From the TUC

What I learned from the ‘Chance to be Chancellor’ game

24 Jan 2012, by Guest in Economics

On the front page of the Treasury website is a link to an online game aimed at school children.

Chance to be Chancellor gives you – the voters of the future – a platform to voice your views on important economic decisions.

The game allows you to choose between various government policies and ‘be the Chancellor’.

For each option the game lists pros and cons of the different policy options, usually in a far more straight forward manner than we hear from the Treasury.  Some highlights are reproduced below:

Maintain the government’s plans for 2012 by raising the amount earned before paying tax to £8,105 and keeping the 50% tax on those who earn over £150,000.

Pros & Cons

PRO Keeping the system as it is – particularly the top rate of tax – will maintain current level of public revenue to pay off the deficit.

CONThis option does not offer any new help to those on low incomes despite the downturn in the economy.

 

Reduce VAT to the previous level of 17.5%

VAT is a flat rate of tax charged on goods and services. Reducing it could increase consumer spending and boost the economy.

Pros & Cons

PRO Reducing VAT will lower living costs which helps those on lower incomes the most.

CON As a major source of revenue the reducing of VAT creates a shortfall that will need to be filled by other tax rises or cuts in spending.

  

Reduce corporation tax by 1%

Corporation tax is charged on the profits of businesses. This option reduces the main rate by 1% to encourage more business investment.

Pros & Cons

PRO The reduction will make the UK more attractive to business investment.

CON Increased investment is not guaranteed as other factors such as workforce skills may have a greater influence.

 

Reform NHS budget

Halting the building of new hospitals, charging for non-essential operations and cutting medical research can achieve larger savings and encourage greater efficiency.

Pros & Cons

PRO These savings should improve the long term efficiency of the NHS and the choice and quality it offers whilst helping reduce the deficit.

CON Healthcare cuts disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in society and can result in a less healthy workforce which has negative implications for the
economy.

 

Maintain spending and introduce ‘free schools’

Keep to the current schools budget and reform education by introducing ‘free schools’ that enable a wide range of groups to set up independent state funded schools.

Pros & Cons

PRO Free schools will bring new expertise and innovation into the education system that will drive up competition amongst schools and raise standards at low cost.

CON Many already existing schools are in need of repair or rebuilding and a lack of further investment in them will also have a negative impact on construction
industry.

 

Stick to current plans on police spending

Stick to the planned reduction in spending to £8.8bn in 2012-13.

Pros & Cons

PRO Remains consistent with expectations of the demands on police forces around the country.

CON Frontline police numbers could fall by 16,000 by 2015 as a result. This is the same number of police required in London at the height of the August 2011 riots.

 

So the game tells us that –

  • the government’s tax and benefit plans ‘do not offer any new help to those on low incomes despite the downturn’,
  • that a cut in VAT would help those on the lowest incomes
  • that cutting corporation tax might not lead to higher investment
  • that reforming the NHS budget may disproportionately hit the most vulnerable
  • that Free Schools may lead to less investment in existing schools and hit the construction industry
  • that the government’s spending plans could lead to a 16,000 cut fall in frontline police numbers.

I do hope lots of people sign up and take part.

One Response to What I learned from the ‘Chance to be Chancellor’ game

  1. Fiona Whyte
    Jan 25th 2012, 10:46 am

    Glad you liked the Chance to be Chancellor tool Duncan.

    We’re publishing the results as a Youth Budget in March. It’s designed to represent the views of people not yet old enough to vote who will still be affected by budgetary decisions made by the Chancellor.