It is deeply disappointing that the Government has backed down on this very sensible proposal in the Trade Union Bill

Dia Chakravarty April 19, 2016 6:06 PM

Responding to news that the Government has this afternoon announced its intention not now to include the scrapping of “check-off” for the collection of membership dues in the Trade Union Bill, Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“It is deeply disappointing that the Government has backed down on this very sensible proposal in the Trade Union Bill. The practice of public sector workers having their trade union membership fees deducted from their salaries is, in the words of the Paymaster General, Matt Hancock, a ‘taxpayer-funded administrative burden’ and he was right to want to scrap it.

“It’s not fair that taxpayers’ money is being used to process trade union members’ dues – a service that TaxPayers’ Alliance research has uncovered as being offered for free in many councils and government departments. This amounts to nothing more than a taxpayer-funded subsidy to the unions. When the Government should be seeking more ways of saving money and cutting out wasteful and unnecessary spending, this retreat is bad news for taxpayers.”


Our 2014 report, Taxpayer funding of trade unions 2012-13, found that public bodies are often deducting trade union subscriptions in the payroll process without charging the unions for that additional administrative support, despite union claims to the contrary.

Of the 1,074 public sector bodies the TPA considered:

  • 972 deduct union dues from employees’ salaries – 91% of public sector bodies
  • But only 213 bodies charge for that service – just 22% of those which deduct union dues; so 78% offer the service for free

The total costs charged for the service across those 213 bodies who do charge in 2012-13 was £1,773,526. If the other 759 bodies which provide the service were to charge at the same rate as the average for the 213 that do, that would amount to a further £6,319,748 – which is right now effectively another taxpayer subsidy.

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