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Democracy suffers at regional level

In today’s Birmingham Post (business supplement) John Duckers writes of the increasingly powerful threat to democracy that is Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency that controls £400 million-per-year of taxpayers’ money.   Ducker states with some conviction that, “AWM is fast becoming an unelected mini-government with uncontested authority over... Read more...

Higher taxes reduce labour supply

A new paper, "Labour supply and marginal tax rates" by AJ de Bruin from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, investigates the effect of labour income taxes on the supply of paid labour for several Western countries over the last two decades.   For the countries with the best data, namely... Read more...

Chairman of the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust quits

James Lee, chairman of the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, has resigned following the Healthcare Commission's report on an outbreak of C. difficile there that has claimed over ninety lives.  The Telegraph have seen his letter to Alan Johnson.  He wrote: "We had to be concerned about finance because... Read more...

Australia cuts taxes - again

While it's great news that, in Britain, tax cuts have become fashionable to talk about again, we don't yet have a plan from any of the main political parties to reduce the overall burden of tax. The Conservative conference announcement was very welcome, but on paper at least, it was... Read more...

Are the terms of debate changing?

Philip Stephens has an interesting piece in the Financial Times on whether the terms of political debate are changing in favour of lower taxes: "The politics of the 1980s were defined by a view that tax cuts were good and public spending wasteful. The public realm was neglected in favour... Read more...

Front Line Desk Jockeys

    Gershon efficiency agreements in preparation   It's been a while since we blogged the government's ludicrous Night at the Opera Gershon "efficiency" cuts (see many previous blogs eg here). But they popped up again last week both in Darling's Pre-Budget Report, and a report from The Public Accounts... Read more...

MoD homes 'scandal' not being fixed

It might be easy to think that once a real crisis like the poor housing that armed forces personnel are provided with breaks, with a furious reaction from the public and in the media, politicians will finally get on the job and ensure it is fixed.  However, today the Liberal... Read more...

Oxbridge giving up on the A-level

With the ongoing weakening in standards and concerns that schools are teaching to the test the A-levels are becoming less and less useful for universities trying to assess students for entry to university.  Oxford and Cambridge universities are responding by setting up their own tests.  The Telegraph describes a range... Read more...

Patients pulling their own teeth due to shortage of NHS dentists

The Telegraph reports that patients are taking to pulling their own teeth as they are unable to find an NHS dentist.  There have been massive increases in the NHS budget, often more than 7 per cent annually, in recent years.  That there should still be such basic, and worsening, shortages... Read more...

Welcome U-turn on national road pricing scheme

The Government appears to have performed a U-turn on the national road pricing scheme. The Telegraph reports that the Department for Transport will tell MPs next week:   "It is not the department's intention, at this stage, to take the separate powers needed to price the national road network."  ... Read more...

Capital gains tax increase attacked by business groups

An open letter from the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors to the Chancellor Alistair Darling has attacked last week's changes to capital gains tax, which saw the abolition of taper relief and the introduction of a new 18 per... Read more...

Hampshire County councillors shirking responsibilities

TPA Activist Mike Schofield has revealed to us some real dodgy goings on down in Hampshire. Over half the councillors who appointed Hampshire County Council’s new Chief Executive (on a salary of £199,000 taxpayer pounds a year) didn’t read the report recommending that he face disciplinary action.   A three... Read more...

Weekly Waste Watch- 77

His Most Excellent Grace is not for dissin' In the news this week:Labour's Speaker blows £21,516 on libel lawyers- "Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has been accused of showing “contempt towards taxpayers” after spending £21,516.06 of public money on legal battles against the press. The office... Read more...

Management in the Health Service and hospital infections

The first three tiers of management in the NHS: the Secretary of State, the Ministers and the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries are all politicians.  As politicians their careers have been spent honing their media skills and their public speaking.  Few politicians have any experience of managing significant numbers of staff.  The current... Read more...

Hospital infections at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

The news from Kent is truly shocking.  In the face of financial problems and in an effort to meet government targets a clearly incompetent management presided over hospital infections that the Healthcare Commission say directly killed at least 90 patients and may have contributed to the deaths of 331 people. ... Read more...

Yet another council votes against cutting council tax

TPA activist Tony Flynn, who also happens to be a councillor on Tivetshall Parish Council, put a motion to his Parish council this week (similar to Wendy Nevard’s motion) calling for council tax to be frozen this year and cut in the following years.   But this motion also failed. ... Read more...

Australian unemployment falls to 33-year low

The Financial Times reports that unemployment in Australia fell to a 33-year low of 4.2 per cent in September. Could that have anything to do with its sustained period of tax reductions (see Chapter 4 of the Tax Reform Commission report for a discussion); its comparatively low burden of public... Read more...

State spending at Soviet levels in some parts of the UK

      The Times today publishes a regional breakdown of public spending as a share of GDP, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. It makes fascinating, if worrying, reading.   In the UK as a whole, public spending has climbed to 44.1 per cent of GDP,... Read more...

Hong Kong cuts tax rates: no surprise there

The Financial Times reports that Hong Kong will cut corporate and salary taxes by 1 percentage point to 16.5 and 15 per cent respectively.   This really isn't surprising. The Hong Kong government knows how to maintain the city's world-leading position, although the tax cuts have only used a small... Read more...

Almost all children are victims of crime

The Howard League for Penal Reform have released figures, reported in the Guardian, showing that almost all, 95%, of 10-15 year olds are victims of crime.  72% were hit or kicked, more than half threatened with violence, almost a fifth have had things stolen outside of school, 11% have had... Read more...

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