Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Life copies satire

From The Daily Mash, 20 March 2012:

TAXPAYERS are to receive a detailed breakdown of how their money was spent that is indvidually tailored to their cretinous world view...

Tax offices across the UK will issue bespoke statements that will fill individuals with both righteous anger and the realisation that they are the cleverest person in the world.

A Treasury spokesman said: “... people will see exactly how much of their money is being spent on ‘wacky-baccy-bongs, general poovery and that lazy Bulgarian scrounger who’s trying to fuck your wife’."


From the BBC, 3 November 2014:

The letters show that 24.5% of government spending goes on welfare payments.

"The chancellor is relying on the fact that many people think spending called welfare all goes to the unemployed," said the TUC's general secretary, Frances O'Grady.


From City AM, 4 November 2014:

Ben Gummer, Conservative MP for Ipswich, says...  Tax Statements will help taxpayers challenge their representatives, and candidates from rival parties, with real figures.

“Why am I spending £3,000 on welfare and only £352 on transport subsidies and infrastructure?” – the answer to which may change a vote, or influence an MP. That is good news for politics, and for voters.

--------------------------------------
A few facts:

1. The statements only refer to income tax and Employee's National Insurance. Seeing as these raise about £210 bn a year and the government spends about £710 billion, the totals are misleading. For an average household, you can probably double their income tax and Ee's NIC to arrive at the total amount of tax they pay/bear.

2. Government spending breaks down approx. as follows:
40% is subsidies to and 'procurement' from nominally private sector businesses,
30% is public sector salaries, and
30% is actual cash pensions and welfare.

3. The money paid to private business is a mix of a) legit and b) pure theft/waste.

a) It would be stupid for the police to manufacture their own cars or for schools to own their own forests and have their own paper mill, for example. The NHS sets a good example by haggling low prices for the medicines it buys (NHS prices are treated as reference prices by many bodies overseas), so that's fine. Conversely, government departments do not haggle for a bulk discount for generic software, not so fine.

b) It also includes straight theft and waste, like subsidies to banks, paying advertising agencies to churn out health propaganda, endless failed government IT projects, Housing Benefit payments to 'private' sector landlords… the list is endless.

4. Out of approx. 6 million public sector workers (the official total excludes things like BBC, universities, many quangoes and agencies, nationalised banks etc), one million work in education and another million in the NHS, hooray for them.

Fewer than a million others also do vital stuff (police, armed forces, prison officers, social workers, immigration control, dustbin men, firemen, a bare minimum in tax and benefits offices etc). Heck knows that the other three million do.

5. Out of the 30% spent on pensions and welfare, two-thirds is state pensions, public sector pensions, other pensioner benefits (Pensions Credit, Council Tax Benefit) and one-third is paid to working age people.

6. Of cash 'welfare' paid to working age people, about half is Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits and half goes to the disabled and unemployed.

So for every £352 spent on 'transport subsidies' (whatever that includes), about £597 goes as cash payments to the unemployed and the disabled (the categories overlap), and the headline figure of £3,000 for 'Welfare' is a complete and utter lie.

Actual 'theft and waste' appears to be about one-third of government spending, let's say half of the 40% paid to 'private sector' businesses and half the 30% paid in public sector salaries. Even if every penny paid to the unemployed and disabled (5% of the total) were also categorised as 'waste', it's still only one-eighth of the total 'waste'.

9 comments:

mombers said...

Considering that the £352 spent on transport is entirely swallowed up by landowners and then some, it's a massive amount of money. Hong Kong's metro runs a surplus by collecting the rents around stations, why can't we do the same?

Lola said...

I am going to print that out and hang it in our office reception

Bayard said...

"Hong Kong's metro runs a surplus by collecting the rents around stations, why can't we do the same?"

One of the old railway companies, the Metropolitan Railway, did just that, but I think the government made it illegal. Gotta keep those landowners happy.

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, that's as maybe, but the money the government spends on roads and public transport is by and large money well spent. And we are talking about the spending side, not the tax raising side (LVT is always the answer on the tax raising side).


L, I'd be delighted if you did.

B, no, the Metro people ended up selling off the land. And were then nationalised.

Ben Jamin' said...

This sort of fact bending propaganda would have made Tass and Pravda blush.

I was enraged when I saw this bullshit repeated on broadcast media last night, with that top c**t David Gauke explaining what a jolly good wheeze it is.

How much is this all costing?

thethoughtgang said...

> How much is this all costing?

Apparently, only £5m.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/03/osborne-accused-tax-statements-political-propaganda

No. I don't believe that either. UK Plc spends that much on biscuits for meetings about having a feasibility study into whether it should scratch it's arse.

The Stigler said...

Mark,

"a) It would be stupid for the police to manufacture their own cars or for schools to own their own forests and have their own paper mill, for example. The NHS sets a good example by haggling low prices for the medicines it buys (NHS prices are treated as reference prices by many bodies overseas), so that's fine. Conversely, government departments do not haggle for a bulk discount for generic software, not so fine."

Please tell me that's not true. Companies like Microsoft and Adobe have volume discounting as a matter of course. If you buy 20-1000 licenses, they have fixed discounts. Beyond that, they'll generally send a bloke that you talk to and you beat him down to literally a few quid per Windows licence.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS: "Please tell me that's not true."

Somebody (if it wasn't you it was probably Adam Collyer) reported that each local council department haggles its own bulk discount with e.g. Microsoft. So they get the 20-1000 users discount and that's it.

So we're not talking 20-1000 licences, we are talking millions thereof. With that sort of purchasing power, you could haggle them down to a few pennies per licence.

The only European government which deals sensibly with Microsoft is - strangely enough - the EU itself, which "fines" it a few hundred million Euros every few years on some spurious grounds, thereby clawing back a large part of the rent it collected from idiotic government departments.

Bayard said...

"B, no, the Metro people ended up selling off the land. And were then nationalised."

Irritatingly, I only have a vague memory of someone from British Rail (it was that long ago) talking about the "MERCEL rules" which meant that BR couldn't do the sort of pre-improvement buying up of property that had been so successful for the Metropolitan, and I haven't been able to find any reference to it. Perhaps the MERCEL rules went along with BR.