You may remember last week that our Chairman, Andrew Allum, predicted that the Chancellor might U-turn on his decision to raise National Insurance. Well, he was right. While the Chancellor’s aim was to make the system fairer, so the self-employed would pay roughly the same as employees, the move went down badly amongst the public, the media and even the party’s own MPs.
The move was reminiscent of George Osborne’s attempted ‘pasty tax’ back in 2012, and goes to show that marginal tinkering around the edges of the tax system simply does not work. Parliamentarians may indeed be worried that the changing nature of work will erode the tax base, but instead of fiddling with individual levies, they should use this opportunity to undergo a full review of our overly complicated, often punitive tax system. The first place they should start is our 2012 Single Income Tax, which you can read online here.
I’m delighted to introduce a new member of the team. Shahmir Sanni (pictured centre), our new Digital Campaign Manager, started on Monday with the goal of growing our online and social media presence, as well as creating new digital content – such as videos and graphics – to promote. We’re very pleased to have him on board and are excited to see what will come in the next few months.
On Tuesday we released a new report on trade union ‘facility time’, that is, the amount of paid time-off local authority employees get to work on their union duties. The bill for last year’s national total was at least £14,666,610, which when you consider that council tax is being hiked at nearly every local authority next month, leaves a rather bitter taste in the mouth. Our sustained campaign over several years led to action in the Trade Union Act last year, but there is still much to be done.
It’s been a busy few days for Dia, who has been touring the broadcast studios reviewing the news and papers this week. Over the weekend she appeared on Sophy Ridge on Sunday to discuss the post-Budget coverage, which you can watch here. This morning she appeared on former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik’s show on BBC Radio Kent to review this week’s news stories. If you live in Kent and missed it, click here to catch up.
One piece of news that really caught our attention this week was the announcement that politicians will be barred from using taxpayers’ money to employ relatives from 2020. The chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), Ruth Evans, has said that the practice of employing sons and daughters is not only “out of step with modern employment practice”, but also “unjust”. We have consistently argued that while it may often be practical for an MP to hire their spouse or children, particularly if the working hours are anti-social, it is vitally important that the hiring process is transparent.
Once again, Scottish independence is on the cards. While the second referendum has been pushed back until after Brexit, the issue is sure to retain a foothold in the news agenda in the coming months. TPA Research Fellow Mike Denham wrote a brilliant report for us last year which analysed the state of Scotland’s public finances.
Finally, TPA co-founder Matthew Elliott wrote a great piece in City A.M. this week ahead of the Dutch general election to stress that it is important not to overplay the similarities between Brexit voters and the Dutch populists supporting Geert Wilders. There are always multiple factors behind voting intention, with unemployment, affordable housing and wage levels all examples of key issues which impact the decision. Taxation frequently plays a role too…
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