The 50% tax rate and Mr Osborne’s Department for Obfuscation (sorry, HMRC)

In his Budget speech the Chancellor managed to claim several contradictory things at once about taxing the rich. First, he claimed the 50% top income tax rate was raising almost nothing. Next he claimed it was damaging the economy anyway. And finally, he tried to convince us that raising 5 times as much tax from the over £150,000 a year tax-payers was a golly good idea. Continue reading

Budget 2012: ‘Structural Adjustment’ Continues as public spending squeezed even more

The IMF spent much of the 1970s, 80s and 90s promoting what was euphemistically called ‘structural adjustment’ in developing countries. What this boiled down to was shrinking the state – cutting public services, taxes and regulation. What we are seeing with Budget 2012 is a continuing “structural adjustment” of Britain. Continue reading

PASC says PM’s Adviser on Ministers’ interests not “independent in any meaningful sense”

The issue of Ministers’ interest came to the fore with the Liam Fox/Adam Werrity affair last year. Today the Public Administration Select Committee passed judgement on the role of the supposedly “independent adviser” to the PM on the issue. It is not positive – here’s the Committee’s Press release:  Continue reading

The Public Government of Public Money – not yet, not by a long way


Three decades ago two American academics published a superb analysis of the way in which British government’s made finance decisions provocatively entitled “The Private Government of Public Money” (Heclo and Wildavsky, 1981). Has the Coalition accidentally given birth to the ‘Public Government of Public Money?’ Continue reading

An Accountable Civil Servant – A different view

I received the following comment from a serving civil servant who wishes to remain anonymous. I publish it here (with their consent) and add a comment of my own at the end:

Although a civil servant I have some sympathy with Margaret Hodge in the recent debates over accountability; although the principle of civil servants being accountable to Parliament only through Ministers is fine, there’s a good case that it’s not working in practice.  But it seems to me that there are some very significant implications of such a change which have not really been acknowledged.   Continue reading