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LETTER: The UK economy must be urgently reconfigured

Readers' letters | Published:

A reader discusses the UK economy.

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Martin Bristow is right to start a debate about how we deal with the huge amount of government debt caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, his approach doesn’t seem to have been informed by our response to the 2008 financial crisis – George Osborne took us down the small government, austerity route and we can see what a failure that has been.

The debt has not been cut as was planned whilst the savage cuts (including 15 per cent cuts in funding for Public Health England) has left our society ill-equipped to deal with the Covid crisis and resulted in higher rates of death and a larger impact on our economy than any other major industrialised nation.

Mr Bristow’s case for more austerity is that ‘socialism’ (whatever that is) has always failed. I’m not sure what counts as failure, but if you look at other European countries that have adopted a more left of centre approach than Britain, what do we see? Yes, they have higher levels of tax (and typically of debt as well), but they have societies that are more equal, healthier and happier than the UK’s – is that a failure?

The UK has had a major, one-off hit to its finances and this will need to be tackled. I would suggest that there is plenty of wealth in this country and it is appropriate for those with most of the money to foot most of this bill. That means increases in taxes on inheritance, property and capital rather than cuts in spending and/or rises in income tax and VAT.

We need to urgently reconfigure our economy to meet the next and greater crisis of climate change and government spending will be essential to do this.

Mike Streetly, Shrewsbury

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