Ben Gummer MP to introduce Statements of Taxation Bill

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer will introduce his Statements of Taxation Bill after Prime Minister’s Questions tomorrow. The proposal is that each year Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs should send every taxpayer a statement detailing:

  • how much Income Tax and National Insurance they paid in the previous year
  • how much Income Tax and National Insurance they can expect to pay in the current year
  • how that money is being spent, broken down by areas of government spending.

Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said

We have always campaigned for greater transparency from the Government about how much of our money it takes in tax and how it then spends it, so this Bill is long overdue. Not only would an annual tax statement make clear how much of our annual income is taken in combined Income Tax and National Insurance contributions, but it would set out proportionately how much of that money funds the benefits system, the police, the NHS and so on.  

It is a simple and cheap proposal, but one which would give taxpayers far more information as we seek to hold the Government to account over how it spends our hard-earned cash. In the interests of transparency and accountability, MPs owe it to their constituents to give this Bill their support.


Tax Freedom Day & The Cost Of Government Day

Some sobering thoughts for you this morning.

According to calculations made by the Adam Smith Institute in London it is expected that Tax Freedom Day for the average worker in the UK will be 30 May in 2012. That means that for the first 149 days of the year, you will be earning for the taxman. Only on May 30 will you start earning for yourselves.

The Tax Payers Alliance take this calculation a step further and provides The Cost of Government Day. This is the date in the calendar year on which the average person is calculated to have earned enough gross income to pay for their share of the cost of government spending and regulation.

In 2012 The Cost of Government Day is calculated to be 26 July.

This means the average person must work for 208 days in the coming year to pay for their share of government spending and regulation combined. Out of the 208 days,the average person must work for 179 days (27 June) in the coming year to pay for their share of the cost of government spending and then work a further 29 days (26 July) of the year to pay for their share of the cost of government regulation.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said,

Taxpayers should be looking forward to toasting in the New Year, instead the enormous cost of Government spending and regulation means they will effectively be working for the Government until the summer. Government spending and expensive regulations are costing more than half of ordinary people’s income and this simply cannot go on. The Government needs to cut spending, get rid of burdensome regulations and cut taxes to get the economy going and leave more taxpayers’ money in their own pockets.


PFI, Defrauding taxpayers an open letter

Dear Sir,

Having l articles on benefit fraudsters such as Sandra Edwards who defrauded taxpayers of £11,000 is all very well, but there are bigger fish who have cost the exchequer multiples of £11,000.

The national media of the last week has highlighted the huge waste of public money in a number of projects by the Labour Government. In ascending order we had the £500 million wasted on the reorganisation of the national call centres in the fire service. But this is peanuts compared to the £12 billion lost on the national computer scheme for the NHS, the folly of which has been known about for nearly a decade. But top of the heap of malfeasance and waste is the Private Finance Initiative started under the Tories but fully exploited by Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The cost of new NHS private- financed schemes will stay with future generations of taxpayers up to 2049. Hospitals that would have cost £11 billion under the old Treasury arrangements of financing public projects such as hospitals will now cost £75 billion. An absolute disgrace which dwarfs the £11,000 stolen by Edwards. If Edwards deserves jail what fate should be in store for the politicians and civil servants that sanctioned this grand larceny?

Of course there are other projects funded through PFI including City schools. I hear horror stories of local schools been charged astronomic amounts for even minor repairs or maintenance. The whole PFI sorry saga requires more scrutiny then it has so far generated.

Bill Cawley

Another Kick In The Teeth For Stoke-on-Trent City Council Tenants

On the day that Stoke-on-Trent City Council release their updated budget book, with details of which services are going to be cut as part of the cost cutting measures, it appears that they have come up with a new revenue generation scheme. A scheme that will hit some of the cities poorest residents.

From 10 February Stoke-on-Trent City Council & Kier, their housing maintenance partner are going to start using a dedicated new number for tenants to report housing repairs.

The new 0844 number will be available 24 hours a day according to a leaflet handed to Pits n Pots by a council tenant this afternoon.

I have just had this leaflet pushed through my door, telling me that from next week I need to call a 0844 number if I want to report any repairs.

I get local calls for free on my home phone, but now I will have to pay for the call. Last time I rang I was hanging on the phone for over 20 minutes while I tried to report a problem with my bathroom. If I had to pay for the call how much would that call cost me?

This latest ‘tax’ on council tenants comes under the watchful eye of Vanguard the company brought in by John van de Laarschot to oversee the restructuring & improvements to the way the council work.

0844 numbers are classed as ‘non geographic’ meaning that the cost of calling the number is the same from anywhere in the UK. Pits n Pots can’t think of many reasons why anyone outside of the 01782 area code would need to call the repairs line apart from the odd instance when a family member may be calling on behalf of a council tenant.

According to a number of companies who provide 0844 numbers, people who use an 0844 number for business can enjoy revenues of up to 4p a minute depending on the number of calls.

Using the new 0844 number council tenants who use BT as their phone provider will be forced to pay a flat rate of 5p per minute on. So a call of 10 minutes will cost 50p

Virgin Media customers, on the other hand will be forced to pay a 12.24p connection fee and then 7.13p for each minute they are on the call, making a 10 minute call 84p

Council Tenants who rely on a mobile phone on Pay As You Go contracts can expect to pay upwards of 20p on O2 and 40p on Orange a minute.

Based on figures seen by Pits n Pots Stoke-on-Trent City Council contact centre get an estimated 60,000 calls each year for repairs. With an average call taking around 10 minutes which could generate an income of over £24,000pa for the council, an income funded by some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the city.

I checked with the Director about the number when I saw it printed on the leaflets and was assured that it is not a premium rate number but a local call number.

I was not told about any possible rake off of call charges coming back to the council as revenue, I’ll going to the Civic Centre later this afternoon and will be asking some questions about the number and the charges.

Brain also said, residents are able to use phones in any of our buildings and make calls to the contact centre including the new repairs line for free

George Osbourne First Budget

Taking Gladstone’s original Budget Box out for its final outing, before it becomes a public record of the National Archives, the Chancellor went to the Palace Of Westminster to deliver this first budget of the new government, in line with the Conservative pre election promise, to deliver a budget within 50 days of coming in to office.

During the budget speech Rt Hon George Osborne MP said that:

It was an unavoidable Budget and £1 in every £4 we spend is borrowed. He said the deficit would be dealt with by cuts in spending more than increases in taxation.

The deficit was brought about by over spending not under taxing.

The chancellor also confirmed that the UK would not be joining the Euro during the term of this government.

Public sector workers earning less than £21,000 will have a pay freeze for 2 years. Public sector employees earning less than £21,000 will get a flat £250 rise on each of the two years the freeze is in place.

There has been much speculation about what was going to be included in the budget, but here is the actual budget direct from HM Treasury:

Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has set out his Budget with a comprehensive five-year plan to rebuild the British economy. The plan sets out tough but fair action to tackle the unprecedented budget deficit, introduce a fairer tax system, encourage enterprise and support long-term growth across the economy. The Budget sets out action within these three areas, to help rebalance the economy and provide the conditions for sustainable growth. Each builds on the Coalition Government’s core values of responsibility, freedom and fairness.

1. Responsibility: Tackling the deficit & the fiscal mandate.
The Chancellor has been clear that we need to tackle the deficit urgently. Reducing the deficit is a necessary precondition for sustained economic growth; today’s plans will help to restore stability and balance to the economy, underpinning private sector confidence to support recovery.

The Government has therefore set:
“¢ A deficit target, to achieve cyclically-adjusted current balance by the end of the rolling, five- year forecast period. At this Budget, the end of the forecast period is 2015-16;
“¢ For this Parliament, the fiscal mandate will be supplemented by a target for debt as a share of GDP to be falling at a fixed date of 2015-16, ensuring that the public finances are restored to a sustainable path;
“¢ By 2014-15, 80 per cent of the additional consolidation measures set out in this Budget will be delivered through spending restraint, with additional spending reductions of £31.9bn a year by 2014-15 and additional net tax increases of £8.2 billion. Taking the total consolidation measures delivered through spending restraint to 77 per cent;
“¢ On spending, £29.8bn of the additional savings are from public sector current expenditure (PSCE) and £2.2bn from public sector gross investment (PSGI). There are no further reductions in public sector gross investment beyond the cuts already announced as part of the £6.2bn of savings in 2010-11;
“¢ The Government will increase the standard rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) to 20 per cent from 4 January 2011;
“¢ The Government will increase the standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) to 6 per cent and the higher rate to 20 per cent from 4 January 2011; and
“¢ The Government will introduce a two year pay freeze for public sector workforces from 2011-12, except for those earning £21,000 or less, who will receive an increase of at least £250 in these years.

2. Freedom: Enterprise and growth agenda
This Budget will create the conditions for enterprise and sustainable growth. The Chancellor wants to support business and make the UK more competitive. This means giving businesses more freedom by reducing regulation and providing targeted tax breaks, while ensuring that the economic opportunities for businesses are shared more evenly throughout the UK’s regions.

Measures to support enterprise include:
“¢ A major package of reforms to reduce corporation tax rates including a reduction in the main rate of corporation tax from 28 per cent to 24 per cent over the course of four financial years from April 2011 and reductions to the main and special rates of capital allowances from April 2012;
“¢ A reduction in the small profits rate from 21 per cent to 20 per cent from April 2011;
“¢ A National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday for new businesses which start-up in certain areas of the UK over the next three years;
“¢ An increase in the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and the creation of a new Enterprise Capital Fund; and
“¢ A Regional Growth Fund in 2010-11 and 2012-13 to support increases in business employment and growth, and a scheme in which new businesses in areas of the UK outside of the East, London and the South East will get a substantial reduction in their employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

3. Fairness: A fairer personal tax and benefit system.
The Government has been clear that the burden of deficit reduction will have to be shared. The changes announced today set out a vision for a refocusing of the tax and benefit framework, while protecting the most vulnerable in society. This Budget announces measures to encourage people to take personal responsibility for their actions by rewarding those who work hard and save responsibly for the future.

Personal tax measures:
“¢ Increasing the personal allowance for under 65s by £1,000 to £7,475 in 2011-12, taking 880,000 people out of income tax altogether;
“¢ Capital gains tax will rise from 18 to 28 per cent for those liable to income tax at the higher and additional rates. The 10 per cent rate for entrepreneurial business activities will be extended from the first £2 million to the first £5 million of qualifying gains made over a lifetime;
“¢ The Government will work in partnership with local authorities in England to implement a council tax freeze in 2011-12; and
“¢ Introduction of a bank levy on banks balance sheets from January 2011.

Welfare reforms:
As part of the welfare reforms, the Budget announces:
“¢ Uprating the basic State Pension by a triple guarantee of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest, from April 2011;
“¢ Reduction in tax credit eligibility for families with household income above £40,000 (down from £50,000) from April 2011;
“¢ Intention to restrict the generosity of pensions tax relief by reducing the annual allowance from April 2011. The Government will ensure that this alternative approach raises no less revenue than has already been accounted for in the public finances; and
“¢ Indexing benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) from April 2011 – in order to provide a fairer reflection of benefit claimants’ experiences.

The measures set out by the Chancellor today will pay for the past and plan for the future. This Budget represents the first important step in transforming the economy, rebalancing growth across the UK and paving the way for sustainable, private sector led growth in the years ahead

How will this affect Stoke-on-Trent & The West Midlands?

“¢ To help areas and communities particularly affected by reductions in public spending make the transition to private sector-led growth and prosperity, the Government will create a Regional Growth Fund in 2011-12 and 2012-13. This fund will operate in England only and support proposals from private and public-private bodies that create sustainable increases in business employment and growth.
“¢ The Government will shortly announce details of a scheme to help new businesses in countries and regions outside London, the East and South East. The three-year scheme will exempt new businesses from up to £5,000 of employer NICs payments, for each of their first 10 employees hired. Subject to meeting the necessary legal requirements, the Government intends to have the scheme up and running by September. Any new business set up from 22 June which meets the criteria set out in the forthcoming announcement will benefit from the scheme. Up to 55,000 businesses could benefit in the West Midlands.
“¢ The impact of the employer NICs rate rise previously announced will be largely reversed by increasing the threshold for employer NICs by £21 a week above indexation. This will lead to a saving of around £280 million in the West Midlands.
“¢ The Budget 2009 proposal to repeal the special tax rules for furnished holiday lettings will not be implemented. Instead, the Government will consult over the summer on an alternative proposal to ensure the tax treatment of holiday lettings meets EU legal requirements in a fiscally responsible way, which does not penalise UK businesses, by changing the eligibility thresholds and restricting the use of loss relief. This will benefit an 22/06/2010 estimated 3,900 individuals in the West Midlands who receive an income from furnished holiday lettings.
“¢ The income tax personal allowance for those aged under 65 will be increased by £1,000 in cash terms, taking it from £6,475 in 2010-11 to £7,475 in 2011-12. As a result, the Government estimates that 23 million basic rate taxpayers will benefit by up to £170 each. In the West Midlands over 2 million basic rate taxpayers will gain from this measure.
“¢ Government will uprate the basic State Pension by a triple guarantee of the highest of earnings, prices or 2.5% from April 2011. The Consumer Price Index will be used as the measure of prices in the triple guarantee. However, to ensure the value of a basic State Pension is at least as generous as under the previous uprating rules, the Government will increase the basic State Pension in April 2011 by the equivalent of Retail Price Index. An estimated 1.1 million pensioners in the West Midlands will benefit.
“¢ Government will uprate the standard minimum income guarantee in Pension Credit in April 2011 by the cash rise in a full basic State Pension to ensure the lowest income pensioners benefit from the triple guarantee. 220,000 pensioners currently receive Guarantee Credit in the West Midlands.
“¢ The Government will introduce legislation to waive certain backdated business rates bills, including for some businesses in ports. An estimated 3,000 businesses across England will benefit

Picture: crown copyright republished with permission of HM Treasury.

Tax Windfalls for The Hitched And The Right To See A Doctor”¦.. So What.

So as the first few days of cavorting as the great and good of Westminster convince us, the great unwashed to put a cross by their party name on the first Thursday in May come to an end, two things said by David Cameron, the gutter press Sun’s new best mate, have stuck out for me.

Firstly, all this nonsense about marriage and tax, I mean, for God’s sake! The Conservatives want to patronise, sorry, reward married coupels, or those in a civil partnership by giving them £150 tax windfalls each year, according to the super snore-away Sun. That’s all well and good, and the fact they now accept partnerships of the same sex only goes in the party’s favour. Let’s stop a moment and do a bit of maths, £150 divided by 52, because it’s the number of weeks in the year, that comes to £3. Dear me, that’s not a lot, less then a packet of 10 proper kill me fags. But hang on, it’s a marriage, a partnership of 2, so lets divide that amount by 2, only right, £1.50, good lord, happy days are here again, that’s 2 large packs of chips, with salt and vinegar, from the local chip shop each week, if your lucky and willing to walk there, because the price of petrol has gone thought the roof. But once again, if you have kids, say 2, only right to count them in on this wind fall, so its divide 2 again, 75p, well there you go, hardly worth the time of day.

Look at it this way, ignore the pan lids, have just under five fags each week if you are so silly as to smoke, or treat yourself to a slap up chip supper- well, the chips anyway, or 3 £1 scratch cards, or you could get the kids just under 6 packs of Match Attacks Football cards for the World Cup. You could even save the £3 a week for 2 years and get a PS3 and a game for it, just as it gets the chop for the PS4. Its endless what you could do with Mr. Cameron’s gift to award you for being in a legal partnership.

Personally, I’ll tell him thanks, but no thanks, and my extra £1.50 can stay in the government coffers to support The NHS, education, law, and other things that need paying for. But the wife says she’ll take the just under 5 fags option, so there might be a problem here.

So we move on, and only today hear he comes again. David Cameron would like to think that every one would have the right to see a doctor. Well, well, well, and here’s me thinking that most in the country had a right to that since the formation of the NHS. There are such things as walk-in centres, A&E departments, NHS Direct phone lines, out of hours doctors ran by PCTs, seeing if you feel better when you sleep the ruddy hang over off.

In- fact, the very day that David Cameron came out with this load of rubbish the King’s Fund, an independent think tank, congratulated the NHS, pointing out that the 13 years of Labour governments had seen lower waiting lists, much faster treatment and easier patient access to the services that were needed.

All the Conservatives can do is rage on about obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug misuse. That’s just daft people doing silly things, its out of government control. What do they want, government founded slimming clubs, total bans on smoking, alcohol taxed to the hilt, drug users bloody well hung? No, crazy talk there, smacks of the controlling nanny state.

So what if family doctors can’t stay open 24/7, if your in need of medical help, you can find it 24/7 somehow.

If we have another 4 weeks of this, I’ll no- doubt feel the need to have a go at some daft bugger this time next week for spouting such ruddy old garbage like Mr. Cameron has.

Chancellor No Darling Over Cider Tax

Cider drinkers all over the country are today wishing that they could put Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling through a cider press for taxing their favourite bevvy by a whopping 10%!

The budget has already being dubbed as the ‘Mangner’ Carter by cider lovers.

A Facebook group called ‘LEAVE OUR CIDER ALONE!’ was set up within hours of the announcement and as of this morning 15000 people had signed up.

Another Facebook protest group called ‘Campaign to get The Wurzels to No1 in protest of Cider getting a 10% tax!’ has been set up and is campaigning to get the Wurzels ‘I Am A Cider Drinker’ [god help us!] to No 1 in protest at Alistair Darling’s budget announcement.

Cider and Scrumpy producers are outraged at the tax increase and are highlighting the fact that the cider making process is much longer than the beer making process and they are fearful of some of the smaller producers going out of business.

A newly planted orchard takes three years to produce apples that are fit for the cider making process.

Many people think that the Chancellor has increase the tax on cider by 10% to discourage binge drinking and young people drinking on the streets that often fuels anti social behaviour.

“Super-strength” ciders are to be re classed the same as made wine from September and subjected to an extra £2 per litre tax.

The Chancellor has been accused of stealing the Conservative plan to levy more tax on strong cider and beer to deter binge drinking by teenagers and to deter alcohol abuse.

Some of the cheapest ‘White Lightening’ type brands are on sale in Supermarkets and cheap booze outlets for around £6.19 for 8 cans that are 7.5%abv.

I think most average folk like a drink, I know I do and while I’ve never really been a cider drinker, I have on occasion tried the real cider that is produced down in Somerset and parts of Devon whilst on holiday and really enjoyed it.

The real concern is that this tax damages those small producers who are looking at producing quality ciders, often organic into a niche market that no way includes those who want to get off their faces on cheap mass produced cider.

The real question is why should those producers be disadvantaged by this tax.

If we really want to hit those who abuse alcohol and those who drink to fuel anti-social behaviour, wouldn’t it be better to force the supermarket to stop doing the BOGOF offers and those promotions that see teenagers queuing at the tills in large numbers?

Wouldn’t it be more sensible to raise the tax substantially on those beers and ciders that are over say 5.5%abv?

There were some decent proposals in the budget yesterday and it wasn’t as bad as some had predicted to this one tax may overshadow all the rest and could prove to be another own goal for the Labour Party on the run up to the General Election.

Mansion Tax U-turn – a pathetic backout by the LibDems

Not so many weeks ago the Lib Dems actually seemed to have come up with a good idea. And more than that,one which could have won them some much-needed General Election votes.

The idea was not a new one, in its Robin-hood like stealing from the rich to give to the poor way. Well, legalised stealing anyway: Tax.

And the plan by Clegg to inflict a charge upon those lucky enough to own a mansion worth over a million quid was a popular one.

But, after pressure from Lib Dem MPs in southern constituencies where the also-ran party already has seats, such as the affluent London borough of Richmond upon Thames, their leader has backtracked somewhat, by revising the policy to now apply to only owners of properties valued at over £2 million.

Clegg asserts that because he has raised the rate at which said people would be taxed by half a percent, the net result would be the same.

Although some have said it would be a comparably insignificant tax, a not inconsiderable £1.1 bn of revenue would have been raised by the original levy from some 250,000 ‘qualfying’ homes.

According to the Lib Dems, more money will actually be collected by the revised edition, with £1.7bn coming from
those owning the £2 million-pound mansions.

However, independent figures suggest different. Property valuers and experts estimate that £151 million less will be gleaned from the new proposal and a fall in numbers of those affected, meaning that a vastly smaller group of properties (19,600 instead of 105,600) will be liable for the charge.

But the move is a complete backdown by leaders of the Lib Dems who have backed down to pressure from MPs who at the end of the day are only worried about losing their precious seats.

This was a welcome idea from the party, a start of attempting to increase revenues needed by the Government after its recent spending spree, and not at the expense of the worst-off in the country, but those who can afford it.

This morning I heard some poor sod whingeing about it from his retirement pad in the border counties on the radio,
saying how he had paid for his home, lost money on his investments and has a six-year old son to consider. My heart bleeds.

The only semi-justified complaint I have heard is that some poeple may have seen their properties rise in value in multiples of the hundreds, having bought the property when it was worth a fraction of today’s figures or inherited the house from relatives. But if that’s the case, then maybe those people should have to release equity in the property which has made profits for them for which they have not had to do a smidgen of work.

This idea, which may never make it anywhere near legislation, will not even affect Stoke-on-Trent, since, as far as the registry says, contains no houses that fall into the ‘mansion’ category, whether we’re talking about the one or the two million strategy.

But the plan could have been one popular with voters in Stoke on Trent and many other deprived areas where people see the rich get richer, and affluent areas prosper while northern industrial cities like ours get left behind.

And for me, this is a great shame of a move by the Lib Dems, who could have been seen to be doing what might be
considered the ‘right thing’ by voters nationally, and instead have bowed down to what might lose them votes
instead, which makes them as bad as the mud-slinging, anything to get a few more votes, blue and red teams, rather than sticking with a policy which could have put them forward as the party that dares to be different.

Conversely, the Lib Dems, as has been pointed out by commentators here, have stayed with their worthy policy of raising the amount that people can earn before getting taxed on their income. This part of the Liberals’ manifesto would mean that workers could earn up to £10,000 before they have to pay over an proportion to the government, compared to the current £6,475, which would make the world of difference to low earners.