TaxPayers' Alliance announces March's Pin-Up and Pinhead of the Month

March 30, 2012 10:40 AM

Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance announces March’s recipients of its monthly awards to celebrate those in power who have sought to do the right – and wrong – thing by the taxpayer.

The man, woman or organisation to be congratulated for saving public money or acting in the interests of the hard-pressed taxpayer is named the TPA’s “Pin-Up of the Month”, whilst whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash is shamed as the TPA’s “Pinhead of the Month”.

March 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is Ben Gummer MP, who inspired the announcement by George Osborne in this month’s Budget that from 2014 everyone will receive an annual statement of how much they have paid in tax and on what the Government has spent it.

Ipswich MP Mr Gummer introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill in January proposing that Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should send every taxpayer a statement detailing how much tax they paid the previous year, how much they would pay during the current year and how that money would be spent.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance gave him strong backing for the measure, because it would massively increase public awareness of how much we pay in tax - and what the Government then does with that cash. We were therefore delighted that George Osborne adopted the idea and Ben Gummer is rightly due to be commended for pushing the policy.

Meanwhile, the TPA’s Pinhead of the Month for March is Cllr Kay Cutts, the Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Cllr Cutts was behind the recent move – highlighted in Parliament this month by Labour MP Gloria De Piero – to spend £77,975 of council tax payers’ money on rebranding 188 council vehicles and 179 council buildings on the introduction of a “Corporate Identity Policy”.

The Council claims that changing these signs and logos is “part of the Council’s drive to provide better information to residents” which will, in turn, make them likely to feel “more satisfied” with the Council. The TaxPayers’ Alliance contends that local authorities should not be spending council tax payers’ money on unnecessary self-publicity, especially at a time when money is so tight for both hard-pressed families and councils themselves.

Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.

“The adoption of Ben Gummer’s simple and cheap proposal to give taxpayers far more information as they seek to hold the Government to account over how it spends their hard-earned cash was a welcome inclusion in the Budget.

“We have long argued for greater transparency and accountability in the tax system, although by no means will we be resting on our laurels: we will be campaigning to ensure that the Government’s statements will cover all taxes, including ‘hidden’ taxes like employers’ National Insurance contributions.

“Meanwhile, the decision by Cllr Kay Cutts and Nottinghamshire County Council to spend nearly £80,000 on rebranding signs on council buildings and vehicles is deeply disappointing. The authority has made commendable cuts to its marketing budget, but it has spoilt all the good work by pushing ahead with this costly “Corporate Identity Policy”.

“Nottinghamshire residents will be perplexed at the claim that this spending will somehow achieve ‘better value for money’, whilst the stated aim that this additional spending on self-publicity is specifically about trying to increase satisfaction levels with the Council is rather more sinister.

“At a time when families and councils alike are having to tighten their belts, this kind of spending on corporate propaganda is unacceptable.”
Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance announces March’s recipients of its monthly awards to celebrate those in power who have sought to do the right – and wrong – thing by the taxpayer.

The man, woman or organisation to be congratulated for saving public money or acting in the interests of the hard-pressed taxpayer is named the TPA’s “Pin-Up of the Month”, whilst whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash is shamed as the TPA’s “Pinhead of the Month”.

March 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is Ben Gummer MP, who inspired the announcement by George Osborne in this month’s Budget that from 2014 everyone will receive an annual statement of how much they have paid in tax and on what the Government has spent it.

Ipswich MP Mr Gummer introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill in January proposing that Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should send every taxpayer a statement detailing how much tax they paid the previous year, how much they would pay during the current year and how that money would be spent.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance gave him strong backing for the measure, because it would massively increase public awareness of how much we pay in tax - and what the Government then does with that cash. We were therefore delighted that George Osborne adopted the idea and Ben Gummer is rightly due to be commended for pushing the policy.

Meanwhile, the TPA’s Pinhead of the Month for March is Cllr Kay Cutts, the Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Cllr Cutts was behind the recent move – highlighted in Parliament this month by Labour MP Gloria De Piero – to spend £77,975 of council tax payers’ money on rebranding 188 council vehicles and 179 council buildings on the introduction of a “Corporate Identity Policy”.

The Council claims that changing these signs and logos is “part of the Council’s drive to provide better information to residents” which will, in turn, make them likely to feel “more satisfied” with the Council. The TaxPayers’ Alliance contends that local authorities should not be spending council tax payers’ money on unnecessary self-publicity, especially at a time when money is so tight for both hard-pressed families and councils themselves.

Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.

“The adoption of Ben Gummer’s simple and cheap proposal to give taxpayers far more information as they seek to hold the Government to account over how it spends their hard-earned cash was a welcome inclusion in the Budget.

“We have long argued for greater transparency and accountability in the tax system, although by no means will we be resting on our laurels: we will be campaigning to ensure that the Government’s statements will cover all taxes, including ‘hidden’ taxes like employers’ National Insurance contributions.

“Meanwhile, the decision by Cllr Kay Cutts and Nottinghamshire County Council to spend nearly £80,000 on rebranding signs on council buildings and vehicles is deeply disappointing. The authority has made commendable cuts to its marketing budget, but it has spoilt all the good work by pushing ahead with this costly “Corporate Identity Policy”.

“Nottinghamshire residents will be perplexed at the claim that this spending will somehow achieve ‘better value for money’, whilst the stated aim that this additional spending on self-publicity is specifically about trying to increase satisfaction levels with the Council is rather more sinister.

“At a time when families and councils alike are having to tighten their belts, this kind of spending on corporate propaganda is unacceptable.”

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