Letters: As the cost of living spirals, voters won’t look kindly on the mini-Budget

Kwasi Kwarteng outside No 10 - Toby Melville/Reuters
Kwasi Kwarteng outside No 10 - Toby Melville/Reuters

SIR – Liz Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, have delivered a mini-Budget that could destroy the Conservative Party.

A Budget where a worker earning £20,000 gains £167 while a worker earning £200,000 gains £5,220 cannot be one to help those struggling with the cost of living. Or has the rise in the cost of champagne and caviar outstripped that of bread and milk?

David Edge
Newport, Monmouthshire

SIR – After 30 years we finally have a Conservative Government that sticks to its principles and its word. Those faux Tories criticising it should either fall into line or resign.

Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has been exposed as the economically illiterate social democrat that he is.

Rodney G James
Brasschaat, Flanders, Belgium

SIR – Whatever the aims of the mini-Budget, fairness and growth were not among them. Kwasi Kwarteng has failed to address two key issues: the fiscal drag imposed by Rishi Sunak in removing index linking of allowances and tax bands, and the clawback of the personal allowance from incomes in the £100,000 to £150,000 range.

The former disproportionately reduces in real terms the incomes of those on lower wages, depresses the demand for goods and services and impairs people’s ability to own their homes and save for their futures, as well as contributing to inflationary pressures as they seek to repair their finances through higher salaries.

The latter imposes a marginal tax rate of 60 per cent on incomes in the affected bracket; had Mr Kwarteng addressed this instead of focusing on the elimination of the higher rate, he would have dealt with a genuine unfairness in the tax system. Instead the boost to net incomes over £150,000 will simply serve to further fuel the inflation of prices of capital assets, especially residential property.

We are well used to the smoke and mirrors of successive Conservative governments – but dressing up a mini-Budget that serves only to redistribute wealth to the very wealthiest as one designed to counter redistribution and promote wider prosperity is stooping lower than ever.

Richard Parkinson
London N10

SIR – It is admirable for a politician to have such confidence that he bets the house on being right. But I object when the house in question is mine.

Jamie MacDonald
Endmoor, Cumbria

SIR – Like every other aspect of employee reward in the private sector, bonus payments are matters to be decided by the company, and ultimately the shareholders. They are not matters for the Government.

The outrage on the Left over bankers’ bonuses is an indication that the politics of envy are back – if they ever went away.

Michael Hely
Banham, Norfolk

GP waiting times

SIR – Stephen Pollard says the two-week target for seeing a GP is an “outrage”.

Yes, ideally, the target would be a day, maybe two – but what is the point of setting a goal that is unattainable as things stand? As soon as the two-week target is close to being achieved, Thérèse Coffey, the Health Secretary, should reduce it again.

Archie Douglas
Whitton, Middlesex

SIR – The NHS has many problems, but reducing GP waiting times is not the most difficult of them.

Alas, declaring a deeply unambitious target of two weeks and recruiting more support staff is not the radical treatment needed. Instead, remove the pension-related disincentives from working longer hours, and drastically cut red tape. Then GPs will resolve the problem overnight.

James Irvine
Ashtead, Surrey

SIR – I was due to have my Covid booster jab yesterday, but as I had been feeling very unwell I decided to cancel.

When I explained the situation to the woman on the phone, she informed me that there was no way of actually cancelling the appointment, and advised me simply not to turn up.

Patricia Essex
Hedge End, Hampshire

SIR – I take issue with Dr Alexander Macdonald’s letter (September 24).

If the majority of hospital managers were removed, who would be left to deal with HR, budgets, complex estate issues (such as project-managing repairs) and the many other non-clinical matters about which most doctors and nurses know very little?

The aim, of course, should be to strike the right balance between medical and administrative staff. But be in no doubt: if large numbers of managers were cut, front-line medical staff would soon feel the effect, and would have to bring in outside consultancy at huge additional cost.

Eugene Hagerty
Wallington, Surrey

PayPal censorship

SIR – Well done, Jack Dee, for taking a stand against PayPal’s bullying.

As use of cash diminishes, this convenient-to-use, once-friendly giant is showing its true colours, trying to dictate how its customers behave.

Closing a PayPal account, as I have just done, takes seconds. If enough free-thinking people do the same, it will send a message to other tech companies – before it’s too late.

Ian Kerr
Coventry, Warwickshire

Wodehouse at school

SIR – P G Wodehouse’s affection for his school, Dulwich College – discussed by Nikhil Krishnan in his article about The Pothunters – was one that few old boys could muster (though another one who did was Raymond Chandler).

In 1946, he confessed to a friend: “Isn’t it odd, when one ought to be worrying about the state of the world and one’s troubles generally, that the only thing I can think of nowadays is that Dulwich looks like winning all its school matches.”

The college’s pride in its son was marked by the opening of the Wodehouse Library in 1981, and the “shrine” of his desk and typewriter. I, too, am proud to have taken my place in the list of editors of The Alleynian, once headed by a young Wodehouse.

Zeb Micic
London SW1

National Trust rebels

SIR – There have been complaints about the way in which the National Trust hierarchy is attempting to steer members to vote at the forthcoming AGM (Letters, September 24).

Perhaps, however, those who are unhappy about the trust’s behaviour should be grateful for the steer, as they can now do the opposite of what the trust urges: don’t vote for its preferred candidates, and do vote for the motions it explicitly dislikes. And above all, don’t despair and waste your vote.

Roger White
Sherborne, Dorset

Drip, drip, drip

SIR – I have discovered a possible reason why it takes such a long time for leakages in the water supply system to be repaired.

Recently, two of the stopcocks in our street sprang leaks. One was repaired by the water company’s workmen, the other by a contractor. It took three water company men, with two vehicles, a whole day to sort out one leak, with the reinstatement, using a simple concrete filling, taking place two days later.

The two men from the contractor, in one van with a trailer, took a little over an hour to stop the second leak, and returned to reinstate the pavement the next day, again taking under an hour to cut and fit a new paving slab.

I asked one of the contractors why he and his co-worker had taken so much less time. “They’re employees,” he replied. “We’re self-employed.”

David Thompson
Ipswich, Suffolk

Specsavers falls short

SIR – Elizabeth Cail (Letters, September 23) is not alone in ruing her visit to Specsavers.

Three years ago I was sent there by the DVLA for a visual field test. As a result my driving licence was revoked. After another four tests at other opticians produced entirely different results, and a consultant ophthalmologist confirmed there was nothing wrong with my field of vision, the DVLA returned my licence. That was 633 days later.

Alexander Gordon
Oswestry, Shropshire

Elusive berries

SIR – Yet another crisis: has anyone else noticed a lack of sloes this autumn?

Simon Warde
Bognor Regis, West Sussex

Lord’s can change without discarding tradition

Spectators at last year’s Eton v Harrow match, a fixture dating back to 1805, at Lord’s - Alamy
Spectators at last year’s Eton v Harrow match, a fixture dating back to 1805, at Lord’s - Alamy

SIR – Angus Fraser defends Marylebone Cricket Club’s decision to cancel the annual Eton v Harrow and Oxford v Cambridge matches at Lord’s on grounds of inclusiveness, suggesting that these should make way for two new finals of competitions “open to all schools and universities”.

Apparently Mr Fraser himself attended Gayton High School, a comprehensive “in the shadows of its world-famous neighbour” (Harrow). Nowhere, however, does he explain why it has to be one thing or the other. This year’s Lord’s fixtures calendar appears to show plenty of gaps, so why not both?

Mr Fraser also seems to be unaware that Oxbridge is not attended exclusively by “public schoolboys”. He concedes that “the details of the process and the outcome itself [of the decision to cancel] should have been better communicated”. Unfortunately his article suggests that lessons have not been learnt.

Chris Mastin-Lee
Calne, Wiltshire

Time for a tougher line on militant unions

SIR – Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, says the right to withdraw labour is a basic human right (report, September 24).

It is equally arguable that the right to sack those who go on strike should be a basic human right for employers. Striking on individual days – the current approach – is designed to inflict maximum inconvenience and cost on an employer with minimum cost to the striker.

It used to be the law that strikers could be fairly sacked while on strike, provided that the employer took them all back after the strike was over and did not discriminate. In view of what now appears to be a coordinated attack by militant trade unions on a Conservative Government, perhaps it is time to revisit this idea.

John R McErlean
Elstow, Bedfordshire

SIR – The sad thing about the rail unions is that they talk constantly about workers’ rights but appear not to recognise their duties to the public – who, ultimately, pay their wages.

Perhaps workers making such items as lavatory paper, mousetraps and egg whisks, who seem to get by without striking, could give some pointers to the large trade unions, whose record of gradually destroying the industries they represent through incessant and excessive demands is considerable.

Duncan Reeves
Lindfield, West Sussex

SIR – Why do the union rank-and-file allow themselves to be led so badly?

Their bosses should be embracing the future and its opportunities. They should work with employers to define new jobs and make sure their members are trained to fill them, rather than trying to hold back modernisation.

Chris Lambert
Tadworth, Surrey

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