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SIR – Much of the narrative around tax cuts suggests that they are “given to the rich”.
The Conservatives must change this narrative. To grow the economy, we need to improve productivity, and at the moment the incentives are not strong enough. Why work harder when you know that the state will just take more?
SIR – Nick Timothy (Comment, November 20) calls on the Chancellor to give young people “a chance”.
I would prefer it if Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement gave the whole country a chance – not just the young or the poor or the rich or the old.
We all need hope for the future, but this is more than we can expect from the current Government, or its inevitable replacement after the next general election.
Lance T Fogg
SIR – It only makes sense to abolish inheritance tax (Letters, November 19).
Merely cutting it would mean it remained as complicated as it is now, requiring the same amount of administration and resulting in as much toil and anxiety for the bereaved.
SIR – I cannot join the calls for the abolition of inheritance tax.
Very few people incur this tax on their estates now that the family home can be left to a family member tax-free – and if there is no family, a major donation to charity will avoid tax on the balance.
More helpful, and higher up the scale of fairness, would be the restoration of taper relief on capital gains tax. Meanwhile, a better use of economic “headroom” would be to reduce corporation tax and restore the indexation of tax thresholds.
SIR – Inheritance tax would be slightly less objectionable if it could be paid after probate is granted and funds released.
At present HMRC must confirm that it has been paid before the probate office begins to consider one’s application. Not everyone has this sort of ready money.
SIR – I have noticed many conservative-minded people knocking the Conservative Party on this page recently.
One complaint is that nothing changes, except for the worse. However, complaining while failing to take any action will never achieve anything.
If you are a disillusioned Tory, might I suggest that you take a look at the Reform UK website? You may find something that floats your boat.
Market Lavington, Wiltshire
Vallance and Johnson
SIR – At the Covid Inquiry, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, bemoaned the fact that the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, had given up science at 15 and was unable to understand his advisers’ explanations.
When I joined the Government Statistical Service (GSS) as an assistant statistician in 1979, I was sent on an introductory course at the Central Statistical Office. The highlight was a talk by Sir John Boreham, then head of the GSS. He impressed on the new recruits never to forget that most of the politicians and senior officials we would report to were unlikely to be “numbers” people, and that our most important service would therefore be the verbal explanations of our charts and tables.
Clearly Sir Patrick never learnt this lesson. If Mr Johnson found his advice difficult to understand, then it was Sir Patrick who failed to explain properly what he was trying to communicate. He can’t pass the buck and claim that an obviously highly intelligent man was somehow “thick” just because he struggled with complex scientific concepts that fell outside his educational experience.
Reporting on Israel
SIR – The Jewish people of Britain are heartily sick of the biased reports from the BBC’s reporters in the Middle East. They have an agenda which leans heavily away from the Israeli side and ignores the reasons why this war was provoked.
The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (Ajex) parade, commemorating those Jews who gave their lives in the two world wars, marched silently and respectfully through London last Sunday, as it does every year. Only Sky News reported on this. Where was the BBC?
SIR – It is to Sir Keir Starmer’s credit that he has resisted pressure from within the Labour Party to ignore the facts of the appalling atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 and to treat Israel and Hamas as if they were morally equivalent.
Cystic fibrosis drugs
SIR – It is appalling that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is considering ending the use of Kaftrio and other drugs for cystic fibrosis (Comment, November 17).
Not surprisingly, much of the coverage of this decision has focused on children, but there are adults too who will suffer if the treatment is not extended. Although the drugs do not help everyone, as there are different forms of cystic fibrosis, I have seen the life of a family member transformed by them. He is stronger and healthier, and can now hope to see his small children grow up. He can also expand his company, thus employing other people and contributing to society.
Without the drugs such people would probably become a drain on the health service. How does Nice justify its position?
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Winter fuel rethink
SIR – The idea of means-testing winter fuel payments (report, November 20) has been ruled out. But the truth is that the scheme should be scrapped altogether.
It has been distorted way beyond its original purpose, which was to help pensioners cope with exceptional winter conditions as and when they occurred. It is now yet another system whereby the Government takes our money in taxation, processes it through the money-shredding Civil Service and gives a small portion back as “benefit”.
Next April the Chancellor should add a one-off £250 to the annual rise in the basic old-age pension and consign winter fuel payments to history.
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
Reasons to resist the move to a bungalow
SIR – I am not sure that the lack of bungalows alone prevents the elderly from downsizing (Letters, November 18). We are not all infirm, and many of us do not want to live in a bungalow, preferring to use the stairs in our homes to help keep us fit. Others may not want to leave their family home because they want space for grandchildren to stay. Some may not wish to pay exorbitant stamp duty.
In any case, many live in expensive housing, out of the reach of young families.
SIR – We lived in a Cambridgeshire village where we owned a large family house surrounded by a garden. We needed to downsize but wanted to remain in the village.
Our application to build a bungalow in the garden was refused. However, the planning department advised us that it would support an application to demolish the house and build two bungalows. After some robust correspondence, the planners reluctantly agreed to support an application for the house to remain and a bungalow to be built.
We made three applications in all, each subsequent application amended to address the ever-changing concerns of the parish council. In despair, before submitting the final application we met with the parish council. The chairman concluded there was no reason to oppose the application and the meeting unanimously agreed.
We arrived back from a holiday anticipating good news, only to find that the parish council had again unanimously voted to refuse the application. When questioned the chairman said the “parish council had simply changed its mind”. Sadly, after 40 years there, we had no option but to move out of the village.
A four-day week would divide the workforce
SIR – Simon Cowell is in favour of a four-day week, with no work on Fridays (report, November 20).
However, hospitals have enough trouble coping with a two-day weekend, never mind a three-day one. Teachers, transport workers and others would all require overtime pay.
On a more serious note, Mr Cowell is suggesting a new division in the workforce. On the one hand there would be those who wake at nine, turn on the computer and are at work. Then there would be those who wake before six and travel to provide a service – one that cannot close on Fridays. It would not be long before the emergence of a pay division between the groups – or maybe not, when the jobs in the first one disappear as AI supplants them.
Dr Michael Pegg
SIR – Last Friday I travelled by train from Huntingdon to meet my daughter and attend an event in London. Her trains to the city from Newbury were cancelled, forcing her to drive.
Following the event I made my way back to St Pancras to discover that the last train to Huntingdon had been cancelled. I had to call my long-suffering wife at midnight to ask her to drive to Bedford to pick me up.
Even before the next round of planned strikes, the rail service is at best random and at worst non-existent.
sir – It isn’t only dogs that are canny (Letters, November 18).
Our Siamese cat cost us two new fridge door seals. He worked out how to pull the door open, enabling him to help himself to any food he fancied. My husband drilled a hook and eye latch on to the door – but to no avail, as the cat jumped on to the dresser next to the fridge and worked out how to flick the latch open.
At least there were no vet bills.
SIR – I am surprised that I have not seen any letters complaining that the latest episodes of The Crown are in very poor taste.
I can only assume that few Telegraph readers are Netflix subscribers.
SIR – I counted at least four 1960s tunes in the television advertisements shown at half time during the recent England football international.
Is this to capture the grey pound or does the entertainment scene lack creativity these days?
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