Dennis Moore - the unforgettable and inept highwayman in Monty Python.
He starts out as a champion of the poor, but only steals Lupins. Finally he is convinced by the starving peasants to steal items of value.
But he ends up robbing the poor to give to the rich.
Dennis Moore has a rousing anthem, sung to the tune of Robin Hood. The final verse of Dennis Moore's anthem says it all:
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Without a merry band
He steals from the poor
And gives to the rich
So has Chris Huhne become the real life incarnation of Dennis Moore? Has he become the Lupin Czar of the Coalition?
Maybe not. But he is eagerly pursuing hair brained policies that give tax breaks to the rich while making the poor pay for them.
Lets just leave the lunacy of the ROC subsidies for wind power to one side for the moment and look at the other great plank of renewable subsidy. The FIT subsidy for Solar PV. FIT stands for Feed In Tariff.
Basically a householder would spend about £12-25000 on having an "approved" solar PV system fitted. This of course is done by an "approved" installer.
The FIT subsidy then pays the house-holder about 41p for every unit of electricity they generate (even if they use it themselves).
The electricity generated also offsets previously bought in electricity. This saves about 13p per unit, knocked off the electricity bill.
Finally, if they manage to export electricity to the grid (unlikely) they will be paid roughly what it cost to generate by any normal means - 3p.
The tax free return on the initial investment is said to approach 10%. ( See Here ).
Not bad. especially if you are a higher rate tax payer.
The scheme is paid for by a levy on all domestic electricity bills. Rich and poor all pay the same.
So, who has £10-25K just floating around gathering dust?
I don't mean who has saved £25K for a rainy day, their kids education, weddings or retirement or whatever. I mean who has £25K, surplus to requirements. Money that can be locked up long term in a Solar PV investment.
The answer is of course - the well off.
So, for the well off, fitting solar PV is an extremely tax efficient way of using a spare £25K that is probably just rotting in a bank account.
I have nothing against people being canny with their money. Taking advantage of this ludicrous scheme is a no-brainer. After all, it is government approved! Looking after your own tax efficiency and wealth is a good thing.
Taking advantage of gross governmental stupidity is more akin to sport than anything else.
But you can guarantee that those on low incomes, won't be queuing up for their FIT approved Solar PV panels any-time soon. Most don't have 25p going spare, let alone £25K.
But thanks to Chris Huhne's levy, it will be the poor who will be paying. Along with those who cannot justify the long payback time-scale or initial outlay.
There is perhaps a case for some encouragement for getting people to fit solar PV, but punishing the less well off to give what is essentially a tax break to the rich is hardly equitable.
Along with that, the current scheme with "approved" installers and "certified" panels etc. is just a dodgy salesmen's dream come true.
You can guarantee that there is a huge mark-up on this "approved" kit and on the hourly rates being charged by these newly badged up installers.
But it is still worthwhile getting FIT approved solar PV installed. If that is, you have the money to spare.
So Billothewisp's Top Tip:
If you have the money and are not going to need it in the short to medium term, and especially if you are a higher rate tax payer, get some FIT approved Solar PV installed.
If however you are poor or simply cannot afford solar PV then, well, you need to get used to paying the subsidy for other peoples tax breaks.
For that you can thank the aspiring Dennis Moore of the modern age:.
Our own Chris Huhne.