Research papers

BBC Rich List 2020

Introduction The BBC has held a privileged role in the British television, radio and online landscape over many years, dominating the media environment. While alternative media platforms provide content that the public is willing to optionally pay for, the BBC enjoys a taxpayer-funded guarantee which shields them from competitive pressure.... Read more...

Public Sector Trade Union Rich List 2020

Introduction Membership of trade unions, for both public and private sector workers, has been declining for many years: 23.5 per cent were members in 2019. In the public sector, it is at the second lowest level since records began in 1995, at 52.3 per cent. Most male public sector employees... Read more...

Local authority commercial property investments

Executive summary From 2016-17 to 2018-19, councils in England spent £6.6 billion on commercial property, 80 per cent of which is accounted for by just 49 local authorities, predominantly in the South East.[1] Since 2010-11, the amount spent on commercial properties by councils has increased from £53 million to £2.2... Read more...

Keeping track: independent oversight of High Speed 2

Executive Summary High Speed 2 (HS2) should have been scrapped, but with it now proceeding, discipline must be restored to the project. The final bill for Europe’s largest infrastructure project could be £150 billion. In announcing the decision to proceed with HS2 to the House of Commons, the prime minister... Read more...

Briefing: HM Treasury proposals for an online sales tax

Overview: HM Treasury is reportedly considering introducing an online sales tax. Two models are being considered. The first would introduce a 2 per cent levy on goods sold online and is expected to raise £2 billion. The second would be a mandatory charge on consumer deliveries for products purchased online.[1]... Read more...

War on Waste: Long lost tech

Introduction Electronic devices have become an essential part of home and work life in the 21st century, with government departments commonly supplying them in workspaces and to civil servants. But despite their growing importance, large amounts of these devices continue to go unused. With government net borrowing of £46.1 billion... Read more...

Analysis of raising the stamp duty threshold

Introduction Today the chancellor announced that the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) threshold for residential properties will be increased from £125,000 to £500,000. SDLT is levied on property transactions above a threshold and introduces another charge on homeowners to the already costly process of moving. That means that for some... Read more...

Scores of red tape: 20 reforms to unleash growth after coronavirus

Executive summary Coronavirus is the most significant new health emergency in a lifetime. But its economic fallout could dwarf the great recession. To maximise the chances of bouncing back, the government should pledge that there will be no austerity for taxpayers and deliver a package of tax and regulatory reforms... Read more...

War on Waste: Civil service perks

Introduction This research reveals the cost of civil service benefits to the taxpayer, focusing on canteen subsidy, cycling subsidy and rollover holiday which together accrued a total value of at least £7,610,578 between 2014-2015 and 2018-2019. Many private sector roles do not offer these perks, yet taxpayers are forced to... Read more...

City Hall Rich List 2020

Introduction Scrutinising staffing costs at local and national level is a hallmark of our mission to make government more accountable to taxpayers. This principle underpins our annual Town Hall Rich List, which details remuneration of the highest paid people across local government.[1] It should also apply to municipal government.  The... Read more...

Tax reforms to secure a recovery from coronavirus

Coronavirus is the most significant new health emergency in a lifetime. But its economic fallout could dwarf the great recession. To maximise the chances of bouncing back, the government should pledge that there will be no austerity for taxpayers but instead a package of reforms to sharpen the supply side... Read more...

Briefing: Free Trade and the Agriculture Bill 2019-21

In recent decades, global food trade has liberalised substantially. According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Britain imports 47 per cent of its food, 19 per cent coming from outside the European Union. This means that, no matter the time of year, most products can be sourced... Read more...

Mod cons for dons

Introduction When representing their universities, vice-chancellors are sometimes required to attend external functions and meetings related to their role. But such activities do not necessitate the leasing or buying of high-end vehicles to transfer around university leaders on campuses or elsewhere. Most business leaders or heads of large organisations use... Read more...

War on Waste: Woke Whitehall

Introduction Wasting taxpayers’ money on ‘woke’ campaigns is not a new phenomena, with civil servants in the past being sent on diversity training at a cost of £2,000 per person, including ‘awareness workshops’.[1] But mandarins should take great care not to let the pursuit of sensitive social justice causes see... Read more...

Briefing: take-up rates of covid-19 business loans

Overview: In response to the social distancing and ‘lockdown’ measures put in place to combat covid-19, the chancellor introduced the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS). It was set up to offer loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for firms with annual turnover of up to £45 million. 80... Read more...

Town Hall Rich List 2020

Introduction The 2020 edition of the Town Hall Rich List marks the 13th version of this list, first compiled in 2007. For the past 13 years the TaxPayers’ Alliance has assembled the most comprehensive list of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration. For... Read more...

War on Waste: Anti-eco civil service

Introduction Wasteful spending by the civil service is not a new phenomenon. The TaxPayers’ Alliance has released numerous reports on this subject, most notably the Bumper Book of Government Waste.[1] Politicians have also drawn attention to the misuse of taxpayer’s money, with the Rt. Hon. Dame Margaret Hodge – the... Read more...

Briefing note: responding to covid-19

In light of the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak, there has been massive government intervention undertaken to tackle the public health emergency and prevent the economy from collapsing. The measures which have been announced are highly damaging to the public finances and involve troubling interventions in the economy and the daily lives... Read more...

War on Waste: Civil service newspapers

Introduction It is not surprising that government departments have subscriptions to most national newspapers. These subscriptions are one way in which civil servants are alert to public views and opinions. However, this does not mean that departments should spend a limitless amount on subscriptions to the same newspaper. With the... Read more...

Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning 2020

The UK has a wealth of organisations operating in civil society. Many of these, like the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Greenpeace, survive with no taxpayers’ money, only existing thanks to generous donations from private individuals and groups.[1],[2] Yet there are many such organisations that take taxpayers’ money, and then often call... Read more...

One big hit: fixing national insurance for good

Key findings The government plans to raise the employee national insurance threshold in April from £166 to £183 a week, equivalent to £9,500 a year, with an ‘ultimate ambition’ of £12,500 a year. This is welcome news for taxpayers, but implementing the entire change in one go would enable historic... Read more...

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