/ Money

Budget 2017: how can it help the five million ‘working and struggling’?

UK money worries

Millions of households in the UK are worried about their finances. But what can be done to change this? 

Next Wednesday, Philip Hammond MP, will give his first Budget as Chancellor.

With our latest research finding that five million working people in the UK are now worried about their financial situation, we’re urging the government to use the Budget, along with the promised Green Paper on markets, to consider how it can deliver measures to help them.

Our findings

We looked at how full- and part-time workers felt about their finances. We found that five million of them were struggling, and classed their financial situation as poor or very poor.

Overall, 28% of all UK households said they were experiencing some form of financial distress, be it relying more on overdrafts and loans, or struggling to pay their mortgage/rent and everyday household bills.

When we asked those working households who felt negatively about their financial situation, this rose to three in five (61%).

A fifth had taken a loan or credit card, borrowed money from friends and family or used authorised overdrafts.

Others told us they were cutting back, while one in five (19%) people had defaulted on a loan, bill, mortgage payment or their rent.

Nearly two fifths (38%) thought their financial situation would get worse in the next year, with levels of household debt, fuel prices, housing costs, food prices, and household savings and investments chief among their concerns.

Green Paper on markets

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that the government would be publishing a Green Paper on markets ‘that are not working fairly for consumers’. This is due this spring.

We welcome this and think it’s a great opportunity to finally crack the problems that consumers face in the critical markets, such as financial services, energy, telecoms and transport, and make sure these markets work better for them.

This should include looking at gaps that currently exist in consumers getting redress when things go wrong, or when they don’t get the service they were expecting.

More also needs to be done to encourage people to switch providers to get a better deal. Recent figures from Ofgem on the number of consumers switching their energy company are promising, but more needs to be done to ensure more people do it – and across all markets.

What can be done?

In her first statement in July last year, the Prime Minister said she’d be focusing on helping people who were ‘just managing’.

At a time when people are clearly feeling the pinch, we’re urging the government to use its upcoming Budget and the Green Paper to do just that.

We think it should consider how it can use both to deliver measures that will help ‘working and struggling’ families improve their financial situation and make the critical markets work better for them.

Do you consider yourself among the ‘working and struggling’? Or do you know someone who is? How can the Chancellor use the forthcoming Budget and Green Paper on markets to help?

Comments
Profile photo of Napper
Member

Being of four score years and ten, plus a bit more, I was brought up to value money. Now a days, children do not seem to be taught on how to handle their finances. They do not seem to grasp the idea, if you borrow money, you pay back more than you borrow. Credit cards are a great idea, providing you keep them under control. Years ago, you used to have to put a 30%, or around that figure, deposit on whatever you bought on credit. Today everybody seems to want everything yesterday. Or maybe I have got it wrong for many years.

Member
John Wood says:
4 March 2017

You’ve got it right Napper, fear not, whatever “The Guardian” might tell you.

Member
Jane Giffould says:
4 March 2017

Being nearly 3 score and 10 I remember when austerity was the norm and rationing was in place. My family only bought if we could afford it and we lived in my grandmother’s house. Hire purchase was a no-no as we understood how that was a good way to pay over the odds for something. I played Monopoly from an early age, it helped understand finance. I brought my son up on Monopoly so that he could understand finance as well. At boarding school we were allowed £1 pocket money for the whole term, we had to keep track of spending with a cash book. Budgeting was understood. Education nowadays needs to instill an understanding of finance into students, not just in theory but in practical ways so they can understand that they do not get something for nothing but must learn to budget along with saving for items that they need whilst realising that they cannot have everything and not be conned by ads.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Wise advice Jane which is going to be ignored when the global drive to remove cash money from circulation tales effect benefiting only those with vast banking interests , certainly not the general public using the feeble excuse of money laundering /fraud by small time crooks .

Member
Jo says:
5 March 2017

l also am of that certain age when you had to save foressentials and luxuries and l still do .I think we were also told not to be a lender or a borrower.It must be very difficult for younger people when they are bombared with adverts telling them that they can not be without this or that gadget. Education on how to handle money and resist over spending should be on schools ciriculums.

Member
chris says:
12 June 2017

I would have thought that by paying for everything in virtual money would make it even more open to fraud – especially considering all the hacking going on with banks and the NHS and I am sure many more. Another win-win situation for the banks of course who will be bailed out yet again by the very taxpayers they are fleecing in the first place

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Head to US States like Arizona Chris who have made gold+silver legal tender as well as Utah , its putting the fear of death into big banks – quote-Professor Loren Gatch- discontent –the government /Federal Reserve ( who owns ya baby ? ) is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the Dollar . It would also cause a major upset here if implemented as the government would fight it tooth+nail ( on behalf of the banks+ Big Business ) if the Pound Note was scrapped and we went back to gold then HMG would have to live within its means – no more loans from the IMF/WB and they would be mightily upset and as they run the world would not allow it. Your right -Virtual Money ? = zero freedom of the public. Time for another Wat Tyler to rise up ??

Profile photo of John Ward
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I don’t suppose there is anything like enough gold held in the UK’s reserve deposits to substitute for paper money or invisible money [gilts, bonds, debentures, etc] so it would be practically impossible to return to the gold standard now. Even if every surplus asset was sold and converted into gold there would probably still be a shortfall. The banks would not be able to convert to gold unilaterally because the government, through Parliament, controls the money supply. National economies are based on exchange rates which, as Ian reminds us from time to time, are pure fantasy once you reach the supra-national level and are based on exactly nothing – other than confidence, which has mercurial properties.

Member
george sherwood says:
4 March 2017

the goverment are worried about taxes not being received,stop zero hours,bring in the living wage now,
not in 2020, show some confidence in your voters,as you keep telling the voter to have in the Gov.
Just an afterthought. Amazon. Apple, Google, and other American companies they allow to legaly fiddle there taxes. they may help that friend of Trump, T, May to make it arealy Special relationship.
“God bless the relationship”

Member
Jan says:
4 March 2017

George,
I agree with or comment on zero hours contracts, the living wage and big company taxes. Zero hours contracts for the main wage earner are no good you have to eat, pay bills. Put back staff into HMRC so taxes can be collected. Stop giving contracts to companies like G4S, Capita, Serco who are poor value for money ripping off the public purse.

Member
Pauline says:
4 March 2017

I think that credit card limits should be reduced by the banks, this would make people save for what they want., Also it would reduce the amount of money that people owed, and give our banks money to put aside for future use.
The government should stop all payments to immigrants, and make them self sufficient.
Also out law Zero hours contracts. There are people who work 10-15 hours a week, and it is not guarrenteed. They pay no tax and NI, what about their old aged pension.

Member
Malcolm Bannister says:
4 March 2017

Scrap the silly idea of HS2 and with some of the savings upgrade the current rail network. We as a country cannot afford HS2 and it will cause untold disruption to the towns and villages that it will carve it’s way through. And for what ???? to save people who can afford to travel on it a few minutes on their journey.

Regarding the poor getting poorer. I have long argued that percentage method of pay increases makes the rich richer and the poor poorer year on year. 3% of £10,000 is peanuts and 3% of £100,000 is a nice little earner.

RANT OVER. I rest my case

Member
Neil says:
4 March 2017

A return to tax relief on mortgage interest, perhaps for the first five or ten years for first time buyers might help many people.

Member
Richard McGee says:
4 March 2017

For too long now the BIG companies and multi nationals have made huge profits on the backs of consumers and customers. Add to that the fact that most of them are avoiding paying their fair share of tax and its no wonder the public feel put upon. There is enough wealth in this country to allow everybody to lead a decent life, instead we have the richest 10% grabbing most of the wealth and the rest struggling to get by. After all, once you have made your first million, bought the mansion, posh car,motor boat etc, the rest of it is lying in the bank or invested to earn more money. None of this benefits the ordinary person. All we ask is for a wage that will allow us to live reasonably comfortable lives.

Member
John Wood says:
4 March 2017

How fat are we? How many kids , burdened with £9000 a year tuition fees can still afford to get smashed most weekends? How many new cars did we sell last year? How many meals were handed out by the Trussell Trust food banks last year ( one in sixty thousand consumed!!) we are richer than we have ever been, and expect to be even more so.

Member
Karen Crowther says:
4 March 2017

i agree with napper everybody wants everything yesterday and they always seem to get what they want

Profile photo of malcolm r
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It is reported that Philip Hammond will include in his budget a requirement to abandon reams of small print in terms and conditions. I am all for this; in fact I think we should have standard forms of terms and conditions that do not hide all sorts to trap the unwary, and if there are additions they should be brief, explicit, and highlighted. However I am not sure why this forms part of a budget which I thought was about financial matters and the redistribution of wealth.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I read this too and it is something we have discussed in other Conversations. It is particularly important that changes in T&Cs are highlighted. Sometimes insurance companies do show the changes since the previous year.

If this is executed properly it could indeed protect the unwary.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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It is also reported that the budget will include proposals to ban firms from taking customers’ credit or debit card details for so-called “free trials”. I don’t like these practices that then rely on the customer remembering in time to cancel their continuous payment should they decide they no longer want to continue.

I wonder if this will affect the Which? £1 trial subscription scheme?

Profile photo of wavechange
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If companies are going to offer free trials then they should be free of commitment. I can see situations where taking card details provide some protection against the customer failing to pay for goods or services, examples being an hotel bill and petrol.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

I totally agree with banning taking customer’s credit or debit card details on ‘free trials’.

The small print can say that if you decide you don’t want to continue with the product, you must return the free trial unused. If you use the free trial, you enter into at least one full-price payment of the product.

Utter rip-off.

Member
Victoria says:
5 March 2017

I also am on a zero hour contract. I only work term time so effectually am out of work for approximately 1/3 of the year. This is very difficult when you have a children to support. We need too stop this government fiddle.

Member
M Thomas says:
5 March 2017

How on earth do people get into money troubles at a time when the cost of debt is as low as ever? How will these people cope when interest rates increase and suddenly their cost of debt servicing doubles or trebles? OK – the first question was rhetorical – low cost of debt means people feel they can borrow more – but I cannot understand the stupidity of looking upon a low-interest environment as an opportunity to get into more debt rather than an opportunity to shore up personal finances (‘make hay while the sun shines’). Even the government is doing it – refusing to take strong decisions about balancing its books in preference for leaving an even bigger national debt problem to future generations. The world has gone mad, drunk on welfarism, selfishness, the have-it-now mentality. If nobody grasps the nettle, then we are heading for a global fiscal disaster – what some refer to as ‘the end of money’ – when all governments simply default on their debts and paper money becomes as worthless as it was in the Weimar Republic. Be warned.

Member
Michael,Bernard,Budinger. says:
5 March 2017

As a young married man, some times I had to use the never,never. If a child needs shoes for school,and one is already struggling, then one has to use the tally man. One of the things that affect married couples is the price of school uniform now, in order to make profits they are limited as to where they buy it,and some schools will sell some items them selves, When young as my parents did, I could buy a pair of grey trousers,a blazer of what ever colour the school dictated, and the shops had all the school badges, Not so these days.
The schools and education authorities assume that every one is on the same pay scale as they,and are determined to make what ever profit they can.
Also today and this has affected me,all paper,exercise books, pens pencils technical drawing kits are provided by the parents, who also have to provide broadband, and lap top so children can access their school accounts and do some work at home,this also requires printers,printer inks and paper at home.
Also bullying, over 15 months, I purchased about 7 bags, 7 technical drawing kits,no end of pens,pencils and rulers. But teachers always take the easy way out,its easier to blame the victim,than deal with bullies,the teachers become part of the bullying.More expense.
I moved my girl out of that school,into another that did control bullying, If any of the kids knew about bullying,they were expected to report it,even when it did not concern them, this also applied to parents which included me.
As for the other school out of the 1700 parents,I was the only one to go against the school,they did not know that I had two pairs of adult eyes and ears inside, telling me what I needed to know. Result 6 female and 6 male from ofsted,entered the school unannounced at ten in the morning,at eleven I got a phone call telling me they were there.
Many things changed in that school, six lost their jobs,that was at the top not the bottom. They had over 900 pupils that year, the following year they had 400.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

A lesson in life learned there Michael , well done that man !

Member
Alan Symes says:
5 March 2017

Alan agrees with Napper, not surprising for we are in the same age bracket.
Too much peer pressure to expect every thing all at once with too little information
as to the future effect.

Member
J Walsh says:
5 March 2017

Unfortunately we have probably reached the point of no return. In our aquisitve society we want things NOW. We do not want to wait or be bothered to save up for things, we queue at the store doors to become the first owners of the latest gizmos or that new model car so that we can show off to our fellow humans as to how ‘cool’ we are. We really are a pathetic species, but who has made us like that.

Member
rosalee says:
5 March 2017

There always needs to be a scapegoat from Government and the media happily joining in. This pits one group of people against another. At the moment the target group is pensioners . Berated for having too much money,living too long,blocking our NHS and GP surgeries. Watch this space for the state pension to be frozen. Has any research been done on how much money is inherited (ie from their own parents)? Even if some retired people are living a comfortable lifestyle is this a crime? Many of todays pensioners have worked and contributed to the system for fifty or more years. The various so called perks are £200.00 heating allowance which has not gone up in years despite the rise in heating costs,plus a bus pass. The majority of pensioners who use a pass do not own cars and are struggling on a small fixed income. Do we really want a society where all pensioners live in poverty,cannot afford to go anywhere,cannot heat their homes and live on a diet of baked beans?
My own situation is worked forty-six years, did not earn enough money to contribute anything meaningful to a private pension,so exist on a state pensions plus small graduated pension. I get by but no money for any luxuries

I worry about all the predicted rises in basics this year. I own my home but struggled for years with the mortgage as always had high interest rates,and started out with only a new cooker and bed when first bought the house. Everything else second hand. I agree with some comments on this blog that you only had what you could afford. Back to topic feel there will be little help for the ordinary person,as austerity keeps the blame culture going and deflects from Government and what they are plotting

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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The next “Plot ” Rosalee (just announced ) is the Chancellor reducing Corporation tax to “attract big business ” as TM is saying -we might just pull out (Brexit ) with no agreement –so there !

Member
William Coleman says:
5 March 2017

The government MUST control the energy companies who are ALL holding us to ransom and causing untold misery and no doubt , even death from under heated homes of our elderly .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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If you want an “eye opener ” William click on : http://www.independant.co.uk/news/uk/politics/fuel-poverty-support-is-ten-times-bigger-in-scotland-and-wales-than-in-england-9219554.html and then – how the Scottish government tackle it : http://www.parliament.scot/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_15-13_Fuel_poverty_in_Scotland.pdf . I would like to add that the Scottish government has printed a “poverty map of Scotland detailing in colour what areas of towns+cities are wealthy- poor-very-poor and poverty stricken ,naturally it has not gone down well in many town councils throughout Scotland and some are trying to -re-propagandize by bring out their own maps making them look better.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I understand from that esteemed paper the DT that without help from England, Scotland would be bankrupt. So perhaps they believe the EU is a better bet to help them – if they go independent? I’m not sure the EU is as minded as it once was to fund the poorer economies to such a great extent.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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There are 48 energy suppliers who buy energy on the world market. Around 43% of your bill is actual energy. There a significant differences in tariffs. I am not clear how they are holding us to ransom? We pay far more for food, rent and, many, commuting – we could also regard these as holding us to ransom in that a greater part of such money as we have goes on these. Just a thought as to why the energy companies only are help up as the devils, and not these others.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I don’t know the reason but it is well known that the energy companies charge some customers much more than others. At one time we would be on the same tariff as our next door neighbours.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Might it be more accurate to say some customers pay more than others? Those on prepayment meters can now, I believe, get access to more competitive tariffs, and the many who do not bother to move from expensive standard variable tariffs could save money by doing so. Maybe we could explore the remainder who do not have options to change; some might be in rented accommodation perhaps where the landlord controls the supplier and tariff? I expect there are other examples?

Profile photo of wavechange
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I would rather tackle the cause of the problem, Malcolm. There are rules about resale of electricity and gas. I believe the landlord can charge a service fee but must charge what they pay for the energy including standing charge.

I’m not sure what happens in practice. Back in the early 80s when I was temporarily living in rented accommodation I quickly found that the landlord was overcharging me for electricity in an all-electric flat. I complained and he had the meter set to the correct rate – about a quarter of the initial rate. He claimed it was a mistake but I checked the meter in the next flat and the same mistake had been made. Exploitation of people has a long history and it’s not just the vulnerable who are at risk.

I don’t want to go back to inefficient nationalised industries but neither do I want the commercial world to exploit their customers by deliberately engineering that in the absence of action they are likely to be overcharged for energy.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I was looking to see what the specific problems were, then we can tackle the causes. Many people are not overcharged for energy, but we need to identify those who are, and why, to talk about what can be done, in my view.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Malcolm said, with regard to the desire of the SNP to keep Scotland attached to the EU after Brexit [or to gain independence and apply for readmission], “I’m not sure the EU is as minded as it once was to fund the poorer economies to such a great extent”. I believe that is the case, and that without the UK’s contributions I feel the EU would be even less able to prop up ailing economies. I would expect the EU to accept Scotland’s accession if it became independent but on strict convergence principles. The EU put out the welcome mat for various eastern European nations largely for strategic geo-political reasons. I also question how Scotland on its own could afford to belong to NATO.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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It couldn’t afford to belong to NATO John only a few coastal patrol boats and thats where it comes up against “the Donald ” . SNP policy is to remove Faslane and the UK,s nuclear subs , that is a main plank of their policy and is supported by the majority of Scots who realise in the event that WW3 starts Glasgow will be flattened and various air bases in Scotland will be too as will Donald,s two golf courses now owned by his son . Funnily enough I said a while back I “voted ” for Trump ( only one apart from “our Nigel ” ) in the UK , to show you the power of Which I have now been getting emails for a month or two from –The WhiteHouse .gov , I kid you not , its real ! even got a survey to fill in to help him decide policy , waiting for an invite to the WhiteHouse now ?? My ISP stuck them in the Spam but I rescued them . I have one downloaded now and -believe it or not he wants me to reply !

Profile photo of John Ward
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Be careful you don’t become a collaborator, Duncan.

I assumed that if Scotland left the United Kingdom it could claim a proportion of the military assets, which might be a couple of frigates and destroyers and a nuclear submarine plus a squadron of aircraft and the Scottish regiments. [Nuclear submarines don’t have to have nuclear warheads on their missiles].

I assume the Declaration of Arbroath has not been repealed.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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I could never be disloyal John , its not in me , I couldn’t live with it , if our country was attacked I would try to join something to help. NS has said she will not get any warships from Westminster and will have to make do with patrol boats to ward off illegal fishing . Your right the Declaration of Arbroath hasn’t been repealed , the Scots helping write up the USA Declaration of Independence helped make the wording very similar in meaning, NS does say if TM makes it hard if they get Independence then she wont pay the Scottish part of the National Debt. if a “hard border ” is drawn up then NS will want to know why TM has come to an agreement not to do the same between NI and Eire with the Taoiseach .

Member
g round says:
29 March 2017

i agree there should be 1 price for gas and one price for electric , like it was before thease companies were privatised ,and forigen goverments and investers take all the profits , lets renationalise them so the consummers gan benefit

Profile photo of Ian
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This morning the BBC was running pieces about atmospheric pollution, so it seems it’s politically ripe for attention.

Cutting pollution in cities would be relatively easy, by adopting the Zermatt solution: no petrol or diesel powered vehicle other than emergency services. The budget might also be the time for making all electric and hybrid vehicles more cost-effective to buy. Bigger incentives to buy all-electric would be a start, and banning all non-electric vehicles from roads near schools could be another measure.

Profile photo of John Ward
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Steady as we go! We don’t have enough power generating capacity yet to go all out for electric motoring. Let’s cut down on engine sizes first and remove the option of having high-pollution vehicles [so the better-off cannot buy their way out of controls]. Let’s enable town and city councils to buy up all car parks at existing market values so they can redevelop them profitably to invest in alternative transport systems like trams, trolleybuses and guided busways. Let’s develop reliable and efficient hybrid taxis. We could put down a marker that all towns and cities must ban all petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 [or sooner if possible]. Deadlines could be introduced for cleaner bus and truck engines.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I don’t disagree about the measures suggested by Ian and John, but my priority would be to encourage cycling in cities and protect walkers from these cyclists.

Profile photo of Beryl
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Cycling and walking is definitely a healthier option but only if all polluting vehicles are banned from city centres. The alternative would be to wear a protective face mask. I have been looking online at nasal filters which the mfrs claim provide protection from pollutants and viruses. Can anyone vouch for their efficacy?

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Hopefully both will happen. It’s not just vehicles that cause pollution, of course, and now that wood burners have become more popular, these are increasingly causing concern. The efficacy of filters would need independent assessment.

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It is unlikely that polluting vehicles will be banned in the near future. As has been pointed out we do not have the resources to support alternative transport – electric vehicles for example. A major source of pollution in urban areas is from stationary or slow moving traffic in congestion, which could initially be tackled by restricting access at peak times.

Is a budget Convo the right place for this when we have Convos dedicated to car pollution?

It is time we saw personal transport for many as unsuitable for town and city access. Park and ride schemes would be a relatively simple way to get people into town without the need for personal transport, as would restricting car parking to essential users only. Paying to pollute is no answer.

Profile photo of wavechange
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The budget would provide a good opportunity to raise awareness of the pollution problem in our larger cities. We could devote more money to promoting cycling and walking, and encouraging use of park & ride schemes.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Given the hilly nature of much of the UK and the weather I don’t see cycling as more than a limited possibility. Many live too far from work to walk. New tramways are very expensive and restrictive. Whilst less efficient, but far more flexible, electric buses from out-of-town terminals seem more appropriate. I’d even live with petrol powered public transport as an interim measure.

That leaves the pollution from delivery vehicles and we perhaps need to think about these – certainly eliminating them at peak times would reduce pollution when they can move more freely. Perhaps using out-of-town distribution centres might improve the efficiency of distribution with electric vehicles.

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As I said, I was referring to cycling in cities. I would be surprised if we see petrol-powered public transport but remember that taxis in Tokyo ran on LPG when I visited nearly 20 years ago.

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In the gap between sufficient electric public transport, and with the development of more efficient petrol engines that are less polluting than diesels, this might be an interim measure. Commuting seems one of the major polluting activities – herds of cars containing one individual converging on populous areas all at the same time, creating jams of polluting vehicles.

Subsidised electric vehicles was mentioned. I do not see why the taxpayer should subsidise personal transport vehicles. Subsidy should go to more efficient methods of moving people – public transport infrastructure and minimally-polluting buses.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I have not seen recent figures but LPG would be a cleaner option than petrol for hybrid buses.

Some employers have subsidised purchase of cycles. In some cases it is done for environmental reasons but it can be done because of lack of car parking space.

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I think there’s good reason to make the cost of buying electric vehicle far cheaper. It does reduce pollution, of course, which should produce a net gain in health terms and thus reduce costs for the NHS, so it makes sense from the pecuniary perspective. It reduces the national dependence on oil, which can only be good, it reduces noise at a stroke, so another net gain for health services, especially mental health – in fact, given all the money saved I doubt we can afford not to make owning electric vehicles far cheaper, while raising the duty on Diesel and Petrol.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Using electric vehicles in cities and towns has obvious benefits but when you take into account battery manufacture and replacement and the inefficient processes of making and storing energy, the environmental benefits of electric cars are not quite so good as sometimes claimed. Hopefully the cost of ownership of electric vehicles will fall as they become more popular and the cost of diesel and petrol rises.

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If many more electric vehicles are produced at a price people are prepared to pay then we will have to increase our electricity generation capacity unless we require them generally to be charged off-peak only. Should my tax. however, be used to give a handout to people who can afford £25k for a new car, or should my tax be used to fund essential services, and improve public transport so that personal transport into town is, for many, no longer necessary, also benefiting those who are unable to afford and fund their own car?

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Surely the question should be “Should my tax be used to achieve a healthier and safer environment for our children and should my tax be used to help the NHS and possibly improve local transport?”. I’m also unsure about the point regarding electricity generation. There are plans afoot to turn electric cars into reservoirs for the grid, so once topped up on the off-peak supply, they can then feed back the surplus. It’s also interesting that most cars don’t exceed 25 miles per day on average, so I suspect the generation issue, given the falling use of electricity through the introduction of LEDs, auto power off systems and the like might not be a problem.

Our youngest and his better half both work for Grid, so we do get first-hand information on the state of the UK’s power supplies and demands.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Covering a garage roof with solar panels might produce a useful amount of electricity – free of charge after installation.

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Many people in towns, where electric cars would see most use, will not have garage roofs. If they did, and commuted to the office, their car would not be at the source of free electricity to be charged when the sun is out (apart from nightworkers 🙂 ). They could, however, be charged overnight on off-peak, something useful to the generating companies.

But why do we encourage people using personal transport when public transport is a more energy efficient way of transporting people around town and city? They take up road space and sit on expensive land in car parks most of the time. I think we need to look ahead of the present situation and implement better ways of moving town and city dwellers about, and visitors. We also need to reduce commuting by encouraging business to locate near people, rather than dragging them in at great expense to over-populated places.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Some garage roofs will be shaded or orientated wrongly and unsuitable for solar panels – just like some houses are. Where they are suitable, it would make sense to use them.

Employers could install solar panels on their buildings to charge cars during working hours. I have just found a book (a prize for metalwork when I was a kid) entitled ‘Power From the Sun’ by DS Halacy, first published in 1962. It refers to electric cars and out of town employers providing charging facilities for their employees’ cars. How many more decades do we have to wait before doing what is obvious?

I’m not sure we do encourage use of personal transport, but it’s the easy option. The form of personal transport we can safely encourage is cycling – electric bikes if you prefer – or schemes like the Boris bikes in London.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Better, surely, for commercial sites to use solar panel to feed their own needs. not those of electric cars. We don’t all need personal 4 seater transport, usually occupied by just one person. if we plan urban transport with the future in mind. Roads are already far too congested.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I specifically referred to out of town employers for that reason.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Out of town employers are less of a problem to diesel and petrol vehicles. It is the congested populated areas where pollution should be addressed as a priority.

Profile photo of Beryl
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WHO name Oxford along with Glasgow, Scunthorpe. Leeds, Eastbourne, London, Southampton, Port Talbot, Stanford-le-Hope, Nottingham, as having dangerous levels of pollution. Oxford with its historical roots and large number of cyclists are planning to introduce trams in an effort to combat this. See: oxfordfutures.org.uk – Trams for Oxford.

Also of interest: en.m.wikipedia.org – Trams in Europe.

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When the bicycle was the main means of personal transport to work there was much less traffic on the roads. Nowadays I am not sure that cycling in cities and town centres should be recommended as it is fraught with potential hazards and under any proper risk assessment would be severely cautioned. The obvious answer is to drastically reduce the level of traffic, not substitute electric traction for internal combustion engines since the dangers to cyclists would remain.

Highway design can make a significant improvement in cycling safety but unfortunately I have seen these measures compromised by the irresponsible behaviour of a minority of cyclists. Some show-off cyclists are also inconsiderate to older and slower cyclists and to women and children on bikes, as well to pedestrians. Impatience and discourtesy need to be restrained before most people will feel comfortable and safe with pedal power.

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That World Health Organisation list is both interesting and curious, Beryl.

Scunthorpe and Port Talbot had massive steel making plants, Stanford-le-Hope had giant oil refineries, and Southampton is across the estuary from the huge Fawley oil refinery. Most of these installations are now either shut down or greatly reduced in output so there is a legacy of industrial pollution. Oxford has car plants and other industries on its doorstep. Glasgow, Nottingham and Leeds are manufacturing cities but not to the same extent as some other midland and northern cities. London is polluted by its buses, taxis and delivery vehicles. But Eastbourne? I wonder why that residential coastal resort is so heavily polluted as to figure in that list.

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John – I think we do need to drastically reduce the amount of traffic in city centres. I remember when one of the busiest shopping streets in a city centre was closed to motor vehicles. At the time this was widely condemned by many including myself, but the advantages became obvious sooner or later. We do need to ensure that cyclists are safe from vehicles and that cyclists do not pose a threat to pedestrians. It’s a tall order and we may need to look at other countries for inspiration.

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Eastbourne does seem a strange one but it does have a long drive along the coast and could have too many cars crawling to find a parking space, or idling while they wait for cars to get in and out of parking spaces.

You would think the sea air would quickly blow it away though.

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Oxford currently has 5 park & ride schemes on its outskirts but nevertheless remains one of the top polluters. If air pollution is to be improved in large cities, then it makes sense to remove the main polluters. It was interesting to read that motorists won over trams in London, complaining that trams were a hindrance and got in the way! Now it appears its cyclists are the main culprits!

It’s time to rethink our love affair with the car and prioritise our own and our children’s future health.

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My previous reference to “electric traction” has brought to mind that gloriously-titled piece of municipal enterprise, the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley & Dukinfield Joint Electric Traction Board, a joint authority formed by the four borough councils. From the start of the twentieth century it operated an extensive tramway network around the eastern side of Manchester powered from its own electricity generating station. Worth remembering in case it comes up in a quiz. Alderman Gridlock was its chairman [no he wasn’t – I made that bit up].

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Trams work best on segregated track, but are extremely expensive to install compared to transport that uses existing roads. Where trams were extensively used until the ’50s was successful until road motorised traffic grew, and they caused severe hold-ups. Now we have the potential of electric buses that were not an option in those days, and even hybrid buses where longer journeys are required.

We had a music professor at Nottingham and Birmingham Universities – Ivor Keys (d. 1995) – which seemed as appropriate a real name as your fictional alderman.

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Oxford certainly has a problem despite the number of cyclists. It recently took 1 1/2 hours to get out of the John Radcliffe hospital – so a large herd of cars, engines running, polluting a sensitive area, due to sheer weight of traffic outside. Only by controlling the use of personal transport at peak periods can we begin to get to grips with this problem, and the congestion will not go away simply by exchanging a fossil-fueled vehicle for one driven by batteries.

I wonder how much the park and rides reduce the traffic into the town? One on the east seems to cater particularly for people commuting into London and to the airports. If strategically placedthey should cater for residents on the outskirts and near-by settlements, with a decent bus service picking up residents within the town/city boundary. An incentive to use them, apart from price, might be to restrict the entry of private vehicles at peak times and to limit car parking to essential users. Half-hearted schemes, such as being charged a fee to enter but allowing you to pollute, seems not to really address a problem that needs a long term solution.

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That’s one of my concerns too, Malcolm. The overhead wiring of trams and trolleybuses is not very attractive either.

Do any park & ride schemes use electric (rather than hybrid) buses? With space at less of a premium at the car park terminus, this provides a convenient opportunity for parking the buses while the batteries are being charged.

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Eastbourne is the third worst in the UK for PM2.5s, particulates that penetrate deep into our respiratory systems and seventh worst for the larger PM10 pollution, according to a new data base by the WHO.

PM2.5 pollution in the UK broadly runs in a band from South-East to North-West England, and the proximity to other polluted areas is a big factor. Eastbourne is not too far from polluted London – fifth worse for both PM10s and PM2.5s – but being next to the English Channel is also relatively close to one of the most densely populated parts of continental Europe.

Trials for electric P&R buses are also in the pipeline in bids to reduce Oxfords pollution levels. See: oxfordmail.co.uk – Electric Buses – will be given trial as city bids to reduce pollution levels. Electric buses apparently can be charged wirelessly through pads in the road (March 2015),

Maglevs are the new high speed answer for inter-city travel and the U.K. has a lot of catching up to do to compete with Far East Asian innovative technology. To be able to afford this futuristic kind of green travel, we need first to develop an economy fit for 21st century way of life. We have an awful long way to go I feel.

I hope Philip Hammond is able to pull something out of the political financial bag tomorrow that is not too painful, in order to kick start a more successful UK centred economy and a new way forward for our countrys future prosperity.

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Mavis Richards says:
6 March 2017

I’m 73 and have no benefits and have enough not to need them. The fact that people are working 2 or 3 jobs and still can’t pay rent and feed their children is a disgrace. This government is killing the disabled and the poor so that the rich can continue to get richer.

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As this convo is about money here is a bit of news that some will say is good and some bad . The UK government has just approved a £10 Billion loan to help rebuild Iraq and the good news – at last ! HMG is “using the head ” ALL the money spent MUST be used by BRITISH firms now thats something that will make me like this government more ! Iraq Acting Finance Minister -Abdul Razzak al-Essa + British Ambassador Frank Baker told Reuters

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If you look a little deeper, Duncan, that’s not really the great news you might imagine. It’s unlikely much of this will ever be repaid; in fact, it rarely is, so it’s essentially a donation. Which is fine, but then the next point hides a multitude of sins. While British firms may be the overall recipients in theory, in a Globalising world a great deal – of not almost all – the money will go to companies elsewhere, the major recipent of which will almost certainly be the US.

Having said that Iraq deserves help, as it’s suffered a fair bit, but I’d want to see the breakdown of the £10bn as what a Government spokesperson describes as £10bn is often vastly different from what you or I might.

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Ian will it not supply jobs for British workers and use equipment made in Britain or are you saying that UK companies will not use Britons but overseas workers and foreign equipment as well as your point of overseas shareholders owning most UK businesses ? If that is what you are saying then what is being implied by TM/HMG is political propaganda and edging on monetary deception on the British tax payer –that wouldn’t go down well with the UK public in times of recession ( or whatever word you want to call it to make it sound more “acceptable ” ) . I took her at her word -shouldn’t I have ?

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I don’t know for sure, Duncan, but I’d be fascinated to see just how much of that £10bn will end up directly helping British-owned businesses.

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I assumed it was for double-glazing and blockwork drives. Is there anything else we do now on the capital account? Last time I looked that was mostly what they need after a difficult period.

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Cynic…

🙂

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I understand that the Chancellor is expected to raise personal allowances, which will help taxpayers. That won’t help those who don’t have a sufficiently high income to pay tax.

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He probably believes in the trickle-down effect.

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That’s what happens when you get older, John.

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Ahem – Mine was a serious comment and relevant to the topic.

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The point is that many elderly people rely on benefits trickling down to them (as John puts it) because they have no other means of increasing their income. Crumbs off the rich man’s table if you prefer. Those who would be best helped are the genuinely deprived, and this should come through the benefits system. I have never understood why, when the basic state pension is around £7000 a year we (some) moan when (untaxed) benefits are capped at £23000. Some real rebalancing should be done. As state pensions are taxed perhaps we should tax other state benefits? They are both paid out of the same pot.

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If your company pension had not been increased for 20 years whilst shareholders continued to benefit from that same company’s profits, you are more likely to end up begging for “crumbs off the rich mans table” with increasing age.

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It seems nine state benefits are taxable while eighteen are not. Child benefits falls into both camps, depending on overall earnings. But I fear there are nastier moves afoot.

Since some date in the past year (it’s not clear exactly when this became the rule; it might have been as recently as 01/02/17) all EU citizens who have not worked or been self-employed for five years must now have comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI).

You can read more about it here: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/briefing-legal-status-eu-citizens-uk/

“The main group affected are EU citizens who are self sufficient but who do not have comprehensive sickness insurance. This would include an EU citizen married to a British citizen where the EU citizen does not have comprehensive sickness insurance, is not currently working or self employed and has not worked or been self employed for five continuous years.”

This seriously affects elderly spouses who may have married UK citizens many, many years ago and may have been living here for more than 50 years. It’s clearly intended to placate the Brexit groups but the horrifying reality is that its effects are utterly indiscriminate. Imagine being deported at the age of 80, having been married for 50 years to a British Academic and having to return to your country of birth because the NHS will no longer treat you unless you have comprehensive medical insurance – pretty difficult at the age of 80.

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Can you give an example of this Beryl? I am no expert on company pensions but as far as I know they have terms that you sign up to. Are you saying many company pension schemes have had no increased payouts for 20 years, contrary to the terms agreed?