Thursday 9 July 2020

Johnson testing the limits?

It was no real surprise that the official guidance stating that if employers pay for Covid-19 tests for their staff, that will be treated as a benefit in kind on which the employees will be required to pay income tax. The surprise was that it got to the stage that it did before being reversed. When I first read about the policy, I thought it must be a spoof – fake news – but no, it was there, in black and white, in HMRC’s official guidance. I know that not all ‘minor’ details of the implementation of policy go before ministers for decision, but something like this will have gone through several levels of review and discussion before being released, and I can’t imagine a discussion amongst a group of civil servants which concluded that raising a tax charge on employees in such circumstances did not require ministerial sign off. Which means that it was most probably signed off by a minister – was the individual concerned asleep on the job?
The same applies to the decisions to reinstate parking charges for NHS staff and to make the £500 bonus for Welsh care staff taxable. The first has already been reversed but the second not yet, as far as I’m aware. The public reaction to all of these decisions was entirely predictable, but the government took them all, leading to wholly avoidable U-turns. Donald Trump famously said during his election campaign that he could stand in 5th Avenue in New York and shoot someone and it wouldn’t affect his level of support. Perhaps Johnson is just testing the theory here: with 60,000 dead as a result of his handling of the pandemic, turning on the staff who’ve worked so hard to help the sick ought to be political suicide but support for his party remains inexplicably high. Just how bad does he have to get before it has an impact on his core supporters?

1 comment:

dafis said...

Many of Johnson's supporters thought that the Covid crisis was a good way of reducing the population and cutting pension costs. They didn't appear to realise that they too were at risk by letting an irrational buffoon and psychopathic sidekick loose to lead the UK's response. I reckon 2nd wave is inevitable with those two muppets at the top and a full set of dimwits reporting to them.