The kindness of strangers is wearing thin

‘Taking back control’ has gone down as one of the most effective political slogans of all time. But turning that slogan into reality has proven to be much more difficult. The UK left the EU but doing so hasn’t brought the kind of sovereignty advantages Brexiteers had envisaged. Outside the EU, the UK’s destiny is still very much tied to forces beyond Westminster. What has become very clear in recent months is that the fate of countries like the UK is closely tied to the markets and that the markets will reward or punish you in equal measure depending on how you behave. 

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Will pandemic kickstart young people into becoming more politically engaged?

The Kickstart Scheme has been one of the UK government’s flagship recovery policies to assist young people who are the age-group most economically impacted by COVID-19. The scheme is designed to encourage job placements for 16-24-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales by providing grants to employers. Like many of these policies, the small print says that it excludes Northern Ireland; however NI Economy Minster Diane Dodds has since responded with a locally focused initiative.

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Could a beard tax help shave the deficit?

If Philip Hammond has learned from the history of taxation, we could see some interesting developments in the October 29th Budget.


When we look back at some of the taxes we’ve had in the past, it is clear that taxation has had to continually change to keep pace with the times. In 18th century Britain, a hat tax was introduced to raise revenue from the gentrified. It was effectively a stamp duty on the head-dress of the more wealthy – the bigger the hat, the bigger the tax. Top hats had a top rate of 14%.

Candles were also viewed as an extravagance in Georgian England and therefore drew the interest of the exchequer, leading to the introduction of a candle tax. Similar taxes to target the wealthy at the time included, a beard tax introduced by Henry VIII, or an 18th  century window tax (the bigger the house, the more windows it would have and the more tax the owners would pay). Continue reading