60 per cent of FTT revenues would come from Britain (even if we "opted out")

An interesting note from Ernst & Young's ITEM club outlook has been going around today. It's from way back in February, but I can't find anything that contradicts it since:

The European Commission (EC) has not published detailed revenue estimates of the FTT at a national level, but the EC acknowledges they would be distributed unevenly in line with trading volumes at EU exchanges. The Ernst & Young ITEM Club has used the information provided by the Commission to consider the impact on the UK in two scenarios, the introduction of the FTT across the EU including the UK and the scenario if the UK opts out. 

[Neil Blake, senior economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club] comments: “Taking the EC’s estimates at face-value, if the FTT is introduced across the EU, the UK financial sector would generate around 75 per cent of the total revenues.

“However, even if the UK were to opt out of the FTT, if a reverse charge mechanism was applied, we expect the UK financial sector would still contribute around 60 per cent of total revenues. Moreover, these revenues would flow directly to governments in the Eurozone rather than to the UK Exchequer.”

The financial transaction tax has been rather on the back foot in recent months. The eurocrisis has moved far beyond the level where simple government revenues could be imputed as a possible solution, while the debate in Britain was derailed by the veto-that-never-was. Most of the debate this summer, including on this blog, has focused on the tax's behavioural effects, particularly with regard to high frequency trading.

But the revenue benefits of the tax shouldn't be forgotten. There's a lot of trading which isn't HFT, and which will go on largely unaffected by a transaction tax. And if 60 per cent of the revenue would come from Britain, that's quite a lot of money which the Government wants to leave on the table. 


Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.