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Why the probate fees rise is a stealth tax

  If it looks, sounds, feels and tastes like a tax, then sure enough it is a tax no matter what the Ministry of Justice wants to call it. In its latest report, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments dealt a major blow to the planned increases in probate fees... Read more...

Biomessy: fringe groups hijacking the energy debate

I attended an event in Parliament in December, where an associate fellow from Chatham House was speaking at a debate on the role of biomass in the energy sector. Duncan Brack is a former Special Advisor for Chris Huhne when Mr Huhne was the Secretary of State at the Department... Read more...

Concerns on HS2's conflicts of interest brought to Parliament

With almost everyone’s focus on Brexit yesterday, it could have easily been missed that CH2M, one of HS2’s engineering firms, had to withdraw from part of the project due to conflict of interest concerns raised by the TPA and others. CH2M have been working with HS2 Ltd since 2012 and... Read more...

Management of the defence estate

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (“the PAC”) has yesterday published its findings on the management of the defence estate – land belonging to the Ministry of De-fence (“the MoD”) estimated to cover 1.8 per cent of UK’s landmass and currently valued at £31 billion, making it one of... Read more...

'The impact of business rate changes' panel discussion

Last night we hosted a panel discussion on an issue that has dominated the news agenda for the past few weeks: business rates. It was a thought-provoking evening, as our chair, Alex Wild, conveyed quite aptly when he wrapped the night up with "well, this has been an interesting discussion... Read more...

Cardiff raise Council Tax by 3.7%

Council Tax has been a burden on thousands of families throughout Cardiff, with taxpayers from all walks of life seeing their bills increase annually with little to no improvement to the frontline services. This year the Local Authority have proposed a further increase of 3.7% on a typical band D... Read more...

A dedicated 'NHS' tax

Sky News have commissioned a poll that says 2/3 people would be willing to pay more income tax if the increase was guaranteed for the NHS. There is also a debate in the British Medical Journal about such a proposal. However, these proposals are seriously misguided and should be resisted... Read more...

Hodge-Bodge: Surrey County Council’s Referendum Farce

Two days ago, I attended Surrey’s County Council’s debate on their proposed Council Tax referendum. According to Council Leader David Hodge before the meeting, they had no choice but to raise council tax by 15 per cent and trigger a referendum to approve that decision. We have written before about the failings... Read more...

Making the taxman work for the taxpayer

This is a guest post written for the TaxPayers' Alliance by Dominic Raab MP. The UK tax code is too long and complex. That has facilitated tax avoidance, undermined UK competitiveness and led to the taxman (HMRC) acquiring arbitrary powers. This report sets out five proposals to simplify the tax... Read more...

Margaret Hodge's book on government waste: 'Called to Account'

Margaret Hodge MP, former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and vocal critic of government waste, has published a new book: ‘Called to Account’. We hosted Dame Margaret at a talk this week and had a wide-ranging conversation. Her book’s focus on government waste and poor accountability of those in... Read more...

How should we fund social care?

With the social care system struggling to meet demand, which is only increasing thanks to demographic pressures, a long term policy response is required. Greater incentives will be required to promote private financial products in a market with many significant demand and supply side barriers. The coalition government made some... Read more...

Clause and effect – how to prevent government contracts from going wrong

Rousseau’s Social Contract may have seen man as being everywhere in chains, but many of the state’s contracts with private companies leave taxpayers’ money chained into poor deals. In light of this, the NAO has today released their investigation into HMRC’s failed contract with Concentrix, a private company it hired... Read more...

Increases in precepts are not the answer

In 15th December last year, the government announced that councils would be allowed to raise the social care precept by more than 2 percent, in response to claims of a crisis in social care funding. But the Times reported this week that the precept increase may bring in £500 million... Read more...

We must all stand up for a free press

The public consultation on the introduction of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act closes on 10th January. Writers far greater than me have been putting the case forward for a truly free press and the dangers of fettering it in platforms as wide-ranging as the Mirror and the... Read more...

Are rail fares too high?

Rail fares increased this morning, prompting outrage from unions. The average fare will increase by 2.3 per cent with regulated fares, which include season tickets, increasing by 1.9 per cent. A report from “Action for Rail”, a union backed campaign, claims that UK commuters pay up to six times more... Read more...

Whitehall needs to spend more wisely on consultants

From our Thunderer in The Times (Thursday 22 December) - our Chief Executive John O'Connell on the need for Whitehall to spend more wisely on consultants: A report this year from the National Audit Office said that government departments spent up to £1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money on consultants in... Read more...

Aid spending needs to be more transparent

The TPA has long criticised aspects of foreign aid spending and particularly the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI. However for the countless words that are written about this absurd policy nothing demonstrates its poor value for money like a few revealing statistics. Fortunately, that is what has... Read more...

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

Now that we have had some time to drill down into some of the finer points of Philip Hammond’s first public event as Chancellor, we have some thoughts on the more positive aspects of the last ever Autumn Statement: Our research director, Alex Wild, called for an end to the... Read more...

Have we had too much austerity?

A Sky News poll has found that 43 per cent of Britons support “ending austerity and increasing spending” with 24 per cent opposed. After six years of relentless talk from the government about “tough choices”, some weariness is understandable. Unfortunately however, George Osborne’s words were far tougher than his actions.... Read more...

Launch a War on Waste and simplify taxes

The Chancellor will deliver the Autumn Statement this week. Mr Hammond should use the opportunity to root out waste and introduce tax reform which the nation badly needs to put our public finances in order. He should also help secure the recovery by reducing Corporation Tax and restore honesty to... Read more...

TaxPayers' Alliance on the sovereign grant

In response to the news that the sovereign grant will temporarily increase: Harry Davis, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance: "These are clearly huge sums of money and the public are right to cast a sceptical eye when the public finances are still in such a dire state. Large renovation... Read more...

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