It is reported today that Rishi Sunak wants to squeeze welfare to reduce tax. I’m sure that many tax payers don’t like to see people who are able to work claiming welfare benefits. However I have two related questions for Rishi Sunak.

The first question is where are the jobs? The armed forces have been cut beyond the bone, and vital infrastructure projects such as HS2 are also being cut. Of course I’m not suggesting that you can take people straight off welfare and start them building high speed railways or driving a tank, but there is a massive backlog of investment required in our infrastructure and public services, which cutting tax isn’t going to help.

The second question isn’t political at all. What are we going to do with people when robots take all the jobs? I’ve posted several times about AI, artificial intelligence. The image associated with this post is AI generated. I asked ChatGBT to paint Rishi Sunak with robots. AI is still far from perfect, but it is getting better, and it is taking jobs from people.

Of course if the opinion polls are anything like accurate, Rishi Sunak is not going to get very far with his tax and welfare proposal. But therein lies another problem. Our great ship of state has been yawing from austerity to massive investment and back again. We invest in infrastructure projects like the Elizabeth Line and HS2, and defence projects like the Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, and the Vanguard and Astute class submarines, then we stop building again. Andrew McNaughton (Chief Engineer of HS2) was interviewed recently on Green Signals and noted one of the problems faced by HS2 was a dire skills shortage. If you don’t keep up a steady stream of investment, then the skills required to deliver the investment disappear. A friend of mine worked on the Vanguard and Astute submarine projects and said that it had been so long since we’d built submarines that we’d completely lost the generation who knew how to do it.

So my advice for whoever the next prime minister is would be to tax and invest at a steady pace in railways, green power, schools, hospitals, prisons, our armed forces, and all the other things that we so desperately need.