News broke this week from The Treasury that the “tax gap” between what is owed to HMRC and what is actually collected hit £34 billion last year. It’s an eye-catching figure and it understandably makes the millions of taxpayers who pay every penny they’re asked wonder why they bother.
HMRC attributed some £3.1 billion of the gap to tax avoidance, whilst another £14.2 billion came from uncollected Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and Capital Gains tax. £12.4 billion of the gap came from VAT, whilst £3.9 billion of Corporation Tax and £2.9 billion of excise duties went AWOL. Continue Reading
A ground-breaking study into the amount of office space provided by public bodies to trade unions has revealed that many organisations up and down the country are ignoring government advice to restrict the use of taxpayer-subsidised facilities.
Over the last financial year, the total area provided to trade unions was 273,753 square feet, which is equivalent to the size of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Despite this space having a market value of up to £27.4 million if it were in Central London, our research was only able to identify £307,093 in rental payments from the unions.
After another successful year, it’s time once again for our Annual Review. In our tenth year, we’re trying a new format – quite obviously inspired by our Chief Executive Jonathan Isaby’s journalistic past!
While students are forced to take part-time jobs to help pay their way through university, some of the top staff at Plymouth University are enjoying the high-life at the expense of the taxpayer – including first class rail travel, designer chairs and a trip to Miami.
Over the past three years, Plymouth University’s vice chancellor has spent almost £15,000 on first class train travel. That’s been calculated to work out at an average of one first class journey every eight days. These include a trip on the Eurostar to Paris at £311.50 and numerous return journeys between London and Plymouth, each costing £242.00.
“While we understand that from time to time there will be a need to travel by train,” says a regional University and College Union spokesperson, “first-class journeys every eight days for three years does seem excessive, particularly at a time when the university was making staff redundant because of the need to make savings.”
But this is not the only cost to the taxpayer of vice chancellor Wendy Purcell, who is currently suspended from her top post, on full pay of £288,000, while being investigated over her recent conduct. A boardroom row involving a previous chairman and the vice chancellor has seen legal costs skyrocket to over £150,000 for seven months’ work. At one point, the university was footing the bill for £27,000 of legal advice for Purcell.
Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, news emerged that the scandal-hit Plymouth University has spent £150,000 on seven chairs, designed by top craftsman John Makepeace, for its graduation ceremonies, while a further £24,000 has been spent on sending six members of staff to Miami for a conference. All this against a background of threatened job cuts at the university.
“Ultimately, this is not about ‘chairs’ but a collection of contemporary design pieces by one of the world’s leading furniture designers,” says Plymouth’s deputy vice chancellor. “Even before launching the project publicly, the works have attracted the attention of one major museum which is interested in adding to its contemporary design collection.”
“No student has ever chosen a university because of its chairs,” says the baffled local Union rep. Students and low-paid college workers will need a sit down.
Tim Newark is the South-West Coordinator of the TaxPayers’ Alliance
Yesterday’s strikes by NHS workers elicited strong responses from patients, NHS workers and politicians. Nurses and midwives were understandably put front and centre of the unions’ campaigns – the public tend to prefer NHS nurses to NHS bureaucrats.
But some of the unions (most notably Unison) don’t just represent nurses and ambulance staff, but tens of thousands of NHS middle-managers.
For the avoidance of any doubt, all NHS staff got a pay rise. Continue Reading