How taxes shape choices and the UK’s economy

Carrots and sticks

Consumers and businesses make an enormous number of choices every day. Almost all of them are influenced by the taxes involved, nudging towards one option over another. Some measures are “carrots” and provide a reward, while others are “sticks” and create an additional cost. 

At PwC, we want to help open up a conversation on the aims and effects of different taxes. Our aim is to help consumers, businesses, and policy makers make an informed choice about the right mix of taxes.

“Taxes play a huge role in shaping the UK economy. There is no ‘right’ mix, with every tax having advantages and trade-offs. We want to help explore if and how taxes could help tackle some of the UK’s major challenges, to inform the debate amongst businesses, consumers, and policymakers.”

Laura Hinton
Tax Leader, PwC UK

We’re exploring the role of tax in three areas:

As governments and companies commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, many of the industries that will dominate the 21st century will be green. British companies are at the forefront of the transition, but there are growing calls for the government to incentivise greater investment in sectors such as renewable energy and electric car batteries. 

Our polling of 4,000 UK adults shows that the UK public are broadly supportive of the introduction of subsidies seen through the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act to incentivise the transition to Net Zero, even if the UK can’t match the scale provided. However, the public is keen for more carrot incentives rather than sticks, with over two in five (42%) supporting using taxpayer money to subsidise green technology, with a quarter (23%) taking a pro-tax and pro-stick approach, saying that taxing high emissions purchases is a good tactic to discourage them.

From an infrastructure perspective, Nimbyism is so often associated with challenges in constructing large projects, but the UK public’s mindsets have softened for green technology. 71 per cent of rural voters say they’d be happy to have a wind farm within three miles of their home. The more sceptical suggest a fair compromise; you can build them, but we’d like a discount on energy bills for the inconvenience.

PwC is exploring how different taxes could help, and the advantages and trade-offs involved. 

Since the financial crisis in 2008, the UK’s productivity growth has stalled. Although there is a fierce debate about the causes and potential solution, many economists see increasing the level of business investment as a key part of the answer. Policymakers and experts have turned their attention to the different incentives and policies which could encourage more companies to invest.

Our polling of the UK public show over half (56 per cent) are supportive of the government using taxpayer money to provide financial support for companies to build ‘green’ technologies in the UK. However, many would prefer companies to pay for their own green improvements, rather than the taxpayer, if increased subsidies would mean less money for public services, and support should be prioritised to businesses that commit to keeping operations and jobs in the UK.

PwC is exploring how different taxes could help, and the advantages and trade-offs involved. 

Economists and policymakers are increasingly focused on how to support more people back into work. But behind the headline figures of significant numbers of people leaving the workforce is a range of very different stories, from people who have retired early to those who would like to work but are being held back by illness or other barriers such as the cost of childcare.

PwC is exploring how different taxes could help, and the advantages and trade-offs involved.

Contact us

Laura Hinton

Laura Hinton

Tax Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7956 267671

Colin Graham

Colin Graham

UK Tax Policy Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7764 132271

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