Following on from the lists from the Centre for Policy Studies and Policy Exchange of the government policies which they lay claim to have proposed, Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers' Alliance explains here which TPA proposals have been adopted by the new Government.
Much of the work of the TaxPayers’ Alliance is focused on building public support for lower taxation and spending, rather than making specific recommendations. As such, the main result of the TPA’s work may be in having strengthened public support for necessary spending cuts and producing the climate of opinion in which a move towards lower spending is possible. However, we have recommended specific measures in a number of areas that have since been taken up by the Government.
As part of that drive to inform the public debate over spending and taxation, the TPA has made heavy use of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. To extend that principle, spending transparency has been a key TPA objective for a number of years. There was a section on the options for improving transparency and international and local examples in How to Cut Public Spending but calls for greater transparency have been a priority for the TPA campaign since it was launched. The Government has published the COINS database and plans to introduce more thorough spending transparency in central and local government over the next year. Transparency over pay for senior staff in the public sector has been another TPA priority and delivered directly through the Town Hall Rich List and the Public Sector Rich List. The Government has produced a number of releases giving pay for top civil servants, special advisors and other staff clearly inspired by those reports.
Many cuts in spending announced by the Government match recommendations from the TPA:
- Halve the government advertising and publicity budget. The TPA recommended halving the advertising and publicity budget in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. A recent press release from the Central Office of Information announced that total COI turnover on advertising and marketing was down an estimated 52 per cent in June 2010 on the same period last year.
- A two-year pay freeze for public sector workers. The TPA recommended a two-year pay freeze in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. A two-year freeze was announced at the Emergency Budget.
- The abolition of the Child Trust Fund. The TPA recommended abolishing the Child Trust Fund in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. Its abolition was announced as part of the coalition agreement.
- The abolition of Building Schools for the Future. The TPA recommended abolishing the programme in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. The Government have since announced the abolition of the programme.
A wide range of quangos and programmes have been abolished following recommendations from the TPA:
- Prevent grants through local authorities. In the September 2009 report Council Spending Uncovered II: Preventing Violent Extremism Grants the TaxPayers’ Alliance produced the first comprehensive breakdown of spending under the scheme and recommended its abolition, arguing that: “Politicians of all parties need to acknowledge that the approach has failed, cancel this programme and start focussing directly on stopping terrorists.” The abolition of those grants was recently announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- Regional Development Agencies. The TaxPayers’ Alliance first called for RDAs to be scrapped in the August 2008 report The Case for Abolishing Regional Development Agencies and followed that up with Regional Development Agencies: Having a ball at the 2008 party conferences and RDA Grants. The abolition of the RDAs was announced at the Emergency Budget.
- The National Policing Improvement Agency. In the book How to Cut Public Spending released this March the TPA recommended the abolition of the NPIA. The Home Office is currently consulting on phasing out the organisation.
- The Sustainable Development Commission. In the August 2009 report Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning the TPA recommended the abolition of the SDC as a thinly veiled taxpayer funded political campaign. Its abolition was again recommended in the book How to Cut Public Spending. The abolition of the SDC was announced recently. The Left Foot Forward blog wrote that in this case the TPA’s “words have clearly been heeded.”
- The Standards Board for England. The TPA recommended its abolition in the September 2009 report How to Save £50 billion, produced with the Institute of Directors, and again in How to Cut Public Spending. The coalition agreement pledged to “abolish the Standards Board regime”.
- Comprehensive Area Assessments. The TPA recommended the abolition of CAAs in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. The coalition agreement pledged to “abolish the Comprehensive Area Assessment”.
- The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. The TPA recommended the abolition of BECTA in How to Save £50 billion and again in How to Cut Public Spending. The body has since been scrapped.
A number of other bodies recommended for abolition by the TPA are considered under threat, including the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
TPA research is also proving influential in a number of other areas, though they have also been priorities for other campaigns and think tanks as well:
Cuts in corporation tax and increases in the personal allowance have been longstanding TPA priorities. An increase in the personal allowance was part of the book Flat Tax: Towards a British Model written by Allister Heath, now editor of City AM, for the TPA in 2006. The April 2007 Dynamic Model of the UK Economy commissioned by the TPA from the Centre for Economics and Business Research and How Cutting Corporation Tax Would Boost Revenue both looked at the potential dynamic returns from cuts in corporation tax.
The recent DWP consultation paper 21st Century Welfare cited the recommendations of the TPA report Welfare Reform in Tough Fiscal Times as one model for how welfare reform could be achieved, along with proposals from the IFS and IPPR.
Speed cameras across the country are closing as central government funding has been withdrawn. This followed the TPA report Speeding Fines which provided new figures for the burden on motorists and assessed the performance of road safety policy.
Taxpayer funded politics has been a priority issue for the TPA since we released the report Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning on the subject last August. Eric Pickles and the DCLG team have just announced that they will be moving to stop councils and quangos under their remit spending money hiring lobbyists.