The Independent

Austerity? No, we need the rich to pay their fair share


Why does the discussion around the “fiscal black hole” in the UK’s finances always become a discussion about which services will be cut the most? Surely it is apparent to everyone that austerity doesn’t work. It hits the poorest hardest and is brutally unfair.

How about we close the non-dom tax dodge loophole instead? Or close the offshore tax havens?

Or tax the very wealthiest in our society, not more, but the same rate of tax as high earners in the PAYE system? A quick check of the rich list shows who these people are. They use completely legal means to minimise their “tax burden”.

It is completely unfair to the whole population of the UK to cut public services further. The NHS, education and social care systems are on their knees after 12 years of austerity. The system needs to be completely overhauled and made fairer. The black hole would be filled to overflowin­g if only the wealthiest paid their fair share.

Karen Brittain York

Why won’t Tories tell the truth about Brexit?

On BBC One’s programme Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Jeremy Hunt was of the opinion that Brexit has not made us poorer, blaming the pandemic for preventing Britain from benefiting from it.

This was not the overwhelmi­ng view of the panel of experts comprising the FT’s editor Roula Khalaf, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Paul Johnson and the historian Sir Simon Schama.

Hunt’s failure to admit the obvious gives little confidence in his promise that he will be honest about our economic problems – though, admittedly, it must be difficult for him to tell the truth when his boss is a proud Brexit supporter.

Roger Hinds Surrey

Unity, not division

In this divided nation, Sunak should realise that, by denigratin­g opposition leader Starmer, he is indicating that he is, de facto, prime minister of only that portion (much less than half) that voted Conservati­ve.

In times of trouble, whether economic, social or internatio­nal, he needs to act statesman-like, cut the petty parliament­ary squabbling and engage the opposition and, by inference, more than half of the nation in a spirit of cooperatio­n.

Ian Reid Kilnwick

Be parsimonio­us with diagnosing conditions

Charlotte Colombo may well be right [that some conditions are underdiagn­osed]. But she arrives at that conclusion by lumping many different behaviours under one heading. Even if that were not the case, it seems rather perverse to label something very common as “neurodiver­se” and want special treatment for it.

Sceptics like me are concerned about the trend of pathologis­ing normal human variation and, in consequenc­e, stigmatisi­ng those who differ even slightly from some ideal standard.

In my career as a university teacher, I have met many people with obvious and extreme, often debilitati­ng, autism, ADHD,

ASD and even dyslexia. I have seen some of their lives greatly improved both by treatment and as a result of appropriat­e adaptation by others. But surely we want to be parsimonio­us with such diagnoses.

As WS Gilbert said, “if everyone is somebody, no one is anybody”.

Rachael Padman senior lecturer (retired), Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, fellow emerita

The corpse of ID cards

Why is the Labour Party so keen to spy on us? Now the shadow minister for immigratio­n, Stephen Kinnock, digs up the corpse of David Blunkett’s lunatic ID card scheme and threatens us with it once again. In 2008, the London School of Economics estimated the set-up costs of Blunkett’s scheme at £12bn.

How many hospitals would Keir Starmer close, how many pensioners would be left cold, to inflict upon us a system that will be hacked as easily as a minister’s phone? And all to bring us a step closer to China’s totalitari­an “social credit society”.

Yvette Cooper has denied that ID cards are on the table, but if they end up being so, Starmer can kiss my vote goodbye.

Barry Tighe Essex

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