From TaxPayers' Alliance <[email protected]>
Subject 📰 Weekly Bulletin
Date September 19, 2021 10:06 AM
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The TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed to the nation's media that the average remuneration of the top 30 public sector union bosses was £150,755 in 2020. 

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Public Sector Trade Union Rich List 2021
With the TUC Congress in full swing earlier this week, the TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed to the nation's media ([link removed]) that the average remuneration of the top 30 public sector union bosses was a sky-high £150,755 in 2020.

In recent weeks, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, has criticised plans to end the temporary uplift to universal credit and warned of a “class chasm” between the low paid and higher earners. But we discovered that last year she received £167,229 in total remuneration. Her gross salary alone of £112,395 was 22 times greater than the average amount for someone on universal credit.
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The highest-paid trade union boss was Tim Roache, former general secretary of GMB, who took home £288,000 in total remuneration. The boss of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, was the second highest paid, taking home £216,387. In total 8 education union bosses shared £1,252,709 between them.

Closed-shop workplaces are now illegal, and self-organising in a trade union is an individual’s decision. Nevertheless, the amount of taxpayer subsidy that they receive is vast. In 2019-20, staff across the public sector received £74 million for trade union facility time duties.
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That's why we're making it clear that taxpayers are fed up with lectures from loaded union leaders, who enjoy bumper pay packets that dwarf those of the people they claim to represent. As our chief executive, John, said in his widely read Thunderer in ([link removed]) The Times ([link removed]) , "rather than their members, what these union bosses represent is shameful hypocrisy."

These red barons relentlessly preach policies around wealth inequality and demand evermore tax-and-spend but are sitting comfortably as some of Britain’s biggest earners.

Click here to read the Trade Union Rich List 2021 ([link removed])

Limited liability? Council commercial properties
Thursday saw the launch of our long-running investigation into the biggest open secret in local government - the extent of councils’ commercial property empires.

With a spread in The Times newspaper ([link removed]) , we revealed the shocking £6.4 billion value of council investments. Some councils have found themselves with huge portfolios, more than twice the size of their core budgets, which has seen the total value of their commercial property holdings rise to more than the cost of the country’s entire aircraft carrier fleet. The excellent write up, in partnership with data journalist George Greenwood, saw TPA stats presented in a series of jaw-dropping graphics, and topped The Times website for much of the day.
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Councils including Woking, Spelthorne and Oxford now find themselves in a precarious position, with holdings running into the hundreds of millions. Way back in 2019 we looked at this phenomena in our paper Hollow High Streets ([link removed]) , and have since led the way in warning incompetent councils off ([link removed]) these risky practices. As John O'Connell told The Times after the investigation, “some councils have accumulated eye-watering amounts of commercial property which, if investments went south, could easily tip them into bankruptcy.

“As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, new controls and restrictions may be needed if we are going to make sure this doesn’t become a disaster waiting to happen for local authority finances.”

While the practice can see some success, including keeping council tax down, there are no guarantees with any investment and ultimately it’s taxpayers that will end up paying for underperforming portfolios or ill-advised financial gambles.

If you haven’t seen our previous panel debate on the subject, it’s well worth a watch! ([link removed])
Grassroots news
I'm delighted to announce that after a lengthy postponement, the Lancashire Business Expo will finally be going ahead and the TaxPayers' Alliance will be there! We'll be setting out our stall and speaking to local entrepreneurs and taxpayers about our campaigning.
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The expo will be held at the Preston Guild Hall on Friday 24th September between 9am and 5pm. So please do come along and say hello if you'll be in the area. You can find out more details about how to attend the expo here. ([link removed]) We look forward to seeing you!
TaxPayers' Alliance in the news
Should council tax be replaced?

A report by the IPPR think tank released this week called for council tax and stamp duty to be scrapped and replaced by a proportional property tax instead.
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Our policy analyst, Darwin Friend, responded to the proposals on GB News as “unrealistic”. We all know council tax has gone through the roof with year on year hikes - so what can be done? Darwin instead called for the abolition of stamp duty, freezing council tax and an end to wasteful local authority spending.

Click here to see Darwin's critique of the report ([link removed])
Head to head with an ex-BBC exec

The news of Nadine Dorries’ promotion to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport led to questions about the future of the licence fee. Pitted against a former BBC executive, our digital campaign manager Joe Ventre debated how to reform the BBC on TalkRadio.
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Turning the spotlight on BBC execs' six-figure salaries, Joe remarked, "it's absolutely right that people ask how their money is being spent." Hear! Hear!

Sign up to our ‘Axe The Tax’ campaign here! ([link removed])
1,000 civil servants received six-figure ‘golden goodbyes’

Analysis by the TPA shows that more than 1,000 senior civil servants have received six-figure golden goodbyes worth over £100 million ([link removed]) since MPs passed a law five years ago to outlaw them. Published in The Telegraph, we laid bare the shocking scale of payments to government mandarins. We are currently campaigning ([link removed]) for the cap on public sector exit payments to be reimposed.
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Our political director, James Roberts, was unequivocal in his comments to The Sunday Telegraph last week, “Ministers must get a move on with reintroducing this cap. It seems that Treasury mandarins are dragging their feet, allowing officials to slip out the door with these golden goodbyes and costing the taxpayer a small fortune. If tough new rules don’t come in soon, taxpayers will be left wondering if ministers are serious about tackling these excessive exit payments.”
Splashing out on the tiles

The price of the Palace of Westminster refurbishment continues to spiral ([link removed]) according to recent reports. With the restoration of the Elizabeth Tower (home to Big Ben) now set to cost a staggering £80 million, further works are likely to add tens of millions to the final bill; including the replacement of Parliament's decorated tiles, expected to cost £11.8 million.
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“While some maintenance costs are understandable, every effort must be made to ensure good value for money for the taxpayer" John O'Connell told the Express. "With politicians still wrangling over details of the wider restoration programme, taxpayers worry that works will be gold plated and budgets spiral out of control. Authorities must avoid paying over the odds for these endless parliamentary refurbishments.”
Right-on rackets

The Telegraph revealed that diversity and inclusion seminars told NHS leaders that speaking with a “cottage cream-thick English accent” is an example of privilege and that the government's levelling-up plans for northern England would “offer flags and xenophobia instead”. The newspaper obtained copies of the internal talks which were organised by NHS England's inclusivity chief and attended by hundreds of staff.
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Giving my thoughts on the matter to The Telegraph I explained that many people will be "incensed and perhaps even insulted by these seminars." Adding that "Public money shouldn't be used for right-on rackets, especially in light of the recent hike in National Insurance. Health ministers must act and ensure taxpayers' money is focussed exclusively on essential frontline care."
Blog of the week
Now is not the time to end the hospitality VAT cut

Yesterday was National Hospitality Day and the start of British Food Fortnight, and as new retail sales figures from the Office for National Statistics show, reduced spending in supermarkets allowed Brits to enjoy a night out, with an increase in drinking and dining. As our media campaign manager, Danielle Boxall explains,

“Shortages have increased operational costs too, with food prices going through the roof. When the reduced VAT rate comes to an end in less than a fortnight’s time, punters are rightly concerned that these pressures will lead to price hikes, making the cost of going out unaffordable.”
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“We don’t want to create an economy where drinking and dining out becomes the preserve of the well-off. Extending the VAT cut is one easy way to mitigate against this, allowing wages to rise and supply to stabilise while giving the sector time to adjust.”

And as Danielle points out, there’s less than two weeks to go until the hospitality VAT cut comes to an end. If you haven’t yet already, please sign our petition to extend it and include alcohol in its scope ([link removed]) .

Click here to read ([link removed]) the full blog ([link removed])
War on waste
A chief executive of an academy trust has come under fire ([link removed]) after the Birmingham Mail reported she will enjoy an "estimated £60,000" while on gardening leave. Bev Mabey, boss of Washwood Health Multi Academy trust has come under fire in recent months after highly questionable expense claims and "a lack of probity" regarding £1.2 million worth of contracts awarded to firms.

The Trust announced that Ms Mabey was resigning on September 1st but won't actually leave her role until the end of December. It is claimed that she will receive her full salary until then.

Rowing into the discussion our digital campaign manager Joe Ventre didn't hold back, “This is an extraordinary amount of money to be spent on gardening leave. Taxpayers expect their hard earned cash to be spent in the classroom, not on education execs with their feet up. Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust should ensure funds are spent prudently".
Please send me your examples of wasteful public sector spending. (mailto:[email protected]?subject=War%20on%20Waste)

Harry Fone
Grassroots Campaign Manager

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