Thursday, 30 December 2010
Look After the Pennies
In recent months the cost of food, utility bills and fuel has steadily increased but not quite enough for people to actually notice much difference. Perhaps that's because at this time of year many of us have a larger budget for gift and food shopping and regular expenditure has been absorbed. For the moment...
Come the new year VAT will increase by two-and-a-half percent, fuel - which is already over £10 a gallon here - will increase even more and, like many people in Scotland, I dread viewing my gas bill online. The heating hasn't been off for over a month, although it's greatly reduced during the night. Keeping warm is a priority which is quickly becoming a luxury. There's also talk of mortgage interest rates rising, so all in all not good news for anyone.
In the shape of a postbox I have a piggy bank which holds 1p and 2p pieces. Every week or so I empty my purse of this change to reduce its weight. About once a year the contents are taken to the coin sorter and usually the total amounts to a couple of bottles of reasonable wine. I've never considered giving it to charity. Charities aren't interested in bronze coinage. From my experience they much prefer paper money or one pound coins.
Not any more if the Westminster government gets its way. Users of cashpoints will be invited to make charity donations every time they take money out of a 'hole in the wall', is their latest money-grabbing. Francis Maude intends to talk with banks to discuss whether they will voluntary embrace the idea. Five years ago, HSBC allowed customers to donate to the BBC Children in Need campaign through its ATMs.
A spokeswoman for the Payments Council said the Link ATM network already allowed people to top up their mobile phones or receive utility bill statements. "I don't see why this couldn't work. It's another button on the cash machine, isn't it?" she said.
I don't want to be asked if I wish to give to charity when I use a cashpoint. Another button will be another hurdle to jump when extracting money. The money will go to 'good causes' we are told. That'll be the nationalised 'good causes' charities which already rely on public funding and, if this proposal is accepted, these fake charities will be able to include 'voluntary contributions' on their annual balance sheets. Nice move.
Mr Maude wants to drain our wallets further and intends to ask retailers if they could introduce ways for people to donate with credit cards when making purchases. The excuse given for these proposals is that they form part of the coalition's strategy of helping to build a so-called Big Society.
Excuse me, but I'm opting out. We give billions to countries with corrupt governments, we partake in wars which have no association with our security and yet Dave and his pals want to relieve me of the contents of my piggy bank in the hope that, if they ask me enough, I'll submit and start rounding up card purchases to the nearest pound.
Apart from preferring to choose my charities, I find it slightly offensive of central government to be thinking of preying upon people's emotions in order to fill the coffers of their lobbying pals. I will continue to look after my pennies and pray that they still provide me with a couple of bottles of decent plonk each year.