JEFF PRINTER: Chancellor, don’t forget our wallets in your forthcoming Budget! We’re already taxed enough. It’s also unConservative.

I trust this week’s Budget will be a low-key affair because I’m not sure the electorate has the stomach for any more tax rises – now, come April next year, or stretching into the future. 

Following the announcement last month that both National Insurance contributions rates and dividend taxes would rise in April to help fund the seemingly endless pit that is National Health Service, we don’t need another raid on our paychecks. In an environment of rising energy bills and inflation accelerating towards five percent, this is a significant move. 

Budget Day should be celebrated with calmness. Boris Johnson’s ambitious and crazy (but not realistic) plans. proposals to make the country carbon neutral by 2050 – outlined last week – may have pleased some environmentalists, but they will cost a bomb (at least £1trillion) to implement. 

Leave our wallets alone: Calmness should be the order of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget Day

Let’s not worry about our wallets: Chancellor Rishi Sonak’s Budget Day should be characterized as calm.

The household will have to bear some of these additional costs due to higher energy bills and the need for petrol cars and gas boilers to be replaced with more efficient and costly heat pumps or electric vehicles. 

All of this is quite daunting. All unConservative, and frankly, quite daunting. Leading the global charge on saving the planet is meritorious, but it will count for nothing if bigger economic – and polluting – powers (the likes of China) don’t do their bit. It would also be foolish to bankrupt ourselves in the process. 

Mr Sunak. Please be restrained. Please don’t touch our wallets. 

Green bond interest rate insulting 

NS&I, the Government’s savings bank, has finally announced the interest rate it will pay people who buy its green savings bonds – a paltry 0.65 per cent, fixed for three years. It is parsimonious at best. At worst, insulting. 

Available to buy now (minimum investment £100), the bonds will provide Boris with cheap funds to finance his grandiose green spending plans. Not for savers, but for Boris. 

Once the bonds are purchased, they cannot be cancelled until they mature. This means that savers won’t be able switch to them to get better deals when interest rates rise. Inflation is on the march and 0.65 per cent will be less attractive. The only good thing to say about the launch is that it should not cause NS&I’s customer service to go into meltdown as happened during the pandemic. This launch should not be too exciting.

Irony: MPs debate the future of cash; Lloyds closes branches 

It is ironic that Lloyds Bank announced more branch closings on the same day as MPs held a crucial debate on the future cash. Talk about making fun of those trying to maintain nationwide cash access on high streets. 

Details of the 48 doomed branch closings were announced last Wednesday. This will mean that the banking giant has already closed or announced the closing of 148 branches since the start of this year. It will have slashed its network of Lloyds Bank of Scotland, Halifax, and Halifax branches to 1,475. 

Lloyds claims that the bank will still have high street outlets over any other competitor once the latest tranche is implemented. Yet its move seems insensitive given the industry’s ongoing discussions with cash champion Natalie Ceeney over a new regime that will enable an independent scrutineer to assess the likely impact of a branch closure – or for that matter ATM – on a local community.

If the branch is threatened with cash access, the scrutiny (likely to have been cash machine network Link), can demand that the branch be closed only if a share branch (offering service to all the main banks) replaces the branch. 

All the MPs who spoke during Wednesday’s debate stressed the importance legislation to protect cash access on the high streets. Some called for a moratorium in bank closings until such legislation is passed. Worryingly John Glen (the Treasury Minister charged with drafting appropriate legislation) stated that he was’still contemplating” what to do.

If Glen wins her way with the banks, maybe cash supremo Ceeney is going to save Glen’s bacon. But, the longer he waits, the more chance he has to allow the banks to take severe haircuts to branch networks. The Mail on Sunday’s long-held campaign for ‘Keep our Cash’ has been supported by The Mail on Sunday.