By Jonathan Eida, researcher
Tuesday marked King Charles’ first King’s Speech. Amongst all the pageantry came the political agenda for the coming months. There was little for households bearing the weight of a 70-year high tax burden to feel overly enthusiastic about, but here are four things that stood out to me which are bound to have implications for taxpayers:
Licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea
The government announced that, under the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, they would be offering licences to companies for oil and gas projects in the North Sea. This was a welcome announcement. The UK, and indeed the rest of the world, is still reliant on fossil fuels. This is an immovable fact. While renewable energy is thankfully becoming more feasible, we’re not yet at a point where a full transition is at all viable. Surely, then, continuous use of terrestrial oil and gas supplies is common sense.
Using the UK’s innate energy supplies brings other benefits. Perhaps most notably, it provides the UK with an extra layer of energy security. The past year has been full of geopolitical turmoil. From Russia and Ukraine to Israel and Gaza, supply lines for energy have been under threat. The UK has been subject to fluctuating energy costs and a cost of living crisis. The sensible option is to shield ourselves from spiralling energy costs as much as possible.
Plans for a phased ban on smoking, and restrictions on vapes
In a much more pessimistic move from the government, the plan to introduce a phased ban on smoking is, quite simply, illiberal and wrong. The TPA’s stance has been covered extensively in previous blogs - taxpayers (and the taxpayers of tomorrow) shouldn’t be infantilised and made to pay for the privilege.
Our recent episode of TPA Talks with Simon Clark, director of smokers’ rights group Forest, tackles these plans in great depth.
The arguments for a football regulator ignore the de facto regulator; the FA. The government gives a significant amount in grants to the FA to run the game. The FA has been fixing some issues already. The fit and proper persons test, for example, has already been introduced. Arguably the restrictions should be tightened, but that power already lies with the FA. Moreover, UEFA has introduced new financial fair play rules to stop clubs from dissolving including club accounts being checked every quarter and the Squad Cost Rule which limits spending on wages, transfers and agent fees to 70 per cent of club revenue. Additionally, talks over the redistribution of income across the pyramid are constantly taking place. This suggests that the bulk of the issues are already being taken care of. Another regulator, therefore, seems superfluous. This body would inevitably overreach and become a political pawn of the government - another excuse for meddling bureaucrats to involve themselves in matters they know little about and run up huge costs in the process. The Football League is ultimately a British success story and the occasional pitfalls will inevitably correct themselves.
The UK to join CPTPP trade pact
Signing up to this trade pact between eleven other nations is a welcome move, as is any opportunity to expand trade and cut tariffs on goods. During the cost of living crisis, in particular, access to cheaper goods and services will help businesses and households tackle costs and increase economic growth. It is predicted that joining the CPTPP would increase GDP by 0.08 per cent; a modest figure given that the UK already holds free trade agreements with nine of the eleven existing signatories. Nonetheless, this is a step towards freer trade on the global stage which should be celebrated.