A tiny room in Islington crammed with a kitchenette, dining table, wardrobe and double bed has hit the headlines due to its advertised rent of £170 per week. The alarmingly cramped appearance of the room combined with the high rent has been described as “sickeningly small” by Huffington Post and “depressing” by Time Out. Continue Reading
Responding to the Queen’s Speech, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
Some positive measures have been overshadowed by an embarrassingly weak Recall Bill. This stitch-up will do nothing to restore the trust of voters in politics. It will centralise more power in Westminster, rather than handing it to voters.
Other measures will make local government and quangos more accountable, and save taxpayers’ money. But the fudge on recall means that the Coalition has missed a tremendous opportunity to leave British democracy a true legacy.
On specific measures of the speech, he added:
On new powers for voters to recall MPs:
True right of recall was included in the Coalition Agreement, and the proposed legislation is nothing more than a weak imitation. In a democracy, voters should have the final say, not a committee of MPs. That politicians are scared of ‘kangaroo courts’ only underlines how detached they are from the concerns of ordinary people.
On the crackdown on senior public sector officials returning to other well-paid public sector jobs:
Shutting down the public sector merry-go-round is fantastic news for taxpayers. For too long, ordinary people have been footing the bill for huge redundancy payouts, only to see the employees in question back in similar jobs just weeks later.
This Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II will take to the throne in the House of Lords and deliver the last Queen’s Speech of this functioning, if occasionally fractious, Parliament. In it, the Coalition will set out the legislative programme for its last year of power before next year’s uncertain election. They have a chance to deliver a lasting legacy for taxpayers – but will they?
We particularly hope to see the Coalition deliver on one of their first promises – to enshrine a “right of recall” in law. Currently, voters have little recourse when they feel an MP has let them down other than to circle the date of the General Election in their calendar. Giving the public the right to petition for a ballot when they’re aggrieved by their MP’s behaviour would be a fantastic way to increase the accountability of our elected representatives. Voters across the world, who have been given the right of recall, have acted sensibly and appropriately, only using it on rare occasions. There is no reason to fear British voters having the same power. Concerns that it would create “kangaroo courts” – most notably expressed by our Deputy Prime Minister – only reflect how far the gap has grown between the political elite and the people they represent.
On a similar note of accountability and transparency, if Britain is to reduce a £1.3 trillion debt burden, it will have to wage war on waste across local and national government. The Coalition’s insistence that government at all levels publishes spending details online has meant that waste is more obvious and easier to identify, and that transparency is vital if we are to hold politicians to account for how they spend our money. However, the Coalition won’t be in power forever, and a future administration may not share its commendable commitment. A short bill, to enshrine in law that all departments, quangos and local authorities have to continue publishing how they spend our money, would guarantee that transparency in the long term. Similarly, there has been unwelcome speculation that the Coalition might weaken the Freedom of Information Act; this should be avoided.
Whilst these measures would encourage transparency in how our representatives spend and act, the Coalition should also do more to introduce transparency into the tax system. A merger of National insurance and Income Tax wouldn’t cost the Treasury anything, but it would allow hard-working Brits to see quite how much of their money is being taken by the taxman.
The Coalition has a last chance to set out a radical vision for a more accountable political class and a more honest tax system. Let’s hope they take it.
You can read a fuller list of the TPA’s proposals for tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech here.
On Friday the TaxPayer’s Alliance was in Surrey Heath talking to residents about Council Tax, which has now risen for two years in a row there. In neighbouring Bracknell Forest, the average Band D household pays £250 less in Council Tax than Surrey Heath, despite no discernible difference in services according to locals. Meanwhile, allowances for the Surrey County Council leader will increase by an enormous 59 per cent this year alone. Understandably, this is an issue a lot of local people feel very strongly about. Continue Reading
Nigel Farage confirmed yesterday that Ukip are not likely to repeat their 2010 General Election manifesto pledge to abolish employee’s National Insurance and introduce a flat rate of Income Tax. The policy was to merge employee’s National Insurance (then charged at two rates of 11 and 1 per cent) with Income Tax (then three rates of 20, 40 and 50 per cent) into one rate of tax of 31 per cent.
Asked on the Andrew Marr Show if a flat rate of tax was still a Ukip policy, he said: Continue Reading