Thursday, 6th October, 2022

[Day 934]

Today is my shopping day so it is a case of getting up early, getting some money out of an ATM and then proceeding to the supermarket before it opens at 8.00am. I joined a small queue of 2-3 people and shopping was quite a breeze so as soon as this was done, it was a case of collecting the newspaper and then heading for home. We did a slow unpack but did not rush around unduly because our hairdresser calls around today so this rather puts paid to any plans that we might have for a walk this morning. There were two items that caught my idea as I went round the supermarket this morning. The first of these was a new line in ‘meatless bacon’ which is made essentially with a pea protein. I might try this at some time but instead my attention was attracted to some beetroot burgers which I used to buy when I shopped in the larger Aldi but has escaped my attention in the smaller store in which I shop. I thought it would be good to try these today, which I did and we had them for our lunch, complemented by some baked potato and broccoli. I felt, though, as some sort of sauce or gravy was called for so I made a sort of intense ‘jus’ as the French might called it out together with one of those jelly like stockpots, a bit of extra gravy granules and then a shot of regular brown, fruity sauce. This was then whisked together and given a quick microwave blast and I must say that it did everything intended of it, so I shall certainly try this again for next week. I always treat myself to an extra peregrination up and down the middle isles in Aldi to see if any of their hardware or household goods caught my eye but none did today so I was not tempted to spend any extra money. Meg and I had a fairly early and tasty lunch because this afternoon we were going to get a call from our financial adviser to discuss one or two things with her. In the event, it was a bit of a non-conversation as we decided to carry on with the ‘steady as she goes’ plans we drew up some time ago and do not need to take any actions before we have a scheduled meeting in December.

Needless to say, the increases in the cost of living is worrying millions of people and animating much discussion in the MSM (Main Street Media). The highly regarded Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) believe that for every £1 awarded to workers by cutting main tax rates – such as National Insurance contributions – £2 will be taken away by the government. It explains: ‘In every income decile, the average impact of gradual roll-outs and freezes outweighs the impact of the explicit discretionary policy changes.’ The think tank points out that Truss’s headline tax changes, new policies and the ongoing freeze for taxes and benefits work out to be ‘broadly regressive’. The root of the problem here in these inflationary times is that if the allowances given in the tax system do not rise with inflation, then more and more people get dragged into the higher tax brackets, a phenomenon known as ‘fiscal drag’ In more normal times, Chancellors of the Exchequeur uprate these allowances in line with the rate of inflation but there is a massive temptation, to which many modern Chancellors have succumbed, not to appear to do ‘anything’ and the actual tax take goes up without having to increase rates at all. So the IFS calculates that the average worker may still be worse off and claims that £2 will be taken because of tax and benefit threshold pauses for every £1 gained through the government’s personal tax cuts.

The other interesting bit of news today is the forward planning by the National Grid for the forthcoming cold winter months. If we have an incredibly mild winter, then collectively we might be OK whereas if we were have a harsh and prolonged winter than some power shortages and disconnections are becoming inevitable. I was surprised to see that even some right wing commentators (who say they despise the ‘nanny state’) would not be hostile for a call to the nation as a whole to save power. One practical suggestion is that domestic washing machines and dryers be run during the night when demand for power is generally low and there may well be some monetary rewards forthcoming for those who postpone their laundry activities until the wee small hours of the morning. I personally will be very interested to see how these plans are formulated and disseminated so I will scour the newspaper in the days ahead to see what concrete plans are being laid before us. I wonder as well,for example, what would be the effect of having a winter long temporary speed limit of 60mph on the motorways to save petrol. After all, some of us have lived though the economic disruptions of the three day week in the 1970’s when we had many dislocations to energy supplies. The Conservative goverment of the time urged us all to ‘bath or shower withn a friend’ to save power which is about the only time I have ever enthusiastically followed the advice of a Conservative government.