Tag Archives: Hammond


SOCIAL  ‘NON-CARE’  !!          



In an otherwise commendable election manifesto, and leaving the Winter Fuel Allowance aside for the time being, many Conservative Party supporters and others thinking of voting for that party for the first time, particularly the elderly, are extremely disappointed with Mrs May’s complete desertion of the previous Conservative proposals for funding long term care.

Described by the Bow Group, the oldest Conservative think tank and representing all strands of conservative opinion, as the biggest stealth tax in history, the Tory manifesto today advocated an increase in the means-tested threshold above which people are liable for their full care costs to £100,000- .

BUT significantly, and in a sweeping new move, the full value of the family home owned by the person needing care, will be taken into account in future in determining that person’s assets. So on the basis that the average home in Britain is valued at approx £215000 – , care costs could reduce this asset base to the £100000 – threshold in just under 3 years. At least 70% of us will require some form of care in our old age. 75% of over-65’s in the UK own their own homes. Few have substantial cash holdings.

This proposed new policy is not only unfair but in essence against all accepted Conservative Party values, particularly the incentive to accumulate wealth for the family. It means that we will be leaving most of our estate to the Government. Once people realize that most of their estate will pass to the Government, and not their families, the Tories stand to lose much electoral support.

This is a tax on death and each family’s inheritance. It can do nothing for middle and working class families who save all their lives to live in a decent home, the value of which can be passed on to their children. 

As bombaychatterbox has argued before, Theresa May and Philip Hammond’s priority should be the funding of an alternative insurance system which will cover people’s residential and nursing care in their old age. 

This blog has pushed for a ‘Social Care Fund’ which could be covered by a modest increase in taxation and initially funded by the Chancellor selling the taxpayer’s stake in Royal Bank of Scotland. Apparently he’s prepared to sell this disaster now at a loss and its estimated that this would bring in some £20bn. Rather than plough all of it into the NHS as has been argued by some, part could be used to put Social Care on a properly funded basis, with part going towards the funding of a ‘State Mortgage Corporation’. The latter would provide loans for first time buyers with modest means, and also finance developers in the building of low cost homes. The electoral benefits are obvious.

Theresa May is undoubtedly the best person to take this country into the Brexit negotiations and the difficult period afterwards, whatever the outcome. A great pity she and her Chancellor have not seen the electoral dangers in what really amounts to a no doubt unintended, but thoughtless,  attack on the needs of the individual.

Mrs May you must reverse this death tax now !!   It can only benefit the Conservatives’ political opponents. Let us return to the previously accepted Dilnot formula as the basis for the urgent development of policy on social care. Otherwise risk losing a large part of the grey vote!



Just putting this latest short blog to bed from a delightful guest house in the foothills of the Himalayas, somewhere between Darjeeling and Kalimpong, prior to returning to the UK shortly.

Now into my eighties, I was unsure of whether it was very smart to travel so far upcountry. But my fears were unjustified and although my friends from my early days here nearly 60 years ago, the immensely likeable Captain Tendufla who owned the Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling, and the great Sherpa Tensing who was Director at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute there are now gone, the same serene and heady atmosphere continues to pervade the whole District.

I recall that one of the most coveted jobs in India was that of manager of Lloyds Bank in Darjeeling. A more idyllic existence could hardly be imagined. We were all captivated by the superb view from his office window of the snow covered peak of Mt Kanchenjunga. The bungalow in which he lived was also to die for, I wonder which lucky man, or woman, has that job now?

As a frequent visitor to India, and this time to a more rural part of the sub-continent, I’ve always been greatly impressed by the enormous goodwill and friendship accorded we Brits by Indians everywhere. With the upcoming Brexit negotiations in mind, my Indian friends wish us well for the future and are keen to further develop the strong cultural and trade ties between us.

So I have no doubt that a more outward looking Great Britain, while still retaining strong links with our friends in Europe, will have a great and successful future in expanding our ties with other great trading nations including India.

How encouraging then the words of Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, at the weekend when he declared that the British People have a great fighting spirit, that we would fight back if the EU blocked a Brexit trade deal, that we will forge new trade deals around the world, and that the UK will go from strength to strength!

Compare this Churchillian rhetoric to the vacuous comments by the weak-kneed wimps of the Tory Left, John Major, Michael Heseltine and others who have joined that peerless epitome of political opportunism, the Socialist Tony Blair, in trying their best to reverse the Brexit process. Shame on them!

No one is listening to these bitter yesterday’s men!


It seems that much of the media, are as determined as ever to push ministers into revealing their hand prior to the start of negotiations with the EU. Are they too dim to realise that they’re banging their heads against a brick wall?

The imperturbable, the inscrutable, and ever gloomy Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor, who only recently has startled us all by occasionally showing the merest hint of a smile, gave little away to the popular, but always predictable, BBC interview wonk, Andrew Marr, on his Sunday slot. By now, we should all be well aware of ministers’ standard response on whether the Government will go for a hard/soft exit, ie stay in or leave the customs union and the single market. 

As Hammond pointed out, EU ministers have rightly maintained a very disciplined silence on the tack they might take in their talks with Great Britain. Smart. So where is the advantage to the UK for the British Government to give away its negotiating hand before the talks begin? As part of their thinking, UK ministers will no doubt consider what the basic priorities of the other EU countries are likely to be. One doesn’t need to be an Einstein to realise that its probably the same as ours, the continuation of ongoing free trade between us after Britain leaves the EU. Not to proceed on this basis, despite our differences on the free movement of people, for example, would incur the wrath of their own business community for whom the UK is a major market for their many exports. 

Should everything go pear shaped during the negotiations, EU exporters have much more to lose than Britain. The value of exports from other EU countries to the UK in 2015 was about £290bn, while the export of goods and services to other EU countries from the UK was some £220bn. So the UK runs quite a substantial trade deficit with the rest of the EU. However, these figures differ if you look at EU data which suggests that goods and services exported from the rest of the EU to the UK could actually be valued at some £360bn in 2014, obviously much higher than the £290bn the UK data shows for 2014 and 2015. The UK data is much more conservative.

Is it too much to hope that common sense will prevail at the negotiations? It is obviously to the mutual advantage of both the UK and the other EU countries to not only maintain the current level of trade between them, but to develop it further. Even now, governments in the other EU countries are being lobbied strongly by exporting companies on the importance of maintaining their markets in the UK. At the end of the day, EU negotiators would look pretty stupid to their business community if they allowed certain political considerations to damage strong existing trading links. Also, surely the negotiations will be smoother if they are conducted on the basis of the friendship and mutual regard we have for each other?

UK business leaders are right to be concerned at what has become known as the ‘cliff edge’ scenario and the resultant disruption to trade which an abrupt, or hard, exit from the EU would undoubtedly bring. Because of the complexity of the entire Brexit process, it is now being hinted that some kind of transitional agreement may be sought in order to soften the shock of the break from the EU, for British business. Brexiteers have their fingers crossed that this is not the start of a watering down by PM May of the departure process. 

We all recognise that, despite the term, common sense is a very scarce commodity where national interests come into play, but rational thought should deliver an agreeable outcome for all of us.