For immediate release
Today, the TaxPayers' Alliance lays out three bold new policies to build on the extraordinary but justifable government response to the coronavirus.
In a statement from our chairman and chief executive, the TaxPayers' Alliance has responded to the intervention undertaken by the government to tackle the Covid-19 public health emergency and prevent the economy from collapsing. We are clear that, while our vision is for a pro-enterprise country with lower, simpler taxes, the present crisis has made it necessary for the government to announce unprecedented measures that in ordinary circumstances would be unacceptable.
Our research paper recommends that the measures taken to date are supplemented immediately by:
1. Diverting the aid budget to fighting the virus
2. Freeze council tax and focus money on frontline services
3. Suspending Sunday trading restrictions
These policies are likely to win widespread public approval. Last year, landmark TaxPayers' Alliance polling found overwhelming support among the British public for both redirecting overseas aid to domestic priorities and in favour of a council tax freeze.
Divert the aid budget to fighting the virus
- The UK's £14.6 billion overseas aid budget should be immediately reallocated to combating the coronavirus both in the UK and in developing countries, with all non-humanitarian development operations suspended.
- Rules should be changed to allow aid funds to be used for the rapid deployment of hospital ships to provide temporary critical care facilities to developing countries and in the UK.
- So that aid spending aligns with the wider government coronavirus response for this coming year, it should be measured by financial not calendar year.
Freeze council tax and focus money on frontline services
- Council tax rates should be frozen and any planned rises scrapped. At this difficult time, households should be able to retain as much of their income as possible.
- Wherever possible council funds should be freed up for the delivery of frontline health services. As such, all non-statutory and low-level council spending should be suspended.
- This could include any planned trip, conference or event, hard copy council tax letters, council newspapers, canteen subsidies and councillor allowances and pensions.
Suspend Sunday trading restrictions
- The Sunday trading restrictions contained within schedule 1 of the Sunday Trading Act 1994 should be suspended.
- Bookings for online retail slots are full for many weeks in advance. Physical stores can help to clear the backlog and spread the demand. Supermarkets should be encouraged to open for as many hours as possible on Sundays to reduce overcrowding and the spread of the coronavirus.
- To ensure demand is spread as widely as possible, this relaxation should be applied to the largest supermarkets with floor space over 280 metres.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said:
"Emergencies such as this are exactly why we fight for what we do in normal times - so that we can pull together as a nation to see off a crisis.
"The specifics may be debated, but in general the government is right to take action that in ordinary circumstances would be unacceptable. That means redirecting non-essential elements of government spending such as foreign aid and some council cash towards fighting the virus, as well as allowing more Sunday supermarket opening hours and and protecting residents from punishing local authority rate rises.
"We must start helping the government with constructive ideas like these, to help the country weather this storm and map a course to sound public finances in the coming years."
TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)
- Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
- TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
- TPA chairman Mike Denham and CEO John O'Connell released a statement regarding the TaxPayers' Alliance response to the government's coronavirus-related measures.
- In polling released in November 2019, the TaxPayers’ Alliance found that two-thirds of voters supported rellocating foreign aid spending in favour of domestic priorities. It also found 76 per cent of voters supported a cap on council tax increases. The polling was conducted for the TaxPayers' Alliance by Public First Ltd. Total sample size was 4,004 with fieldwork between 26 - 30 July 2019.