During the current outbreak of election fever I have been heartened to see that some of those standing for election are, at long last, starting to mention some of big issues that we UK voters – and the rest of the world – must eventually face. Any party brave enough to start the discussion will be well on the way to winning my vote. Here are some of the big ones:
If, in 1948, you had told Bevan & co that in 2015 his new NHS would cost the country £2 billion a week he simply wouldn’t have believed you. Well it does, and the costs continue to outstrip inflation year after year. There is no easy answer for politicians– ever life is worth saving – but inevitably the money will run out. A few years ago in Canada the government took the radical step of demolishing a brand new hospital building because they simply could not afford to run it. They faced the truth – what about the UK?
There is plenty of discussion about tackling the deficit – and many different views. What about looking at it from our children and grandchildren’s perspective – how they will judge us? Borrow money for the right reasons, to invest in their futures, and they will laud us for being wise and farsighted. Borrow money to make our own lives easier – and expect them to pay – and they may say something different! Any doubts – look at Greece.
For some time we’ve heard about the pensions ‘black hole’ and this is now one of the issues politicians are prepared to discuss. It was Bismark that gave the world 65 as the first state pension age – something the UK adopted has retained until quite recently. However life expectancy in Germany at the time was 48 and Bismark never expected to pay out. If, from the start, our pension age had been increased with growing life expectancy our current state pension age would be 98!
When you can raise no more money from the living then tax the dead. Inheritance tax remains a ‘voluntary tax’ paid by those who mistrust the Chancellor slightly less than they mistrust their families. To avoid it you need to pass assets on down the generations and keep the money working. As we live longer more of the country’s ‘investible assets’ are being controlled by an aging elite. If they won’t put the money to work then maybe it is right to tax them on death – as a punishment for squandering their good fortune!
As we live longer it is reasonable to expect that we must work longer; and if we work longer the skills we gained at school become outdated. The education system needs to evolve beyond providing education in early life towards providing regular input and skills updates throughout life.
At EML we are passionate about making the most of living longer and acutely conscious that the next government has a vital role to play – use your vote wisely.
If you would like to find out more please call us on 020 3372 4062 or send us an email