Nigel Evans MP:
Nearly two years ago during the Christmas of 2015, extreme weather and rain caused disruption, destruction and catastrophe for families up and down the UK. For me personally it involved me cancelling my planned travels to America, and holding surgeries and doing what I could to help those affected by the flooding in my constituency. Some of my villages such as Whalley and Ribchester were among the hardest hit in the country, with the Army being deployed to evacuate people. Seeing the destruction first hand left a lasting impression on me, and since then I have been campaigning and lobbying the government and environment agency to increase the flood defences in the Ribble Valley, to try to prevent such a catastrophe happening again.
Thankfully many of the families whose homes were flooded were insured, meaning that eventually they would be able to rebuild their lives. However, many in my villages though either could not get insurance due to the risk of the area, or simply could not afford it. Since Insurance Premium Tax was introduced, it has risen at a faster rate than the tax on cigarettes, and startlingly since 2015 has doubled. While it may often seem like a convenient way to raise money in the budget, it hits the poorest in society hardest, and hits those who may be trying to renew their insurance after a previous disaster such as the previously mentioned.
Amanda Blanc, the CEO of AXA UK recently said that “the government has given with one hand, and taken with the other, and it is businesses and families that will bear the cost”. In the case of my constituents, they will bear the cost several times, both in the disruption, chaos and stress it causes their lives, and the potential financial burden that a premium tax rise would bring.
As the saying goes “An Englishman’s home is his castle”. However, the recent continual rises in IPT have meant that if you want to protect that castle for the future, you’re going to have to pay more and more. IPT essentially taxes the basic human instinct of wanting to protect what you’ve got and those around you. VAT isn’t charged on items that are classed as essential, but for many of my constituents house insurance is more than essential, it is the only thing between them and potentially complete financial ruin. I fear that further rises in the tax on premiums would make house insurance unaffordable for more people, and put people whose lives are in vulnerable positions in danger.
The Chancellor in his upcoming budget should commit to freezing the rate of IPT, to help protect those who if rate rises continue, may not be able to afford to protect themselves.