Partygate was worth it
The unseemly haste with which Prime Minister Johnson has moved is almost alarming. In his anxiety to ensure nobody remembers the Sue Gray report, action is being taken to help the worst off. Action that his own government not so long ago made clear they would not contemplate. The cost of Johnson saving his own skin, is to get money into the pockets of those who need it most. Frankly, it is a price worth paying.
If it takes a scandal like Partygate to make a government to look after its vulnerable citizens, then Lets hope for more scandals. Of course we could vote for a government that would do this as a matter of policy, rather than desperation. We could vote for a government that wasn’t corrupt, didn’t make telling lies a modus operandi. And ideally didn’t contain those who feel they are above the law.
In the meantime, the skin saving initiative keeping Johnson in post, is the next best thing.
The package announced this morning is far more generous than would otherwise have been the case. It is only a matter of 3 months ago that we were told £20 extra on Universal Credit was a non starter. Because of Partygate, it is now just the icing on the cake.
Remember, and for context, that in Somerset we have 36,000 people on Universal credit and a further 17,000 on legacy benefits.
This morning’s announcement will see:
- a new, one-off £650 payment to more than 8 million low-income households on Universal Credit. Those on Tax Credits, Pension Credit and legacy benefits will also get the money.
- separate one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households.
- £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits
- the energy bills discount due to come in from October is being doubled from £200 to £400, while the requirement to pay it back will be scrapped. This means households will receive a £400 discount on their energy bills from October.
The package is to be funded by something else that was considered anathema before Johnson needed a diversion. The Chancellor announced a new temporary 25% Energy Profits Levy would be introduced for oil and gas companies. It is what we would call a windfall tax. At the same time, in order to increase the incentive to invest; the new levy will include a generous new 80% investment allowance. Of course assuming the investment is in renewables, that would make sense. The details are unclear at the moment, but if it isn’t restricted to renewables it makes no sense. The UK needs to wean itself off oil and gas. So we can stop having to choose which unpleasant dictatorship we are buying are energy from.