Ed Miliband’s proposals won’t do anything to tackle Britain’s welfare problem
Jun 2013 06

Reacting to Ed Miliband’s speech on welfare, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

Ed Miliband is right to acknowledge the burden of our enormous welfare budget but his proposals won’t do anything to tackle it. The best way to bring down the welfare bill is to focus on the cost of individual benefits, not introduce an overall spending cap. It’s also crucial that work pays, which means cutting taxes and leaving more money in the pockets of the people who earned it. Continuing to trap people in a complex welfare system just isn’t acceptable, so politicians must get serious about simplifying benefits, cutting taxes and removing regulations.”

Several policy ideas were floated in the speech in an attempt to address some of the challenges in the welfare budget. There are better ways to deal with these problems.

Housing Benefit:
The main cause of Britain’s ever-increasing housing benefit bill is a lack of housing supply due to planning restrictions, not poorly negotiated deals by local authorities. Freeing up private investment in housing will bring down housing costs for everyone, including the Housing Benefit bill. Trying to cut Housing Benefit by increasing direct spending on housing won’t help taxpayers.

Grants for living wage:
Offering taxpayers’ money to companies in return for paying a living wage would do little more than link two bad polices into one. Incentives for companies to switch from low-paid jobs to capital investment could lead to fewer jobs, not more.

Tax Credits and low pay:
Heavy business taxes and onerous regulations mean companies have to pay lower wages. The Government should stop making it so expensive to hire low-paid workers by cutting business taxes like employer’s National Insurance and let workers keep more of the money they earn.

The contributory principle:
Benefits and taxes are already too complicated. Reform should focus on expecting people to work for their benefits and preparing job-seekers for the job market while simplifying the system.

£30 to change a council light bulb
Jun 2013 06

How much does it cost to change a light bulb in a public toilet in Devon? Apparently, £30 is the answer. A report on cost-cutting by North Devon Council has revealed that 69 bulbs were replaced last year at a total cost of £2070. This year, 14 bulbs were changed at a cost of £420.

The lower number is being heralded as a success as the toilet bulbs are being steadily replaced by longer-lasting LED lights. When asked to explain the cost of changing light bulbs, the council’s executive member for the environment said ‘Putting them in is not the question, it is the purchasing and driving to and fro. You could be travelling 49 miles to replace some of them. North Devon is a very widespread area.’ Continue Reading

Fighting parking charges in Colchester
Jun 2013 05

Shopkeepers in Colchester are fed up with rising taxes and council parking charges—but they are doing something about it themselves by offering to pay for shoppers’ parking fees!

Crouch Street in Colchester is well known for its many small independent shops and is clearly thriving despite the economic downturn of the last few years, but even here local retailers have been feeling the pinch. I visited two independent local shops there to find out what they thought could be done to make life less difficult for their businesses. One of their main complaints was that local council car parking is too expensive. An employee at Ambiance on Crouch Street told me that ‘Colchester’s high street is being killed by the high price of car parking.’ Continue Reading

The Government’s terrible recall bill must be rejected
Jun 2013 05

The Coalition has waded into the long grass this week to retrieve the recall proposals it kicked there after it came to power. However, Nick Clegg’s now revived proposals aren’t a proper right of recall and he knows it. In response to Zac Goldsmith (someone who knows what real recall is and has fought valiantly to promote it) the Deputy Prime Minister called the Government’s proposed scheme a “back stop reassurance”. But we deserve and require more than a back stop. Continue Reading

Patrick Mercer case raises need for voters to have proper recall mechanism
May 2013 31

Commenting on the decision by Patrick Mercer MP to resign the Conservative whip today, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“MPs must be absolutely transparent about declaring all outside income and obey the appropriate Commons rules.  Any failure to do so is a very serious matter. “Details of the precise allegations against Mr Mercer are yet to emerge, but Newark residents will be intrigued as to why their MP has resigned from his party but not from Parliament. “Mr Mercer’s constituents should have the right to hold him to account for his actions if they feel he has let them down, but they cannot do so because the Government has failed to introduce the recall mechanism it promised in the Coalition Agreement. “Without a proper right of recall, MPs remain able to sit out a full five-year term, regardless of their conduct.

Click here to read We need a proper recall system, not a Westminster stitch-up 

 

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