Readers' letters: Now is not the time for NIC tax rises

Although Prime Minister Johnson is still insistent on increasing National Insurance Contributions in April, the economic situation makes it clear that this should be at least postponed if not stopped altogether.

Chancellor Sunak has more headroom than seemed likely last autumn when the increase was announced, and will still have a decent chance of meeting his long-term fiscal targets if he chooses to scrap the increase. Tax revenues are coming in higher than forecast, with the economy growing faster than expected and the impact of higher inflation boosting tax returns.

While the deficit is still huge, £147bn, this is £13bn less than the Office for Budget Responsibility expected. And indeed £13bn is actually rather larger than the annual amount that the rise in national insurance was expected to bring in – £36bn over the next three years.

The economic recovery is, however, fragile and if UK growth slows maybe it is not a good idea to increase taxes in the budget, particularly if you don’t need to and which would slow it a bit more.

In economic terms, what maybe seemed a sensible move last autumn now seems both unwise and unnecessary.

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Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

SNP power grab is a threat to democracy

Power grab is a term I most associate with the SNP, normally for their pseudo-outrage over Westminster apparently taking back powers that had never been in Scotland’s hands in the first place.

There is, however, a new SNP link to this phrase and it is a genuine worry and a real danger to democracy in Scotland.

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The SNP/Green government in Holyrood want to put into law lockdown powers that would mean, among other things, being able to shut schools at a moment’s notice.

This is grabbing power from the citizens of Scotland to live their lives unencumbered by the state.

A consultation took place when over 85 per cent of respondents were against Scottish Ministers having such powers.

Of course, the SNP don’t care for consultations that don’t give the results they want. They will plough on regardless, voting en masse as no dissent within the party is permitted and the Greens will help them force this sinister power upon us.

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Jane Lax, Aberlour.

Cycling is fine but shouldn’t call shots

I am amazed that the UK government is amending the Highway Code in favour of cyclists.

Cycling is a perfectly reasonable hobby and sport, but for commuting and for going about one’s business, cars and vans make vastly more sense.

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While sporting cyclists tend to wear bright, reflective clothing, which makes them reasonably visible both during the day and at night, sadly a hard core of cyclists seem to have a death wish

Tonight on a section of Ferry Road, I passed three cyclists all dressed from head to toe in black with no reflective clothing.

A small red or white light may seem perfectly visible to the cyclist when they switch it on, but driving after dark with the powerful halogen lights of other vehicles shining in your face, and especially when it is raining that is simply not the case.

The delusion that we should all cycle to work comes from the Greens who pretend we can get full-time electricity from part-time windmills and that we can reduce fuel poverty while pushing up energy costs. The British government should not be implementing any of their fantasies.

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Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.

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