Yesterday Rishi Sunak delivered an hour-long speech at the Conservative conference setting out his agenda. I was struck by the prime minister’s lack of vision. He failed to properly address the huge challenges facing the UK.
NHS waiting lists are growing and growing, while our schools literally fall apart. The cost of living crisis is throwing millions into poverty and turbocharging inequality; while climate breakdown becomes ever more obvious to all.
Where were the solutions, the vision for the future? I couldn’t see it.
To be fair, this lack of serious vision isn’t a failure only of the Conservatives. Labour’s leadership are also, putting it as politely as possible, tight-lipped on how they would solve the serious challenges facing the UK.
Fairer taxes can help build a brighter future
In this vacuum of political leadership, it’s never been more important for us to shout as loud as we can that there are solutions to these problems – that things can be done. That there is money to invest in our futures.
We know the government has options. The UK could raise up to £50 billion extra a year by closing tax loopholes used by the super rich – and by taxing wealth more.
Redirecting the massive private wealth of the super rich into our grassroots public services would reduce wealth inequality: taking from the rich and giving to ordinary workers.
Taxing the super rich could also reduce gender inequality. A fascinating new report by the Women’s Budget Group (WBG), which we fed into, shows how men have on average 35% more wealth than women – it argues that taxing wealth more could help redistribute this and level the gender playing field. You can read more about our work on tax and gender with the WBG here.
Politicians could also introduce new taxes on the biggest polluters – oil companies and polluting corporations – raising billions of pounds every year.
This money could help fund a fair green transition: new renewable projects and better public transport, creating high quality jobs in the process.
People want action now
These options – to raise more revenue from the super rich and the super polluting – are all open to the government, and the public support them.
A new report from our friends at the IPPR last week shows exactly this: people support higher taxes if that money is spent on public services.
Our executive director Robert was on Sky News last week arguing that the public do not want to see more austerity.
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