Thanks to the the hard work of our campaign team, staff and supporters we have had a number of campaign victories and influenced the landscape of public policy including:
- Calling Out the Tax Burden
- Eliminate the Deficit
- Reforming Stamp Duty
- Cutting Taxes
- Freeze Fuel Tax
- Mash Beer Tax
- Slash Air Fares
- Meat tax
- Public Sector Spending
- Reforming Welfare and Reducing the Tax Burden on the Poor
- Spending Transparency
- End Taxpayer Funded Trade Unions
- Battling Local Stealth Taxes
We firmly believe Brits pay too much tax. Lower rates of tax always put more money in your pocket and they kick-start the economy, making the system fairer by creating more jobs and prosperity for everyone. Too often we talk about public spending with no reference to the level of tax burden used to pay for it.
Politicians, journalists and economists everywhere have picked up on our unique research on the size of the UK tax burden. In July 2018, we pointed out that it had reached a 49-year high.
After the 2018 Budget, we updated our research to show that the tax burden was increasing even further. It has been picked up by senior politicians and national newspapers, including on the front page.
Our findings have become the go-to statistic for the level of tax in the UK, and continues to support all of our campaigns in calling out the high taxes Brits pay and the urgent need for taxes to be cut.
The Spending Plan is our landmark report released in March 2015 detailing how to reduce spending. Since it's release a number of the policies we suggested have been acted upon including scrapping operating subsidies to Transport for London, reducing the welfare cap to £20,000 and abolishing free TV licences.
The abolition of the slab rate structure of Stamp Duty was announced at the Autumn Statement in December 2014. Our Stamp Out Stamp Duty Campaign was the first dedicated campaign on this pernicious tax, and pushed the issue right up the media and political agenda.
This reform is saving taxpayers £800 million a year and the Chancellor's actions marked a substantial leap forward. However, our campaigning on this issue is far from over. The average family buying a home will still pay around £3,600 in Stamp Duty. And the changes have increased taxes on the purchase of some properties, leaving a small number of buyers significantly worse off. So we will continue to campaign for the full abolition of this tax.
The TaxPayers' Alliance firmly believe that governments will always find ways of spending any money at their disposal. Cutting taxes would put more money in the pocket of the electorate allowing them to deal with their own cost of living and allow them to make their own choices.
Here are just a few examples of our victories in securing lower taxes for the electorate:
Why is it that you pay 57% tax on a bottle of wine and 79% of a bottle of spirits? Alcohol prices in the UK are 43% higher than the EU average. We campaigned to scrap the alcohol supertax and allow the domestic alcohol industry to thrive once more. The result was the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped and alcohol duty for spirits was frozen.
South West Coordinator Tim Newark launched a campaign in July 2013 to scrap the duty escalator on cider and stop almost a quarter of the price you pay for a pint of cider going to the taxman. The campaign received support from a number of South West MPs, and Tim and local supporters collected signatures for a petition which was presented to the Treasury. The result of his campaign was evident in the 2014 budget which froze duty on cider. This was further continued in the 2015 Budget which cut cider duty by 2p along with cuts for Beer and a freeze for wine.
With the Daily Express, we collected over 300,000 signatures calling for the abolition of Inheritance Tax. In 2007 George Osborne promised that he would raise the tax threshold to £1 million per person. In October 2007, Alistair Darling doubled the inheritance tax threshold for married couples to £600,000. Although we were aggrieved by George Osborne's subsequent lack of action we have continued to remind the Conservatives of their previous commitment.
At a time when headlines tell us that we must support our local stores why do business rates create a blanket charge whether or not businesses are making the money to pay them? On top of all the other costs of setting up a business these costs are sometimes unaffordable and freezing them would be a simple way to support firms so they can prosper. After research and campaigning by the TPA the 2013 Autumn Statement pledged to cap the increase in business rates in England, introduce a discount of £1,000 and double small business rate relief for another 12 months.
60% of what you pay for fuel goes straight to the taxman. That means for £30 in fuel £18 goes to the Exchequer, £1 to the retailer and £11 covers the cost of the fuel.
In many cases fuel is the only sensible option for getting to work, taking children to school and doing the weekly shop but despite this British petrol taxes are higher than any other country in the EU. Fuel Duty directly contributes to the ‘cost of living crisis’ that the government are telling us they’re trying to solve.
We created special fuel tax stands that were displayed on the counters at over 5,000 independent forecourts. This showed people the burden of fuel taxes right at the moment they were paying. We also produced research which showed how much more motorists were paying in excess taxes above the cost of driving. Freeze Fuel Tax was backed by The Sun and extensively covered in the broadcast media. We also encouraged taxpayers to write to their MP using our dedicated website. Our campaign helped secure the freeze in Fuel Duty announced by the Chancellor at Budget 2013.
Since 2008 the Government increased duty on beer by 42% but revenue only increased by 12%.
This means that the duty stopped people consuming beer, hurting small businesses like pubs and breweries and making one of life’s little luxuries more expensive. Our campaign team distributed over 400,000 beer mats to pubs across the UK, raised this issue in Parliament and the media -- particularly The Sun--and our grassroots activists wrote to their MPs and took part in events around the country to raise awareness of this issue. The result of our campaign was a tax cut worth an estimated £200 million.
In March 2013 George Osborne announced the abolition in the beer duty escalator along with the first cut in beer duty since 1959. Since then there have been further cuts in beer duty including in the 2015 Budget.
With Brexit on the horizon, we looked for some tax cuts which could help the UK compete on the world stage and make life better for ordinary Brits. Air passenger duty (APD) is a straight up levy on the air fares of adult passengers travelling from UK airports. We have one of the highest aviation taxes in Europe. Several near neighbours, including Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium have eliminated their aviation taxes altogether.
In the run up to the 2018 Budget, we called for APD to be halved and eventually abolished across the UK. We joined forces with others, including the A Fair Tax on Flying campaign, to make the case to the government. Former Cabinet Ministers, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and The Sun newspaper also backed our calls.
At the Budget, the Chancellor back down from raising short haul APD. We will continue to campaign for a full on cut on short haul and long haul air fare duties.
In response to the ludicrous suggestion of a new tax on processed meats, we launched a new campaign and hosted an event in Westminster for politicians to show their opposition to any new meat taxes.
At the 'Big Meat Up', MPs and Ministers joined us for a fry up and discussed how we could fight a tax, which would be hugely damaging to the farming industry in the UK and would massively increase the price of the weekly shop. We also visited Smithfield Market to get their views.
Often, these suggestions go unnoticed and unopposed - until public health fanatics pick them up and begin persuading Ministers that yet more nanny-state measures are needed. This is exactly what happened with the hated sugar tax.
We will not allow a meat tax to become, by stealth, the next target for over-zealous state intervention in our everyday lives.
We are told that taxes cannot be cut substantially with the deficit at its current level. We are told that cuts to budgets will affect services of all kinds but there are many examples of everyday waste that can be cut without affecting those services we strive to protect.
We have consistently argued for necessary cuts in public spending. The Coalition was committed to reducing government expenditure but the new government must now go much further. In one example, we led the campaign against expensive government advertising budgets. In June 2011, the Cabinet office said it had cut advertising spending by 68% in the past year.
Another example is our research into quango spending was fundamental in changing political attitudes. Many quangos have now been scrapped, including Becta, the National Policing Improvement Agency, and the Sustainable Development Commission. We were also successful in calling for the abolition of Regional Development Agencies.
Additionally, following our research we revealed for the first time how councils were hiring lobbyists using taxpayers’ money. In August 2010, the Government announced an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying by local authorities.
Following up from another piece of research we also exposed the value of Prevent grants in the fight against extremism. In July 2009 the Government announced that local authority Prevent grants would be scrapped.
In 2015 our Public Sector Rich List, our most comprehensive single piece of work on public sector pay, perks and pay-offs, was published. In 2016 the Enterprise Act recieved Royal Assent, legally ending the six figure pay-off with a new cap of £95,000 to any person leaving the public sector.
We want to see a simpler welfare system with more money put into helping people and less on administration. People who progress in work should not be financially penalised and nor should couples. We played a small but significant part in the campaign for necessary welfare reform and released research backing a smaller tax burden on the poor through an increase in the income tax personal allowance. Our Work for the Dole proposal was adopted in September 2013; within a month of its publication.
A government is employed by the electorate; the electorate should know what business is being conducted and how taxpayer money is being spent.
The government should also present their information in a way that is clear and easy to understand instead of concealing the issue behind difficult language and layers of terminology. For years politicians have signed off expensive projects and bureaucrats have agreed cosy pay hikes behind closed doors.
But it is essential that taxpayers know how their money is spent. That’s why promoting transparency in government spending has been a staple of our work since 2004. Through our rigorous research, we have uncovered billions of pounds of wasteful spending over the years and have made sure the public has access to this information. But we believe the Government should make this information available to the public themselves. So we have repeatedly pressed the Government to publish more information.
We spoke on behalf of taxpayers during the MPs’ expenses scandal, pushed for full disclosure of all MPs’ expenses, and submitted a detailed submission to Parliament for comprehensive reform.
All councils now publish all spending over £500, which we have long fought for. Local authorities must also reveal the number of staff they employ on over £50,000 per annum and provide further details on staff earning more than £150,000. – something we had been calling for since our first Town Hall Rich List was published in 2006.
In addition during the 2015 Spending Review the government encouraged councils to get the wage bill for high earners down to a more reasonable level, increase transparency of assets owned and make sure that those assets are available to the public, proving that greater transparency is the first step to change
Thanks to our consistent pressure, government departments now also put more data than ever online through the COINS database for taxpayers to scrutinise. We have been instrumental in changing the political landscape on spending transparency, because now politicians know taxpayers are watching. Furthermore, the 2014 Legal Audit made it illegal for councils to prevent people from blogging or tweeting at council meeting.
Our award-winning Taxpayer Funding of Trade Unions campaign was started in 2010 to expose taxpayers’ subsidy of influential public sector trade unions, who are powerful advocates for higher public spending, higher taxes and burdensome regulation on business.
Our researchers undertook one of the most comprehensive Freedom of Information campaigns ever. We requested information from over 1,300 public sector bodies, including councils, quangos, the NHS, Whitehall departments and more. This gave us the only comprehensive list of the number of public sector staff working for unions – paid for by the taxpayer.
In 2014 we uncovered £108 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies, equivalent to more than 3,000 full-time staff. After four years of innovative research and sustained campaigning, government ministers are acting to cut these subsidies. Cabinet Minister Francis Maude and Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles have sharply cut the amount of staff time provided to trade unions in the Civil Service and local government. We will continue to fight for ministers to go further and extend those reforms to the NHS and schools, where there are still nurses not nursing and teachers not teaching, but instead working for the trade unions.
In 2016 the Trade Union Act was published and included the following provisions:
- Payroll deductions for trade union subscriptions will only be administered where the cost is not funded by the public
- Public sector employers will be required to publish facility time information - detailing how many employees are union officials and how much time they spend on union duties.
- Industrial action can only go ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50%
Local councils are always looking for inventive new ways to take our money. With many too scared to raise council tax and face a backlash from angry taxpayers, politicians have resorted to clever wheezes like 'Clean Air Zones'.
These zones charge motorists for driving into local towns, under the mistaken belief it will be the best way to cut pollution. We ran grassroots campaigns to oppose these in Southampton and Bath, including producing research which showed these zones simply mean higher prices and harm local businesses.
Facing our campaign, the Southampton City Council decided to push back the announcement of a clean air zone in Southampton.