What Your Tax Pay’s For – Is It a Cynical Trick?
The budget announcement that George Osborne and the coalition Liberal Democrat – Conservative Government are going to tell us what our individual taxes pay for is on the face of it a great idea, providing of course it is accurate, valid and more importantly if when the public demand that less is spent in one area and more in another they are listened to and not ignored.
Of course the public want to know how the Government spend “our” money and as I have said on many occasions I am convinced the Government and Local Councils forget just whose money it is they are spending when they start to justify employing people who are not needed or on new carpets etc.
The current treasury information available from Government is that if your family income is £25,000 you’ll pay £5,700 in tax of which £363 goes to paying the National Debt interest which has risen in the last two years to over £1,046bn and increasing meaning that in the future more of your tax will go to service the debt. If your salary is £50,000 then the tax bill is £14,200 and £900 goes to service the UK debt.
So what does the rest go on?
If you listen to the hype and propaganda you’d believe it was being given free and gratis to a whole army of public servants and their “gold plated pensions”, and to idle lay-a-bouts who are bleeding the country dry through a broken welfare system.
What the treasury figures show is that for the £25k earner £1,900 goes to welfare and for the £50k earner it is £4,700.
I can hear the cries of anguish and “we told you so”, “stop it immediately”.
But wait what exactly do we understand and mean by welfare funding?
We all aspire, or at least I think the vast majority of us aspire to live to draw our old age pension and there is no question that people are living longer, so would those who are calling for cuts to pensions begrudge the £800 (£25k) or £2,000(£50k) that goes to provide pensions for our grandparents especially after they have paid into it for the whole of their working lives?
It is what I paid taxes for.
Or do we really want to penalise children and families or the genuinely sick and disabled?
Of course those who take the system for a ride have to be identified and dealt with but for every person that is found cheating there are hundreds of thousands who are genuine as I’m sure all right-minded people realise.
So do we begrudge the £580(£25k) or £1,450(£50k) that goes to support the sick, disabled, families and children which prevents them in many cases from falling below the poverty line?
That leaves Housing and Unemployment the former which has been addressed through the Housing element of the Welfare Reform Bill and which is leading to an increase in family debt and homelessness, so the question is at what level do we cut the housing bill from the current level of £190(£25k) and £490(£50k) and what level of homelessness are we prepared to accept in 21st Century Britain.
The most contentious use of tax is naturally enough for those in full-time employment that which is spent on Unemployment £56 (£25k) and £140 (£50k) and if you are working to look after your family then it is understandable.
Where the problem comes is when you look at the current economic situation with over 1 million young people and over almost 4 million people out of work with little opportunity for them at a time of stagnant growth, high inflation and falling incomes to gain full-time employment not only now but in the foreseeable future.
Yes the Welfare system needs to be reformed, no question about it, but it has to be well thought out and delivered without further damaging the economic wellbeing of the country which I fear the Governments “slash and burn” policies are doing.
What is needed is not a wholesale attack on the welfare system but a considered approach taking into consideration the other areas of Government taxpayer spending.
It is clear that no-one will countenance reducing spending on the National Health Service (£1,000 (£25k) and £2,500 (£50k)) or Education (£750(£25k) and £1,850(£50k)) though there is perhaps a debate to be had over the split between schools and university expenditure.
What of the other areas?
Defence (do we scrap Trident and save billions of pounds), Public Order and Safety, the police, courts, prisons and fire service are already faced with Government cuts of 20%.
Perhaps Government administration is an area to cut (MP expenses?), or Overseas Aid, or contribution to the EU the last two which at a combined sum of £84(£25k) and £215(£50k) is more than on unemployment.
The big and most challenging question will be what happens as I said at the start of this blog if the public call for a cut in overseas aid and EU contributions, or universities to fund old age pensions?
and will the public look at the cuts made to different sectors and start to ask for a commensurate cut in the tax they pay.
What happens locally if the Northampton people start to ask for a full break down of what their council tax is being spent on in Northampton by Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council on education, the town’s roads, health and wellbeing, environment etc.
What happens if the public start to demand that as a third of the counties tax paying population they expect to see 33% of the County Council tax and all of the Borough Council tax spent in providing services to the people of Northampton?
I would be more than happy for the Government to publish what my taxes are being spent on, and would be even happier to know alongside it what my Council Tax is being spent on in Northampton.
Of course it would be easier to ensure that all of the Northampton local taxation is spent on the people of the Borough if we were a Unitary Authority something that has sadly been rejected out of hand by the current Conservative administration.
On an optimistic note, Councils change colour all of the time and none more so than Northampton so there will be an opportunity to change direction in 2015, on the same day incidentally as the opportunity to decide who will be in control in Westminster.