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Locals say 'no' to Supplementary Business Rates

The Birmingham Post reports today that business leaders and one leading Birmingham councillor have vocally rejected proposals to give councils the power to raise ‘top up’ rates on local firms. Councillor Tilsley was sceptical of these Supplementary Business Rates (SBRs), saying that the council does not want Birmingham to be... Read more...

Privatisation of school management is effective

The Financial Times covers a new report from the CBI, which argues that the private sector has proved itself to be a powerful stimulus for raising standards in schools:"The government forced nine underperforming local authorities to outsource the management of their schools five years ago. The CBI says their success... Read more...

One-third of biggest businesses pay no tax

An interesting report in the Financial Times today reveals that almost a third of the UK's 700 biggest businesses paid no corporation tax in the 2005-06 financial year, while another 30 per cent paid less than £10 million each. Overall, the National Audit Office report found that the 700 companies... Read more...

The Taxman's trips abroad

The Daily Mail this morning reveals how tax inspectors are travelling round the world, notching up some 200,000 miles, to investigate new ways to “raise bills at home”.Staff from the Valuation Office Agency mocked taxpayers over dinner, stayed in five-star-hotels and even cashed in on a ‘free’ trip to Disneyland. ... Read more...

Early Learning Programme Flops

Resignation no longer gets rid of them Nursery education is meant to be one of the most cost effective ways of raising overall attainment. Head start, flying start, whatever snappy name the lobbyists and politicos hang on it, it's money well spent.So you can understand why Labour has pumped money... Read more...

US deficit to fall yet again

The Financial Times today reports that the US budget deficit will shrink to $158 billion in fiscal year 2007, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. This latest forecast is down from its March estimate of a $177 billion deficit and significantly lower than a $205 billion estimate issued by... Read more...

UK worst in western Europe for stroke treatment

Fresh from a report showing how cancer survival rates in Britain compare poorly with other European countries, a new report in the British Medical Journal covered in the media today warns that the UK has the worst outcome for strokes in western Europe despite spending the same amount or more... Read more...

Subsidized theatre visits

Birmingham City Council are running an exclusive scheme named “Northfield Nights” that claims to subsidize theatre ticket prices at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for residents in the south of the city, meaning that they can enjoy productions from as low as £2 entrance (Bromsgrove Standard, 23rd August). The finer detail... Read more...

Grumpy taxpayers

A postcard campaign by Bromsgrove District Council that asks local residents whether they are ‘Glad or Grumpy’ with the council’s service has caused a stir and despite costing over £1,500 is having to be reprinted and redistributed to people in the area. Disagreement arose as some Labour councillors took exception... Read more...

Non-job of the week

You can always expect a green, taxpayer-funded non-job in the Guardian Society pages every week.  Over the weeks the proliferation of adverts for "climate change officers" and their lackeys is clear to the eye.  And it’s worrying too as we're the ones paying for them.  They mean well, yes, but... Read more...

Cancer Survival Rates

Apparently the United Kingdom has some of the worst rates of cancer survival in Europe, significantly worse than others spending a similar amount.  For ovarian cancer 30% survive in the UK whereas 43% survive in countries like Austria.  This difference has not been overcome by the NHS cancer plan, launched... Read more...

More from Barnet

We make a habit now of filming any of our TPA excursions to give our supporters a better sense of what we do during our grassroots activity.  The first video shows us gathering outside the court house as more supporters arrive.  The horns of passing motorists were already honking their... Read more...

Council Tax Protest in Barnet

A group of determined TPA activists set upon Barnet Magistrates Court to protest against the unfair council tax and to support TPA member Austin Spiteri in his battle with the council over council tax.Mr Spiteri has been hounded by Barnet council over his daughter’s non-payment of council tax.  The simple... Read more...

More branding waste

The Child Support Agency, now scrapped for being utterly useless, spent £60,000 just on consultants to "research brand development" according to the Express today.  Between that, big bonuses for its staff and £3.5 billion in uncollected fines it's hard to think of a government body that has represented worse value... Read more...

Firms having to teach their workers the three Rs

Despite a chorus of "rising standards" from politicians firms are having to teach teenage workers basic numeracy and literacy.  From the Telegraph: "Half of employers said some teenagers were "unable to function in the workplace" claiming they cannot make simple calculations in their heads, speak in an articulate manner or... Read more...

Police Community Support Officers

Today the Daily Express reports that Police Community Support Officers solve one crime every six years and hand out fines at a rate of one every four months.  The justification provided by the Home Office for their continued existence and, indeed, the expansion of the programme is illuminating:"Their primary role... Read more...

Council taxi expenses

Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council were the latest local authorities to be exposed for their extortionate taxi bills in the Coventry Telegraph yesterday. This comes in the wake of Birmingham City Council staff spending a reported £1.17million.   Coventry City Council managed to blow £1.5 million, whilst Warwickshire... Read more...

Private equity taxation to rise?

The Financial Times reports that Alistair Darling is considering raising tax on private equity: "Alistair Darling, the new UK chancellor of the exchequer, is considering an increase from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the base rate of capital gains tax for investments classed as business assets –... Read more...

At last! Action on inheritance tax...

In advance of tomorrow's publication by John Redwood of the Conservative Party's Economic Competitiveness Review, the Daily Mail has been leaked details which strongly suggest that the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, will accept the recommendation to radically reform inheritance tax, by excluding the main home from the 40 per cent... Read more...

It’s all about crime

There is usually an increase in coverage of crime and criminal justice matters during the Parliamentary recess when political news dries up in August and non-home affairs reporters take their holidays, and this year has been no different.  But even keen crime-watchers might have got a sense that there seems... Read more...

Is There Anyone Out There Who Doesn't Have 3 As?

Hurrah! A's all round BBC R5 are doing their annual phone-in on the A Level results. And the jock has just asked desperately if someone could phone who hasn't got three A grades- she's just talked to one girl who has five. A quarter of all grades are now A,... Read more...

The Public debate

The Public arts centre in West Bromwich, the building we chose as a backdrop to the West Midlands TaxPayers’ Alliance launch, continues to inspire debate this week with a feature in today’s Express & Star. Two local figures, Cllr Bill Archer and local artist Fred Barnfield, are called upon to... Read more...

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