Press Release: NIC Bill could send honest taxpayers into financial ruin

Commenting on the second reading of the National Insurance Contributions Bill, taking place in the House of Lords today, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:

The National Insurance Contributions Bill, which is in the Lords today, still maintains provisions for HMRC to issue “Accelerated Payment Notices” in disputed tax cases; a power that could send innocent citizens into financial ruin.

Under this new legislation, HMRC can force taxpayers to hand over disputed National Insurance funds before a court rules that the money is owed; people could see their homes sold and finances bankrupted, before being found innocent in a court of law.

Those who are struggling financially or who are unable to procure proper defence will be the easy targets of the new legislation; and those who have used tax planning arrangements that HMRC now deems questionable or illegitimate will have to undertake expensive action to defend their legal behaviour.

HMRC has become accountable only to itself; it is able to decide when and how much tax must be dished out from taxpayers, with a court’s ruling only working in the after-math of the decision. This aspect of the NIC Bill fundamentally undermines the right of British citizens to be innocent until proven guilty and sets a dangerous precedent for more powers to be devolved to unaccountable agencies in the future.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Press Release: This is not the right time for another NHS pay claim

Commenting on tomorrow’s (24 November 2014)  four-hour NHS staff strike, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:

The decision to hold a second strike over pay is a serious misjudgment on the part of the unions that have decided to join in. Average pay in the UK grew just 0.1% last year, and many businesses are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. But NHS pay has been rising since 2012.

55% of NHS staff already get an annual 3% rise: so the government is saying that any extra cash for wages should go to the workers who do not get this. So it is proposing a 1% rise for the others, but not an extra 1% on top of the existing 3% increments.

Extending the 1% rise to all NHS workers is estimated to cost around £300 million. Some 75% of hospitals’ budgets is staff costs, so the extra cost that the union proposals would impose on them would mean cutbacks in staff – some 4,000 nurses lost this year, and another 10,000 next year.

The UK has economic growth of 3% but it is still fragile, and there are lots of things that could still spell disaster; and the British government is 1.45trillion in debt, and adding to that debt by another £100 billion a year. This just is not the right time for another pay claim. And certainly not for another Winter of Discontent (with images of ambulance crews dropping ‘non-emergency’ cases off in the snow to find their way home).

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.