The dangers of using the “Tax Payers’ Alliance” as a source of information

Latest message from John Glen:Taxpayersalliancegraph

 Here is the graph (from the link in the message above) that I am “reluctant to share with you”. It didn’t have a title so I have added one:

UK vs OECD Spending as % of GDP

spendingvsoecd1

It comes from the Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA) and so unsurprisingly is designed to deceive us.

I will be kind and assume that the incorrect label for the black line is probably just a mistake because it should be labelled OECD Average.  But the expanded vertical scale is clearly designed to exaggerate the relatively small difference between the UK and the OECD average, 44% vs 40% for 2007 just before the Banking crisis.  It also misinforms by simply using the OECD average which hides the fact that the OECD  includes countries like South Korea – not a country we would normal compare ourselves with.

To shed some light on the debate I have shown below a graph that shows the full OECD data, not the TPA distorted version.

oecdspending

Interestingly, the UK seems to be pretty much in the middle.  Ireland had one of the lowest government spending figures – look what happened to them!

I feel no obligation to defend New Labour under Blair / Brown but I do object to current politicians trying to blame the mess we are now in on a previous government based on made up facts and distortions.   In the end reality always wins – as we are beginning  to witness.

 

Source of Figure 5 above:
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2009/10/02/6746/comparing-public-spending-and-priorities-across-oecd-countries/

Government debt as a percentage of GDP – compared

 

GDP


 

 

 

This chart seems to show that the UK was not doing too badly until the financial crisis and even then it is only from 2010 that our debt starts to rise above the debt for Germany and Canada.

Government debt as a percentage of GDPoecd-debt-to-gdp-may-2011-png-gif

Chart of the Day (below):

Check out the UK line. The UK was recovering from the 2007/8 banking crisis on a fine trajectory right up until early 2010, at which point UK growth hit a brick wall.

What happened in 2010? That’s when the conservatives came to power with an agenda of austerity and “reigning in the debt”.  Doing so was a growth disaster.   Logic and history tell us that a recession is not a good time to “reign in the debt”.

History and logic tell us that prudent spending on infrastructure and investment for the future, i.e much needed housing, is a win win policy.  Getting our finances in order and cutting waste and unnecessary spending makes sense. BUT using the crisis to implement politically motivated and deeply unfair cuts as part of a separate  ideological agenda is a path to disaster.

Unless our government changes tack, that red line is likely to just carry on bumping along horizontally. 

chart-of-the-day-real-gdp-rebased-to-100-in-2003-april-2012

 Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-us-vs-uk-growth-2012-4#ixzz2X33gsvqd

Further reading: Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise?

 

(410) Targeted Cuts-01 (1)To read more click here: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/a-fair-society1.html

A touch of reality

boom and bustoverspendJohn Glen 22/23 June 2013

 

But back in Sept 2007 (while in opposition):   Conservatives will match Labour on spending for the next three years: “I can confirm for the first time that a Conservative Government will adopt [the Government’s] spending totals. Total government spending will rise by 2 per cent a year in real terms, from £615 billion next year to £674 billion in the year 2010-11. Like Labour, we will review the final year’s total in a spending review in 2009. The result of adopting these spending totals is that under a Conservative Government there will be real increases in spending on public services, year after year.”   George Osborne Sept 2007
Source: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2007/09/tories-will-mat.html

So George didn’t spot the financial crisis just weeks before it started or see anything wrong with Labour’s ‘overspend’. In fact he promised “real increases in spending on public services, year after year.”

 

Some  Quotes on bank regulation:

“I fear that much of this regulation has been burdensome, complex and makes cross-border market penetration more difficult.

“This is exactly the wrong direction in which Europe should be heading and it threatens the global competitiveness of the City of London.”

– George Osborne, 2006

 

“In an age of greater choice, he offers more overbearing control; in an age of greater freedom, he gives us more interference…

“In short, in an age that demands a light touch, he [Gordon Brown] offers that clunking fist.”

– George Osborne, 2006

 

“I want to give you [The City] lower taxes and less regulation.”

– David Cameron, 2006

 

“Light-touch… regulation is in the interests of the sector globally and the government need to send that message more strongly.”

– Mark Hoban, 2006

 

And finally, more recently, George Osborne (millionaire from birth) answers questions on current government debt plus bonus questions on child allowance and housing:

 

So Mr Glen, Labour were less “prudent” than they should have been considering the “boom” was clearly unsustainable. But they did invest much of that money for our future, in the NHS, schools etc.  They made some mistakes as do all governments and I fear some of that money was not spent as wisely as it should have been.  But it is now time to move on.

It remains an indisputable  fact that the cause of the crisis we are in was the near collapse and bail out of our financial system.  Every bank and financial institution in the western world owes its current existence to tax payers, many of whom are now suffering real hardship as a consequence. What those people want is for our politicians to stop the ya-boo politics and get on with sorting out the longest slump in UK history. That requires reason, rational debate, cooperation, wisdom, facts and evidence, not blind adherence to a discredited ideology.

The more the real incomes, working and living conditions and confidence of ordinary working people deteriorates, the less demand there will be and hence the longer the recession.

The longer we leave it before we reform our financial system for real, rather than the pretend reforms we have had so far, the worse it will be when the next financial crisis hits us because by then there will be no money left to bail out the banks.

My son’s rent for one room in a shared terraced house in London has just gone up to £1000 per month. He has always done the ‘right’ thing, has never been unemployed but his income will not cover this rent – what is he supposed to do????

So come on John – you are all we’ve got! Please forget the spin and concentrate on reality.  (How about actually building some real houses – it would be a win win policy? No need to borrow, just get Amazon, Google etc to pay their fair share of UK taxes like the rest of us.)

UPDATE  (25th June) Ex Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King ‘backs me up’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10140948/George-Osborne-accused-of-lobbying-on-behalf-of-banks-for-weaker-regulation.html

Debt and Reality

Here is my response to this recent Twitter exchange with my MP John Glen

debtandinterestrates
Unfortunately I did not make myself clear – I am not interested in point scoring between MPs  or defending the Blair – Brown government’s complicity in allowing big finance to wreck our economy.  But I am concerned that after everything that has happened, my MP is still allowing spin to obscure reality.  So here are a few facts to keep us on track.

Despite New Labour’s love affair with big money they were not responsible for the financial crisis, nor were immigrants, “welfare scroungers”, the disabled, unmarried mothers, Polish lesbian plumbers or any of the other groups that the Tories and right wing press  would like us to blame.

The graphs below show that, in the period up 2007/8, the National Debt and the annual deficit were not out of the ordinary.  The deficit and debt went ballistic when the financial crash meant that we had to bail out the banks with billions of pounds of tax payer’s money and the ensuing recession meant that welfare payments went up as tax receipts fell. Yes New Labour were complicit in that they enthusiastically followed the “light touch” regulation of financial services started under Thatcher but the Tories are on record as aggressively arguing for even further deregulation.

national-debt-percent-1900-12

 

Note how big the post war debt was in the late 1940s and yet that was when the NHS was introduced, a massive house and school building programme was started, further and higher education were free and there was full employment.  Oh and interest rates  were less than 3%.  Not a fair comparison to today perhaps, but food for thought.

 

This is an expanded version of the chart showing clearly that the debt takes off at the moment (2007/8) the banks start to collapse and the tax payer has to bail them out.public-sector-debt-perc-gdp-hmTuk-debt

The graph below also shows how the annual deficit was not excessive until the financial crash and the need to bail out the banks.  (Unfortunately, the figures are not corrected for inflation and so this chart exaggerates the size of recent deficits compared with earlier deficits.)

Deficits by chancellor

So John, lets cut the spin.  The recession and the level of debt are due to the crisis in our banks and a combination of greed and incompetence in our financial services in general. If you want to look for a root cause then I suggest the neo libertarian / Thatcher / Reagan governments would be a good starting point.

Let’s now turn to John Glen’s original Tweet warning about increased borrowing (although he does not explain why the increase in borrowing we have seen under  George Osborne is any different to an increase under Ed Balls)

To the rational layman it would seem that the obvious answer to a recession is to kick start the economy with a modest increase in spending.  For example,  immediately starting a house building programme,  a general infrastructure improvement programme and energy efficiency improvement programme etc – all desperately needed anyway and quick and easy ways to inject money into the economy as well as benefiting ordinary people. The kick started economy will generate tax income, reduce welfare expenditure and hence bring down borrowing.  Lets remember that entrepreneurs and business mangers are useless without the real job creators – ordinary people with the money and confidence to go out and buy stuff. We really are all in this together. (Of course this should go hand in hand with a rigorous look at government spending –  tax payers want to know that every penny is well spent particularly when they are striving to make ends meet themselves.  But they do not want the government to exploit this opportunity by forcing through ideologically driven cuts that have no democratic mandate and will change our country irrevocably in ways that have not been open to any debate.

How will the extra spending be paid for. Well before I answer, remember that austerity means recession/stagnation  which means extra borrowing with no useful outcome.  Borrowing to fund infrastructure investment on the other hand has a useful outcome – kick started economy and increased employment with resulting decrease in borrowing. But if just a portion of the over £40 billion of unpaid taxes were collected (just concentrate on the big corporations that currently pay no tax) we would not need to borrow anything extra.

The government’s irrational, evidence free and intellectually discredited alternative[1] is to start an austerity programme in which the people who were not responsible for the crisis bear the brunt of government cuts.  These include cuts in support to hard working families, striving to make ends meet. This results in borrowing more money to pay for increased welfare benefits due to the resulting recession and reduced income from taxation. For some reason the increased borrowing is also used  to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest and to flood the banks with money that they refuse to lend but do manage to pass on to their top people as bonuses (while shedding their work forces).  Ordinary people, hit by reducing real income,  greater insecurity and prospects of poverty in old age, understandably enough stop spending and the recession / stagnation becomes permanent 10, 20 years, a generation wasted.  This is particularly crazy if  other countries are following the same policy.

What ordinary people  want is evidence based, rational, reasoned policy not ideology and spin, whatever the government in power.

The price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it” “Now is the period when the cost is being paid, I’m surprised that the degree of public anger has not been greater than it has.— Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England

NB Please let me know if I have made errors or am guilty of spin or ideology – I am happy to correct or debate as appropriate. CL

[1] Austerity after Reinhart and Rogoff. By Robert Pollin and Michael Ash A main policy plank is riddled with faults, write Robert Pollin and Michael Ash

From Reinhart & Rogoff’s own data: UK GDP increased fastest when debt-to-GDP ratio was highest – and the debt ratio came down!  By Jeremy Smith, 20th April 2013

A letter to the FT: A modest test for debt/GDP in the UK postwar experience. By Ann Pettifor and Jeremy Smith, 21st April 2013

Shock research finding: high debt-to-GDP ratio leads to faster increase in GDP! By Jeremy Smith, 16th April 2013 

 

Lobbying: “The Next Big Scandal” (and its influence on NHS privatisation)

This is my latest letter to our local MP, John Glen, regarding a promise made by David Cameron concerning the “next big scandal”.

 

Dear Mr Glen,

Before the last election Mr Cameron promised there would be no top down reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS. He also pointed out that ‘Lobbying’ would be the next big scandal and promised to do something about it.

Three years after the last election, I note that a disturbing number of contracts in the privatisation of the NHS (part of a massive top down reorganisation) have gone to companies that have been generous donors to individual MPs, government ministers or the Conservative party in general. I also note that a disturbing number of MPs and Lords, not just Tory, stand to gain financially from the outsourcing of NHS services.  It would seem then that Mr Cameron’s prediction is about to come true. I am sure that you want to avoid this as much as ordinary ‘hard-working ‘ citizens, whose tax payments will fund this scandal.

I am therefore keen to ensure that the government fulfils its commitment to create a statutory lobbying register. If it is not legislated for in the next parliamentary session, I am sure that you will be concerned that the government may miss its chance to implement this pledge, which was in the coalition agreement.

Please can you ask the minister in charge, Chloe Smith, to seek an assurance that the legislation for it will be announced in the Queen’s Speech?

Also, if you have not yet done so, please sign EDM: 222 Register of Lobbyists.

This, on its own, will not be sufficient to prevent the scandal but will be a small first step and will indicate that the government is serious about this particular promise.

Many thanks,

Colin Lawson.

NB: Abundant evidence to substantiate the conflicts of interest, lobbying and political donations that are a part of the NHS ‘reforms’ is in the public domain but I can provide details if you so wish.

Some evidence from 2012: Special Report –  Selling the NHS: how parliament and the healthcare industry got cosy

NHS is threatened by ‘legalised corruption’ March 2012

 Unhealthy influence: The rise of the NHS Partners Network  Social Investigations, March 2013

The Chair of the committee that advises on business appointments to departing senior civil servants is a director of a company that has won a contract related to the Health and Social Care Act in which he voted in favour.  Social Investigations, April 2013

Latest on Conflicts of Interest:
CCG head awards “£70,000 contract to a firm where he is medical director.” http://bit.ly/14BELbz 

BBC News – Conflicts of interest ‘rife’ among new GP commissioners

GPs need protection against conflicts of interest, say legal experts  Pulse, 4th April 2013

GP duty of candour undermined by ‘inappropriate’ gagging clauses in CCG constitutions  Pulse, 5th April 2013

And, in case anyone wasn’t paying attention:How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report by ‘Open Democracy’ on two years of censorship and distortion

Healthcare trusts seek big increase in income from private patients, raising fears of two-tier service  Observer 6th April 2013

1,000 GPs gagged by CCGs from talking about local health services  D Telegraph 6 April 2013

More than 100 lobbying professionals still hold parliamentary passes: Senior managers at interest groups and businesses still have passes despite coalition promises to change perception of lobbying  10th April, Guardian

 

Mystery of Salisbury MP, John Glen’s involvement in ‘smear’ campaign against Labour MP for Sedgefield

This is a strange story.  Back in February the Guido Fawkes’ Blog (promoter of the nasty side of the Tory party) ran a story about a letter written by Salisbury MP, John Glen, to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner accusing Sedgefield’s Labour MP, Phil Wilson of not declaring  donations from local employer, Hitachi.

However it appears that the letter was never sent and, if I understand things correctly, it seems John Glen claims he did not even know about its contents until it appeared in the Guido Fawkes’ blog.  The accusation is that the letter was part of an attempted ‘smear’ campaign against Phil Wilson but that John Glen never sent the letter.  So it would seem that someone has some explaining to do – it all seems a bit murky at the moment.

 

This (below) is apparently a copy of the letter that John Glen did not send. Apparently he has also apologised to the MP and agreed there was no case for him to answer and said that the letter had been written by Conservative party ‘officials’.

According to the Northern Echo, John Glen declined to reply to requests for comments but a spokeswoman did not deny the letter was written for Mr Glen, saying only: “He did not send the letter to the Commissioner. The matter is now closed, as far as he is concerned.”

However, the Conservative Party insisted it did not write the letter for Mr Glen, saying: “We deny these allegations. Clearly it’s a matter for John.”

So where did the letter come from? Why was it in John Glen’s name? May be someone can enlighten us?

Dear Ms Hudson,

I am writing to draw your attention to a potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, with regard to the declaration of financial interests.

On the 23rd January 2013, Phil Wilson MP registered a donation of £5,700 from Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd, and on the 31st January 2013 registered a donation of £5,700 from Merchant Place Developments.

 In a Parliamentary debate on the 31st January, Mr Wilson spoke about Hitachi’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe, on a site developed by Merchant Place Developments. At no time did he draw attention to his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

The Code of Conduct clearly states that, ‘a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question’. I note that Mr Wilson has mentioned Hitachi’s investment on no less than 22 separate occasions in Parliament, and lobbied Ministers in its favour. Clearly it is a matter of public interest to know whether or not there was any expectation of future financial interest when he made these speeches.

Of course it is entirely appropriate for Members to draw attention to successful businesses in their constituencies, particularly those that contribute to the decline in unemployment that the UK is experiencing under this government. However, where a Member has received significant political donation from a company, it is essential for transparency and public faith in Parliament for this to be made clear so that they may judge a Member’s remarks in that context.

Yours sincerely,

John Glen MP

 

FURTHER THOUGHTS (but pure speculation):
Is the real story here that CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) were trying to cook up a story using dirty tricks to malign another MP and deliberately ruin his career but John Glen who had been chosen to do the the dirty work was actually too honourable (or street wise) to get involved?

Any dirty tricks at CCHQ were quite likely to be initiated by the master of the ‘dark arts’,  Lynton Crosby, the new campaign manger appointed by Cameron to take the Tories into the next election. This would be ironic indeed as John John Glen Lynton CrosbyGlen was effusive in his praise for the new appointment as can be seen by this recent Tweet. This is particularly strange as Lynton Crosby may be a brilliant campaigner but decent does not seem to be an accurate description of his previous campaigns.

 

Sources:

Complaint was “cooked up” by Tories, claim   Northern Echo  11th March 2013
Guido Fawkes smear letter against Labour MP collapses  Liberal Conspiracy 11th march 2013
Labour MP Reported Over Cash Questions Concern: Phil Wilson Goes Off the Rails   Guido Fawke’s Blog 13th Feb 2013
How a ’sleaze’ story was manufactured  Independent 12th March 2013
Lynton Crosby: the ‘evil genius’ taking Cameron into bare-knuckle politics  Guardian 23rd Nov 2013)

 

Update April 2013: The influence of Lynton Crosby is becoming more obvious by the day as  smear, vilification, demonisation, in fact all the dirty rhetorical tricks available, are incorporated into the speeches of cabinet ministers. How long before John Glen regrets his enthusiasm for Lynton Crosby?

False association / illusory correlation: a technique frequently used to deceive: e.g. Always start any speech on welfare with a rare and extreme example of abuse of the system with aim of subliminally (and falsely) smearing and vilifying all welfare recipients.

Lynton Crosby opponent, Andrew Cooper,  quits as Crosby moves Conservative Party even further towards the Right. Daily Mail 14th April 2013

More Lynton Crosby dog whistle tricks?? UK considers offshore asylum camps: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/uk-considers-offshore-asylum-camps-report/story-fn3dxix6-1226620328337 …   (The Australian 14th April 2013)

Some Questions for our local MP John Glen

Dear Mr Glen,

The Government is trying to justify its across the board cuts to welfare benefits by smearing all recipients as feckless scroungers. This smearing inevitably includes  those in work but on low pay and those who are genuinely unable to work due to illness or disability.  We all acknowledge the need to reform our welfare system and reduce, as far as possible, fraud, abuse and dependency.  But most of us also agree that this must be based on facts, evidence and rational, reasoned debate, plus the need to have a little Christian empathy for those who are not as lucky as ourselves.

So here are some questions that I would like you to answer on behalf of your government: (John has provided the answers, via the House of Commons Library, so I have included them here in green text. See bottom of page for full sources.)

How many non-UK nationals are responsible for tax credit fraud? No data but estimated to be a very small percentage.

How many families are there where three generations have never worked?  Ans: None

How many families are ‘on’ £104,000 pa housing benefit and who actually gets the cash?  Ans: 5 in 2010, now none.  Of course the money does not go to the families, it goes to the landlord  The families live in ordinary houses but are just unlucky to live in a country that allows the market to push rents up so high in certain areas that ordinary people, most of whom are in full time work, cannot afford them.

As the government repeatedly and persistently justifies its policies and rhetoric by referring to examples like these we must assume that Mr Glen can provide accurate data in support.

If there are no answers we can draw our own conclusions. OK we have the answers and we can draw our own conclusions.

Are there really families where three generations have never worked?

FactCheck: is Britain a tax credit haven? (Jan 2013)

Fact Check: State handouts: are benefits too generous? (Jan 2013)

How many families are claiming £100,000 per year in housing benefit?  (Full Fact, Nov 2012)

Voters ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’, shows new poll: Survey shows public ignorance of the level of benefits and who gets them. (Indep 4th Jan 2013)

Tory vilification campaign against the poor is so clever: David Cameron will oversee the worst child poverty record for a generation. Yet he is winning the public argument on cuts. (June 2012)

Disability claimants pushed to the brink by ‘faceless’ benefits system: Charities express anger at near-continuous work assessments that patients with incurable conditions are forced to endure. (Jan 2013)

Under George Osborne’s benefit cuts, it’s the strivers who suffer most: Advocates of cuts in welfare face an uncomfortable truth: much of the system is there to make work pay. (5th Jan 2013)

Support for benefit cuts dependent on ignorance, TUC-commissioned poll finds (Jan 2013)

 

This is the information John Glen obtained for me (in reply to my letter) from the House of Commons Library:

How many non-UK nationals are responsible for tax credit fraud?

No figures are held on this, as indicated by the following Government responses to Parliamentary Questions on this subject:

HC Deb 19 May 2011 c323W PQ 52911

HC Deb 11 Mar 2008 c372W PQ 193419

HMRC’s central estimate of total tax credit fraud in 2010-11 was £670 million, in respect of 190,000 claims (irrespective of nationality).

[source: Child and Working Tax Credits Error and Fraud Statistics 2010-11 table 4]

Nationals of other EEA member states receiving Child Tax Credit in respect of children living in another member state account for a very small proportion of CTC recipients:

HC Deb 25 Oct 2012 : Column 1022W

 

Welfare Tax Credits

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the aggregate annual value was of tax credits paid in respect of dependants who reside outside the United Kingdom; [122579]

(2) how many dependants in respect of whom tax credits are paid reside outside the United Kingdom. [122580]

Mr Gauke: The main purpose of the child tax credit is to support families in the UK. Consequently, the child tax credit rules generally do not provide for it to be paid in respect of children who live abroad other than in limited circumstances (for example, in the case of the children of a UK Crown servant posted overseas and the Crown servant’s accompanying partner) or to meet the UK’s obligations under EU law, specifically EC Regulation 883/2004. This regulation protects the social security rights of nationals of all member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), including the UK, and Switzerland when they exercise their rights of free movement under EU law.

Out of a total of approximately 5.2 million families currently receiving the child tax credit for almost 9.3 million children, at 30 September 2012 there were 3,447 ongoing awards of the child tax credit under EC Regulation 883/2004 in respect of 5,962 children living in another member state. This equates to around 0.06% of all child tax credit awards.

Information about the value of child tax credit awarded by the UK under EC Regulation 883/2004 is available only at disproportionate costs. This is because under the priority rules in that regulation not all awards of UK family benefits are made at full UK rates.

(breakdown by country given here – HL Deb 22 Oct 2012 cWA4-6)

 

How many families are there where three generations have never worked?

There are no figures on this either. The availability of data on multigenerational worklessness was examined by FullFact in an article last year:

http://fullfact.org/articles/are_there_thousands_of_never_worked_families-27515

The ONS estimated last year that there were 340,000 households in which no adult had ever worked (265,000 if student households are excluded):

[Source: Working and Workless Households, 2012 – Statistical Bulletin]

 

How many families are ‘on’ £104,000 pa housing benefit and who actually gets the cash?

In the June 2010 Budget Statement the Chancellor stated “Today there are some families receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit.” [Source: HC Deb 22 Jun 2010 c174]. The Prime Minister recently repeated this claim in PMQs: HC Deb 16 January 2013 vol 556 c867.

When asked how many in 2010, the Government responded as follows:

HC Deb 12 July 2010 c526W

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2010 to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith, Official Report, column 95W, on housing benefit, how many households receive maximum housing allowance of £104,000 annually. [7851]

Steve Webb: In June 2010 the highest local housing allowance rate was £2,000 a week which would be equivalent to ‘receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit’ assuming the individual remains in receipt of the same level of benefit for 52 continuous weeks.

Information on housing benefit awards in June 2010 will be available in September 2010. The latest information the Department holds is for March 2010, when the highest local housing allowance rate was £1,800, and shows that there were some customers who received this rate.

The highest local housing allowance rate can vary each month and customers’ awards will reflect the rate at the time of their claim. At March 2010 there were fewer than 100 customers receiving a housing benefit award based on the highest local housing allowance rate at the time their award was calculated.

In 2011 the DWP produced an analysis of the number of Housing Benefit claimants receiving high annual amounts. The number of households receiving £50,000 or more as of November 2010 was estimated at 160. [Source: Housing Benefit by level of awards March 2011 table 2]

I hope this helps

Regards,

Rod McInnes

Social and General Statistics

House of Commons Library

Tel: 020 7219 3793

PRIVATE HEALTHCARE COMPANIES AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

This is a copy of an email that I have sent to my MP, John Glen (Salisbury).

PRIVATE HEALTHCARE COMPANIES AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

Dear Mr Glen

The government’s privitisation of the NHS is now up to full speed (despite them having no democratic mandate whatsoever) and huge sums of tax payers money, potentially unprecedented amounts, are being funnelled to the private sector. This must raise serious concerns about the potential for financial malpractice and corruption.  This concern is fuelled by two issues in particular:

  • The protection from freedom of information requests and the general lack of transparency (under the guise of commercial confidentially) allowed in contracts with the private sector, unlike the public sector where all contracts are open to public scrutiny.
  • The revolving door between government advisers and ministers and the private sector, leaving scope for huge conflicts of interest issues and even ‘legalised’ corruption.

I am sure you will be as concerned as I am that the outsourcing of the NHS to international companies, many with a chequered track record, needs to be open to at least the same level of scrutiny as the public sector.  With out this level of scrutiny, out sourcing of the NHS is likely to be the “next big scandal waiting to happen”.

In view of the above I ask you, as my MP, to support the Early day motion 773 PRIVATE HEALTHCARE COMPANIES AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION.

For your convenience I have pasted a copy of the motion below.

If you are unable to support this motion could you please let me know how you intend to pressure the government to ensure that the ‘next big scandal’ does not become reality.

Best regards,

Colin Lawson

 

How to follow the public money in a privatised NHS: Without basic financial transparency from public service contractors we can say goodbye to democratic accountability (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, Wednesday 9 January 2013)

The NHS is threatened by legalised corruption

 

Early day motion 773:  PRIVATE HEALTHCARE COMPANIES AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

“That this House notes that the most significant development that has followed from the Government’s healthcare reforms has been the 7 billion pounds worth of new contracts being made available to the private health sector; further notes that at least five former advisers to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are now working for lobbying firms with private healthcare clients; recalls the Prime Minister’s own reported remarks prior to the general election when he described lobbying as `the next big scandal waiting to happen’; recognises the growing scandal of the procurement model that favours the private health sector over the NHS, by allowing private companies to hide behind commercial confidentiality and which compromises the best practice aspirations of the public sector; condemns the practice of revolving doors, whereby Government health advisers move to lucrative contracts in the private healthcare sector, especially at a time when the privatisation of the NHS is proceeding by stealth; is deeply concerned at the unfair advantages being handed to private healthcare companies; and demands that in future all private healthcare companies be subject to freedom of information  requests under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the same way as existing NHS public sector organisations.”

 

John Glen’s Christmas message

Here is a copy of a message posted on Twitter by MP John Glen on Boxing Day 2012:

John Glen's Boxing Day Tweet

The Hunting Lobby has unlimited funds and ample support from very small but very powerful groups. Hunting foxes with dogs is also a very divisive issue, with many regarding the activity as thoroughly repugnant and unacceptable in the 21st Century.   It seems strange therefore that Mr Glen should choose this as the topic of his Boxing Day / Christmas message.  Surely a message more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas would have been appropriate?

In support of ‘outing’ of tax haven users (or “only the little people pay taxes”)

Further to my recent post (here) where I asked our MP, John Glen, to support the Private Members Bill: General Anti-Tax Avoidance Principle Bill (HC Bill 25), I can report back that Mr Glen has replied to my message and has also written on this topic in the Salisbury Journal: In support of ‘outing’ of tax haven users (John Glen MP, Salisbury Journal, 13th September 2012).

Unfortunately, in the Journal article, although seeming to be sympathetic to the Christian Aid proposal that governments cooperate in outing organisations that use tax havens, Mr Glen concentrates on the situation abroad. This neatly avoids the fact that London is a centre for tax evasion, with UK banks and financial companies being world leaders in encouraging and organising tax avoidance.

The UK also has direct or indirect influence over the majority of the worlds Tax Havens most of which are Crown Dependencies or UK overseas territories.  This means that the UK has the opportunity to lead the world in reform of these tax havens and the tax avoidance industry and to expose and attack other big Tax Havens like Singapore and Switzerland. Unfortunately the reality is that  successive governments, and particularly the current one,  simply cave in to industry lobbying and either water down any proposals or avoid action altogether.  The impression this gives is not helped when the financial interests of so many MPs and Lords are linked to Tax avoidance. It certainly seems that we will be wasting our time if we wait for George Osborn to act in any more than a token fashion.

Peter Curbishley has written an excellent response to John Glen’s article here: ‘Outing’ users of tax havens (PETER CURBISHLEY, Wednesday 19th September 2012 in Salisbury Journal Letters page)

Here is an article demonstrating that conservatives just ‘don’t get it’: 
Tory treasurer wants UK to become [even] more like a tax haven
(Guardian, 20th Sept 2012)

These two sites provide some balance to what we read in the media about tax issues – well worth a look:

Morally repugnant tax avoiders can rest easy under David Cameron – With insane hubris, a few treaties and a lot of money moving from tax haven to tax haven is called a success (Guardian 21 Sept 2012)

“Only the little people pay tax”

The Governments “General Anti-Abuse Rule” “GAAR” is designed to aid, abet and reward tax dodging.