Blog

Who will defend the defenders?

A new story this morning tells us that, once again, squaddies’ livelihoods are threatened with the top brasses’ plan to cut the number of Royal Marines by 1000. What the story doesn’t say is that generations of incompetence in the Ministry of Defence have bought us to this dire state... Read more...

What’s wrong with the all-ages graduate tax?

Tuition fees are quickly going the way of Brexit – a hyper-sensitive issue which sends usually reasonable people on the brink. So powerful is their news-generating potential that Sunday papers will jump on any opportunity to “splash” on the latest chitter-chatter, no matter how trivial or doubtful. Cue the Sunday... Read more...

Should taxpayers fund Zumba, facials and spas for the NHS?

Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England, has stated that NHS hospitals should build spas and offer Zumba classes and facials in order to encourage people to live healthy lifestyles. According to Public Health England, the NHS should create ‘health campuses’ where beauty treatments, aerobics, and swimming classes... Read more...

Why is UK Aid going to some of the world's largest economies?

UK taxpayers have forked out yet more money for aid spending, even though there is little evidence it has any positive impact on the lot of the world’s poorest.    The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ACAI), the body charged with overseeing the UK’s Overseas Development Assistance, has found there... Read more...

Charges and fees and more charges and more fees

Whether it’s the charge from the library for that book that you’ve had out too long, or getting a copy of your birth certificate, local authorities in England are finding increasingly imaginative ways to charge residents for services they’re already paying for. First, the good news: excluding education services (which... Read more...

Is PFI profit really a waste of taxpayers’ money?

PFI has long been a dirty word, synonymous with the worst excesses of private enterprise – ineffective, overpriced and more than a little too close to the state. Instead of embodying a happy middle between market provision and universal service, it has been portrayed as the worst of both worlds.... Read more...

Action Day: Mid-Cheshire against HS2

Yesterday, some colleagues and I got the train from London to Crewe (only 90 minutes) to meet with an anti-HS2 group. Two local volunteers picked us up from the station and drove us to a small village in Cheshire called Lostock Green. What looked like half the village had come... Read more...

Healthy towns poorly thought-through

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has suggested that a ‘Healthy New Towns’ programme could seek to alter individuals’ behaviour with bungs and favours for good behaviour. The trial programme will involve 76,000 homes in ten new towns across the country and future developers could also be asked... Read more...

Taxing holidays doesn't fly

For millions in Britain, the weather in August, such as it is, presents the opportunity to jet away and put the office behind them for a couple of weeks. But in recent years, the penalties for leaving the UK have grown ever more costly.  Our annual report on holiday taxes... Read more...

How to end the housing crisis

The housing crisis in London and other high-demand areas of the country is becoming an ever more important political issue as its invidious effects spread and deepen. Most economists agree on the cause: planning restrictiveness. They also agree how to fix it: weakening planning restrictions. Unfortunately, there is no such... Read more...

Could the end be in sight for stamp duty?

We first called for stamp duty to be abolished as far back as 2012. Five years down the line, it seems that Britain is ready to have a conversation about the future of stamp duty land tax – one of the most inefficient, pernicious and unfair taxes on the books.... Read more...

Stamp Duty Land Tax - What is it?

Stamp Duty Land Tax What is it? Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is a tax on the purchase of property payable by the buyers. It was introduced in 2003 but replaced stamp duty, which was first introduced in England in 1694. A single 1 per cent rate of stamp duty... Read more...