The TaxPayer’s Alliance Bumper Books of Government Waste helped set the national agenda on how Whitehall and local councils spend and sometimes squander our money. I’m hoping my new book on the national debt, just out, will do the same on our deficit. It’s astonishing how commentators defend our being in the red without much of a clue on how we got here this time and what happened to governments who trod this path before.
So how bad is the national debt?
One of the problems facing us is that people find it hard to think in abstract ledger columns, and billions are frankly sums that only Dr Who can imagine. So let’s try to put both the debt and the deficit into terms that readers can better handle, and can also perhaps more easily remember for debates down the pub and when writing letters to the newspaper. Continue Reading
On Tuesday, when I wrote about Bridlington’s regeneration scheme hitting the rocks, I said I would post an update when East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) decided on its promised “full and frank response”. Well, we are still waiting. Despite knowing for a week that Tesco had decided to pull out of the scheme, and with an estimated £25 million spent, the council is still searching for what to do and say. This tells you more than whatever spin they eventually come up with. The failure to sign-up Tesco before basing their entire plans on them moving has dealt a serious and potentially fatal blow to those plans and confirms that Plan B does not and never did exist.
I spent some time in Bridlington yesterday to take a look for myself why the scheme is so unpopular with many local people and to look at the social costs of the decisions made by bungling bureaucrats, councillors and consultants. Continue Reading
Five years on from the start of the recession, with GDP still 2.5 per cent lower than it was then, it speaks volumes about the feebleness of the economy that today’s announcement of meagre growth last quarter was greeted with relief. But it’s not just the overall level of growth which is worrying, the dominance of Government growth is also a major concern.
GDP was up a paltry 0.3 per cent compared to the previous quarter, and up 0.6 per cent on the same quarter last year. Compared to 2008, it was down 0.5 per cent. But Government was up 0.5 per cent on last quarter, up 1.2 per cent on the same quarter last year and up 6.9 per cent on 2008. Our bloated and still growing Government might give the economy some short term relief from adjusting to new circumstances. But five years on, we’re not in the short term anymore.
Reacting to today’s report Tax avoidance: the role of large accountancy firms from the Public Accounts Committee , Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
“Our hideously complex tax code makes it easier for well-paid accountants to run rings around a taxman who is reliant on the external help of the big four. The power to make our tax system simpler and fairer lies squarely in the hands of politicians. They must stop pontificating about individual cases and actually do something to reform the system which they designed and have been tinkering with ever since.
“The committee is right to say that radical action is needed to simplify the tax system. Strategic reforms are needed to get rid of redundant double taxes and end the need for countless complicated reliefs. Then taxpayers could have confidence that everyone was paying their fair share.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) proposed a radical simplification of the tax system in the 2020 Tax Commission, a joint project between the TPA and Institute of Directors (IoD). The final report of the commission, The Single Income Tax, can be found here.
Islington Council will have to repay motorists a huge amount in compensation over a bungled road layout scheme. It has apparently caused a number of accidents, including three in which vehicles over-turned while trying to negotiate it.
The scheme has attracted a large number of complaints from local residents, and has already cost local taxpayers some £110,000 including revisions. Apart from the accident toll, it seems that technical failures by Islington Council will also lead to over 10,000 traffic fines illegally issued between November last year and February having to be repaid at a cost of up to £1 million. Opposition councillors have called for the scheme to be scrapped. Continue Reading