PBR: Taxing Telephones

The PBR has been a triumph of doublethink. Announcing borrowing of £707 billion over five years whilst stuck in recession is, apparently, a "position of strength". Just as bizarre is the idea that taxing landline phones will help people's access to communication.


The telephone tax is part of the Government's strategy of "modernising the UK's digital infrastructure" by extending the broadband network. The idea behind it is that not having broadband is harmful due to the limitation on communication with wider society.


However, the chosen tax target is absurd. Every single landline in the country will be slapped with an annual levy of £6 (or 50p a month, as the Government are spinning it).


What of the many people - particularly the large numbers of elderly people - whose only electronic communication is the phone, who have low incomes and who have no desire to get broadband? In return for this extra bill they will get precisely nothing.


For someone who is on the breadline, and either house bound or isolated from their family or friends, this is an extra cost that is totally unjustified. Having a landline phone is a basic utility that ought to be as cheap as possible, not some kind of luxury.


Nor does it really have anything to do with broadband usage. It seems the Government have simply chosen phones as the target because they fall into the same broad category of technology as broadband.

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