Thanks to the the hard work of our campaign team, staff and supporters we have had a number of campaign victories and influenced the landscape of public policy including:
- Reforming Stamp Duty
- Cutting Taxes
- Freeze Fuel Tax
- Mash Beer Tax
- Public Sector Spending
- Reforming Welfare and Reducing the Tax Burden on the Poor
- Spending Transparency
- Stop Funding Argentina
- End Taxpayer Funded Trade Unions
Reforming Stamp Duty
The abolition of the slab rate structure of Stamp Duty was announced at the Autumn Statement in December. Our Stamp Out Stamp Duty Campaign was the first dedicated campaign on this pernicious tax, and pushed the issue right up the media and political agenda.
This reform is saving taxpayers £800 million a year and the Chancellor's actions marked a substantial leap forward. However, our campaigning on this issue is far from over. The average family buying a home will still pay around £3,600 in Stamp Duty. And the changes have increased taxes on the purchase of some properties, leaving a small number of buyers significantly worse off. So we will continue to campaign for the full abolition of this tax.
The TaxPayers' Alliance firmly believe that governments will always find ways of spending any money at their disposal. Cutting taxes would put more money in the pocket of the electorate allowing them to deal with their own cost of living and allow them to make their own choices.
Here are just a few examples of our victories in securing lower taxes for the electorate:
Why is it that you pay 57% tax on a bottle of wine and 79% of a bottle of spirits? Alcohol prices in the UK are 43% higher than the EU average. We campaigned to scrap the alcohol supertax and allow the domestic alcohol industry to thrive once more. The result was the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped and alcohol duty for spirits was frozen.
South West Coordinator Tim Newark launched a campaign in July 2013 to scrap the duty escalator on cider and stop almost a quarter of the price you pay for a pint of cider going to the taxman. The campaign received support from a number of South West MPs, and Tim and local supporters were been busy collecting signatures for a petition which was presented to the Treasury. The result of his campaign was evident in the 2014 budget which froze duty on cider. This was futher continued in the 2015 Budget which cut cider duty by 2p along with cuts for Beer and a freeze for wine.
With the Daily Express, we collected over 300,000 signatures calling for the abolition of Inheritance Tax. In 2007 George Osborne promised that he would raise the tax threshold to £1 million per person. In October 2007, Alistair Darling doubled the inheritance tax threshold for married couples to £600,000. Although we were aggrieved by George Osborne's subsequent lack of action we have continued to remind the Conservatives of their previous commitment.
At a time when headlines tell us that we must support our local stores why do business rates create a blanket charge whether or not businesses are making the money to pay them? On top of all the other costs of setting up a business these costs are sometimes unaffordable and freezing them would be a simple way to support firms so they can prosper. After research and campaigning by the TPA the 2013 Autumn Statement pledged to cap the increase in business rates in England, introduce a discount of £1,000 and double small business rate relief for another 12 months.
Freeze Fuel Tax
60% of what you pay for fuel goes straight to the taxman. That means for £30 in fuel £18 goes to the Exchequer, £1 to the retailer and £11 covers the cost of the fuel.
In many cases fuel is the only sensible option for getting to work, taking children to school and doing the weekly shop but despite this British petrol taxes are higher than any other country in the EU. Fuel Duty directly contributes to the ‘cost of living crisis’ that the government are telling us they’re trying to solve.
We created special fuel tax stands that were displayed on the counters at over 5,000 independent forecourts. This showed people the burden of fuel taxes right at the moment they were paying. We also produced research which showed how much more motorists were paying in excess taxes above the cost of driving. Freeze Fuel Tax was backed by The Sun and extensively covered in the broadcast media. We also encouraged taxpayers to write to their MP using our dedicated website. Our campaign helped secure the freeze in Fuel Duty announced by the Chancellor at Budget 2013.
Mash Beer Tax
Since 2008 the Government increased duty on beer by 42% but revenue only increased by 12%.
This means that the duty stopped people consuming beer, hurting small businesses like pubs and breweries and making one of life’s little luxuries more expensive. Our campaign team distributed over 400,000 beer mats to pubs across the UK, raised this issue in Parliament and the media -- particularly The Sun--and our grassroots activists wrote to their MPs and took part in events around the country to raise awareness of this issue. The result of our campaign was a tax cut worth an estimated £200 million
In March 2013 Gerorge Osbourne announced the abolition in the beer duty escalator along with the first cut in beer duty since 1959. Since then there have been further cuts in beer duty including in the 2015 Budget.
Public Sector Spending
We are told that taxes cannot be cut substantially with the deficit at its current levels. We are told that cuts to budgets will affect services of all kinds but there are many examples of everyday waste that can be cut without affecting those services we strive to protect.
We have consistently argued for necessary cuts in public spending. The Coalition is committed to reducing government expenditure but they must now go much further. In one example, we led the campaign against expensive government advertising budgets. In June 2011, the Cabinet office said it had cut advertising spending by 68% in the past year.
Another example is our research into quango spending was fundamental in changing political attitudes. Many quangos have now been scrapped, including Becta, the National Policing Improvement Agency, and the Sustainable Development Commission. We were also successful in calling for the abolition of Regional Development Agencies.
Additionally, following our research we revealed for the first time how councils were hiring lobbyists using taxpayers’ money. In August 2010, the Government announced an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying by local authorities.
Following up from another piece of research we also exposed the value of Prevent grants in the fight against extremism. In July 2009 the Government announced that local authority Prevent grants would be scrapped.
Reforming Welfare and Reducing the Tax Burden on the Poor
We want to see a simpler welfare system with more money put into helping people and less on administration. People who progress in work should not be financially penalised and nor should couples. We played a small but significant part in the campaign for necessary welfare reform and released research backing a smaller tax burden on the poor through an increase in the income tax personal allowance. Our Work for the Dole proposal was adopted in September 2013; within a month of its publication.
A government is employed by the electorate; the electorate should know what business is being conducted and how taxpayer money is being spent.
The government should also present their information in a way that is clear and easy to understand instead of concealing the issue behind difficult language and layers of terminology. For years politicians have signed off expensive projects and bureaucrats have agreed cosy pay hikes behind closed doors.
But it is essential that taxpayers know how their money is spent. That’s why promoting transparency in government spending has been a staple of our work since 2004. Through our rigorous research, we have uncovered billions of pounds of wasteful spending over the years and have made sure the public has access to this information. But we believe the Government should make this information available to the public themselves. So we have repeatedly pressed the Government to publish more information.
We spoke on behalf of taxpayers’ during the MPs’ expenses scandal, pushed for full disclosure of all MPs’ expenses, and submitted a detailed submission to Parliament for comprehensive reform.
All councils now publish all spending over £500, which we have long fought for. Local authorities must also reveal the number of staff they employ on over £50,000 per annum and provide further details on staff earning more than £150,000. – something we had been calling for since our first Town Hall Rich List was published in 2006.
Thanks to our consistent pressure, government departments now also put more data than ever online through the COINS database for taxpayers to scrutinise. We have been instrumental in changing the political landscape on spending transparency, because now politicians know taxpayers are watching. Furthermore, the 2014 Legal Audit made it illegal for councils to prevent people from blogging or tweeting at council meeting.
Stop Funding Argentina
Repeated attacks on Britain after the Falkland Islands chose to stay British, Argentina’s previous failures to repay obligations to lenders and numerous defaults on existing debt. These events did not impact UK funding Argentina through the World Bank and other organisations.
For 8 months The TaxPayers Alliance opposed talks of an additional loan to be made to Argentina through the World Bank and funded through taxpayer money. Ministers had been insisting that they would still continue to vote for the loans -- while other countries from the United States to Spain voted against them -- but after a sustained TPA campaign ministers changed their position and pledged to vote no in the future.
In February 2013 Justine Greening MP announcement that the UK will oppose all future World Bank loans to Argentina, a change in Government policy. The result was UK representatives in the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank voted against all new proposals for financial aid to support the Government of the Republic of Argentina while proposals demonstrating exceptional benefit to the poorest people of Argentina may still be funded.
End Taxpayer Funded Trade Unions
Our award-winning Taxpayer Funding of Trade Unions campaign was started in 2010 to expose taxpayers’ subsidy of influential public sector trade unions, who are powerful advocates for higher public spending, higher taxes and burdensome regulation on business.
Our researchers undertook one of the most comprehensive Freedom of Information campaigns ever. We requested information from over 1,300 public sector bodies, including councils, quangos, the NHS, Whitehall departments and more. This gave us the only comprehensive list of the number of public sector staff working for unions – paid for by the taxpayer.
In 2014 we uncovered £108 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies, equivalent to more than 3,000 full-time staff. After four years of innovative research and sustained campaigning, government ministers are acting to cut these subsidies. Cabinet Minister Francis Maude and Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles have sharply cut the amount of staff time provided to trade unions in the Civil Service and local government. We will continue to fight for ministers to go further and extend those reforms to the NHS and schools, where there are still nurses not nursing and teachers not teaching, but instead working for the trade unions.