- Treasury Minister David Gauke praised for launching new website and smartphone app which lifts the lid on how much tax we pay and how it is spent
- New leader of Southampton City Council slammed for increasing the size and cost of his first Cabinet
Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance announces May’s recipients of its monthly awards to celebrate those in power who have sought to do the right – and wrong – thing by the taxpayer.
The man, woman or organisation to be congratulated for saving public money or acting in the interests of the hard-pressed taxpayer is named the TPA’s “Pin-Up of the Month”, whilst whoever is found to have shown the greatest disregard for taxpayers’ cash or their interests is shamed as the TPA’s “Pinhead of the Month”.
May 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is David Gauke MP, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. Earlier this week, Mr Gauke launched an online tax calculator, also available as a smartphone app, which allows taxpayers to input their salary and discover what they are paying each year in Income Tax and Employees’ National Insurance. It also then provides a breakdown of how the government is spending that money area by area.
It follows on from the launch last November by the TaxPayers’ Alliance of our online TaxBuster app, which fulfils a similar function.
Meanwhile, the TPA’s Pinhead of the Month for May is Cllr Richard Williams, who became leader of Southampton City Council after the local elections in the first week of May. Virtually his first act in his new role was to announce an increase in the size of the Cabinet from six councillors (as under the previous administration) to eight, meaning that an additional sum of more than £22,000 of taxpayers’ cash would have to be found in order to fund the special responsibility allowance for those holding the two additional posts.
The new posts were rubber stamped by Southampton City Council at its first meeting after the local elections on May 16th. However, events took a farcical turn barely a week later when one of the new appointees – Cllr Keith Morrell, Cabinet Member for efficiency and improvement – resigned. He is not expected to be replaced.
Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:
“The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.
“The launch by David Gauke of an online tax calculator is a big leap forward for those of us who have long been campaigning for more transparency and openness from governments about how much of our income is taken in taxes and how that cash is then spent.
“The fact that the tax calculator website crashed on its launch day due to high demand is testament to the fact that people really do want to know more about where their money is going.
“Whilst we think that Employers’ National Insurance contributions should be counted as a tax on income (and the tax calculator does not), it is substantial progress for government to be lumping Employees’ National Insurance contributions with Income Tax. That alone should serve as a wake-up call to taxpayers about the real level of taxation on their income.”
“Meanwhile, Cllr Richard Williams has done the Council Tax payers of Southampton a great disservice in his first few weeks as leader of the city council.
“At a time when families and councils alike are having to tighten their belts, he singularly failed to provide a satisfactory justification for increasing the number of Cabinet members taking more than £22,000 in allowances. If he wanted more Cabinet members to take on the responsibilities previously carried out by a smaller number of councillors, he could have reduced their remuneration accordingly, so as not to increase the total cost to taxpayers.
“What’s more, his rejig appears all the more absurd now that he has opted not to replace the Cabinet member for efficiency who quit after serving in office for a matter of days.”