Nov 2007 06

EyeOne of the main reasons taxpayers are opposed to identity cards is the sheer cost of them and the potential spiralling cost to administer a scheme that may well not work as well as the politicians foresee. 

Is it any wonder we suspect the costs will grow when the Home Office advertises for an ‘Executive Director, Business Development and Marketing’ at a salary over £120,000 with £10,000 relocation pay, £2,000 London location allowance, final salary pension and no probationary period if you’re already a civil servant.  Not bad work if you can get it.

The other problem with this job, aside from the gross costs to the taxpayer, is that this role is essentially a political non-job.  Politicians are meant to sell and argue the merits of a policy, not civil servants.  Yet this £120k government job is to ‘market’ ID Cards, a policy already approved of in parliament.  Why the need to market it more?  It’s been voted on, the debate has been had.  If the people aren’t supportive of the idea, then the politicians need to rethink their policy or convince us more and not use our money to pay for more bureaucrats to tell us how good the government’s poorly-defended policies are.

Nov 2007 06

MoneyHard-working activists in Hertfordshire have dug up some superb taxpayer-funded non-jobs in the area.  Just a few from their campaign site include:

£42,000 for a ‘Head of Community Empowerment’ at the Watford Community Housing Trust.  The job description reads:

“You will work with our tenant and leaseholder members to develop and deliver our Community Empowerment Strategy, ensuring tenants are involved in strategic decision making. Additionally, you and your team will be key players in devising and promoting community empowerment opportunities at a local level.”

This is £42,000 for a non-job pure and simple.  The Trust should be doing its job – housing people – and not going on an empowerment crusade with taxpayers’ money.

Added to this, our Hertfordshire activists found another community empowerment non-job, this time at a cost of £29,000 to the taxpayer at the same Housing Trust.  Similarly, this non-job is advertised to do exactly what the Head of Community Empowerment is tasked to do, “to empower tenants and leaseholders to participate in decision-making at both a strategic and local level”. 

In all this is £71,000 wasted on two non-jobs to ‘empower’ the community with ‘inclusive’ decision making.  So is this value for money or taxpayers’ money thrown down the drain?

Nov 2007 05

1748001 Residents in Fenton, Stoke-On-Trent, have been wondering (rightly) what on earth they pay their council taxes for as they now have to drag their heavy wheelie bins to end of the uneven and cobbled alley behind their houses as the council has changed its collection policy (The Sentinel).

One resident said:
"The alleyway is unevenly cobbled to say the least. It has raised ironworks and patches of Tarmac all the way along it and there’s a fair share of dog dirt to contend with.

"It’s just not a suitable surface to be hauling a wheelie bin over, especially when you have a full bin.

"There are people who are weaker than me, like the elderly, who are really going to struggle with this, especially in the winter".

Another added:
"I think they have changed their policy because they don’t want any of their workforce tripping over on the cobbles.

"But we, the ratepayers, don’t wear any protective shoes or clothing and we have to drag the bins along."

"We pay our council tax for services which we are just not getting".

Stoke are one of the worst councils in the UK, and in the light of its decision to spend money on a big rebranding effort, this downgrading of local services just seems all the more shocking. Presumably the next waste of taxpayers’ money on the agenda will be the compensation payouts to those who have injured themselves dragging these bins…

Nov 2007 05

Sws_tpa_511

Congratulations to Peter Webb and the South West Surrey TPA branch.  TPA South West Surrey Organiser Peter Webb hit the front page of the Surrey Times with comment on his local MP’s expenses.  This is how our branches are expanding their campaigns.  Peter has been working to recruit taxpayers into the South West Surrey branch and is now called on by local media for comment on tax issues.  Hopefully we will have more of our organisers called on to do just the same – to be the local voice for taxpayers, holding over-spending politicians to account. 

If you’re a TPA organiser and not called on for comment, then call up your local newspaper and offer it.  If you want to do as Peter has done and set up a local TPA branch to campaign for lower taxes and better government, then email me at [email protected] and we can start building up the grassroots campaign in your area.

Nov 2007 05

The Adam Smith Institute have published an excellent study (PDF) on the vitally important subject of welfare reform.  It shows how the US has managed to fight poverty by getting people into work. In stark contrast, Britain’s over-complicated welfare system masks incentives and tries to spend the poor out of poverty.

The success in the United States is hard to overstate, the ASI study said:


"America’s reforms emphasised work, long–term support and parenting responsibility. The process began with waivers allowing for individual states to opt to try their own welfare programs. These were broadly successful and paved the way for the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996. This changed the face of American welfare provision: between 1994 and 2000, the number of people receiving welfare dropped by half dropped from 5.5 percent of the population to just 2.1 percent."

With dependency blighting so many communities and so expensive for the taxpayer welfare reform needs to be made a top priority.

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