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George Osborne: His Cunning - And Only- Plan.

George Osborne is clearly very bright. You don't get to where he is today without having a good sized brain, along with a massive amount of political astuteness.

In his time at Number 11, Mr Osborne has persuaded UK workers to accept a 10% decline in real wages. Employment is up ( there are more people working in our country today than ever before); inflation is low; interest rates are low. Most countries would like - indeed envy - the package the chancellor has put together. And yet...

George Osborne is far from happy. His near 5 years in power have seen little or no reduction in the UK budget deficit, with, as a result, the National Debt growing steadily and alarmingly.

In casting around for solutions, Mr Osborne soon realised that there were few available. Increasing taxes is not something a Conservative chancellor could contemplate. Cutting social benefits IS attractive to his party but " easier said that done" applies to this remedy. Rather similar, in fact, to the chances of reducing net immigration.

All rather depressing for George - until he had his Eureka moment.

For years, UK private pensioners have been complaining about having to buy annuities. The grumbles were incessant and accompanied by accusations that Mr Osborne would do nothing, for fear of offending his friends in the City.

Suddenly, the chancellor came upon a way of confounding his critics in relation to annuities, whilst at the same time enabling him to significantly reduce the UK National Debt.

The Osborne brain wave was to let pensioners do more or less anything they like with their pensions.So long, of course, as they are willing to pay income tax when drawing the money from their pots.

The scale of Mr Osborne's solution is breathtaking. Private pensions in the UK have a current value of around £3000 Billion - or, put another way, roughly twice our National Debt. If pensioners pay tax on only 50% of that amount at a 20% rate, the exchequer will rake in a cool £300 Billion. In practice, the rakings are likely to be higher, since many higher rate tax payers have large pension pots.

The impact of the brain wave doesn't stop there. Interest rates are so low currently that, for many, there seems  precious little point in saving. Logically, this will lead to the vast majority of the pension pot draw-downs being spent as soon as the monies hit the bank accounts of the pensioners. VAT and other taxes then come into play. Hey presto, the chancellor is likely to find himself holding a total windfall of around £750 Billion, about half the current level of the National Debt.

That's the plan. Human nature being what it is, it seems almost certain to work.

Other positive benefits, as far as Mr Osborne is concerned? 

First, he wont have to make the scale of social benefit cuts that was deliberately leaked last week to frighten people.  Conservatives have already rounded on the BBC, accusing the corporation of bias. When the pension windfall arrives, the chancellor can proclaim the BBC were both biased AND wrong. It doesn't get much better than that for a Tory politician.

Secondly, once the UK public - you and me - have spent our much-taxed pension draw-downs, we will be forced to give up all thought of early retirement. We will continue working, happily paying yet more tax on our income and probably not costing the NHS as much, since working people are generally healthier than those who have retired.

I know some readers will be thinking " it wont be as simple as that" - and they are right to do so. The fact remains, however, that the plan I have outlined is already being implemented.

And It had better work. It is the only one George Osborne has available. 

 

 

 

Sunday, 7th December 2014

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