West Country MPs support ‘Cut Cider Tax’ campaign
Jul 2013 30

Several West Country MPs are rallying to our South West TaxPayers’ Alliance ‘Cut Cider Tax’ campaign. Ahead of its formal launch at the Bristol Cider Festival on 2nd August, I met Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group, at his constituency base in the Somerset town.

‘Cider is a great British institution,’ said Ian. ‘Many of our leading cider-makers are family run firms and for government to continually put up tax on cider stifles their investment in the business.’ Continue Reading

What’s happened to those responsible for the disastrous South Yorkshire Digital Region?
Jul 2013 30

Dominique Lazanksi wrote last week about the disastrous project, ‘South Yorkshire Digital Region’. Thankfully the Government has decided to pull the plug so as not to expose taxpayers to even more losses, but what has happened to those people who were responsible for making the decisions?

In the Yorkshire Post last Saturday, some of those questions were answered. Jim Farmery was Head of Innovation at Yorkshire Forward, the now defunct Regional Development Agency (RDA). In 2009, Mr Farmery said: “I don’t have any sleepless nights over the business plan. I think if you ask people on the street if they could get five times the broadband speed, would they pay an extra £10 or £20 a month, most will say yes.” Clearly Mr Farmery didn’t go out on the streets and ask those questions. When Yorkshire Forward was wound up, he received a £70,000 pay-off and he now works as Director of Business Investment for Creative England. Continue Reading

Staff suspended on full pay cost taxpayers a fortune
Jul 2013 29

Full-pay suspensions by West Yorkshire police have cost taxpayers more than half a million pounds over the last three years, bringing the total paid to suspended workers by police forces, health trusts and councils in Yorkshire to more than £8 million. The £513,114.58 was paid out to 28 officers and staff by West Yorkshire police since 2010, with one community support officer (PCSO) receiving over £65,000. Continue Reading

Government pulls out of failed South Yorkshire digital scheme
Jul 2013 26

The ill-fated South Yorkshire Digital Region scheme set up to deliver broadband to the area has finally lost the support of the government. The Yorkshire Post reports today that Business Minister Michael Fallon announced that the government will stop supporting the scheme.  This means that the four local councils involved in the scheme will have to decide whether or not they wish to continue with further taxpayer investment and a private sector partner. This is disastrous news for the taxpayer who will have to foot the bill of nearly £50 million just for the government to extricate itself from the project.

We have blogged about this scheme twice over the last several years. The project was haemorrhaging money since its launch in 2009 and has had nothing but heavy losses.   Back in March Doncaster Council, one of the four participating councils, took the decision to re-procure the project because it was cheaper than scraping the project all together, at another cost to the taxpayer.  Continue Reading

ECO programme means bigger energy bills for consumers
Jul 2013 26

Government officials would like us to believe that its Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme, despite costing £1.3 billion, will have “no impact on consumer bills.” But when a major player in the industry warns against the risk they pose to energy bills, the Government’s blue-sky thinking starts to fall apart.

Keith Anderson, the boss of ScottishPower, spoke out today against the Government’s predictions of how much instigating the ECO programme would cost. The programme covers a raft of measures supposed to help reduce our energy bills, ranging from the instillation of solid wall and cavity wall instillations to full loft insulation and the glazing of windows. Whilst Mr Anderson has said that ScottishPower broadly agreed with “energy costs remaining stable and flat over the next period of time” he warned that there was “increased cost pressures coming through.” Consumers want stable and flat prices, but the Government’s own ECO programme is putting this at risk. Continue Reading

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