Government needs a big idea and Investment Week is happy to supply one in election week: do somethin...
Government needs a big idea and Investment Week is happy to supply one in election week: do something radical to enthuse the UK population about savings and investments.
Barring divine intervention the Labour Government will be re-elected and now would be the perfect time for it to have a flash of what the Americans call 'the vision thing.'
Labour's first term in office has been about making itself acceptable to middle Britain and out-Torying the Conservatives. It might be necessary but it is hardly exciting: the Pep has been renamed the Isa and the stakeholder regime affects exactly the same market as group personal pensions.
Labour has provided a rebrand but it has not exactly pushed a culture of savings and investment out to those who have never had it before.
Blair has been quick to learn from Mrs Thatcher in all sorts of areas but he has missed out on one. Thatcherism appealed to the aspirations of a significant percentage of the population which had comparatively low incomes, the people stakeholder was originally aimed at until the Government got cold feet.
Everyone knows the population is living longer and will have to fund the costs that go with this. A large part of the UK population which is outside middle Britain has so far been ignored.
Some will always be reliant on Government but outside of this group the Government needs radical plans to encourage them to save and invest for themselves.
In addition the Government must encourage those in middle Britain who have a greater capacity to save and invest to do so: a longer life with a decent standard of living and good health services do not come cheap.
So far the Labour Government has rejiged Peps and GPPs and carried out a little wealth redistribution behind the scenes.
The result has been a series of dull budgets: small changes in tax bands, a bit of give with one hand and take with the other, and an annual household tax bill that goes up or down by a couple of hundred pounds.
This has not exactly created a broad-based savings and investment culture. The first task of the post-election Government should be to create one.
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