Let’s help the self-employed, instead of the property market

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Wednesday 24 February 2021 13:31
<p>Is subsidising stamp duty the best use of taxpayers’ money right now?</p>

Is subsidising stamp duty the best use of taxpayers’ money right now?

Online housing site Rightmove has reported an 18 per cent increase in people contacting estate agents compared to this time last year and a jump of over £1,500 in asking prices in just one month. Clearly, the housing market is doing just fine, despite the pandemic, so why on earth should the chancellor extend the stamp duty holiday at a cost of around a billion pounds to the taxpayer?

Surely, public funding would be better directed to the self-employed who have received no support since the pandemic began? As a homeowner, who has been lucky enough to benefit from the furlough scheme, I believe it’s way past time for those who have slipped through the cracks to get their fair share of public funding.

Sue Prutton


Yesterday's man

Sean O’Grady explains the Salmond-Sturgeon affair very well and ends by pointing out that Salmond is an implacable foe. Salmond is also mistaken if he thinks his behaviour is helping the SNP to persuade people like me, with no party affiliations, to vote for independence.

The majority of voters see Nicola Sturgeon as the most competent first minister Scotland has ever had. Whilst a sizeable minority of SNP members may want Salmond back in the political sphere, most non-affiliated voters see him as yesterday’s man and wouldn’t have him back at any price.

If he had any sense he would just keep quiet and leave running Scotland to someone who knows how to do it.

Alan Lammin


First openings after lockdown

The government’s recovery roadmap has not surprisingly given rise to complaints of inconsistency from those who are being told to wait longer than others before reopening. Perhaps hairdressers are indeed no safer than restaurants or museums, but the whole objective is to achieve a slow release enabling continuous evaluation of the consequences. Hence there has to be some system of selection. Would we find it any fairer to work alphabetically, allowing undertakings with names beginning A to H to open first, followed five weeks later by I to P?

John Wilkin

Bury St Edmunds

Two-tier system

Why this sudden concern about a two-tier society resulting from vaccine passports? We’ve lived in a two-tier society where some people can access support and freedoms and enough food and decent housing, among other things, while others are shut out for as long as any of us can remember.

One of the ways to counter threats of “vulnerable”, which also often means disadvantaged, people being radicalised, also in today’s news, would be to address the issues around these two tiers. Levelling up is one approach. Perhaps also a bit of levelling down – or just levelling.

David Buckton


Vaccine passport ramifications

You point out a number of issues associated with a vaccine passport but without providing a measure of their incidence. No form of action exists that does not have ramifications, so what matters is proportionality. The number of people who cannot receive the vaccination for reasons of extreme allergies is tiny. Other measures can be found in their case or perhaps there is even an argument that they should still not be able to risk the lives of others. We have no qualms about banning people with certain medical conditions from driving. 

Waiting for a solution that makes everybody happy is like waiting for Godot.

Angus Cameron 


Pub passports

Barry Tighe asks, with regard to the idea of pub passports, “why those who can’t or won’t get vaccinated are harming those who can and do?”

The answer is, of course, that they wouldn’t be. It would be perfectly fine if only one unvaccinated person was to enter a pub, but if one was allowed in then they would all have to be let in. People who were unvaccinated would mix and infect each other, and suddenly the pub would become a hotbed of infection yet again. Once more we would risk overwhelming the health service. 

I’m a little surprised that it needs repeating at this stage, but the whole point of lockdown has been to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to protect the NHS so that it can cope. If people aren’t prepared to play their part in trying to bring the coronavirus under control then surely it should be patently obvious by now that they can’t expect to start mixing again.

Julian Self 

Milton Keynes

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