000 plus an £80,000 payment for long standing service, a £500,000 lump sum, a car of his choice and a £60,000 annual pension after terminating his employment in sordid circumstances.

    The boss of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, was the second highest paid union boss, taking home a staggering £216,387.

    TUC boss Frances O’Grady pockets a comfortable above average £167,229.

    The Prime Minister earns £160,000.

  11. Alf says:

    It’s a little known fact that Keir Starmer lives in Peter Kay’s doll’s house. He’s actually a very small midget… he really is. It’s why you have never ever seen him photographed standing next to a box of matches, a jaffa cake, or an egg.

  12. John P Reid says:

    I feel the people pulling Labour’s strings are labour lords advising Keir Starmer the way they did Tony Blair, but it’s not 1997 IE get yourself a uneducated Lardy northerner as a deputy to be a counter Foil

    It reminds me of Pete Waterman would manufacture A band,pick members of both sexes for a dance routine say cover songs by the bee gees and ABBA
    Then when they’d split up he tried the pattern again but it’s never been the same again he’d have success with big fun and Sonia but when he tried it again with steps it would quite be as good again with the same formula

  13. A.J. says:

    Interesting article in ‘The Guardian’ suggesting that Johnson will pull all this off. Certainly there’ll be grumbling but still Starmer can’t land a blow. Also, when Johnson goes, it’ll be the men in grey suits who stick the knives in, not Labour frontbenchers.

  14. john P Reid says:

    thnaks tafia for the polls

    and yes the tories will average a winnable majority lead in September all be it het conference at the end of the month will see a 1 week blip

  15. A.J. says:

    ‘A biscuit and a bottle of pop’! Although I find ‘Ang’ deeply attractive as a woman, she’s certainly no Barbara Castle or even Harriet Harman.

  16. Tafia says:

    Anne The NI increase has been promoted as an increase necessary to fund social care, but really the majority of this money will be going to the NHS.

    Do you live in a cave or something? Or just make this up? That is tital and utter drivel. It was WIDELY AND REPEATEDLY reported that the money was to start tackling the waitinbg lists etc and also to increase the funding for social care. EVERY TV news channel reported it as such, every newspaper, LBC radio, Radio 4, Palriament debated it as such. Even the figures were mentioned – during the first 3 years, social care will get just opver £5bn of the money raised, the rest (the bilk) going to the NHS. It was even mentioned that it won’t start until April 2022, and that from April 2023 it will show as a seprate line on PAYE wage slips (the lag is so that the HMRC and employers can get their computer systems updated). Yet somehow it passed you by.

    Just to help you, this is from the BBC, 08 Sep. Every other media site also contains something very very similar.. Get someone to help you with the big words.

    What is the tax increase for?
    The government says the changes are expected to raise £12bn a year, which will go initially towards easing pressure on the NHS .

    A proportion will then be moved into social care system over the next three years.

    This mainly helps older people and people with high care needs, with tasks such as washing, dressing, eating and taking medication.

    The aim is to make sure that people in England pay no more than £86,000 in care costs from October 2023 (not including accommodation and food).

    In addition, anyone with assets – their home for instance, or savings and investments – which are worth less than £20,000, will have their care fully covered by the state.

    Those who have between £20,000 and £100,000 in assets will have their care costs subsidised.

  17. Tafia says:

    John P Reid thnaks tafia for the polls

    and yes the tories will average a winnable majority lead in September all be it het conference at the end of the month will see a 1 week blip

    September polling shows the Tories taking a bit of a whack just after the NI tax rises, with them dropping but the ‘waiverers’ going further Right to ReformUK as opposed to Labour, but they quickly started to recover.

  18. Anne says:

    ‘Dom,’ (not a real name – probably white male) is an internet troll. This is a person who posts inflammatory responses on social media sites with the intention of provoking an emotional response. This action is principally for the troll’s amusement, or for no reason at all.
    Labour Uncut should now be addressing the ‘trolls’ who regularly post abuse/harassment/bad language on this site. By not addressing this problem Labour Uncut is condoning this action. Please Uncut sort out your site – you have the power to prohibit these posts.

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