Manifesto

Since 1987 when Margaret Thatcher claimed “there is no such thing as society”, Britain has become an increasingly unequal country, shaped by greed and consumerism.

The benefits of this type of ‘society’ go mainly to the richest individuals and biggest corporations. For example, according to the Social Market Foundation, between 2005 and 2013 the richest fifth of the population grew 64% richer while the poorest fifth grew 57% poorer. As Danny Dorling has pointed out in ‘Inequality and the 1%’, the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us is eye-watering.

Even during the aftermath of the banking crisis of 2008/9, the wealthiest people have continued to increase their wealth at an astonishing rate (25% or more per annum in many cases) while most of us have seen wages and salaries reduce in value. Dorling has calculated that for the National Minimum Wage to have kept pace with the increased income of the top 100 business leaders, it would have reached nearly £19 per hour in 2014, instead of £6.19 per hour!

Through my election campaign I seek to raise awareness of what is going on in unequal, divisive Britain and encourage other concerned people to challenge the inequality and call for radical change.

The following manifesto focuses on my main areas of concern, although I would be happy to share thoughts on other policy issues not covered here.

Paul Howard Manifesto - General Election 2015

To find out more about what I stand for, simply download my manifesto as a PDF using the button or scroll down to read now.

THE ECONOMY

  • Tax Avoidance

    Tax avoidance by individuals and companies is estimated to cost the taxpayer £50 billion per year. The biggest avoiders are the wealthiest, the people who can afford to pay clever (or should that be ‘bent’?) lawyers and accountants to find ways of dodging payment of what they owe. George Osborne is the latest, but by no means the only, Chancellor of the Exchequer to claim that he’s going to do something about tax dodgers. When the Swiss government reached agreement with the UK, to curb the use of Switzerland as a hiding place for taxable income, Osborne declared that this would bring in £5 billion by 2015. The actual figure raised was under £2billion. Don’t hold your breath over the Tories’ plans to go after tax avoiders in future! Doing little about tax avoidance is nothing new and not the preserve of one party. The Blair and Brown governments talked the talk but didn’t get very far when it came to walking the walk. It was on their watch in 2005 that Sir Philip Green, the retail magnate, awarded himself a £1.1 billion dividend, which eventually found its way into his wife’s bank account in Monaco, enabling Green to avoid around £285 million in tax! If you want to find out more about how the super-rich get away with this sort of thing, I can recommend Owen Jones’s excellent book, ‘The Establishment’. Why haven’t successive governments since the 1980s done anything about this type of abuse? It may have something to do with the fact that most political parties have rich donors who are either tax avoiders themselves or, as in the case of the big accountancy firms, design schemes that enable the rich to avoid tax. There’s not space here to give you a complete Roll of Dishonour but here’s a flavour: • Between 2011-2014 Lycamobile donated about £500,000 to the Conservatives and despite its multi-million pound turnover, it paid no corporation tax between 2007-2014. • In 2014 Labour received nearly £400,000 from PwC one of the accountancy firms that helps rich clients avoid tax. • The Lib Dems received over £2million from convicted fraudster, Michael Brown. • Rock Services, the company headed by one of UKIP’s biggest donors, last year paid £12,000 corporation tax on turnover of nearly £20 million. • The Green Party’s biggest donor, Vivienne Westwood, has avoided tax by moving an alleged £2 million into an offshore company. Of course, the tax avoidance of the richest donors to political parties is only the tip of the iceberg. Multinationals pull the same sorts of stunt on an industrial scale, including: • Amazon.co.uk who in 2012 paid only £2.4 million corporation tax on £4.2 billion in sales, most of which was moved to Luxemburg • Google who between 2007-2013 paid £10 million on UK activity worth £12 billion • Between them ATOS and G4S received £2 billion in government contracts in 2012 but neither paid a penny in corporation tax that year • From 1999-2012 Starbucks paid £8.6 million on UK sales of £3.1 billion. To say nothing of the Vodafone who paid a fraction of the tax it owed in 2011, thanks to the lax approach of the head of HMRC, David Hartnett, who has since moved on to Deloitte, one of the big accountancy firms that stand accused of assisting with tax avoidance.
  • Solutions

    • Legislation to ensure that the income of individuals and companies is taxed in the country of activity. • Outlaw the movement of money within a group of companies where such movement takes money offshore.
  • Taxation – Income Tax

    Although income tax is progressive - the higher your income the more tax you are charged – it isn’t progressive enough. The Coalition reversed Labour’s introduction of a top rate of 50% for any earnings over £150,000 and replaced it with a 45% rate. Tory cabinet ministers have refused to rule out further tax cuts for the biggest earners. Under the existing system, if you were lucky enough to be paid: £150,000 per year you’d pay a little over £50,000 in tax £250,000 per year you’d pay about £100,000 in tax £500,000 per year you’d pay a little over £210,000 in tax £1 million per year you’d pay about £435,000 in tax Labour is committed to bringing back the 50% top rate. BIG DEAL! (This would have hardly any impact on inequality in the UK)
  • Solutions

    • Make income tax more progressive, introducing much higher rates for the marginal additional income of the richest in society. I propose the 50% rate kicking in on taxable income of £100,000, a 60% rate on income over £200,000 and a 70% rate above £500,000. This would mean that people ‘earning’ £1 million per year paying an additional £150,000 in tax. If you think that’s harsh, remember it would still leave them with £400,000 of disposable income or about 18 times the national average wage (pre-tax)!
  • Taxation – Corporation Tax

    I’ve already given you a flavour of how big business has avoided paying billions in corporation tax. In addition to the proposals to prevent the movement of income offshore, the principle of the richest paying more must apply to companies as much as it does to individuals.
  • Solution

    • Increase corporation tax rates on big business to 30%. (As being required to pay any corporation tax will come as a shock to some of the worst tax avoiders, a modicum of mercy might be shown, by increasing the tax rate in steps over three years.