End taxpayer-funded lobbying and political campaigning and require greater transparency for lobbying by public affairs companies – 1/5

Shortly before the last General Election, the TaxPayers’ Alliance produced a manifesto. Here is the latest in our series of posts looking at how the Coalition Government has performed in relation to our recommendations.

The full TaxPayers' Alliance manifesto can be found hereClick here to see the full series of posts.

The Coalition has by no means ended the scandal of taxpayers’ money being used to subsidise lobbying operations or political campaigning and there is little evidence that it has especially been reduced.

Huge sums of our money have been spent on lobbying in favour of projects like HS2, for example, while there are still countless charities, health and environmental groups in receipt of public funds which are also actively campaigning on a whole range of issues (more often than not calling for even more taxpayers’ money to be spent on favoured schemes or projects). Our research in 2009 uncovered millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on lobbying, and the Institute of Economic Affairs has also produced research on ‘sock puppets’ recently.

As far as transparency for public affairs companies goes, the Register to be established by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act will require them to identify their clients, allowing taxpayers to see which public sector bodies are spending their cash engaging lobbyists. However, how much of our money is being spent in this area will not be disclosed – and that’s not to mention the punitive impositions on legitimate non-taxpayer-funded campaigners included in that piece of legislation.

So with very little progress to report, we have scored a 1.

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