November 7, 2014 : Zoe Westwood

Treasury tax letters: fact or misdirection?

This week the first UK Treasury transparency letters to taxpayers detailing how taxes are spent land on doorsteps. Is this a case of more information or a blatant attempt to gain votes?

My jaded view is that it looks as if the Coalition Government might be purposefully stoking the ‘benefit scrounger’ fires to gain popular support for a further £12bn in benefit cuts in the next Parliament, so that they will be successful in the General Election.

I’m certain that’s the true intent behind this letter, which the trade unions have dubbed “political propaganda masquerading as neutral information”.

Looking at the Government’s diagram it seems that most of your tax – almost a quarter (24.5%) – is spent on Welfare.

tax breakdown
[click for larger image]

The Coalition Government is purposefully misleading the general public, and scapegoating the most vulnerable

It’s easy for anyone to conclude that their taxes are paying for ‘benefit scroungers’ to sit at home and ‘sponge off the state’.

But let’s break that Welfare figure down. For a start, listed under the Welfare banner are Personal Social Services which include public sector pensions – for nurses, teachers, etc. – and services that fall out with the health service, such as elderly residential care and support for abused children. Social work and winter fuel payments are in the Welfare category too. These are expenditures that even the most hard-hearted person would be loath to argue against.

The inflated calculation purposefully looks like all spending in this category goes on unemployment benefits, when in fact it is 3% of the Welfare total (only 0.7% of total tax expenditure).

This would have been a better diagram:

better tax breakdown

[click for larger image]

Truth won’t rally the right-wing, however, so the Coalition Government is purposefully misleading the general public, and scapegoating the most vulnerable people in society who are the least able to defend themselves.

If this is what we’re dealing with, we need to keep a wary eye on the Coalition Government at all times.

SCVO will continue to work with partners across civic society to challenge injustice. The Government may try to silence us and other charity campaigners who speak up, but we won’t back down and will continue to support and defend people in need.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Zoe Westwood