We can today reveal that the NHS in England wasted £41.4 million last year simply by paying more than it should for energy and water. The money wasted annually on excessive utility bills could cover the cost of employing 1,350 more nurses. A number of hospitals could have saved over a million pounds each just by getting a better deal from their energy costs.
The analysis is based on official NHS statistics that reveal the energy bills and potential savings of NHS sites across England, including individual hospitals. The NHS in England spent more than £630 million on energy and £80 million on water 2012-13. Many trusts could save significant amounts simply by emulating those that secure the best value for money.
Key findings of this research:
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“People pay a lot of money to support the NHS in their taxes and they expect to see every penny possible spent on front line care, not wasted overpaying for basics like energy and water. This is just one way for the NHS to save millions and ease the pressure on its finances created by years of runaway growth in costs. Before Trusts complain about pressure on their finances now that the bumper increases in funding have dried up, they should take these kinds of opportunities to secure better value for money they need to shop around for a better deal. It is time for a war on waste in the NHS.”
Today we publish an innovative guide for local authorities, showing them how to cut waste, save money, reduce bureaucracy and ultimately cut taxes. Produced by Councillor Harry Phibbs, 201 Ways to Save Money in Local Government, contains advice on how council chiefs can make big savings in areas such as procurement and shared services. It also suggests more subtle changes – such as placing word limits on council documents and running competitions to find savings – that can save time and establish a culture of efficiency often lacking in too many town halls.
The Government will shortly announce the local government settlement – containing the size of the grants councils receive from central government. At the same time that families are dealing with the competing pressures of rising prices and stagnant wages, local authorities shouldn’t add to that burden with Council Tax hikes. Instead, local politicians should look to cut out wasteful spending and consider removing non-essential services.
Highlights of how councils can save money:
Other notable suggestions include:
Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Far too often we hear unimaginative councillors insisting that they have no choice but to raise Council Tax and increase the burden on already hard-pressed families. But there are literally hundreds of ways in which local authorities can save money before even thinking about increasing the Council Tax.
“201 Ways to Save Money in Local Government should be essential reading for anyone in local government and indeed anyone interested in holding to account their local representatives. In future, any civic leader claiming that raising the Council Tax is their only option had better be able to prove that they have implemented or at least considered implementing every single idea we are putting before them today. If not, they won’t be able to look their residents in the eye and insist that they have exhausted the possibilities for saving money.”
Responding to the publication today of The Strategic Case For HS2, Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“This is yet another attempt by the Government to make the numbers behind HS2 stack up, but yet again they have been found wanting. Those in charge of HS2 have consistently overestimated the benefits of the new line and underestimated the burgeoning bill for the project.
“With today’s Department for Transport figures showing another deterioration in the cost-benefit ratio for the scheme, the case for HS2 is now flimsier than ever.
“No amount of spin or re-hashing of the figures will change the fact that HS2 would be a huge white elephant, costing every family in the UK a fortune and failing to deliver the investment which the UK transport network really needs.”
Research published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance earlier in October demonstrated how the already weak case for HS2 has continued to unravel and specifically challenged the argument that HS2 is required to provide extra capacity on West Coast Main Line (WCML). It can be read here.
Responding to the announcement of the strike price for new nuclear power stations, Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
“Yet again consumers and taxpayers are footing the bill for politicians to intervene in the dysfunctional energy market that they have created. Subsidies to guarantee investment in nuclear power will be paid for by households through higher energy bills, at a time when throwing money at uneconomic forms of renewable energy has already pushed bills to breaking point. The Treasury’s financial guarantee creates the danger of taxpayers bailing out French state-owned EDF if something goes wrong with the deal. Ministers should instead focus on more affordable forms of power generation available today, rather than guaranteeing profits for energy firms and leaving families to pay the price.”
Our latest research reveals an alarming number of councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who are keeping democracy hidden behind closed doors. Despite receiving guidance from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, explicitly stating that councils should allow the public to film council meetings, most councils insist on either having approval from the chair, or the majority of councillors present at a meeting. Some councils even ban local residents from recording, blogging and tweeting at council meetings – an outrageous position for them to adopt, as those meetings are open to the public.
Allowing residents the opportunity to see democracy in action is an important part of the democratic process. Not all residents will be able to attend in person, and councils can get around this simply by allowing residents to film meetings themselves. They can also opt for low cost systems to broadcast meetings on their websites. It is time for councils to move into the 21st Century and embrace technology, rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist the moment councillors enter a meeting.
TAX simplification is back on the agenda, thanks to Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors. Highlighting combined marginal rates of child benefit withdrawal and income tax of 73 per cent for those with four children earning between £50,000 and £60,000 a year, Walker called for radically simpler taxes. “I am all for a flat simple tax system,” he said, adding, “it has been shown to raise a lot more money”.
Renewable energy – such as wind – is only competitive thanks to generous Government subsidies. Those subsidies are paid for by consumers through higher household energy bills.We can reveal that, even based on conservative projections, those subsidies will rise from just under £2 billion this year to over £5 billion by 2018/19.
Ministers have claimed that costs will fall over time thanks to greater economies of scale, but the announcement that high subsidies will continue for the foreseeable future suggests that this
strategy has failed, despite the transfer of risk from investors to consumers.
Key findings of this research:
The total subsidy under the Renewables Obligation is projected to rise as follows:
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Targets that require massive investment in the energy sector, to install expensive technologies like offshore wind turbines on an enormous scale, will always mean more profits for energy companies and much higher prices for consumers. If the Government are serious about easing the pressure on people’s living standards, they need to take action and scrap lavish renewable energy subsidies. And it is a joke for Ed Miliband to pretend he is taking on the big six on behalf of consumers, when he is proposing to keep the targets in place. If politicians are serious about helping families struggling with their bills, then they need to do something about their dysfunctional and painfully expensive energy policies.”
The TPA’s new EU Fiscal Factbook has been launched to show British taxpayers how some of their nearly €14 billion annual outlay to Brussels is spent.
The fiscal factbook is full of interesting facts about where some of this money goes and how Brussels hits British businesses with burdensome regulations.
The Government will introduce a “Work for the Dole” policy, according to a reports today. The policy, which involves requiring benefit claimants to undertake charity work or work experience as a condition of receiving benefits, follows a detailed plan released three weeks ago by the TaxPayers’ Alliance in our report Work for the Dole.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said:
The welfare state rightly provides a safety net for those out of work. But in return, jobseekers must do everything they can to get into work, that’s only fair.
As well as reducing the benefit bill by an estimated £3.51 billion a year, Work for the Dole would also help maintain a minimum level of structure in the lives of people caught in long-term unemployment, enhance the employability of job seekers by demonstrating attributes such as a work routine, make it harder to fraudulently claim benefits and restore a sense of fairness to taxpayers who are forced to pick up the bill for welfare.
The policy is overwhelmingly popular, too. A new YouGov poll for Policy Exchange showed that 56 per cent of the public support a Work for the Dole programme against just 12 per cent who oppose it.
It’s great news that Iain Duncan Smith wants to introduce Work for the Dole. He should be given every encouragement to see it through as soon as possible.
Our latest research reveals that the Government’s already weak case for High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) is continuing to unravel. The research demonstrates that the line would not address the most pressing capacity issues on the UK rail network, despite the enormous cost.
With official estimates of the cost rising dramatically and many business leaders and politicians calling for it to be scrapped, the proponents of HS2 have stopped arguing for it in terms of faster journeys and instead are claiming HS2 is needed to address a lack of rail capacity. But the new report challenges the Government’s argument that HS2 is required to provide extra capacity on West Coast Main Line (WCML), because:
Meanwhile, the report updates earlier research to identify the extent to which dozens of towns and cities would see a worse service if HS2 goes ahead:
The report also demonstrates that since we last published analysis of HS2 in 2011, there has been a dramatic deterioration in its business case. There have been increases in capital costs and a number of additional costs that would have to be incurred in order to live up to ministers’ promises for the new line.
The Government’s business case remains flawed, since it still assumes that those travelling on trains have zero productivity, which is increasingly unrealistic with advances in information technology. The additional costs over and above the Government’s estimates include:
“As the projected costs have increased dramatically, the already fragile case for HS2 has completely disintegrated. There are far cheaper and better ways of substantially increasing capacity much more quickly on the route, not least by reducing the number of first class carriages and lengthening the trains. And quite apart from the astronomical and unjustifiable cost to millions of families across the country who would never use HS2, the Government’s own plans show how many towns and cities would in fact be left with a worse service if the line goes ahead. The project should be abandoned now before any more taxpayers’ cash is squandered on what risks being the most expensive white elephant of all time.”
There is no such thing as free lunch, especially if it is handed to you by a politician. Nick Clegg, in an announcement during Lib Dem conference, has said all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 – pupils aged between five and seven – will be given hot lunches at school. This is a conference gimmick that is a misleading, but all too typical, attempt from politicians to wade in and pretend they are doing something about the pressure on the finances of struggling families by promising subsidies paid for with other people’s money. Sadly it seems like this policy has already been signed off by the Treasury and will cost taxpayers £600 million a year (you can bet that will rise as the scheme is inevitably expanded).
In the past Nick Clegg has rightly pointed out that universal benefits are both costly and unfair, but that principled opposition to spreading taxpayers’ money around seems to have been forgotten. The problem with schemes like this is that you tax those on low and middle incomes to pay for hand-outs to affluent families. Even when those on modest incomes do receive a universal benefit it’s certainly not free. They’ve paid for it (and all the bureaucracy that comes with it) through higher taxes.
It’s no wonder the Westminster fails to deal with unsustainable levels of Government spending when it is so keen on finding new ways to throw other people’s money at a problem that politicians have created themselves.
If politicians really want to deal with the cost of living crisis then they should stop making life so expensive. That means axing policies that make the family shop more expensive like the Common Agriculture Policy. It means abandoning green energy subsidies that force up energy bills. It means cutting taxes that are too often squandered to pay for misguided programmes like this latest announcement. There are plenty of ways to deal with the cost of living crisis, but churning even more cash into the money-go-round – paying an army of bureaucrats to take the money away and give it back at enormous cost – doesn’t help anyone.
Ensuring pupils eat healthy and exercise regularly is an important way to improve academic attainment. But the responsibility for that lies in the kitchens of parents up and down the country. Nick Clegg is going to waste hundreds of millions of pounds of your money just for a party conference gimmick.
In a major new report, the TaxPayers’ Alliance today outlines the next stage for welfare reform in the UK, Work for the Dole. Despite the creation of over three million jobs between 1997 and 2012, the number of people in the UK out of work has remained stubbornly high, even in times of prosperity. Work for the Dole, a programme of mandatory participation in community work and training in return for the continued payment of benefits, is the next step in getting people off welfare and into work. Based on successful programmes across the world, it is estimated the scheme would lead to annual savings of £3.51 billion and help 345,000 people off benefits over time.
Work for the Dole proposes that, after a certain time, anyone claiming the Universal Credit should undertake compulsory activity or – if claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance – activity that they are physically able to do. It would address the problem, as described recently by Lord Hutton of Furness, of those “who choose consciously not to work “.
Importantly, the length of time before someone is automatically referred onto the scheme would be dependent on their National Insurance (NI) contributions. Those with a history of paying National Insurance would be referred onto the scheme after up to two years of claiming Universal Credit while those with little or no history of NI contributions would be expected to participate after three months of claiming Universal Credit. This would give more latitude to those who have paid into the system and strengthen the contributory principle in out of work benefits.
The introduction of Work for the Dole would end the ability to subsist on benefits instead of seeking work:
Polling has shown that the public overwhelmingly support the idea (net agreement of +75%) that those who can, should do full-time community service for their benefits. Even59 per cent of benefit claimants themselves now think benefits are too high and discourage work. Current reforms as they stand are not enough to fix welfare dependence. Work for the Dole would eliminate a great deal of fraud and provide a powerful incentive to seek a proper job while at the same time helping participants with the experience and credentials needed to get them onto the job ladder.
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Welfare should be a safety net for people who fall on hard times, not an alternative to working. The Government is improving the incentive to work but they need to go further and remove the option of sitting at home and claiming benefits entirely. Taxpayers rightly expect something back for the enormous amount they pay for out-of-work benefits, at the very least a real commitment to find a job as soon as possible. You should have to work for the dole.“
Chris Philp, author of Work for the Dole, said:
“Despite the record number of jobs created in the UK economy in the last decade, welfare dependency remains a problem that costs taxpayers a fortune and ruins lives. Politicians of all sides acknowledge that that the current system encourages welfare dependency. Work for the Dole programmes in other countries have shown that this problem can be beaten and dependency dramatically cut. The public resoundingly back the idea that claimants should contribute for the benefits they receive and it’s time politicians caught up. Work for the Dole is an idea whose time has come.”
Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, former Minister for Welfare Reform, responded to the publication by saying:
“Labour needs seriously to look again at Work for the Dole. The next Labour government must ensure that claimants are not simply left drawing benefit rather than having an offer of work. Benefit payments should help form the pool of resources to fund Labour’s future jobs fund Mark II.”