Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Time to extend the cuts to the Political Class

There has been one class of public expenditure wholly absent from the Coalition's cuts plans.

Every other area in which our taxes are spent is under scrutiny, with cuts ranging from 10% to 40%, but the politicians have reserved just one type of spending from any cuts - the taxes taken by the political class itself. It's time these were added to the pot; we're all in this together.

Union Modernisation Fund
If this has not been scrapped already, it should be. A list of payments made to date demonstrates this was nothing but a thinly disguised measure to siphon tax money to the unions to do things they would do anyway.

Short Money
When Gordon Brown, as a last act in office, slashed the Prime Minister's salary he forgot to alter the payments made to the Leader of the Opposition. Cameron can correct this little memory lapse, along with savings to the rest of Short Money.

Currently, Labour and the other opposition parties get £14,015 for each Parliamentary seat plus £27.99 for every 200 votes, the Leader of the Opposition's office gets £653,000. Travel allowances and salary enhancements are also paid. A 25% cut would produce an annual saving of around £1,250,000.

Policy development grants
Paid to political parties - but just the big ones, you understand. Currently £1.4m annually. 40% cut.

The explosion in the number and remuneration of Special Advisors under Labour risked politicising the civil service beyond the point of no return. Clearly a candidate for a 40% cut to the estimated annual cost of £8m.

Councillors' allowances
We're currently paying a bill of about £218m a year for these, with the bulk being paid not to ordinary councillors but to Labour's 'Executive Members', limited to 10 per council. Some of these are walking away with a wedge of £50k - £60k whilst back-benchers get £4k - £6k. A 40% cut here targeted at the fat cats pays a jackpot.

Widdicombe Money
To pay SpAds in local councils - currently costing about £7m a year. 25% cut.

It's a start.

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