Not a penny more of taxpayers’ money should be handed to political parties

November 22, 2011 3:24 PM

Today has seen the publication of the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life into political party finance. You can read the full 116-page report here, but to cut to the quick, the proposal which will alarm taxpayers up and down the country is for political parties to get a subsidy from the taxpayer to the tune of around £23 million per year.

Here’s how the report summarises its plan:

“Existing public support to the political parties should be supplemented by the addition of a new form of public support paid to every party with two or more representatives in the Westminster Parliament or the devolved legislatures. The public funding should depend on the number of votes secured in the previous election, at the rate of around £3.00 a vote in Westminster elections and £1.50 a vote in devolved and European elections. Income tax relief, analogous to Gift Aid, should also be available on donations of up to £1,000 and on membership fees to political parties”


Quite simply, when the Government and local councils are making cuts to their budgets, the idea that some of those savings should be channelled into the coffers of political parties is monstrous.

The scheme as envisaged by the Kelly Committee would have seen the following amounts thrown at the parties after last year’s general election, based on the idea of a £3 subsidy per vote:

  • Conservatives - £32,179,842

  • Labour - £25,828,581

  • Liberal Democrats - £20,510,472

  • Scottish National Party - £1,474,158

  • Sinn Fein - £515,826

  • Democratic Unionist Party - £504,648

  • Plaid Cymru - £496,182

  • Social Democratic and Labour Party - £332,910


That amounts to a handout of nearly £92 million. And it would mean you pay a fortune to support political parties you don’t support.  Labour voters funding the Conservatives and Conservative voters funding Labour, whether they like it or not.

But of course that’s not all; you then have to factor in the grants that would be given after elections to the European Parliament, which would have amounted to the following if the £1.50-per-vote scheme had been in operation after the 2009 elections:

  • Conservatives - £6,297,591

  • UKIP - £3,747,339

  • Labour - £3,572,640

  • Liberal Democrats - £3,120,920

  • Green Party - £1,955,618

  • BNP - £1,415,397

  • Scottish National Party - £481,511


That comes to more than £20 million. And that’s before you factor in the figures to be given after devolved elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As the report notes, millions of pounds are already given to political parties: opposition parties in the Commons and Lords get financial support to assist them in their parliamentary activities, in recognition that they don’t have the civil service back-up enjoyed by Government ministers. That funding should be cut, not supplemented.

But taxpayers will be aghast at the sums Kelly is now proposing be diverted to parties. The report’s spin is that his plan amounts to “only about 50p a year for each UK elector”. But just the £92 million in core funding is the equivalent of the entire annual pay of well over 4,000 people on average earnings.  If Kelly thinks voters are so keen to see their hard-earned cash go to political parties, they should be given the free choice as to whether they make such donations of their own free will out of their own paypackets.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance takes a robust view on this: not a single penny more of taxpayers’ money should be handed to political parties.Today has seen the publication of the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life into political party finance. You can read the full 116-page report here, but to cut to the quick, the proposal which will alarm taxpayers up and down the country is for political parties to get a subsidy from the taxpayer to the tune of around £23 million per year.

Here’s how the report summarises its plan:

“Existing public support to the political parties should be supplemented by the addition of a new form of public support paid to every party with two or more representatives in the Westminster Parliament or the devolved legislatures. The public funding should depend on the number of votes secured in the previous election, at the rate of around £3.00 a vote in Westminster elections and £1.50 a vote in devolved and European elections. Income tax relief, analogous to Gift Aid, should also be available on donations of up to £1,000 and on membership fees to political parties”


Quite simply, when the Government and local councils are making cuts to their budgets, the idea that some of those savings should be channelled into the coffers of political parties is monstrous.

The scheme as envisaged by the Kelly Committee would have seen the following amounts thrown at the parties after last year’s general election, based on the idea of a £3 subsidy per vote:

  • Conservatives - £32,179,842

  • Labour - £25,828,581

  • Liberal Democrats - £20,510,472

  • Scottish National Party - £1,474,158

  • Sinn Fein - £515,826

  • Democratic Unionist Party - £504,648

  • Plaid Cymru - £496,182

  • Social Democratic and Labour Party - £332,910


That amounts to a handout of nearly £92 million. And it would mean you pay a fortune to support political parties you don’t support.  Labour voters funding the Conservatives and Conservative voters funding Labour, whether they like it or not.

But of course that’s not all; you then have to factor in the grants that would be given after elections to the European Parliament, which would have amounted to the following if the £1.50-per-vote scheme had been in operation after the 2009 elections:

  • Conservatives - £6,297,591

  • UKIP - £3,747,339

  • Labour - £3,572,640

  • Liberal Democrats - £3,120,920

  • Green Party - £1,955,618

  • BNP - £1,415,397

  • Scottish National Party - £481,511


That comes to more than £20 million. And that’s before you factor in the figures to be given after devolved elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As the report notes, millions of pounds are already given to political parties: opposition parties in the Commons and Lords get financial support to assist them in their parliamentary activities, in recognition that they don’t have the civil service back-up enjoyed by Government ministers. That funding should be cut, not supplemented.

But taxpayers will be aghast at the sums Kelly is now proposing be diverted to parties. The report’s spin is that his plan amounts to “only about 50p a year for each UK elector”. But just the £92 million in core funding is the equivalent of the entire annual pay of well over 4,000 people on average earnings.  If Kelly thinks voters are so keen to see their hard-earned cash go to political parties, they should be given the free choice as to whether they make such donations of their own free will out of their own paypackets.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance takes a robust view on this: not a single penny more of taxpayers’ money should be handed to political parties.

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