At the end of a year during which we have achieved national and international recognition, we can today announce that Jonathan Isaby is to take up the role of Chief Executive. His promotion is one of a raft of appointments being made as we prepare to mark our tenth anniversary in 2014.
Jonathan joined the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) in August 2011 as Political Director and during the last two and a half years has ensured that the voice of the taxpayer has reverberated around the corridors of power in Westminster and Whitehall louder than ever before. Having made regular briefings for parliamentarians a staple of the TPA’s work, and drawing upon more than a decade in journalism, he has ramped up the TPA’s influence and reach among decision makers and opinion formers. He will take up the post of Chief Executive on 1 January 2014.
Jonathan is taking the reins from Matt Sinclair, who rose through the ranks of the TaxPayers’ Alliance over six and a half years, serving as the Chief Executive since the summer of 2012. Matt is leaving to join Europe Economics as Senior Consultant. During his time at the TPA, Matt particularly made his mark on policy debates surrounding spending and green taxes with his books How to Cut Public Spending (and still win an election) and Let Them Eat Carbon. As Chief Executive, he oversaw many successful campaigns, particularly the award-winning MashBeerTax campaign, and built a vibrant grassroots structure with TPA Action Days taking place around the country every week of the year.
Joining Jonathan as part of the core TPA leadership team will be John O’Connell in the role of Director. John arrived at the TPA in February 2009 as an intern and worked his way up to become Research Director, overseeing the wide range of reports and original research produced each year. As Director, he will now be overseeing the research, media and grassroots teams.
Robert Oxley remains in post as Campaign Director. He will continue to liaise with the print and broadcast media and will now oversee the TPA’s online and digital campaigns. Rory Meakin, who is currently Head of Tax Policy, will take up the post of Research Director vacated by John O’Connell.
The other appointment being announced today is that Dia Chakravarty will join the TPA in January 2014 as Political Director. For the last 16 months Dia has been Deputy Director of the Freedom Association, articulately making the case for free enterprise and individual freedom. Dia started her career in the City before moving into communications and public affairs. Born in Bangladesh, Dia read Law at the University of Oxford.
Matthew Elliott, Founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Matt Sinclair has had a terrific stint at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, being one of the many team members who has risen up through the ranks to take up key leadership positions. His six and a half years on the campaign have been a great success and we all wish him well in his new job. We see the appointment of Jonathan Isaby as Political Director three years ago as being one of our best hires, and he’s done a great job reaching out to parliamentarians and growing our profile across Westminster. We’re therefore delighted that Jonathan and John O’Connell are stepping up to manage the campaign. As a team, reinforced by the new appointments, they are the best in the business for the policy battles running up to 2015.”
Andrew Allum, Chairman of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who co-founded the campaign group with Matthew Elliott in 2004, said:
“It is always sad when members of staff leave the team, particularly after so many years of first class service, but we are delighted that the TaxPayers’ Alliance has been adept at spotting new talent and giving people the skills to perform at the highest levels in British politics. Matt Sinclair has done an excellent job in all of his positions at the TPA, but I’m pleased that Matthew Elliott and I have been able to appoint a first class team to see us through the important period running up to the General Election.”
Jonathan Isaby said on his appointment as Chief Executive:
“It is a great privilege to be taking on the role of Chief Executive of an organisation of which I have been a strong supporter ever since its founding in 2004. Over the past ten years, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has played a vital role in framing policy debates and educating people about taxation, public spending and government waste.
“Our supporters across the UK can rest assured that on my watch the TPA will stay true to its core mission of seeking a better deal for taxpayers from all those in power who are spending our hard-earned money. I will certainly never tire of reminding people that there’s no such thing as government money, only taxpayers’ money – and that we have every right to be angry when it is wasted or squandered. We will also continue to campaign for more money to be left in taxpayers’ pockets in the first place.
“I am hugely looking forward to working with Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott, John O’Connell and the rest of our dedicated team on the new challenges which lie ahead in our tenth anniversary year as the battle lines are drawn for the issues on which the General Election will be fought.”
Matt Sinclair, outgoing Chief Executive, said:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance is the most influential campaign group in Britain thanks to a brilliant campaign team, committed activists and loyal supporters up and down the country. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with them. I am very optimistic about the future for the TPA with such a strong team in place. They are all committed to the hard work and creative campaigning that has always been the hallmark of the TPA. Jonathan Isaby is exactly the right man to lead the TPA forward to new victories.
“Now I am looking forward to joining the incredibly talented team at Europe Economics and excited for the fresh challenges that my new role there will bring, working for a leading economic consultancy able to call on such a depth of expertise.”
This morning we have published our post-Autumn Statement briefing and launched a new Tax tracker website. The site charts the 509 tax rises and 209 tax cuts that have been implemented or planned since the Coalition took power.
The key finding of our preliminary analysis of the Autumn Statement are:
Curbing fiscal drag
Public sector net borrowing in 2012-13 was £121 billion in March’s Budget but this has been revised down to £115 billion. Of that £6 billion revision, £4.3 billion is made up of increased receipts. Much of this will be down to fiscal drag, where taxpayers find themselves pushed over thresholds as those thresholds remain static and do not keep up with average earnings or house prices.
HMRC has developed a dynamic model to assess the impact of cutting Corporation Tax. There are two limitations to the model, however, that suggest it could still understate the benefits of Corporation Tax cuts.
There are three changes needed to ensure that dynamic analysis becomes a permanent feature of policy-making:
The key finding of our preliminary analysis of the Autumn Statement are:
Commenting on the analysis, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“The fact that there have now been in excess of 700 separate tax changes enacted or planned since this Government came to office is compelling evidence of the urgent need for reform of a complex and unstable tax system. As a priority, ministers should be looking to merge National Insurance with Income Tax and merge capital taxes into a single tax on distributed income.
“The new figures show a drastic increase in the number of people who will get clobbered by ever higher bills for a whole range of taxes, including Stamp Duty and Inheritance Tax. This is because the thresholds at which people’s tax liabilities change are not going up in line with inflation, average earnings or house prices. A simple way for the Government to reduce this burden would be to cut or abolish unfair double taxes while indexing Income Tax thresholds to earnings growth.
“Ministers must also extend dynamic modelling to all fiscal policy changes. The new model looking at Corporation Tax changes has demonstrated the positive impact of tax cuts and the sooner that the old static analysis can be replaced with this kind of dynamic analysis, the more persuasive the arguments for wider tax cuts will become.”
Reacting to the Autumn Statement, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
“There are welcome tax cuts in the Autumn Statement which will ease the burden on families whose finances are under enormous pressure. But in several crucial areas the Government has not done nearly enough and the Chancellor announced complicated, limited relief instead of serious reforms. The Treasury is finally conducting proper dynamic analysis of corporation tax cuts and it should replicate this work across the board. There is now a golden opportunity to show how cutting a range of taxes that hold back the economy and leave people worse off would strengthen the recovery with very little impact on revenues.”
Commenting on key areas mentioned in the Autumn Statement:
Higher Rate threshold
“It is extremely unpleasant that the higher rate threshold is now a cliff edge for so many policies, particularly when it has been falling. Millions of people have been dragged onto the ‘the rich’ side of all the Chancellor’s policy announcements.”
“Reliefs and a cap on business rates are welcome but many of the measures add further and unnecessary complication to the tax system. An overall freeze in the rates would have given struggling businesses a better deal.”
“The cost of filling up at the pumps is a huge burden on families and businesses alike, so scrapping next year’s Fuel Duty increase will be welcomed by hard-pressed motorists. Using a car is a necessity, not a luxury, for a majority of households so freezing Fuel Duty will help those struggling with the cost of living.”
“Scrapping Employers’ National Insurance for under-21s adds further complexity to the system but this is a step in the right direction, as it cuts taxes on the young and will increase their wages in employment. In the longer term, the Chancellor should abolish National Insurance, which is just another Income Tax.”
The state of the public finances
“The improved growth and borrowing figures are undoubtedly a step in the right direction but the Government is still not living within its means. The national debt will continue to rise for another five years and an obscene amount of taxpayers’ money continues to be wasted.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) will hold an on camera Post-Autumn Statement briefing and panel discussion tomorrow morning. Click here for more details.
Ahead of the forthcoming Autumn Statement we’ve outlined the five key areas where George Osborne should take action and ease the pressure on family finances.
At the Autumn Statement the Chancellor should:
1. Cut Wasteful Spending
The Bumper Book of Government Waste 2013 revealed how the Government could cut vast swathes of wasteful and unnecessary spending. Tax cuts in the Autumn Statement must be accompanied by corresponding and necessary cuts in public spending. In June the Bumper Book identified potential savings to the tune of nearly £120 billion which equates to a massive £4,500 for each and everyhousehold in the UK.
2. Cut Green Taxes
Green taxes that subsidise uneconomic forms of renewable energy have increased household bills while Britain’s broken energy policy has guaranteed big profits for energy firms. We’ve campaigned to Stop the Energy Swindle to ensure household bills are reduced at a time when many struggle with the cost of living. Our research revealed that the total level of subsidies will jump from £2 billion a year in 2012-13 to over £5 billion a year by 2018-19.
Meanwhile policies like the Carbon Floor Price are damaging British industry and increase total global emissions. Our research paper Industrial Masochism sets out the major flaws with the Carbon Floor Price.
3. Cut Stamp Duty
Stamp Duty is an unfair double tax that distorts the property market and prevents people from moving home. As part of out high profile campaign to Stamp out Stamp Duty we’ve produced research that exposed the punitive amounts paid in Stamp Duty last year and at what rate. Recent
research revealed the looming drastic increase in the number of people who will pay higher rates of Stamp Duty due to rising house prices.
We proposed a number of ways that the Chancellor can cut Stamp duty without significantly impacting Treasury revenues. This includes reform that would see the tax change from a slab rate to a marginal rate tax similar to Income Tax.
4. Freeze business rates
We’ve long campaigned for a freeze in business rates to ease the pressure on struggling businesses and the high-street business rates went up 4.6 per cent in 2011, 5.6 per cent in 2012 and 2.6 per cent this year. It is a tax that must be paid in the good times and the bad. A further increase of 3.2 per cent that is due next April cannot be allowed to go ahead.
Earlier this year, we revealed that £1.1 billion was paid in empty property rates in 2011-12, an increase of 19 per cent from two years before. In opposition coalition ministers opposed the removal of reliefs and in this Autumn Statement the Chancellor must reform rates that are harming economic growth.
5. Merge Income Tax and National Insurance
Strategic reforms to create a much simpler, fairer and more competitive tax system are needed. An early step that would ease the administrative burden on employers and make the tax system far more transparent and honest would be to abolish National Insurance and merge it with Income Tax. Our recent paper How to abolish National Insurance shows how that can be done.
Commenting ahead of the Autumn Statement, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said :
“High taxes make it tougher for families to make ends meet while putting simple, modest aspirations like owning your own home beyond the reach of far too many people. The Chancellor must change that at the Autumn Statement. Too many of the UK’s poorly designed taxes create serious problems for families and businesses yet do little for the public finances. They can and should be cut right away. But over time the Government needs to live within taxpayers’ means, stop wasting so much money and leave more in people’s pockets.”
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.