Queen's Speech: A muddle of worthy measures, ill-conceived policies and wasted opportunities

May 18, 2016 12:41 PM

Responding to the Queen's Speech, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"This is a hotch-potch of measures announced at a time when ministers are clearly distracted by the impending EU referendum. Some of the new legislation is worthy and sensible, but the Government has yet again missed the opportunity to embark on serious reform of the maddeningly complex tax system, shake up bloated Whitehall bureaucracy and dump some of its more ill-conceived policies like the Sugar Tax. We can only hope that the relatively light legislative agenda for the coming year will ensure that ministers spend more time focusing on getting public spending down and balancing the nation's books."

Further comment on specific announcements:

On the confirmation of the introduction of the Sugar Tax, he said:

"It is deeply concerning that the government is pushing ahead with this regressive charge in spite of the overwhelming body of evidence showing that it's doomed to failure. The solution to tackling obesity and other health problems related to lifestyle choices is better education and personal responsibility. Slapping arbitrary taxes on a few products due to pressure from the taxpayer-funded health lobby will hit the poorest and fail to achieve the desired results."

On the introduction of measures to tackle health tourism in the NHS, he said:

"For too long it's been far too easy for migrants come to the country and use NHS services without contributing through taxes. We have a national, not an international health service and at a time when savings have to be made, the government is absolutely right to introduce these charges for primary care to make sure taxpayers aren't left short-changed."

On the news of the continued ring-fencing of the foreign aid and defence budgets, he said:

"Ring-fencing budgets is a bad idea that puts the focus on inputs rather than outcomes. Spending decisions should be made based on need and affordability for taxpayers rather than some predetermined politically motivated target. The poor value for money taxpayers have grown accustomed to seeing from the Department for International Development just goes to show how irresponsible this policy is."

On the confirmation of a bill to create a new offence of facilitating tax evasion, he said:

"While the authorities clearly need appropriate powers to crack down on those evading taxes, far too often the lack of public confidence that everyone is paying their fair share of tax stems from the opaque and complex tax system that ministers have themselves created over the years. A wholesale review of the entire tax system is long overdue and the Government ought to be using the opportunity afforded by a working parliamentary majority of introducing much-needed reforms and simplification."

On the new powers to be given to prison governors, he continued:

"If value for money is to be achieved on the ground, it makes sense to take the politics out of public service delivery. The TaxPayers' Alliance has long called for more powers to be given to those running prisons so that they can establish what kind of regime is required at their establishment to achieve the desired outcomes."


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