Harefield Mews development goes on sale

Jimmy Dell: Good people, bad people, they generally look like what they are.
- The Spanish Prisoner

A while back, we wrote about the newly built block of flats on the corner of Harefield Mews and Cranfield Road, just behind Brockley Road. As these things occasionally do, the debate that followed descended into a rather angry exchange, suggesting anyone who didn't think this was going to be a mental health unit was a fool or worse, hiding some sort of secret bias.

Anyway,  the flats are now on sale with KFH and described as being "built to a very high standard of specification and ready for immediate occupation. The apartments in Harefield Mews are in a good sought after location within a short walk of Brockley train station and local shops. The apartments come with a luxury kitchen with integrated appliances fitted and wood flooring supplied. The ground floor apartments have the added bonus of good sized private enclosed gardens."

Brutal yes, rental maybe, mental no.

198 comments:

TM said...

Looks more like a yard than a garden to me.

I am suprised they were allowed so many one bed flats in one development.

Not very pretty Architecture but no doubt they will sell to someone.

Anonymous said...

The smallest flat is tiny - much less value for money than the ground floor.

CPZ Brockley said...

6 more cars to park on the street. Also they have not rebuilt the wall bordering Cranfield and the site is becoming a dump yard. A dump yard was not part of the planning application...

Anonymous said...

I think that part of the site is associated with the Junk Shop, which I would hope will now become the focus of the redevelopment.

I think that unit could make a great bar or restaurant, particularly with the Garden that is currenty a dump yard.

Anonymous said...

Depressing how small these new flats are. Everywhere. Didn't RIBA make a comment this week that all new builds are about 8% smaller than the recommended minimum? How are you supposed to open the wardrobe with a bed in the room?

Brockley Jon said...

To give them some credit, the interior does look a teeny bit better than most new builds.

Yes, shame about the garden though, they seem to have forgotten any kind of organic matter. Will do wonders for wildlife and localised flooding.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the blog post, but thanks for reminding me about the Spanish Prisionr. What a great film. I think I may buy it from Amazon now (or any other online retailor that has it)

Brockley Nick said...

It is a great film, you're right :)

Headhunter said...

Nice looking interiors, but the building looks like a bunker and the yard a prison exercise yard. As for size, I would prefer that land in inner London was effectively and efficiently used than London spill out into green belt which I think is a precious resource. I am glad that this otherwise derelict unused land is now being used. Cities like Melbourne in Australia are absolutely massive (in fact isn't Melbourne one of the largest cities in the entire world, by area?) simply because everyone demands large spaces to live in.

I would prefer London to be a bit of a tight squeeze and to be able to get out to the countryside easily than to have never ending suburbs of identikit detached and semi detached houses spreading for miles and miles as was popular in the 1930s.

owever

Tamsin said...

But it is nice to have room in your living space to hang pictures on your walls, have a bookcase as well as a wardrobe and not be obliged to get a wardrobe with sliding doors because there is not room to open them.

And people need to be able to store suitcases and a certain amount of paraphanalia. We want to swing tigers not kittens.

Matt-Z said...

Do people really want flats with a combined kitchen/living room, or is that just what the developers and estate agents tell us?

Open plan living can be great, but not on the cramped scale that it's usually offered around here. I've been in plenty of open plan flats around Brockley and London in general, and what you gain in perceived openness and airiness you loose in privacy, storage space and the distribution of noise and smells around the flat.

Tamsin said...

I don't think they do. There's a conversion flat opposite our house that has been on the market for a year. Without being a curtain twitcher - just in passing I've seen lots of people looking round it, but no takers. You step from the front door straight into a living area with a kitchen tucked to one side under the stairs.

I'm not really surprised no-one's interested.

quick brown fox said...

Couldn't agree more, Matt-Z, but I guess there's a difference between what people want and what they can afford. If you only have 400-500 square feet to play with, then cramped open plan is probably preferable to separate rooms the size of a rabbit hutch.

Brockley Jon said...

Yep, open plan kitchens are sold in as a lifestyle thing, but in reality they're a space-saver.

For the what it's worth, I can't stand them, but I know plenty of people who do quite like them.

Headhunter said...

I think that the combined kitchen living space is a result of small flats, however if you're a 20 or early 30 something, you're single, you're out a lot and you work long hours you probably barely use your kitchen anyway, except for making toast in the morning, a bowl of cereal and coffee/tea.

My flat is pretty small (not as small as these though), but has a separate kitchen, but I don't really need anything larger as I am literally only there 1st thing in the morning and relatively late at night and I'm pretty much out and about all weekend. These aren't family homes, they're pads for youngsters.

In Japan I shared a space which was probably no bigger than about 150-200 sq foot with my other half and I remember those days as some of the best days of my life... I didn't care about separate kitchen/diners!

Anonymous said...

its a shocking design that building. is it for the Ministry of Defence or something

question said...

Can't those with cars park on the mews, outside their homes?

Headhunter said...

Not sure there would be enough space for parking on the mews if every resident along Harefield owned a car and decided to park it there, it's fairly narrow...

I ♥ Brockley said...

"Pads for youngsters" - yes, these are fine for that lifestyle, for a few years at least. But isn't there something terribly wrong somewhere, that these shoe-boxes cost 5 x the average London salary, and are tiny, and are in the relative backwater of Brockley?

For a similar price I bought more than half of a big conservation area house less than a decade ago, and assumed I was buying near the top of the market. Current property prices just seem crazy compared to income levels.

house pricer said...

Well this is thing, when people post on here that they're are looking for a flat at 600pcm and they receive no replies, the reason is because Brockley is no longer a cheap option. As these flats show.

Headhunter said...

Unfortunately the UK economy centres on London, most money is made here and consequently most people want to live here, consequently accom prices are high. Your options are, rent in London at high cost, buy in London at high cost or move out to Kent and buy at a lower cost but then get stung heavily by train companies for your train pass to work...

TM said...

I'll take the retire to the seaside option please....

I ♥ Brockley said...

Yes, I understand those choices - and a lot of people also still live with their parents and commute from wherever they happen to be - but we are talking about 5 x average LONDON salaries (not national) - more than most mortgage lenders will currently lend - for a shoebox in Brockley. I sort of understand how we've got there - low interest rates and historically generous lending, and possibly due to some sort of trickle-down effect from vast inflows of money from overseas that have inflated prices in more expensive parts of London. It is just really hard to believe that these prices are sustainable. Surely there has to be a market "correction" at some point, to use a nice economic euphemism.

George Hallam said...

Headhunter said...
Unfortunately the UK economy centres on London, most money is made here and consequently most people want to live here, consequently accom prices are high. Your options are...

You missed the one about restructuring the British economy to correct this imbalance.

By re-establishing manufacturing industry we could not only tackle the chronic balance of payments deficit we could also go a long way towards eliminating unemployment.

Of course, we could just carry on the way we are and accept riots, arson and looting as part of the rich fabric of London life.

Danja said...

But surely high property prices are good for the Party, comrade?

kolp said...

"Of course, we could just carry on the way we are and accept riots, arson and looting as part of the rich fabric of London life."

I must say George I delight at your eloquence here

Anonymous said...

Housemartins are bringing down the system from the inside.

Anonymous said...

Most people want to live in London? What a Londo-centric view...

Matt-Z said...

@Anon 10:49

It's London 0 hull 4.

kolp said...

Headhunter actually made a wider point than what was quoted:

"Unfortunately the UK economy centres on London, most money is made here and consequently most people want to live here"


It may be London-centric but is it inaccurate?

Headhunter said...

George Hallam - I absolutely agree that it would be ideal to attempt to redistribute wealth and industry across the UK and I understand that the government has made attempts to do this but unfortunately manufacturing in the UK has declined. We're now reliant on London and unless London is allowed to spread and spread like cities such as Tokyo, cost of accommodation will always be high. I personally prefer more effective and better use of land inside London (within reason) than allowing free planning and building on the edge of London and seeing London turning into a behemoth of conurbation...

Headhunter said...

"Most people want to live in London? What a Londo-centric view..."

That's not what I was saying. I'm sure most people in London would love to live in a small cottage with an open fire by the seaside and work from home, but unfortunately that is not reality. Consequently most people who work in London want to live in London so that they can get to and from work without embarking on an adventure that would put Hannibal to shame...

George Hallam said...

Headhunter said...
George Hallam - I absolutely agree that it would be ideal to attempt to redistribute wealth and industry across the UK and I understand that the government has made attempts to do this but unfortunately manufacturing in the UK has declined.

I am afraid you have been misinformed. What successive governments have done is pay lip service to the idea of redistributing industry across the UK. In practice there is a clash of interests between finance (aka “The City”) and industry. Over the last half century, or more, every government has favoured finance and so connived at the destruction of British manufacturing.

Changing this situation will not be simple or easy. We cannot just vote for change as all the major political parties are subservient to financial interests. This is not just a matter of ideas. The Conservatives, for example, receive half of their income from banks and other financial institutions. Since the recession the Labour Party receive far less, but it is still an important source of income. Building a political movement from scratch, as we are doing with Lewisham People Before Profit, is hard, slow work. Some people are prepared to do it because the alternative is to give up and accept what might be called “the inevitable spiral into social disintegration”.

Headhunter said...

May be I have been misinformed however I don't understand this "clash" between finance and industry, surely finance/The City owes its life blood to industry? Corporate finance activity, accountancy, bank lending, bond origination, IPOs etc etc only exist off the back of manufacturing and industry, the more successful industry is the more demand there is for finance to fund and develop it... Finance cannot exist in isolation.

Certainly the Tories surely get a lot of finance from The City, but they would also get it from manufacturing/industrial owners. those who own capital will naturally gravitate towards the Tories....

I guess what the Tories are more inclined to is the free market, so they are less likely perhaps to offer subsidies to industry and rather let it survive on its own merits...

George Hallam said...

@Headhunter
surely finance/The City owes its life blood to industry?

Yes, ultimately.
Historically the City of London gained its position as a world centre of finance on the back of Britain’s industrial and maritime supremacy. But that was a long time ago. Having established its position as World centre it developed different interests. There is no reason why this should be British industry it should depend upon.

To be blunt, the City is rubbish at providing finance for SME in the UK.

Corporate finance activity, accountancy, bank lending, bond origination, IPOs etc etc only exist off the back of manufacturing and industry, the more successful industry is the more demand there is for finance to fund and develop it...


Yes. But again, only ultimately.

For example foreign exchange markets are essential for overseas trade. However in recent years the volume of currency traded daily exceeds the amount actually used by astronomical amounts.

For example, stock markets. These are useful for raising capital but the overwhelming majority of trading is in existing shares. These do nothing for company finance.

The international nature of the City is shown by the way many of the marvellously ingenious ‘financial products’ that fuelled the US ‘sub-prime’ mortgage market where stitched together just over the river from us.

Finance cannot exist in isolation.

No. But they have been giving it a d**ned good try.

Headhunter said...

That just shows that finance has become international but is based in the UK! That's a good thing IMO! I would rather it was based here, providing international finance than in Paris or Frankfurt...

As far as SME finance is concerned, that's largely the domain of commercial banking not City based investment banking. If you run an SME in, say, Manchester, you don't have to come down to London to speak to some hot shot corporate financier who will sell you an IPO or a bond as well as interest rate and FX derivatives for hedging, you don't need that! You go to your local Lloyds, Nat West etc for a basic Sterling loan.

Of the big 4 in the UK, Lloyds and Natwest do not have any investment banking worth mentioning, either debt or equity, Barclays is a major player but only in the debt markets (not in equity or corporate finance) and HSBC again has a mediocre presence in debt but pretty much nothing worth mentioning in investment banking.

If you're a major UK or international corporate looking for complex corporate finance, M&A, IPO/ECM etc you go to the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan etc, these are all non-UK banks which choose to be based here but have no allegiances to UK business and are not obliged to fund it out of some sense of charity!

rhetoric before policy said...

Yes, but let's not let facts get in the way of a bit of banker bashing.

George Hallam said...

@Headhunter
That just shows that finance has become international but is based in the UK! That's a good thing IMO!

Unfortunately, the price for the UK being a world centre of finance has been the crippling of British industry.

The pound has been overpriced and to get investment British entrepreneurs have had to compete, not just with other British entrepreneurs, but with all the investment opportunities the rest of the world has had to offer. Not surprisingly, British industry has suffered from chronic underinvestment.

This has not been a “good thing”.

George Hallam said...

rhetoric before policy said... let's not let facts get in the way of a bit of banker bashing.

I am not a banker bashed.

Banks are an essential part of a money economy. We need banks. That is why I want a Bank of Lewisham to finance local business.

I just think that banks are a good servant but a poor master.

Anonymous said...

The junk shop is growing, and occupies also the space outside. Is that legal?

Also, the owners of the new development do not own the front shop and the dump yard in the back garden, so those that hope the work will now start on that side of the building will be disappointed.

Should the council require that the brick wall is rebuilt?

Anonymous said...

The easiest way to redistribute the economy around the UK must surely be to allow house prices in lLondon to spiral out of control and not step into the market place with "affordable homes" and the like. Then, as people get priced out of the London market, they and businesses start to realise the cost savings of locating elsewhere.

The worst possible thing that can be done is to provide "affordable homes" in London or to try to meet property demands in London. That will simply lead to more and more business being concentrated in London.

George Hallam said...

The easiest way to stop a car is to take your hands off the wheel and wait till the vehicle wanders off the road into a tree, or some other obstacle.

I agree this method is messy and expensive but it is guaranteed to work.

Lou Baker said...

@George

It is staggering that you believe a lack of manufacturing is somehow responsible for house prices.

High house prices are down to a lack of houses.

A change in the way we live (more single people), immigration and more people moving to London mean there are more people looking for accommodation.

A lack of new build, a lack of room to extend because of the green built, and a proliferation of do-gooders like the Telegraph Hill society objecting to properties being split in to flats lead to a shortage of supply.

A failure to invest properly in all schools further exacerbates the problem in areas with good schools. And a woeful and creaking transport infrastructure makes it even worse still.

Manufacturing has nothing at all to do with it.

George Hallam said...

Lou Baker expostulated
It is staggering that you believe a lack of manufacturing is somehow responsible for house prices.

High house prices are down to a lack of houses…

Manufacturing has nothing at all to do with it.


I wish I could return the complement. Unfortunately, your reaction is entirely predictable.

Two points:
Firstly, I regard the re-establishment of manufacturing as part of the solution to the housing problem. If you travel to the Midlands and the North of England regularly, as I do, you will be aware that, not only are properties a lot cheaper, but that in some places there are houses going begging. The reason no one wants them is because there is no chance of a decent job in these areas. If we created jobs outside of London some people would move to take them, thus taking the pressure of London.

Secondly, economies are highly interconnected things. It would be surprising if there was no link between the decline of manufacturing and the shortage of housing.

There is a link and here it is:

House building slumped in the 1980s. If you look at the figures them you will see that it is largely explained by the end of council houses.

What has this to do with manufacturing? Council houses provided cheap housing. This was a policy that favoured industrialists: workers had more of their disposable income to spend on industrial goods. Owner occupation means mortgages and interest payments on the one hand and private landlords and rents on the other. These things favour finance.

The sale of council houses was a defeat for industrial interests and a victory for finance.

Lou Baker said...

@George

Council houses do not provide cheap housing.

They are very expensive for most of the population - and only benefit the very few who get them. And those who get them are not the same as those who need them.

They are, in fact, nothing more than a way for not particularly well off people to subsidise other not particularly well off people. A bonkers system.

George Hallam said...

Council houses do not provide cheap housing.

They are very expensive for most of the population


Let's say, for the sake of argument that you are right.

However, they were an effective way of benefiting not just those who got them but also those who employed those who got them.

Workers need somewhere to live. Either employers pay them wages high enough to pay market prices, or employers build houses themselves or they get the state to build them.

Guess which one is cheapest for the employer.

Tamsin said...

Water so far under the bridge that it has reached the sea and fallen again as rain several times over - but the Government of the time living up to its promise to redress the north-south inbalance and allowing Manchester to bid for the Olympics might have been a good idea.

Hugh said...

Housing freebies for 'workers', the subsidised reinvention of 'manufacturing', widespread political 'connivance' in support of financial services. This is amusing! And there I was thinking Scargill had taken his public hiding and retired from view.

British manufacturing died a death because it was uncompetitive. Finance here has done well for the opposite reason. I hate to be the bringer of simple facts, but it takes more than a few donations to the Tories to establish and maintain a world-leading industry sector.

As has been pointed out perhaps a million times, the UK suffers from a 'working' population a large chunk of which is basically devoid of marketable skills. Look at where we rank for literacy and numeracy, for instance. The solution isn't 'redistributing' wealth (i.e. penalising anyone who is prepared to support themselves). It's reform of the education system and explaining to people whose skills aren't wanted that they need to retool or lose welfare support.

Like many here, I'm sure, I'm continually impressed at the foreigners I meet who have learned English and come to London from Poland, Bulgaria, etc. to further their prospects. It's probably a historical sense of entitlement which explains why their British counterparts prefer to bleat on about policy prejudice, the 'need to support manufacturing' and council house waiting lists.

More generally, policy works when it provides people with incentives. It fails when it makes provision that doens't depend on the citizen having to get off his arse. Which is why, for instance, the NHS is such a creaking mess. Heavy smoker? Fine - front of the queue.

Brockley Nick said...

Tamsin! The Government did 'allow' Manchester to bid for the Olympics. Twice! On both occasions they did dismally. The IOC doesn't want the games to go to a small, cold, relatively unglamorous city and there's no way to make them. That's before you get to Manchester's technical credentials (like the fact that it only takes a Take That concert to fill the City's hotels).

There are those who say - ah yes, but Manchester didn't get the same level of Government support as London did! That is a combination of bitter revisionism and the simple fact that politicians only want to be associated with success. Before agreeing to be so visible on a campaign, a PM needs reassurance that there is a prospect of victory. Plus, different era, different style of PM (Thatcher/Major v Blair).

And there's the question of whether that would have made a significant difference to the North / South divide. Answer: No.

Hugh said...

There are many examples, but this one will have to do.

George Hallam said:

For example, stock markets. These are useful for raising capital but the overwhelming majority of trading is in existing shares. These do nothing for company finance.?

We wonder whether the good comrade understands that raising equity capital is a lot easier if investors know there's a market for their investments should they want to sell them.

If the left knew what it was talking about it might make progress.

Reminds me of the Lib Dems apologist on Radio 5 last weekend who told a caller that increasing taxes on the rich would be fair since 'they pay a smaller proportion of their income in tax' than the less well off.

Tamsin said...

Of course politicians only want to be associated with success - one of the less endearing features of the tribe.

If Manchester (or anywhere else north of Watford) had had the same level of investment as has been going on around the Olympic Park it could well have been able to cope.

The North/South divide is a problem - media executives having to be dragged kicking and screaming away from the metropolis - and, I beg to differ, London's successful Olympic bid must surely have made this worse.

But this is all a digression from the tiny flats in Harefield Mews...

Brockley Nick said...

So we're agreed then, the Government did let Manchester bid. Not once, but twice. And Birmingham, btw. Goodo.

Tamsin said...

@Hugh Agreed - and I know that the futures markets started up to give those actually producing some degree of certainty. But with the increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for trading for trading's sake and simply making what might be regarded as obscene amounts of money by moving it around in ways incomprehensible even to those doing it one feels that the divorce from reality has gone a bit too far.

A chill out time in in Ank-Morpork's Pork Futures Warehouse, with shadowy sides of bacon waiting to come into being, might be in order!

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Nick getting his handbag out

Brockley Nick said...

Reality has a well-known Brockley Central bias.

Hugh said...

Tamsin said:

But with the increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for trading for trading's sake and simply making what might be regarded as obscene amounts of money by moving it around in ways incomprehensible even to those doing it one feels that the divorce from reality has gone a bit too far.


Trading 'for its own sake' has been going on since pre-history. That aside, your view is emotive rather than reasoned. Words like 'obscene', 'incomprehensible' and 'divorce from reality' have merely rhetorical force if anything. Which doesn't help unless you're already preaching to the converted.

If you want to draw a line based on what is obscene, comprehensible or sufficiently near reality, go ahead. Failing that, your stance unpacks to little more than a gut feel that you don't like the way things are. Fine but not likely to persuade.

Anonymous said...

Brockley Central isn't reality Nick . . . well, not to anybody but yourself . . .

Tin foil hat said...

Eh? What? Now that is just a random collection if words. As has Ben pointed out on numerous occasions, the comment section is one of the least moderated forums you'll find. You're free to counter anyones views, even the godlike nick. If the force of anyones argument fails to convince, I would suggest that it's a demonstration of a poor argument. Crack on though, I'm waiting for the watergate like revaluation of some dark scheme that our blog overlords have

Lou Baker said...

George's basic argument is that the rich do not pay enough tax.

He's wrong.

Someone on £10,000 a year pays just over £800 in tax and NI - 8% of their income.

On an average salary of around £25k you pay 22%.

On £100,000 it's 35% that goes to HM Treasury.

And if you're on £250,000 you pay 44% of your earnings in tax and NI.

People on these salaries are also less likely to use the NHS, state schools, public libraries, council houses and other state services. Yet they fund a massively disproportionate part of them.

Totally unfair.

Hugh said...

Careful, Lou, they don't like facts like that.

The funny thing about those who argue for heavier subsidising of the poor is that they never actually justify their position. Rvery argument comes down to an assertion that it is 'fairer'. Only no one ever explains why.

max said...

Lou, what a blinkered argument.

Anyone earning around £10,000 is not earning enough to live and ideally should not be asked any taxes at all.

And anyone living in London earning around £25 also doesn't have much spare after paying for the basics.

People on low incomes make a bigger sacrifice to pay their taxes than people on higher incomes do.

On top of this argument there is the argument that high earners earn so much because of the whole package of national infrastracture that include education, police, transport... that make our society an advanced one and is the necessary condition for wealth to spread and without all that there wouldn't be many high earners at all.

Hugh said...

Max, do you know what progressive taxation is?

Your argument is that a £10 parking fine or whatever hurts a poor man more than a rich one. True but obvious. How do you move to the conclusion that the rich man should pay a higher fine? Surprise, surprise, you don't actually say.

See my previous post. All apologists for hitting the rich are also those who'll benefit. They call their attitude 'fair', by which they mean 'self-interested'. The rich are also self-interested, of course. So everyone is evens. The left are just as bad as the Tories they hate. Just less honest and poorly clothed.

Anonymous said...

Thing is... Everyone on a high salary likes to think they are therethrough hard work and some special skill. It's comforting. The reality is that there is quiet a lot luck involved in where you end up. If you are born into a poor family in a rough end of town you are far less likely to be well off than if you were born into a family who has money. That's not a controversial statistic. Yes, if you are born with little I do think there is a moral duty to be given a chance. Ghats means good schools, good health care, access to decent housing. That takes resource, the fact that your parents cannot pay for that directly should not be reason why you should not be given the same life chances. I've no issue with that kind of redistribution, we all benefit in the long run. I earn well over a median wage and do not have kids, I'm content that a portion of may wage is used to provide those services. Luck and circumstance (including having access to a great state school) played a part.

If you are on a median salary, £25ish, and have kids. Even if you paid zero tax you would be hard pussed to educate and find healthcare for your whole family. You'd sink without a trace.

Hugh said...

Most would agree that being successful or rich is a matter of both ability and luck. What follows? The rich already pay much more tax than the poor, and use less of the services such tax pays for.

max said...

Hugh, why are you calling income tax a "fine". It's not, it's a tax and you know it, you naughty boy.

And really, high earners are only making a favour to themselves by paying a bit more, only that it's always been fashionable to say that they are suffering un unfair treatment and they should pay less.
Just sad fake victims.

As the last anon rightly said the truth is that quite a lot of high earners are so not because they're specially talented but because they did as mother told them and they stayed in the flow and this flow they benefit from is integral part of a developed society that has needs to fund.
They are those that benefit more, they are those that have money to spare, they are those that should pay more.

Anonymous said...

Yes Hugh, but do you think we should just ignore the luck element or make some effort to redress the luck deficit? Those who have benefitted from being born or happened across some luck contributing a portion of the gains (not all, a portion) to help those who missed out? I do, you don't. That's all.

Lou Baker said...

We should help the poor - and cut their tax - and the rich should pay more.

My objection is to those who say the rich don't pay their fair share. They do. They pay much more in actual terms and in percentage terms than the poor.

The real problem is that we just spend too much as a country - we should tax less and spend less.

Hugh said...

Max, to answer my own question, you clearly don't know what progressive taxation is.

Next.

Hugh said...

Anon, yes I do think should ignore the luck element, although the question itself is pointless, since you can't rerun the history of humankind using a tax system that redresses all imbalances. What you can do is start from here.

Besides, you don't have to do that. The rich already pay more tax. Don't any of you get it?

max said...

Hugh, is that a tantrum?

Hugh's disappointed university tutor said...

Hugh, sounds like your moving toward my position, excellent. No, I doubt any political or other system can redress all injustice on it's own but as the means to obtain goods and services is dependant on how much money you have which is, as you admit, only partially to do with individual merit then taxation is a fairly powerful tool. There are also questions about property rights, inheritance rules, etc, etc... but I'll leave that to tomorrows lesson on ethics, justice and political science.

Lou, you just seem confused and angry. Let Hugh do the fighting, you concentrate on driving the getaway car.

Anonymous said...

Lou, you seem to think you have a fundamental difference of opinion wth max. You don't, you state that the rich should pay a higher proportion - progressive taxation as Hugh rightly points out. Your actually arguing that you think they pay enough so your arguing about whether it should be 40, 50 or what threshold it kicks in. Te principle is not different.

As for "this country spends too much' well that's just a gut feeling based on nothing. No mainstream party is saying there is no deficit, it's just how fast it's payed down. All counties have always borrowed, as do most large businesses. It makes the world go round. You have simply swallowed the rather mid brow sound bite about the countries credit card being full. Interestingly osbourne is talking quantitative easing and even hinting at direct stimulus. Sounds familiar?

Hugh said...

University tutor? That post probably contains more grammatical and spelling errors than any other on this thread. That aside, I can't see that you're saying anything I haven't already dealt with.

As for Max, I now realise he's the same person I recently schooled in elementary logic on the swimming/drowning thread.

Not really Hughs university tutor. said...

Yes, was only kidding. I'm not really your disappointed tutor. He's retired a broken man.

Still, nice to see I've hit the mark.

max said...

Yes Hugh, your elementary logic is perfect, were you a 10 year old you'd get a badge.
You only become confused when you have to apply it to a practical example.
Try less chocolate and fizzy drinks, all that sugar's not good for you.

Hugh said...

It's fun being smarter than you two put together!

To be serious, though, I doubt you know anyone in real life who gets paid to think. Be grateful.

Lou Baker said...

@anon 19:13

I've never said I disagree with progressive taxation. I've never said I disagree with the rich paying more or with richer people paying a higher percentage. I have no problem with that.

I have a problem with the amount we spend as a country. Not just now - when we're up the creek - but also in the so called good times too. I would like everyone - rich or poor - given more of their own money to spend, and less given to the government.

We need a complete and utter rethink of how much we spend - and on what. I seriously mean absolutely everything. With everything we should ask why and if it can be done better, cheaper, differently.

As a country we should only ever borrow money to invest - so to build new infrastructure. We should never borrow to pay the bills.

max said...

Some think a lot, and some think a lot of themselves.

Brockley Nick said...

To be fair, this argument is predicated on the notion that George's economic plan boils down to higher taxation on the better off. That seems a misrepresentation of his views.

From what I can gather, George's economic plan is based on spending a few weeks in a sprocket factory in the West Midlands before high-tailing down to live with the London spivs, to run a coffee shop in an estate agents.

His solution to our woes is to seize private assets to use them as collateral for a Bank of Lewisham, run by him and his mates, who will invest in maunfacturing companies in Lewisham. Run a professional services firm? A design practice? A software company? There are other boroughs for you. Want to set up a chemical plant in central London - transporting heavy goods down our narrow streets? How much do you need?

Lou Baker said...

@nick

His argument isn't about higher taxes for the better off. It's about eliminating the better off and creating some kind of Maoist state.

The government would control where we live, what jobs we do, who we socalise with. There would be no chance of betterment, of improvement. Success would be resented. Failure encouraged and rewarded.

There is a reason why every country unfortunate enough to go down this path has subsequently rejected it. Western style capitalism may not be perfect, but it is the best solution anyone has yet come up with.

Tamsin said...

Hugh with reference to a post of mine said Words like 'obscene', 'incomprehensible' and 'divorce from reality' have merely rhetorical force if anything. I did, in fact, qualify the first with "might be regarded as" - don't expect everyone to share my views about bankers' bonuses on short-term paper profit - and is it not the case that in part at least the crash in the US was due to debt being bundled and re-marketed and risk calculated in ways too esoteric for those doing the actual trading and relying on the calculations to understand?

Anonymous said...

Sigh... Lou. Yes "bills" like the bills for paying for infrastructure? Or the bill for paying for education, an investment I hope you'd agree. If the tax take is too low because we have to many out of work how far should we cut back on education? as for the better, faster, cheaper. Well that's not a policy, that's just guff, a nice safe phrase devoid of controversy. Still, someone who believes that we have no unemployment issues because you've seen jobs advertised is not exactly on the same page as....well anyone as far as I can see

Hughs PA said...

Hugh, have you been at the old columbian marching powder? I only ask since your fragile ego, arrogance and assumption that all around you are stupid is a give-away.

Lou Baker said...

@anon

If you look back at anything I've ever said you'll see I say we should spend MORE on education. It is an investment. Well educated people get better jobs, need fewer benefits, are more healthy, are less likely to go to prison. It would save money in the long run.

You need to be radical to save money. Dismantle the military. That's a waste. Close large, wasteful hospitals. Prisons - close them. Find a remote island somewhere off the Scottish coast and exile the dangerous prisoners there - leaving them to fend for themselves. Dropping supplies occasionally. Free everyone else. Think new.

Hugh said...

Tamsin, maybe selling on subprime debt was a cause of the crash - we can accept that for the sake of argument. But I ask again: what follows? Compare: insurance risks generally are repackaged and sold on around the world and no one knows where, ultimately, the risk lies. Should we therefore shut down the insurance industry?

Once you abstract away from banker envy or hatred (aka wealth envy, because most people would have done the same thing in their shoes, namely try to maximise their bonuses and not stop to worry about the global implications), the arguments here for higher taxes on the rich contain nothing new, except vehemence. Poor people always get the worst deal. And rich people always pay more tax (relatively and absolutely) and subsidise the poor.

If you want the rich to pay even more tax, you need an argument. No one on this thread has provided one. Nor have the Lib Dems; instead they wibble on about 'broad shoulders'. That isn't an argument, though, as you'll recognise.

tired of paying for others said...

Sorry to interrupt the pub-economy discussion.

I know Council officials read this blog, so I would like to report that the junk shop has just dumped a blue sofa next to their bin.

I understand that there is a cost attached to large rubbsh items recollection and any decent resident is aske to pay £15 for this service.

Decent residents are tired to pay the bill for everyone misbehaving in the area. So please bill the junk shop for the unsold blue sofa that has been thrown in the middle of the pavement.

Poor and rich people need to respect rules, so we will all have a better brockley.

Thanks

Hugh said...

The discussion here goes beyond how pubs are doing.

Economy said...

Dear Hugh, Warren Buffet and George Soros disagree with what you are saying. Apologies in advance if I do not regard you opinion as much as theirs.

Please be aware of the fact that about 20% of families in the western world own about 80% of the wealth.

I hope I do not surprise you if I tell that a big chunk of this wealth resides for tax purposes in tax heavens.

I do not consider low level bankers as rich people. They are overpaid workers. Rich people are the Duke of Westminster, The fords etc.

I would also like to remind you (you are probably to young to remember) that the insurance market and LLoyds of London collapsed at the end of the 90s exctly for the reasons you mentioned.

The difference is that Lloyds were not saved using the balancesheet of the government. To the contrary, rich "names" lost everything including the house.

So I am not sure why a company like RBS is still running a loss making investment division where people are hired on guaranteed bonuses.

Do I want the higher paid employees to pay more tax? No I just want them to play by the rules. So if you bankrupt you P&L or the entire bank you have to loose all your wealth.

Western press avoids the subject of Iceland where the prime minister and the bankers responsible for the crisis are standing trial and will end up in jail.

Do not get me wrong, I am a capitalist, however even 5 years old kids learn quickly that monopoly without rules and sanctions is no fun

THNick said...

Hugh/Lou - your arguments about tax are flawed if you continue to ignore all the regressive taxes and only discuss the one progressive one (income tax).

And the finance sector has become so large it is extracting a rent from the productive sectors. It's not right that the owners of capital are making excess profits at the expense of the suppliers of labour. But that's the policy of governments in last 30 years.

And if the finance sector is such a success, why does it need so much government money to keep solvent?

Hugh, comparing the insurance industry v banking is very pertinent. The insurance industry is heavily regulated and charged levies to ensure that it is very unlikely that an insurance company could go bankrupt and that their customers do not lose out if it does. By comparison the banking industry uses its influence with governments and regulators to ensure that it is too lightly regulated, pays too little in tax and is bailed out by governments on a regular basis. Stop holding them up as more efficent than industry when you mean more subsidised.

BreakspearsEagle said...

To tired of paying for others.

I think that blue sofa was actually dumped outside the junk shop. People seem to leave stuff for them in the belief they take any old rubbish. A black tv cabinet that is falling to bits has been outside for the last couple of days.

Mb said...

Thing is, if RBS had actually collapsed very ordinary people and companies would not have had access to their money. They are private institutions but are part of the financial infrastructure, it where we keep and administer our money. We couldn't let them go bust and stop trading. Every country, left and right, had to prop them up. Your money in their banks actually forms THEIR assets, they would go their debters first. Customers would either go bust or the government would bail us out so not really any difference. The question is, did the bankers break the law or were they simply working within a deregulated environment that allowed it to happen?

That's why there is the argument to split off the investment arms, let them fail if they must. Not sure that's much better though as that's where our pensions are.

An economist will correct me perhaps.

Economist said...

Dear Mb, if the government had saved all private accounts the bill for the tax payer would have been much lower. It is not me saying it but Goerge Soros, who also advocates for banks to be allowed to fail and for bank employees to gat real with their salary expectations.

Some Banks pre crisis were 40-50 times leverage. Which means that the amount of real amount of savings to be protected could have been a small percentage of what we have paid.

Most Banks would have gone bankrupt, those with low risk would have survived and new banks would have come to the market. More people would have lost their job, but the economy would have turned around faster as increadible opportunities would have been available to entrepreneurs.

Contrary to what some bankers try to make you believe, the impact would have been much less disruptive that was painted when Bush forced the plan through advised by Goldman. Examples? Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil.

Instead we are heading towards a Japanes scenario were we maintain an inefficient system for the sake of the few.


The argument that the salaries are dictated by the market is bullshit, because banks survive with taxpayers money.

Bankers are notorius middle to low level skilled people who use coporate brands and protected systems adding very low value.

Why do you think banks refuse to create officent exchanges for swaps and derivatives?

They also refuse to sell fixed rates loans to corporates, so that they can sell two products. A loan and a protective derivative charging double commissions.

tired of paying said...

@breakspear eagle - it is part of the risk and cost of running a junk shop. People leaving stuff for free on your doorstep does not make it right for you to dump it on the street at our expense. Plus they kept it for more than a week hoping to sell it and make a profit. They did not dump it immediately.

This is not the first time they do it. Just get a van and dump it at the ground in New Cross or pay for the collection.

This is similar to having to pay for the van company to park on public roads.

Mb said...

Great about the private accounts. What about the bussiness accounts and bussiness loans, you know the companies that pay our wages? Loosing their money and cutting off their finance would have been a disaster. I understand about the leveraging, cdfs and all that caper. But thats the argument, those parts of the banks liability could not be separated from the traditional businesses.

Or am I wrong? Very few economists seem to be saying that the banks, all the ones in trouble, should have been allowed to go to the wall

Hugh said...

Dear Hugh, Warren Buffet and George Soros disagree with what you are saying. Apologies in advance if I do not regard you opinion as much as theirs.

And apologies if I give your views the same weight as anyone else who confuses name-dropping with making a case.

Please be aware of the fact that about 20% of families in the western world own about 80% of the wealth.

Yes. We call them the 'rich people'.

I hope I do not surprise you if I tell that a big chunk of this wealth resides for tax purposes in tax heavens.

You don't. What surprises me is that you confuse tax evasion with the question whether rich people should pay more tax.

I would also like to remind you (you are probably to young to remember) that the insurance market and LLoyds of London collapsed at the end of the 90s exctly for the reasons you mentioned.

The difference is that Lloyds were not saved using the balancesheet of the government. To the contrary, rich "names" lost everything including the house.

So I am not sure why a company like RBS is still running a loss making investment division where people are hired on guaranteed bonuses.


Fine. I would also rather that RBS went bust. What has this got to do with taxing the rich? Try to make a point.

Do I want the higher paid employees to pay more tax? No I just want them to play by the rules. So if you bankrupt you P&L or the entire bank you have to loose all your wealth.

Irrelevant to the question of how much tax the rich should pay. Try to keep up.

Western press avoids the subject of Iceland where the prime minister and the bankers responsible for the crisis are standing trial and will end up in jail.

Do not get me wrong, I am a capitalist, however even 5 years old kids learn quickly that monopoly without rules and sanctions is no fun

See above. Your point seems to be that you don't like bankers getting away with taking risks without personal liability. Fair enough but uninteresting. What failed was the rules that were meant to keep bankers in check. Bankers didn't make those rules.

Hugh said...

THNick said...

Hugh/Lou - your arguments about tax are flawed if you continue to ignore all the regressive taxes and only discuss the one progressive one (income tax).

True if VAT means people can't afford to eat. Not otherwise.

And the finance sector has become so large it is extracting a rent from the productive sectors. It's not right that the owners of capital are making excess profits at the expense of the suppliers of labour. But that's the policy of governments in last 30 years.

All assertion, no argument. Next.

And if the finance sector is such a success, why does it need so much government money to keep solvent?

Why are you asking me?

Hugh, comparing the insurance industry v banking is very pertinent. The insurance industry is heavily regulated and charged levies to ensure that it is very unlikely that an insurance company could go bankrupt and that their customers do not lose out if it does. By comparison the banking industry uses its influence with governments and regulators to ensure that it is too lightly regulated, pays too little in tax and is bailed out by governments on a regular basis. Stop holding them up as more efficent than industry when you mean more subsidised.

Where did I say banking is efficient? Too much hot air, not enough attention.

Next.

Trumpton said...

Hugh, Lou, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb.

And cue the fire engine...!

George Hallam said...

Hugh said...
If the left knew what it was talking about it might make progress.
Reminds me of the Lib Dems apologist on Radio 5 last weekend who told a caller that increasing taxes on the rich would be fair..

Now some will find the idea that the Lib Dems are part of “the Left” a bit odd. However, if you think about it there is a logic her. Unfortunately, it’s not been followed through.
If you spend any time with Lefties, as I have done, then you will know that that there is nothing that unites them. It doesn’t matter what the issue is - the war in Iraq, the Cuts, abortion, banning the burka - you will always find some of those who are indisputably ‘Left’ who disagree with what appears to be the commonly held view. This is because the defining feature of “the Left” is not any particular policy is its moral fervour. The way the world happens to be is irrelevant. Its all about the way the world ought to be that is their concern.

Thus the Lib Dems on Radio 5 qualified as a Left because he, or she, argued for higher taxes on the rich on grounds of “fairness”.

Once you realise this then the first statement "If the left knew what it was talking about it might make progress" needs correcting. What Hugh should have said was:
If the Left knew what it was talking about then it wouldn’t be the Left.

Unfortunately, the problem is not confined to the Left: the Right have a similar obsession with values, though of a different kind. While the Left are concerned about social justice, those on the Right are more worried about preserving the rights of the individual against the encroachment of society. If one looks at what people actually write on this blog then one finds that those on The word ‘fairness’ is used a lot by both sides. Fundamentally, the left-right division comes down to values.

Anonymous said...

lets be honest Hugh, if you can afford the time to bugger about on a blog you haven't got a life . . . rich or otherwise

Hugh said...

That certainly applies to readers of blogs, like you.

Too easy.

Next.

Lou Baker said...

Many of you are confused.

Rich people pay VAT too. And fuel duty. And all the other hidden taxes too. But they can afford to.

If you're poor and don't want to pay these taxes you can avoid most of them. Plenty of food has no VAT on it. There is no fuel duty to pay if you walk or cycle. If you don't drink or smoke that's even less tax for you to pay.

If you're poor - choose to drive everywhere, smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish and eat nothing but junk food - well your lifestyle choices (and they are choices) dictate the tax you pay.

I have put the figures on here. 8% of salary for a low earner, 44% for a high earner. The rich ARE paying their fair share.

Now, there is an argument to be had about tax loopholes. There are too many, they must be closed. But so long as those loopholes exist there is nothing wrong with using them. Someone on 10k would not pay more tax than they legally have to. None of you would either. Why should someone on 250k?

Aim your wrath at the politicians - mainly Gordon Brown - who allowed our tax rules to become so complicated. Simplify them. That will remove loopholes.

We all pay too much tax. Our state is far too big. We must rebel.

Hugh said...

As Oscar Wilde might have said, the only people who worry about how much money people earn are those who don't earn much.

Headhunter said...

If banks like RBS, BoS, Lloyds and Northern Rock in the UK, AIG, Citi, Merrill Lynch and others in the US had been allowed to go bust, the entire economic system would have crashed.

It wouldn't simply have been a case of the government covering account holders assets in these banks. the banks would have gone bust, then proceedings would have begun to unwind the banks' positions. Lehman went bust in Sept 08 and the process of unwiding and sorting out its complex financial positions is STILL going on now and is unlikely to finish in the next few months.

Add to that the complexity of unwinding 4 or 5 bancrupt banks and insurance companies at the same time and the complicated inter reliance they have on each other for funding and the entire economic global system would have frozen.

Companies and individuals would have had absolutely zero access to funds until the regulators and accountants had had time to unwind and work out who was owed what which would have taken years... Essentially we would have returned to a medieval economy and a system of barter...

THNick said...

Hugh - on the finance sector extracting rents, this is good summary that came up in google:
http://www.economist.com/node/16274625

And as for "where did I say banking is efficient", at 8.38 on 18/9/11, you said that manufacturing closed down because it was incompetitive but banking did the opposite. I wouldn't go as far to suggest that manufacturing closed down as a result of government policy but I'd certainly argue that finance grew as a direct result of it.
Lou - you can argue that people can choose not to spend money on things that are taxed, but that doesn't stop the taxation on them being regressive.

Hugh said...

Headhunter said:

Essentially we would have returned to a medieval economy and a system of barter...

No colour TVs, no hot water, no healthcare - that sort of thing? Hardly. Just a big recession. Which we had anyway, only everyone is being made to pay for it rather than the businesses which failed.

Hugh said...

THNick, if you think London achieved world-leading status as a centre for financial services because the government of the day subsidised it, I would suggest having a closer look.

Or instead, say which subsidies had such a magical effect. I'll lobby for some more.

Anonymous said...

Is it like this at Oxbridge? Cor!

peghead said...

sorry, can't find Oxbridge on the map . . .

Anonymous said...

Here you go numb nuts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxbridge

Let me know if you'd like an explanation of any number of common phrases or terms used by anyone with an IQ above that of a baboon.

Tamsin said...

An interesting point (that I have not checked out in detail) was made to me the other day, that in Europe VAT is "Variable Added Tax" - luxuries - be it the services of a personal trainer, a posh night club bill, hub-caps for a Porche, or extravagently painted nails - are taxed as such. Semi-necessities, the servicing of the family car, teenagers' shoes, toys and cake - carry a lower rate.

An interesting idea. Not sure how much more complicated it would make the average business's VAT returns - which would, of course, be a down-side.

Hugh said...

VAT operates in basically the same way in all EU countries. No accident since the tax is imposed by EU law. And there are different rates in all EU states, depending on what you're paying for.

It would have no effect on VAT returns. If a business can recover its VAT, it would just reclaim as normal.

The poor complain that VAT hurts them because it isn't progressive. True but irrelevant, for the reasons Lou gave.

Danja said...

Every positive argument you have made on this thread (which are few and far between, albeit you have been given some easy balls to whack for six) seems an argument for the rich paying the same amount of tax (not proportion) as the poor.

Do you believe that? It goes rather further than flat taxers do.

Tamsin said...

I like the "just reclaim the VAT as normal" - given the nightmare that VAT returns are for small businesses. (The government farming out the job of calculating it all into the struggling private economy, with swingeing penalties if it's done wrong.)

I was simply wondering how much more complicated variable rates would make things - on the other hand most supply a single sort of good or service and confectioners cope with bread and cake.

Hugh said...

Tamsin, the VAT you reclaim is the VAT you pay, not the VAT you charge (in more detail, it's the difference between the two). The VAT you pay is stated on invoices received and paid. The VAT you charge is that stated on invoices you issue. It's simple bean counter stuff. Having more than one rate doesn't complicate it.

Hugh said...

And since you mention small businesses, we might as well note there are simplified VAT schemes for them - cash accounting and the like.

The best way to use tax to promote growth is to forget about VAT paperwork and reduce headline tax rates, principally income tax. It's a simple idea: I would certainly work harder if I knew I would keep 80 pence in every pound I earned.

The left have it the other way round. They respond to economic hardship by demanding further subsidies from the wealthy. It's a reflection of fundamental attitude: government is there to spread the winnings, not make them possible. Result: no one has an interest in working harder or taking entrpreneurial risk. Further result: structural dependency of a large swathe of the 'working' population.

Have you noticed how, if you get up very early, none of the people you see in town are white British? That tells its own story. At a certain economic level they would prefer to take hand-outs.

George Hallam said...

Hugh said...

The best way to use tax to promote growth is to forget about VAT paperwork and reduce headline tax rates, principally income tax. It's a simple idea: I would certainly work harder if I knew I would keep 80 pence in every pound I earned.

The left have it the other way round. They respond to economic hardship by demanding further subsidies from the wealthy. It's a reflection of fundamental attitude: government is there to spread the winnings, not make them possible.


As I pointed out in an earlier post the Left’s attitude to tax is based on a moral agenda. They want to tax the rich because they think that it’s ‘fair’. This is a constant not an ad hoc response to economic hardship.

I suspect that Hugh’s attitude is similarly emotional.

"The New York Times" columnist and author Tom Friedman (not really your typical ‘Leftie’) was on Radio 4 this morning taking about his book "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back” (co-authored with Michael Mandelbaum)

Friedman explained that America’s success was based on five pillars:
An education system, so that people can master the latest technology whatever that happens to be at any moment.
The world's best infrastructure
Immigration policies to attract the most energetic and talented immigrants from the rest of the world.
The best rules for corporate governance to facilitate investment and prevent recklessness,
Massive support for research and development.

The interesting thing about this list is that all of these things depend on state action, all of them.

Friedman said that one of America’s problem is that there are too many Americans who think they are John Wayne as in the lonely man who I did it all on his own.

The point is that all these five pillars of prosperity require considerable resources. Deploying them required a not insignificant level of taxation. For instance, the top rate was 91 percent in 1960 and 70 percent on the eve of Reagan’s election in 1980. It is only comparatively recently that the US has gone in for reducing taxes on the better off. Interesting this move towards lower taxation has coincided with the decline of the US.

Hugh said...

A long post in which to say nothing that challenges any of the points I made.

As for whether my politics are based on emotion, read what I said: low taxes incentivize productivity. Hard to see the emotion in that sentence.

Saying that state involvement is necessary for a successful economy is true but so obvious that no one disagrees. The question is whether the current level of state support needs adjusting. You might find it curious that supporters of more support are those who will be net takers.

Brockley Nick said...

@hugh

"Low taxes incentivise productivity"

Up to a point that's true. Obviously tax is needed to pay for the things which enable us to be productive, like roads, public transport, telecoms, police / rule of law, public health, education, etc, etc.

So tax to invest is a far better way to stimulate productivity than cutting tax so people can buy another imported telly.

But yes, some taxes provide disincentives to work - these are generally at the lower level. I would cut income tax for the lower paid to provide a better incentive to take low paid work. I don't buy that 50p tax rate provides much of a disincentive to work - in some cases it does the opposite, since to maintain the same income levels you have to work harder.

If we believe it's important to incentivise "wealth creators", these are generally entrepreneurs, the vast majority are nowhere near earning £150K and when they get there are not likely to give up because they have hit a higher tax bracket. To encourage entrepreneurs, we need to look at making start-ups easier in the first 1-3 years when most small businesses are just scraping by: business rates relief, incentives for taking on more employees, etc, etc.

So to incentivise work and wealth creation, lower taxes at the lower level.

A far more persuasive argument for lower taxes for the well off is international competitiveness. We are an open economy and a small damp island, with expensive housing and a not-very-well-educated workforce.

To attract inward investment and multinational HQs, we need to make sure that we're highly competitive in as many areas as possible. Imposing high taxes on senior execs is not a smart way to ensure that they opt to locate their factory, research lab or office in our country.

For that reason, our top rate of income tax will need to come down soon. But it has nothing to do with rewarding hard work or enterprise.

In general - higher taxes on wealth and consumption, lower taxes on income and employment. That's what's needed.

Anonymous said...

Wealth Tax, yep a tax on UNEARNED income is interesting. Saw an article on it recently that argued a radical change of how we tax. Would make those sitting on shares and property uncomfortable but did argue quiet convincingly that it would actually not hit the average joe that badly and would be far mopre equitable overall. If your income is only from your working week, your tax rate would come right down - whether or not you're a high earner. If you've given up work and sitting on a portfolio or have inherited several generations worth of property, you'll pay more. You're using the infastructure of the company but not contributing.

I may have misunderstood...

Anonymous said...

Should have said "..of the company..."

Anonymous said...

F**K SAKE! Should have said "..of the COUNTRY..."

Hugh said...

Nick, I didn't hang my hat on the 50% rate. The 40% is already too high, and that catches millions of people.

You don't think low tax incentivizes people to work harder yet you also think lower tax would make the UK more competitive internationally. I struggle to see the difference.

Brockley Nick said...

"You don't think low tax incentivizes people to work harder yet you also think lower tax would make the UK more competitive internationally. I struggle to see the difference."

Do you?

The "incentives" argument is this:

You work 1000 units of labour for £100 per unit. If I instead give you £90 per unit will you still work 1000 units? You're saying lots of people people will say no and do only, say, 900 units of work. I disagree.

Nearly everyone will still do 1,000 units. Some people might choose to work a little less (I can't think of anyone in real life who would go part time, or work less hard and miss out on promotion opportunities because of a slightly higher rate of tax, but I accept there may be some people like that).

The "competitiveness" argument is this:

Do we want to set up our office in Dublin so we can all get paid £200,000 or do we want to set up our office in Manchester, where we can all get paid £170,000?

Faced with that simple choice, many companies will choose the place where they can get more money.

People like money of course. But in the incentives argument, you're saying people who like money will cut off their nose to spite their face, by working fewer hours just because their marginal rate of income is lower.

Anonymous said...

This is the article.... seems a little to easy perhaps but does make you think that taxing effort rather than taxing capital gains & wealth more is perhaps arse about face.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/may/02/land-value-tax-oecd-comment

Hugh said...

Nick, the incentives argument is better framed as this, given that we don't all work on production lines:

If you work hard and get qualified, you can become a doctor. They get well paid, but pay 40% (say) tax. Once you're a doctor, if you keep working hard, you can become a senior doctor. They get paid even more, but pay 50% (say) tax.

Would you like to become a doctor? Now imagine you will only ever pay 20% tax. Does that change your answer?

My view is that many would answer yes.

Anonymous said...

Hugh, well if it was a special Doctor tax you may have a point. It isn't, he'd pay that if he was in a different high payed occupation. Presumably he like doctoring so decided to go with this particular high payed job. Unless you think that a motivated individual would rather not bother and occupy a job just below the higher threshold even if he had the oppertunity and talent to move up?

As you would no doubt say, next.

Brockley Nick said...

@hugh

What anonymous just said.

Hugh said...

Anon and Nick, you both think people will move abroad to pay less tax but wouldn't work harder for promotion at home if tax here were lower. Right?

Bizarre. People undoutedly have motives for working that go beyond money, but to discount the financial return is just fanciful. Any rational person would see the upside in earning lots at a lower rate (e.g. earlier retirement), and it isn't a great leap to see that translating into greater ambition.

It's why bankers become bankers. The net reward is good, at least in money terms. Lower tax is the same as higher pay. And there's more fun the higher you get.

That Anon said...

Who's discounting the financial motivation? It's a part of it, as are the pension arrangements, location, hours, collegues, ENJOYMENT, stress level, a shallow kudos, commute, travel, private health care...the list goes on.

Renumeration is up there, I could earn more going "agency" I'd go limited company and pay a whole heap less tax as well as a higher hourly wage. I prefer the security and actually seeing a job through so I accept a lower wage (not 'low' but up in the higer tax band)

Some professionals, I susspect most, are not like you. We must all be mental.

Hugh said...

If few professionals are like me I take that as complimentary.

Brockley Nick said...

@hugh - no I don't think many people would move abroad (although some hedge funds and the like have moved). I'm talking about future investment decisions. People who don't currently live here making decisions about where to locate their offices.

In any case, there's no contradiction. One scenario is presenting people with a choice between work and leisure, the other is presenting people with a choice between more money or less money.

Your critical faculties are deserting you.

George Hallam said...

Hugh said...

As for whether my politics are based on emotion, read what I said: low taxes incentivize productivity. Hard to see the emotion in that sentence.


It’s hard to see how anyone could say this unless they were blinded by emotion.

The considerable reductions in taxation we have seen over the last thirty years have not produced corresponding improvements in productivity.

On a more general level, extensive research into motivation shows that large material rewards only work as an incentive if the work is mechanical, repetitive and has a low cognitive content. For more complex tasks increased incentive actually reduce productivity.

If you don’t believe this try this short talk by Dan Pink “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

If you want anecdotal evidence then here is mine: Over the years I have noticed a few things about the above-averagely successful I know.

One is that, whatever they do, they genuinely enjoy doing that sort of work. This leads them to carry on working really hard, long past the point where they have built up more money than they could ever possibly spend.

Another is that, if they get bored with a job then they will give it up and go into something else. They will make a switch even if this means reducing their income. It’s not just a matter of finding their work unpleasant or distasteful or even too hard, it’s all about interest. If the job becomes routine or too easy it doesn’t hold their attention. They need a new challenge.

max said...

Famously Robert McNamara quit his job as President of Ford to become Secretary of State under Kennedy, and in so doing he took a spectacular pay cut.

George Hallam said...

Hugh said...

Saying that state involvement is necessary for a successful economy is true but so obvious that no one disagrees.

No one? The blogosphere is crawling with libertarians and anarchists who think there is no real need for a state.

The question is whether the current level of state support needs adjusting. You might find it curious that supporters of more support are those who will be net takers..

Obviously Hugh is not an anarchist. However the way he phrased this suggest that he sees “support” as a transfer payment, such as job seekers allowance and disability benefit: hence the term “net takers”.

I, in contrast, see this support as structural. Like Tom Friedman, I recognise that the state creates the environment in which economic activity can take place.

Structural benefits of this sort are greater than then their total costs. This means that all members of society can be ‘net gainers’.

THNick said...

Hugh - Nick and George have already covered the fallacy that high taxes cause people to work less, but I will point out that higher spending is a better way of increasing growth (e.g. Krugman http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/bang-for-the-buck-wonkish/ )
If high taxes discouraged entrepreuners then Denmark wouldnt have a higher rate of new businesses than the US. Out of curiosity, how much work did you give up when the NI rates increased?

Anonymous said...

I happen to think that they design is very contempory and appealing on the eye - looking at the pictures for the insides it looks like a very high standard of finish, and going by the prices and rents in the area already I dont feel that they are overpriced. It is a positive reflection on our area that these flats will be sold for this price.

George Hallam said...

I ageee with Brockley Nick when he said that reducing the top rate of income tax has nothing to do with rewarding hard work or enterprise but is just a means of appeasing transnational corporations.

The correct term for this policy is ‘inverted Danegeld’.
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:
"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"

Brockley Nick also said...

. We are an open economy and a small damp island, with expensive housing and a not-very-well-educated workforce.

We can’t do much about the climate but we can close our economy and learn to rely more on our own resources. We could also do something about education, training and housing costs, but I have dealt with those issues elsewhere.

Hugh said...

Nick, I'm losing track of your point so can't really respond, particularly as my doctor example wasn't answered.

George Hallam cites research findings that money is an incentive only where the work is boring. Two things. My GP example is unanswered. And even if the research is accurate for certain tasks, where is the evidence that many jobs aren't boring?

THNick cites Krugman as support for the view that higher spending increases growth. I believe Gordon Brown shares that view. Enough said.

Keep them coming.

Hugh said...

PS If high taxes don't cause people to work less (either because they emigrate or put less into their UK jobs), why not increase the headline rate to 90%? Productivity would be stable and all the unemployed would be looked after.

Brockley Nick said...

The doctor example was perfectly answered. Let me give you an alternative example, by way of illustration.

A professional footballer is paid £2m a year after tax to play for an English club.

The tax rate then goes up, so that he is then paid £1.8m after tax.

Your "incentives" argument says that he will train less hard or perhaps retire at an earlier age because playing football is less well paid than it once was. If he's making less money, he'll say "blow this, I'm going to quit and spend my days playing golf."

I'm saying that's poppycock. He will play just as long and train just as hard as before.

However, my "competitiveness" argument says that while the higher tax rate won't affect his willingness to work, it will make working in other countries more attractive. And it will make other foreign footballers less interested in playing in England as opposed to Spain. This is not just theory, it happened.

So if we want to attract and keep top talent, we have to have a competitive tax rate. But lowering their taxes once they're here doesn't make them work harder.

George, of course, would close our borders, go back to playing eleven English men brave and true, withdraw from European competition and surrender all those international TV rights. Then everyone would be happy.

Brockley Nick said...

@Hugh - at some point in extremis undoubtedly a high marginal tax rate is likely to deter effort. I don't think 50% is that tipping point.

The emigration argument is different - that is my competitiveness argument - and I agree that high rates of tax can cause brain drain.

I would like to see the top rate of income tax come back down to 40%, but I'd raise the point at which people start paying income tax first, to reward the lower paid.

I'd introduce capital gains tax to housing and maybe lower IHT thresholds, while keeping VAT at 20%. I'd cut NI and broaden carbon taxes. I'd try to reduce the proportion of the economy accounted for by public spending by a couple of percentage points compared with 2008 levels but I'd do that by cutting benefits and raising the retirement age for people in the public sector rather than cutting infrastructure investment and services.

Hugh said...

Nick, I see your points. We just disagree on what would happen if.

Still m8s yeh.

George Hallam said...

I wrote that reasearch showed that:
material rewards only work as an incentive if the work is mechanical, repetitive and has a low cognitive content.

The objective factor is that the work has have a low cognitive content. That is, you are using mechanical skills not your intellectual skills.

This does not equate to ‘boring’ work.

Such work might be boring but that is subjective. If the working environment is right such work can be enjoyable. If you get on with your work mates then there is plenty of scope for banter.

Contrast this with work with a high cognitive content: this requires a much high level of concentration. Your can’t be having a laugh all the time without making mistakes, This is fine, if you find the work interesting. However, as I said, some people reach the point where the problems they have to deal with become routine. They still have to concentrate on solving them but the process becomes boring. That is why they want to move on.

Once people have certain level of income then money ceases to be a motivator with work with a high cognitive content: in fact it reduces productivity.

I have a friend who is a GP. He retired from his practice at seventy but carried on doing locums part-time. He is just about to finally retire in a few months. Take my word for it, he enjoyed his work and it is that which kept him going. Of course the money was nice but I suspect he would have done it for nothing.

On the other hand I know of doctors who hate the idea of general practice: they would find it utterly tedious.

Lou Baker said...

@nick

You're in danger of sounding like a Tory.

@George

I agree with your 5 pillars of the economy. As a country we don't spend nearly enough on education, infrastructure or R&D.

Where I differ from you is that I believe spending on these things should increase by lowering spending elsewhere - on non-essentials - and cutting taxes. You just think we should tax more and spend more.

Anonymous said...

Yes Lou, spend more on all that stuff. Trouble is beans out have to equal beans in. It's your basic bean counting.

Your "non essentials" probably mean the hoards of dole scroungers, look at the governments own figures. A tiny minority.

As for nick, he sounds more new labour to be honest and possibly a more progressive Tory. Sounds nothing like you though who seems to think that it's a criminal offence to be poor.

George Hallam said...

@Lou

Where is the money to pay for the pillars to come from?

HMG is currently running a deficit. It would be irresponsible to have large tax cuts at the moment. (Ihere might be some scope for some small tax cuts but there would have to be strong aguments for doing so.)

We must be realistic. These days one can't run a modern economy without the state accounting for somewhere between 40 to 55 percent of GDP.

If you want to reduce state expenditure then the best policy is to ensure that everybody who can work has a job.

This would reduce the benefits bill and increase the tax base.

Hugh said...

All this bleating about the state needing to create jobs.

If you look around for examples of countries where employment was guaranteed, they are without exception shtholes where no one wants to live: North Korea, the Soviet Union, Cuba, East Germany. Shall I go on?

What socialism proved is that it's too effective. Look after people properly and they bring the system to its knees. Why? Because self-interest always comes first. Capitalism isn't perfect either but you get something which allows you to keep more of what you produce. The mung beaners are happy with that if we're talking about relocating to rural France to bring up Jessie and Max on an organic farm, but think it's evil when the crops are swapped for cash.

Conclusion: only one side of the argument is coherent.

Lou Baker said...

@george

The government spends close to £700bn per year.

£44bn goes on defence. I'd scrap most of that. We don't need nuclear weapons, fancy war planes or ships. We need a small emergency response force - the rest can go. Our military budget should be £4bn max. That's £40bn of investment with no tax rises.

The benefits bill is £135bn per year. Scandalous. Almost half goes on the state pension - which I'd abolish. Instead I'd introduce a compulsory scheme for every worker.

Housing benefit is close to £40bn. That goes too. You live where you can afford to live and don't get subsidised to live elsewhere. Most of the disability benefit can go too - most disabled people should be required to work, like everyone else. Sure there will be limits to what they can do - but in the same way you expect everyone to pay their fair share, I expect everyone to do their fair share. Even if it's relatively little.

We have £40bn or so tied up in the bailed out banks. They will pay that back with commercial rates of interest - so we will ultimately make money from it.

£10bn per year on the ministry of justice. This is money spent on failure. People who come in to contact with the Ministry of Justice have mainly be failed by other government departments (education mainly) - this money needs reallocating.

£100bn on the NHS. I'd start charging for missed appointments and refusing treatment for lifestyle related conditions. ie) Smokers shouldn't be treated for smoking related diseases.

£25bn per year paying debt interest. Wasted money. Every penny.

This is just a start. There are plenty more areas to make savings.

max said...

Interesting list Lou.

My favourite is your identified savings of £10bn by shutting down the Minister of Justice!

What happens after that?
Do we just give up on the penal system or we just shoot a bullet at the back of the neck to all those suspected of offences?

And the £25bn saved by not paying interests on debt is also a good one. I suppose it may hurt foreign trade but who cares, it's a saving, right?

Gcse economics said...

A compulsory scheme for every worker.... Like the state pension. The 135bn is collected through tax and national insurance. It's not theft, its our money and provides a minimum level.

And yes, our crime rate is ut of control compared to the rest of the world (?) The best way of dealing with wrong doing is no prisons, no courts, no probation. That will stop it dead.

Default on our debt..... Erm.... Phew.

Hugh said...

Lou isn't far off.

The MoJ has its most obvious manifestation in the Courts "Service". As anyone who has dealt with them will tell you, it is staffed by dole claimants under another name.

I was recently involved in a civil case. It was a sort of draw in that both sides had to pay something to the other, although I had to pay more. No trouble, however: the Courts Service wasted so much time losing files and not answering phone calls during the course of the case that I demanded compensation and made much more than I had to pay the other guy.

If you have a week to kill and don't believe me, try calling the Central London County Court and waiting for the phone to be answered.

THNick said...

Hugh - Gordon Brown might agree with Paul Krugman, but that's still 1 more nobel prize on their side that yours.

Lou - a compulsory pension for everyone. And where would you invest the money taken from employees for this? The consensus is that you should put your money in government bonds as you approach retirement. But then the money still has to be collected in taxes to pay those bonds, so all your system has done is introduce more beaurocracy compared to the current pay as you go system.

Hugh said...

THNick, I think you're saying your views are whatever some famous person thinks. You could have said that with far fewer words.

Lou Baker said...

@max

I am saying the Ministry of Justice basically exists because other departments have failed. Decent, well educated, hard working people with jobs do not make up the bulk of the prison population. Investing more elsewhere - making schools better for example - will, over time, enable the MoJ budget to be cut.

And we should pay off our debt as soon as we can. The interest we pay is scandalous. We should live within our means.

@George

The state pension is expensive and inadequate. Workers should be compelled to save - but they should be able to choose where. Funds would have to be protected. Non workers should not receive a pension. Everyone should take responsibility for their own lives and not expect the government to do everything for them.

IMF said...

Lou, you think it would be cheaper to get an equivalent of a state pension from self investing WITH a state guarantee?

Dream on

As for living within our means, yes. We are meeting the debt obligations. It's big debt but, it needs to be lower but we have always had debt as do most developed countries and in fact any large bussiness looking for money to invest.

I do like your Boris Johnson style of decision making. Based on zero understanding of how ecomomies work.

George Hallam said...

IMF said...

I do like your Boris Johnson style of decision making. Based on zero understanding of how ecomomies work.

Let’s not be too hard on Lou. After all, most economists don’t understand how economies work. They put all their efforts into understanding how economies might work, if they were like the economic models that economists construct.

Brockley Nick said...

Says the post-ideological realist George Hallam.

Tressilliana said...

Lou, I think you'll find that people in the criminal justice system have not mostly been failed by the education system. The vast majority of them have not had the advantage of a happy, stable upbringing, and the reason for that is, far more often than not, that their parents didn't either. Self-perpetuating. If governments would just bite the bullet and invest heavily (and I do mean invest - it would pay for itself many times over in the long run) in supporting families we would see a big fall in crime and all sorts of health problems, and far better outcomes in education.

Hugh said...

'Invest heavily in supporting families.'

What does that actually mean, and aren't we already? See Lou's stats on the UK welfare budget.

In my head said...

Somehow I picture Hugh bullying the new boy why Lou keeps a safe distance holding his coat and sniggering. Of course neither pull.

Tressilliana said...

It means paying sensible, well-trained people to work with families with very young children and spot when the parents are not coping and teach them how to bring their children up properly. In the rare cases where the parents can't or won't improve, the children will have to be taken from their families, but most parents can do better with a bit of support and advice, and most really want to do better for everyone's sakes. The children in turn do better at school, stay healthier and eventually get jobs rather than drift into a life on welfare, sometimes involving crime, often involving substance abuse and mental illness.

Hugh said...

Sounds like Gordon Brown is visiting the board.

max said...

Tressiliana is absolutely right.
The early years are very important and behavioural problems are largely developed before children are 5.

There are plenty of young parents that don't know how to be effective parents and consistent early support is badly needed, the status quo is the other option and that means more generations of disfunctional adults that in turn cost a lot in benefits and penal system.

Hugh said...

If I recall, we already have something called social workers.

Tressilliana said...

Not enough of them, not the right kind of training. Health visitors, nursery nurses and playworkers are more important for the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Hugh said...

In other words, outsource parenting to the state and we'll all pay the bill.

Brockley Nick said...

@Hugh - absolutely. The alternative being that we pay in the end through crime, social problems and unemployment benefits.

Hugh said...

What percentage of families are we talking about?

max said...

I think it's a very difficult figure to source, but in my experience (how many kids in my daughter's school/pre-school are like that) they're quite a few.

Hugh said...

So an uncapped, and further, subsidy.

max said...

It's not a subsidy, it's social expenditure.

max said...

Just like income tax is not a fine.

Hugh said...

The difference being?

max said...

The difference is that this would be paying people for a job that yealds a result and consequent savings in other parts of the budget.
A subsidy is something else.
I thought you had benefitted from higher education.

Hugh said...

Your spelling suggests you didn't.

max said...

Just be grateful for the explanation on some of the commonest words inthe English language.

Hugh said...

Sorry, illiteracy carries zero credibility. Get some basic education.

max said...

You really are a child, aren't you?

Hugh said...

You mean even a child can spell better than you?

Lou Baker said...

@tressiliana

I agree that parenting is a huge part of the problem.
But despite throwing massive sums at if for decades the problem has got worse. And benefits culture exacerbates the problem because we pay people to have kids - even if they're incapable of looking after those kids. We'd be better off paying them not to reproduce.

We are not radical enough as a country to consider the temporary sterilisation of people who won't make appropriate parents. So we are left with the education system to sort out the mess - which it doesn't.

Schools need to be stricter. Discipline is key. And disruptive children should be dealt with immediately and forcefully. Children should be streamed - it is awful going too fast for the thick kids and too slow for the bright ones. We should reconsider introducing grammar schools - which, palpably, work.

Children should not be allowed to leave school until they can read and write. If that means they're still there aged 24 - so be it. Illiteracy and innumeracy are unacceptable. We must crack down on poor parenting and disruptive children.

Finally, feckless fathers. They should be castrated. If you abandon your children you are scum and society must ensure you can never have kids again.

Danja said...

We should reconsider introducing grammar schools - which, palpably, work.

As the product of one, I'd say it worked reasonably well for 80-85%, but failed the bottom 15%-20%pretty badly. They'd have done much better somewhere near the top of the next stream rather than just always at the bottom of the class. I'm all for streaming, but the grammar school version of streaming by picking kids at an arbitrary age on the basis of a one off, crude, test, and then fixing that stream for life (across every subject) is crude and dumb.

Hugh said...

If you really want to solve these problems you need to start by deciding what you're trying to achieve and at what cost.

As Lou says, an alternative to paying for a lot of useless people is to persuade their parents to produce less of them. See China's success.

Brockley Nick said...

I used to be opposed to the idea of grammar schools, because while they work for some, the net result is a huge rump of kids left behind, denied the chance to work alongside the academically gifted and motivated.

A comprehensive system, where the entire cross-section of society learns together, ought to work. Unforunately, since you can't force parents to embrace the model, what you get is separation by other means - ability to pay school fees, ability to fake religious belief, ability to move house and pay higher mortgage or rental costs, musical ability (wtf), etc.

If the system is inevitably going to lead to separation of children, then separation by academic ability is the most meritocratic. But if you do go that way, then you have to make damn sure that you sort out the schools for the 80% who don't go to grammar schools.

The UK does OK at educating the top 20%. It's the other 80% that we fail.

Hugh said...

If you're going to have state-funded education, you need to (i) make teaching harder to get into and (ii) junk most of the curriculum, and focus instead on basic skills (no, not IT) rather than knowledge.

mb said...

I went to a comprehensive so mung it would have sent Lou into an spitting rage. Was one of the best in London, I got in by chance rather than design. It was run by Molly Hattersly (Roy's wife) and was brilliant, it did have some light touch streaming though (although I'm sure they would deny that) but at least if you're in the same establishment there is a chance that they can adjust things as you grow up (in either direction. Confidence and maturity are as bigger issue for learning than pure IQ.

Danja said...

Perhaps King Herod might offer a useful policy precedent for the LouHugh Party ?

There might be some human rights issues, but that sort of pettifogging nonsense will be history anyway once that absurd frippery of the Ministry of Justice has been axed, so to speak.

Tressilliana said...

Were you there with Toby Young, MB? I heard him slagging the place off on Radio 4 not too long ago. He was much happier when he got to grammar school for the sixth form.

Tamsin said...

Change the terminology - "Modern Secondaries" sound so much better - and adjust the comparative values that society places on craft skills and "academic" ability.

And make the facilty to slide between the two systems at ages after 11 easier - there used to be such a facility for late developers, or those who struggled at Grammar School and ended up happy and fulfilled at Technical College but probably not enough.

Hugh said...

adjust the comparative values that society places on craft skills and "academic" ability

yeh simples

Lou Baker said...

@nick

The problem has never been with grammar schools. It was always with secondary moderns. Instead of just fixing that bit - the broken bit - we messed with the good part too. Madness.

I went to a terrible comprehensive. My parents were not rich. Most of the kids at my school were failed by the system. I was one of the lucky few who did ok. But the fact is I would have got much further in life if I'd have gone to a better school. Better uni, better connections, better job. Kids like me were slated to fail. The state failed us. And it continues to fail thousand of others.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh sorry Lou, I didn't realise you were a failure.

Anonymous said...

Nick - not everyone could go to Lord Poncemby's Boarding School for Boys such as yourself.

Brockley Nick said...

What on earth are you talking about?

Hugh said...

Let's say how much we all earn, for a laugh.

Tressilliana said...

Nick has posted a number of times that he went to a comprehensive school in LB of Greenwich.

Next!

Tamsin said...

Agreed, not simple at all - but one can try.

And a start would have been to improve the standing of the Technical Colleges and set up properly funded apprenticeships (quite a few CEOs of major companies started that way), rather than creating a second tier of universities from the former Polytechnics with half-baked courses that are neither fish nor foul nor good red-herring.

Hugh said...

We need a dedicated thread for economy and politics discussion, yeh.

NAT said...

Perhaps some trees might have softened their bunker like appearance.

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