Jhe cabinet discussed ways to ease the burden on families and individuals struggling with the cost of living crisis, including presenting “non-tax” proposals that do not involve raising taxes.
They include ideas that have been put forward by Boris Johnson, and others that have already been circulated.
Relaxation of health and safety rules in nurseries
The proposal is said to have come from the Prime Minister, who reportedly suggested lowering the legal requirements in England that there must be at least one member of staff for every three children in groups aged two and under.
Advantages: Many crèches found themselves overstretched in terms of staff and had to call on temporary workers. Parents and guardians have had to foot the bill in terms of increased fees.
The inconvenients: Caring for a group of toddlers can be a difficult, sometimes terrifying task for a number of caregivers. The idea only helps parents of children under the age of three. The coalition government has abandoned plans to reduce child-to-staff ratios.
Easing the frequency of MOTs
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reportedly suggested reducing the need for vehicles to have an annual MOT. Currently, technical checks must be carried out on every vehicle that is three years old or more.
Advantages: Avoiding the need to renew an MOT certificate could save drivers up to £54.85 for a car and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle.
The inconvenients: The idea is very good in practice until a car is involved in an accident and someone is killed. The AA also opposes this on the grounds that it would always result in increased repair bills.
Elimination of customs duties on food produced exclusively abroad
Overseas foodstuffs, such as rice and oranges, would be among those that could fall in price in supermarkets if tariffs were lifted.
Advantages: This decision could save consumers under pressure if the cost savings were directly passed on. Unlike other ideas, the savings could be felt by everyone, including low-income families who have cut back on supplies that many take for granted.
The inconvenients: Leverage in UK trade talks would be removed, which is why the idea would meet resistance from International Trade Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Lifting of green levies on invoices
The fee, which is used to fund renewable energy programs, is opposed by backbench Tories and right-wing sections of the press, although business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng held on.
Advantages: Levies add £153 to the average energy bill. Officials are said to have considered whether the levies could be phased out or simply phased out by the fall when bills are expected to soar.
The inconvenients: Johnson has previously said that green, sustainable electricity can help lower bills.
Cut red tape to allow more “parallel imports” from abroad at lower prices
“Grey market products” are branded products that are imported into a market and sold without the consent of the brand owner. It’s not illegal, but sellers must apply for a license in what can be a bureaucratic process.
Advantages: The cost of branded clothing and electrical appliances, such as smartphones, could come down by cutting red tape to allow for more “parallel imports”.
The inconvenients: Not an idea that helps the poorest families, who are struggling to feed themselves, let alone buy consumer goods.
Targeted campaign informing the public of unclaimed benefits
It is estimated that around £15 billion in benefits go unclaimed each year. This includes 1.3 million families who do not accept an offer of up to £2,000 a year for childcare costs. Other savings cover people living alone who are unaware that they could benefit from an individual reduction on council tax – calculated on the assumption that two adults live in one property – and benefit from a reduction of 25% off their bill.
Advantages: A campaign to educate the general public about unclaimed benefits could be a relatively inexpensive way to tackle the cost of living crisis.
The inconvenients: The sight of resources being spent on a public relations campaign will not benefit low-income families who are barely surviving despite making the most of the benefits they are already entitled to. Experts also describe as “summary” government data supporting suggestions that much of the support is unclaimed.
… and although it is a tax measure, the tax cuts
Kit Malthouse, the police minister, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the efficiency minister, were reportedly among the most vocal of those suggesting that tax cuts remain the best way to help members of the public in difficulty.
Advantages: The wiggle room exists if the numbers released this week are anything to go by. HMRC collected £718.2billion in tax in the last financial year, an increase of almost a quarter on the previous year, while National Insurance, Capital Gains and inheritance taxes have all reached record levels.
The inconvenients: Despite pressure from his colleagues, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is said to be particularly aware of the inflationary risks; during cabinet talks, No 10 said he ‘stressed the importance of not fueling further rises in inflation and pointed out that the UK was currently spending £80billion on the service of our debt”. A tax cut would also leave a hole in spending plans.