The contributions of Nesrine Malik (When state services fail, citizens pay extra or sink. This is Sunak’s Britain now, 9 January) and John Harris (Sweeping social care reforms can wait – homes need money and workers right now, 8 January) made me wonder, not for the first time, just how much the reduction by stealth in the basic rate of tax from 33% to 20% over the past 40 years or so might have affected state provision, not only of health and social care, but a range of other public services.
The reduction in tax has clearly afforded substantial benefits in terms of personal prosperity. It has enabled many people to change cars more frequently (or buy new rather than used vehicles); to afford more holidays; to enhance the amenity and financial value of their homes by adding extensions and conservatories or moving up market; and to gain privileged access to a range of services. All these things are understandably desirable, but the personal advantages must incur some corresponding loss in terms of wider public good.
In making these points I am not necessarily advocating a return to 1970s tax levels – at least in the short term – but I suspect that analysis of the comparative gain to government revenues and public service expenditure which could have accrued from retention of the 33% rate (or various stepped decreases) would make very interesting reading. Perhaps your economics team or other contributors to the letters column could oblige.
Dr Gerald Dunning
Tonteg, Rhondda Cynon Taff