On a scorching hot day last Saturday, TPA supporters met in Warrington to talk to local people about our ‘Stop the Energy Swindle’ campaign – people who are sick and tired of paying over the odds for their energy bills. Although the weather may have been glorious, they still remembered the cold winter and the cold spring we had all just endured. Many had just received bills are were surprised just how high they were.
“If all you do is complain to your family and friends and then do nothing about it, don’t be surprised if nothing changes”, said one of the people we spoke to. “I’ll be writing”, said many passers by.
Local TPA supporter, David Hartley, said, “All we can do is present people with the facts and make it easy for them to write to their MP. Ordinary people don’t know what’s going on. It’s great to be in a position to talk to them and also give them something practical to do.”
David’s view is the view of all the people who have helped us run our street stalls. We are in Salisbury tomorrow, and then in Darlington and Swansea on Saturday, and in Birmingham on Wednesday next week. If you would like to help on those stalls, or perhaps run one yourself, please contact National Grassroots Coordinator, Andrew Allison.
If you haven’t done so already, please write to your MP using the website energyswindle.org.
Reacting to the proposals announced by IPSA this morning, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“The idea of hiking MPs’ pay when everyone else has been suffering such a squeeze on their earnings is totally unpalatable. MPs do an important job and work hard, but they already earn nearly three times the national average and more than most of their European counterparts.
“The extensive research commissioned by IPSA has demonstrated that people think the current level of pay to be broadly fair, so this announcement amounts to an unaccountable quango putting up two fingers to the British public.
“IPSA is right to be reforming the gold-plated parliamentary pensions and cutting golden goodbyes for retiring or defeated MPs, but it beggars belief that they have come up with a plan that will increase the cost of our politicians when everyone’s budgets are under such pressure.
“I hope that IPSA will reflect on the reaction to their proposals and come back with fresh plans which will be acceptable to the taxpayers picking up the bill.”
IPSA commissioned ComRes to undertake extensive public opinion research into the issue of MPs’ remuneration, involving two full surveys of more than 2,000 people, four focus groups and two Citizens’ Juries. The 165-page report from ComRes could not have been clearer in its conclusion:
“Most people think that an MP’s salary is broadly fair once they have reflected on the nature of the work and comparative pay scales of other public sector workers… There is very little appetite for increasing the pay of MPs.”
Following the launch of Stop the Energy Swindle, our campaign fighting the taxes pushing up family and business energy bills, we can reveal that £86 million has been handed to environmentalist campaigns in the UK and the rest of the European Union since 1997. British taxpayers have paid for around £8.6 million of this budget.
Taxpayers are paying twice: once for the grants, and again in higher energy bills caused by successful environmentalist campaigns for energy taxes and new regulations.
The key findings of this research are:
This funding is an unfair subsidy at the expense of many people who may not agree with the environmentalist campaigns’ objectives:
It is a disgusting waste for Brussels to spend our money funding their pet environmentalists like Friends of the Earth. This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to put a democratic gloss on fat subsidies for special interests in favoured industries like wind power. It would be funny if it was not so expensive for families already struggling to pay their bills. Taxpayer subsidies for radical environmentalists need to end. Politicians should be looking to put in place a more affordable energy policy rather than caving in to demands from their sock puppets for ever more onerous taxes and regulations.
Following suggestions that MPs should be given a 10 per cent pay rise, John O’ Connell argues against the increase in the Yorkshire post:
WHEN George Osborne delivered the Spending Review last week, he said that there would be a restriction of one per cent on public sector pay increases in the near future. On top of that, he called for an end to incremental pay increases. Both were welcome moves. Many public sector bodies have been dodging the earlier pay freeze, announced when the coalition came to power in 2010, by moving staff up within existing pay bands.
Responding to reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is considering setting a pay rise for MPs of around £7,500, taking the salary to £75,000, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“MPs are already very well paid both in terms of European politicians and the average salary in this country.
“It would be particularly egregious for politicians to be handed a whopping great pay rise while hard-pressed taxpayers tighten their own belts.
“Ipsa must recognise that its own polling shows the public simply do not support an increase, nor would it be consistent for MPs to take a rise while rightly freezing pay elsewhere in the public sector.”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s (ERYC) failed regeneration scheme in the seaside town of Bridlington. Since then, local residents have set-up a campaign group, Justice for Bridlington which we are happy to support.
Justice for Bridlington tried to contact all sixty-seven ERYC councillors this morning, asking them to sign this declaration. Forty-one councillors publish private e-mail addresses on the council’s website. All forty-one of them received a covering letter and a copy of the declaration to sign and return.
The remaining twenty-six councillors use official eastriding.gov.uk e-mail addresses. All twenty-six e-mails were returned as blocked. Justice for Bridlington is calling for more transparency and accountability in County Hall, yet ironically cannot contact councillors who use official e-mail addresses. Councillors appear to have no control over who contacts them or what lands in their inbox.
If the council thinks councillors are being spammed, there are always spam filters. To block e-mails completely highlights the problems that exists.
The story doesn’t end there though. Those councillors who have received their copy of the declaration, received the following message from Matthew Buckley, Head of Legal and Democratic Services:
Members may have received an e mail from an organisation calling itself
‘Justice for Bridlington ‘. Could I ask Members not to respond to this e
mail for now.
We are discussing an appropriate response.
This e-mail was sent despite the following request in the covering letter sent to councillors:
You are not obliged to reply to this letter, but if you do, we ask that you do so as an individual. A reply made jointly, by a political group, or via officers may imply that you are unable to fulfil your function as a councillor and/or that you are unwilling to engage with your electorate.
So there we have it. In trying to call those who are responsible for the regeneration fiasco to account, and in trying to campaign for more transparency in County Hall, Justice for Bridlington is prevented from contacting councillors who use official e-mail addresses, and council officers have tried to stop all councillors from replying and signing the declaration.
Is it any wonder why I’ve said in the past, democracy is dead in County Hall?
Refuse collectors and street cleaners are going back to work in the interim whilst they consider a new offer from the Brighton’s Green Council. It is hoped the council has done what is necessary this time to avoid a potential second week of strike action, however during the recent strike there was an interesting development.
Shop owners in some parts of the city such as George Street took matters into their own hands and cleared up the area surrounding their shops as it was having a direct impact on their bottom line. Those on strike reacted to this by saying that the shop owners were taking strike breaking action, but others such as Cllr Warren Morgan took a more pragmatic approach. Cllr Morgan went on record to say “I don’t agree that people sweeping up outside their homes or shops is strike breaking”.
So we actually had an interesting situation where not only did residents and businesses not receive a core service that they had paid for through taxation, but they were compelled to carry out that vital service themselves.
Anyway here is a something to think about for the future. If businesses are happy to clean up the area in which they operate to protect their bottom line, should they not get a discount in their Council Tax? Perhaps reduce Council Tax in the city so people have more spending power, and reduce business rates so that particular barrier to entry for small businesses is lessened, and then just let the shop owners take responsibility for the area in which they operate. This could be a move that via lower taxation could help spur an economic revival of shopping areas in Brighton, where currently too many shops stand empty.
In advance of the Comprehensive Spending Review, we can reveal how the Government could cut vast swathes of wasteful and unnecessary spending. A new online edition of the Bumper Book of Government Waste, published today, identifies potential savings to the tune of nearly £120 billion, a figure almost exactly equal to the current budget deficit. This equates to a massive £4,500 for each and every household in the UK - enough to give every family in the land a luxury holiday or pay their household energy bills nearly three times over.
Excellent work has been undertaken by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group in terms of finding savings, but taxpayers’ cash has still been wasted in a number of ways, with significant sums ripe for being saved in many areas, including:
Our figure is almost certainly an underestimate. A rigorous assessment of the public sector efficiency commissioned by the European Central Bank found that if the UK’s bloated public sector were as efficient as that in the economies of countries like the US, Australia, and Japan, no less than £137 billion could have been saved in the last year.
In addition to the big ticket items, we have identified hundreds of examples of smaller sums being wasted. It is, however, all still taxpayers’ money and there is no excuse for waste, regardless of the amount involved. Among the culprits identified are:
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“George Osborne must take the golden opportunity offered by the Spending Review to get the nation’s finances under control and ease the burden on taxpayers. The latestBumper Book of Government Waste shows that tens of billions of pounds are still wasted each year and there is an enormous amount of fat left in the public sector.
“If Ministers do something about it, they can give taxpayers a better deal and still provide the frontline services which people depend on the most. More money must be left in the pockets of struggling households who need it to support their own families and their own causes. They will get better value than any politician or bureaucrat.”
Commenting on this morning’s select committee report on the Severn Barrage, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
“It is good news that the Committee has rejected the latest proposal for an enormously expensive Severn Barrage. It would be a woeful deal for the country and a terrible burden on families already struggling with their energy bills. Another major official study into the feasibility of the project would be a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money, so soon after the last one.”
Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph Matthew Sinclair argues that our complicated capital tax system needs reform. His article follows the release of our new research How to fix corporate taxes which is part of a set of papers that demonstrate the steps needed to introduce key recommendations from the 2020 Tax Commission final report, The Single Income Tax.
Executive summary and recommendations
Recommendation 1: Cut Corporation Tax
Recommendation 2: Abolish Capital Gains Tax
Capital Gains Tax should be abolished, with two main options:
Recommendation 3: Introduce a new single tax on capital income
Commenting on the launch of How to fix corporate taxes, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
Much simpler, fairer and more competitive capital taxes would change our economic fortunes and end the grim slog of trying to make do as prices rise faster than your wages year after year. We desperately need to end the costly farce of taxing the same money two or even three times and instead impose a single tax on capital or labour income. In the absence of much needed strategic tax reform though, politicians should at least cut not only corporation tax but also capital gains tax.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has today released a new video highlighting how the UK’s taxes on people’s wages are needlessly complex and obscure. Produced with the team from See what you mean, the video highlights how National Insurance is a second income tax in all but name.
Previous YouGov polling for the TPA has shown that many people are not aware of how much tax they actually pay. The video makes clear the real rates of tax people pay when Employee’s National Insurance and Employer’s National Insurance are factored in.
Basic: Employer’s NI 13.8 % + Income Tax 20 % + Employee’s NI 12% = 40.2%
Higher: Employer’s NI 13.8 % + Income Tax 40 % + Employee’s NI 2% = 49%
Additional: Employer’s NI 13.8 % + Income Tax 45 % + Employee’s NI 2% = 53.4 %
(See below for an explanation of the combined rates)
Polling has also shown that most do not understand the impact of Employer’s National Insurance, which effectively reduces their wages.
Last year the TPA set out how to abolish National Insurance by 2017, which would make the tax system simpler and more transparent. At the 2011 Budget, the Chancellor indicated a desire to merge Income Tax and National Insurance, which Mr Osborne said would be a “historic step to simplify our tax system and make it fit for the modern age”. Unfortunately, the Treasury has thus far failed to publish the work of the Office for Tax Simplification on this topic or come up with any solid proposals.
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Taxing the same income three times is a pointless complication which only benefits politicians trying to conceal how much tax people really pay. National Insurance has been nothing more than another Income Tax for years and additional redundant taxes mean higher administrative costs for businesses. The Government can and should merge them into a single tax which would be simpler, fairer and more honest.”
**Calculations** Employer’s National Insurance is added at the rate of 13.8% on top of gross salary. So if you’re paid another £87.87 of gross salary, the employer has to pay an additional 13.8%, which would be £12.13, That adds up to £100.
We are proud to present the seventh Town Hall Rich List, the Who’s Who of senior local government executives which details the job titles, full remuneration and many of the names of all local council employees whose remuneration exceeds £100,000.
Praised in the past by politicians on both sides of the House of Commons, the Town Hall Rich List remains the definitive guide to senior executive pay in local government, making it a vital tool for taxpayers wanting to judge which authorities are delivering the best value for money.
Since the first edition in 2007, the number of senior staff appearing on the Town Hall Rich List has soared. This is the first time that the TPA has reported a drop in the number on remuneration of more than £100,000, largely because of the considerable number of redundancy packages paid out in 2010-11, which increased total remuneration for that year. The welcome fact that many councils have made their data more accessible and transparent has also had an effect on this figure.
However, executive pay in many town halls across the UK continues to be insulated from economic reality, despite the urgent need to find savings and the fact that many councils claim that they have insufficient cash to fund frontline services.
The key findings of the research are:
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“It is good news that the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is finally falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye-watering redundancy bills.
“Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll, some of whom are given hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation just to move from one public sector job to another. Residents won’t be impressed if their council pleads poverty when it is demanding more and more Council Tax, only then to spend it creating more town hall tycoons.”