The Anonymous Widower

A First Trip In An Electric Taxi

I took these pictures during and after my first ride in an electric taxi.

I liked the experience.

  • The ride was good.
  • The vehicle was quiet.
  • You could talk easily to the driver, which helped as we had to change route due to a road closure.
  • It’s got USB charging points for phones.

But the best feature must be the glass roof. Although the rain ruined the view.

It wouldn’t be a London taxi without a few strong negative opinions from the driver.

  • He’d just cleaned the taxi and the rain was ruining his work.
  • There are not enough charging points.
  • He didn’t think Uber pay enough tax. Doesn’t everybody think that?

The driver certainly seemed pleased with his cab.

As a perhaps five-times-a-month user of black cabs, I will certainly look forward to having another ride, as they are definitely a better experience.

You can’t write about black cabs without adding a comment about other minicabs, private hire vehicles and Ubers in London.

When will new additions to these fleets of other vehicles, have to be electric?


August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Plastic Bag Charge To Rise To 10p And Be Extended To Every Shop

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Independent.

The title says it all.

I rarely buy a plastic bag and it is usually, when I travel around and have forgotten to put a bag in my coat pocket. I suspect I haven’t actually bought one since June.

I’ve also thought it wrong since the charge was introduced, that some shops didn’t charge, so this will create a level playing field.

As to the rise of the charge to ten pence, the biggest effect could be, that people remember to take a bag more often.

I do suspect though that smaller shops will complain and will say they will have to close.

But if they don’t have to charge, the taxpayer is effectively providing them with a subsidy.

If we are widening the plastic bag charge, surely now is the time to do something similar for fast food packaging.

The latter is personal, as quite a bit seems to end up outside my house in the front patio.

How about a ten pence packaging/obesity/littering charge on all fast food meals?


August 26, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

Westminster Proposes A Voluntary Mansion Tax

This may seem a bit strange for the Tories’ flagship Council, but it does seem well researched, according to a report in today’s Sunday Times.

Any house worth over £10 million would be put in a new band above Council Tax Band H and the owners would pay double the Band H rate of tax, which is currently £1,376 a year.

Westminster has 2,000 properties in this band, that are worth over £10 million and the scheme would raise £2.75 million, if everybody paid the extra, which would be voluntary.

It’s an interesting concept, that has been well-thought out.

But like most radical plans, I doubt it will see the light of day!


October 1, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 6 Comments

Threat Of UK Tax Cut Staves Off Hostile EU

This is the headline on an article in the Sunday Times, which suggests that the UK may cut corporate tax rates from 20% to 10% unless the EU grants the UK access to the single market.

I don’t know whether it is speculation on the paper’s part, but it does illustrate how Brexit means that it removes a whole set of rules from the UK Government.

It is an interesting suggestion!

I think it could have these effects.

  • Companies like Apple, Starbucks, Google and Amazon would look at the UK favourably.
  • If a company was spending fortunes on research, the UK would probably be more attractive, as if say they developed a world-beating drug, they wouldn’t pay as much tax on the large profits.

But I never heard it mentioned in the Referendum.

It probably shows how our politicians all think inside boxes and that those in Europe do even more so!

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 2 Comments

Will Manchester Get A Crossrail-Style Levy?

My Google Alert for Crossrail found this story in Planning Resource, which is entitled Crossrail levy model proposed for Greater Manchester mayoral CIL. This first paragraph sums it up.

A proposed city-regional mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for Greater Manchester would operate in the same way as the existing pan-London charge to raise funds for the Crossrail project, with councils able to implement their own levies alongside the mayor’s charge, it has emerged.

Will Manchester’s council leaders and voters go for it?

From here in London, where if the Mayor wants to fund something sensible like Crossrail 2, all the Mayoral candidates and the Boroughs seem to back it, I can’t see all ten Manchester boroughs agreeing, as they seem to have a long record of doing things their own way!

April 4, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts On Handrails

Transport for London and their various predecessors have always been very particular about handrails on stairs in stations and also on buses. Here’s some examples.

But are we that particular in our homes. I put this handrail on my stairs.

The Handrails On My Stairs

The Handrails On My Stairs


And I put extra hand holds in my bathroom.

A Handhold In My Shower

A Handhold In My Shower

I feel very strongly that when you fit rails and hand holds for safety reasons, that you should not have to pay VAT on the hardware and the work. Especially, if as in the case of the handrail on the stairs bloody Jerry should have put them in when he built the house.

My MP agrees and she has written to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

I suspect in the case of my professionally-designed and Sheffield-built handrail, the biggest objections to removing VAT will come from those snake oil-salesmen, who get the elderly and disabled to buy unnecessary stair-lifts.

An interesting point, is that probably quite a few premises that have to fit extra handrails and handhold are commercial premises, like offices, restaurants and shops, who of course would be registered for VAT.

July 13, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Do We Featherbed Groups In Society?

I got my monthly State Pension today and at £677.16, that will do me for my day-to-day expenses for the next month. It doesn’t cover trips out of London, but it does allow me the odd light lunch in a restaurant.

But I also get other benefits just because of my circumstances, as a 67-year-old man, who lives alone.

I get a Council Tax discount because I live alone. But is that right as I live in a family house with a garage in a desirable part of London? If I didn’t get it, I’d still live here as that would be my choice, but I am blocking someone more worthy than me of buying this house.

I have a highly-insulated house with an efficient boiler, but should I get a winter fuel allowance?  It would be better if the money was not paid at all, but used to improve our housing stock’s energy efficiency, so that those on a pension actually saved the money all through the year.

I have a Freedom Pass, which gives me free transport on buses, Underground, Overground and trains within the Central London area. This is one of the reasons I moved to Dalston. But is it too generous on the one hand and not universal enough on the other? Surely, a better system, would be one where you nominated your bank card as your transport pass and in the free areas, the system didn’t charge you. The advantage of this would be that London could enter into reciprocal arrangements with areas like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, so that we could use each other’s concessionary area at a discount. Would this encourage more of us to travel to explore the country and perhaps spend money in attractions, cafes and shops, we wouldn’t dream of visiting now?

This morning according to this report on the BBC, the Liberal Democrats are saying that those who have a second house they use in a beautiful area, should pay double Council Tax on their second home. Here! Here!

I live in Central London and I am starting to resent the traffic. Not because I drive, but because of the pollution and noise often put out by cars used as glorified shopping trolleys and baby buggies. We let all drivers get off too lightly with the problems they cause in cities and if they got the message, we may see more cycling and walking, and better air quality. We might even see better delivery systems for goods, where transmissions were hybrid or electric, like London’s newer buses.

It will happen eventually, that all cars pay road charges based on mileage, fuel used and congestion. But I doubt we’ll see it soon, as there are no votes in it. It’ll probably be introduced in London first, as cycling gets more common and Crossrail shows everybody what real railways can be like.

But would a city like Birmingham, where the car is king, and pedestrians are targets to hit when crossing the road, accept charging to pay for the updating of the numerous railways and more trams in the city?

And then there’s lifestyle, fitness and health!

Many people drink, eat and smoke too much and governments don’t really discourage it forcefully. It would be an interesting exercise for a town or city to declare a city centre non-smoking and see what happens. I can remember, when ahead of the smoking ban the landlord of my local pub in Suffolk declared it a smoke-free zone. He got some moans, but not from his bank manager.

The NHS is in crisis, but this is mainly a problem of the irresponsible patients making. So if we can get people back to the straight and narrow, we might help the dear old NHS out.

For a start, I would like to see a law, that no-one could stand for elected office or sit on the board of an NHS body, if they were a smoker!

I could go on a lot more. But we must all change our lifestyle, if we want this country to be a place, that is really worth living in.


April 21, 2015 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 2 Comments

The Tories Will Aim To Cut Inheritance Tax

According to this article on the BBC, a future Tory government would end Inheritance Tax on family homes up to a million pounds.

I have form in opinions in this area and had a letter published in the Financial Times in 2006 about this tax, after an article in the paper on March 31st 2006 advocated the killing off of the tax. This is the first two paragraphs of the letter.

I have been against inheritance tax for years, not because I would benefit from its abolition or because I am getting to that age, when I should start to do something about it (“Inheritance tax should be killed off”, March 31). It is just that as a control engineer by training, I think it does untold secondary damage.

Consider: how many bright minds are employed on both sides of the inheritance tax war in avoiding and collecting the tax? Abolish it and they would have to do a proper wealth-creating job.

I still believe that the Inheritance Tax should be abolished, if not totally, but substantially! I don’t have current figures but in 2006, it only raised half as much as Air Passenger Duty in that year. I’m not alone on thinking this way as this article from the Telegraph in 2013 shows. This paragraph is from the article.

Yet the tax raises just £2.9bn a year, a mere 0.18pc of GDP, a tiny sum given all of the collateral damage caused and one which could easily be recouped by accelerating the Government’s savings programme.

David Cameron’s proposals are welcome, but pretty timid and will only have a limited positive effect on the economy compared to what full abolition will have.

The tax revenue would have to be replaced and as a BBC survey showed in 2006, that people would prefer a couple of pence on Income Tax. These days other and better options exist. The problems with abolishing Inheritance Tax are all political rather than economic, as if the Tories went for full abolition, the Labour Party would have a field day, saying they were looking after their friends.

They’ll probably do that with David Cameron’s announcement, even though probably nearly half of the beneficiaries of the tax reduction will be Labour voters.


April 11, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Why Would A Well-Off Person Vote For This Labour Party?

I am 67, single and reasonably comfortably off, but with the exception of my house, pension pot and funds in Zopa, I have no substantial taxable assets. Quite frankly, purchases like expensive cars and art, a second house in the country, buy-to-let investments and vanity purchases like football clubs, just don’t interest me.

My house is probably just below any proposed Mansion Tax limit, but for how long, given the rate of the rise in property values in this area?

Over the years, I’ve acquired a few friends, who are now as financially secure as I am, for the rest of their lives.

What puzzles me, are some of these friends have been serious supporters of the Labour Party in the past. I wonder how many of them, are now less sure in their support, as every day, Miliband and Balls bring in more and more bash-the-rich policies?

The latest policy of abolishing the ‘non-dom’ status as reported on the BBC, may not worry me, but I suspect some of the people I know will be livid. I can think of someone, who is a Project Management professional, who works all the time outside of the UK, which probably gives them an interesting tax problem and being ‘non-dom’ may come into their affairs.

In fact, there are so many high-paid jobs of this type, which because of the Internet and air travel can be done from any reasonable base, so how many of these people would leave if a Labour government took power? In the past C and myself, thought about leaving, if the General Elections of the 1980s and early 1990s had gone the wrong way.

So what is going to be the next crazy bash-the-rich policy floated by this impractical Labour Party?

On the other hand there will be Newtonian reactions.

I think this lurch to the left, will hurt the Labour Party severely in the pocket, as so many of those who supported them in the past, won’t contribute this time.

They will become even more dependent on the Trade Unions for funds.

But I also feel, that anyone, who has a desire to be rich, will think twice about the way they are going to vote!

Luckily for me, what I consider my biggest asset, that has got me out of financial trouble several times in the past; my brain, is untaxable! Unless of course, a government brings in a higher rate of Income Tax for those with a University degree!

April 8, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Will Osborne Abolish Tax On Savings Interest?

This is said in this article in The Independent.

Tax on income from savings will be abolished for millions of people in the Budget today as George Osborne woos pensioners and “hard-working taxpayers” ahead of the May general election,The Independent has learnt.

So is the paper right?

It would make a lot of sense.

1, It would certainly encourage saving.

2. Encouraging saving may mean that more money will go into peer-to-peer lending, which will help lower interest rates for borrowers and give the banks a bit of a kicking. So a by-product of abolishing tax on savings interest could be better availability of finance for individuals and businesses.

3. I can see those who provide homes for savings like banks, building societies and peer-to-peer lenders getting increasingly innovate in finding ways to create high-interest, instant-access accounts.

4. It could put a lot of financial advisers out of business, as if say you had a lump sum to invest, you could easily work out what would be the best savings account, to keep the money until you need it.

5. But surely, the biggest benefit will be that as savings will now be held in an account, that doesn’t carry any tax, it will simplify tax accounting and returns for banks, building societies and savers alike.

If he does do it, then just imagine how any party who put it back would fare in an election!

On a personal note, if it does happen, I’ll be putting more of my money into Zopa!

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , , | Leave a comment