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Wednesday 4 July 2012

TPA – Another Lease Car Whopper

With the story splashed all over the Super Soaraway Currant Bun still fresh in some memories, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) has re-heated it in another lame attempt to demonise another branch of Government, in accordance with their true principles. Thus non-job holder Chris Daniel has told of supposed excess by NHS Procurement, which has two sites in Scotland.

More guff from Tufton Street

To no surprise at all, the full range of pejorative language has been trowelled on: “fleet of luxury cars ... executive cars ... flashy, taxpayer funded cars ... rub even more salt in taxpayers’ wounds ... expensive cars”. There is also the usual canard: “mileage reimbursement rates in the public sector are way above the actual costs of fuel and reasonable wear and tear”.

Let’s dispose of the last-mentioned at the outset: this comes from the TPA asserting – with characteristic dishonesty – that the HMRC tax free mileage allowance is somehow a “recommended mileage rate”. It is not. HMRC is not in the business of making recommendations as to what is reasonable, and so it does not. This is like saying that the personal income tax allowance is the “HMRC recommended salary”.

And that is palpable nonsense. So, on mileage rates, the TPA has proved nothing, other than its ability to indulge in false assumptions and logic leaps. Moving on to Daniel’s case against NHS procurement, which has also appeared in the Scottish Sun (to no surprise) and has also made the Maily Telegraph, this is the same sleight of hand that was deployed against NHS Trusts last month.

That is, employees whose business mileage requirement means that they qualify for a lease car get a base model Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta, and if they want something more upmarket, pay the difference themselves. All non-business mileage costs are paid by the employee, and of course no mileage allowance need be paid by the employer, so the taxpayer ends up getting a good deal.

Any organisation that claims to be “sticking up for taxpayers’ money” (the form of words used by the TPA’s Emma Boon when she appeared on Question Time recently) would therefore be expected to applaud such arrangements. That the TPA does exactly the opposite underscores that their purpose is rather different, as I’ve pointed out on many occasions in the past.

The TPA is an organisation committed to the demonisation of Government – any Government – together with public service and public works. In does this in pursuit of its objective of cutting the public sector down to a size which its overmonied, greedy and cowardly backers deem ideologically acceptable, and, as was shown by the report of its “2020 Tax Commission”, that means dismantling the NHS.

And those backers will lap this one up, so that’s all right, then.

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