I have to admit that I am not a regular listener to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Moneybox’ consumer advice programme. However, I happened to be listening to the first part of today’s programme and heard the presenter, Paul Lewis (whom I knew years ago when he was Deputy Director of the National Council for One Parent Families and we were both involved in the National Fuel Poverty Forum), explain to listeners that as a result of the Chancellor’s decision to raise VAT to 20% the public was now paying a fifth of the shop price as tax on non-exempt items.
At the risk of sounding like an old f*rt, I have to point out that he was, of course, wrong.
(For the arithmetically challenged, the correct answer is a sixth – if the base price of an item is £100, VAT of 20% brings the shop price to £120, so £20 or one sixth of the purchase price goes in tax.)
No doubt, the Chancellor might have liked to clobber those on low incomes even harder, but the fact is that he didn’t.
Presumably, Jeremy Hunt (not the biggest fan of the BBC given the famous ‘Today’ spoonerism) will see this as yet another example of BBC political bias.
I fear, however, that the most likely explanation is incompetence. The programme’s script-writers cannot do simple maths.
But it is a bit worrying for a programme that is supposed to provide its listeners with financial advice.