A taxing idea for the people

‘Ideas don’t make you rich. The correct execution of ideas does’. So said Felix Dennis in his book ‘How To Get Rich’. He’s worth over £500 million, so I think we can believe him.

As it happens, last week, I got really excited about one of my big ideas:

Make the building trade a VAT free zone!

In one swoop this would kick-start the economy, generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and clean up the ‘black economy’.

Dreams of a peerage and celebrity status ensued. Sleepy mornings in the House of Lords followed by lunch at a private table in the Savoy Grill and a siesta. Lazy holidays with Felix Dennis in Mustique – out of the prying eyes of the snooping paparazzi. Toplessness no problem.

I could barely contain myself as I googled ‘building-vat-boost-economy’ to research how my idea would make me rich and famous.

Up popped the first result – a site called ‘Cut the Vat‘.


Someone has thought of my idea already. Here’s what it says on the Home Page:

Join us in calling on the UK Government to cut VAT on home improvements to 5% in order to:

– Boost the UK economy
– Create thousands of jobs
– Bring thousands of empty properties back into use
– Improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock
– Reduce the incidence of fuel poverty
– Help those who cannot afford vital repairs to their homes
– Significantly reduce the competitive advantage of rogue traders

Drat and double drat!

Not only had someone already thought of my idea but one Professor Michael Benfield has thought the whole thing through. Built the case, if you will.

As a marketing strategist, purveyor of human insights into people’s behaviour, I would have made more of the last point myself – ‘Significantly reduce the competitive advantage of rogue traders.’

We all know ‘the cash economy’ enables much greater evils than tax evasion itself – protectionism, illegal immigration, sex trafficking, gun crime, drugs, you name it. Surely the best way to stop people fiddling the system is to make it not worth their while?

Well – perhaps because it is not their idea – the Great British Government does not think like this. In fact, they take the opposite view. David Cameron has announced a relaxation of planning laws, so building new foundations for more under-the-counter transactions.

And now they have another great idea: a financial concoction where benefit payments would be linked to average earnings rather than, as now, inflation. This would cut benefits by £5 per week, including people who are sick and disabled, and raise billions of pounds for the Exchequer.

Is it not perverse to cut the life line of the people who need the money rather than the supply line of the people who are getting away without paying the tax to feed them?

There’s no accounting for politicians is there?

They’ve got no idea.

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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