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Monday 20 December 2010

TPA – Who’s Filling Your Wallet?

Nobody who regularly reads the tabloid press can have missed the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). This group, which is dedicated to demonising Government – any Government – along with public works and public service, gets its propaganda into the press on an all too regular basis. But who is behind it?

Thus the paradox: while the TPA consistently kicks Government for not being sufficiently transparent, it is remarkably coy when questions are pitched about its own finance, and its backers. That is not good enough: if the TPA wants to preach openness, then it must itself be open.

Of course, it’s possible that the TPA’s backers might wish to shy away from some of the group’s “research”, such is the lamentable quality of it (Christmas Tax Report roasted HERE, European Court of Human Rights Report, replete with a raft of dodgy figures, given a going over HERE). With this view I could not disagree.

But that is no reason for the wider public to be kept in the dark about the TPA’s finances. Enough interested parties have tried to get this information: typical of the genre is this Guardian piece from October last year. Another take on the TPA, from another organisation in the same sector, can be seen HERE. And HERE is a critique of the TPA, pointing up the resources that have to be deployed in public sector organisations just to service TPA Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

Investigation such as that from the Guardian is a good start, but more needs to be done: the TPA is a singularly judgmental body and we should know by whom we are being judged. No further secrecy can be tolerated.

The information that the TPA must release comes in three discrete categories: details of funding and its sources, pay and expenses of staff, and any payments or retainers by the TPA to other bodies or individuals.

Failing a voluntary release of this information, the leaking of it would be most welcome.

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