Green NGOs Spend Taxpayers’ Millions Lobbying Government

Green NGOs are spending millions lobbying against the interests of British taxpayers, analysis by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found. Taxpayers’ cash received by charities including Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is being splurged on partisan political activities such as supporting parliamentary candidates and lobbying ministers. The cash has been used to block projects which experts say would bring down energy costs for consumers. 

The RSPB received £27.5 million in grants from UK taxpayers in 2015 and 2016. Its sister organisation Birdlife International received the third highest amount of European Commission taxpayer funding of any green group, being granted €3.8 million. Likewise, Friends of the Earth received the second highest amount of any such group, being handed €7.6 million. In conjunction with Greenpeace (which does not receive EC funding), these charities have acted more like pressure groups by:

  • Orchestrating a massive media campaign to fight a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point;
  • Launching law suits to obstruct the construction of new power stations;
  • Lobbying the UK government to prevent expansion of infrastructure;
  • Lobbying successfully to prevent exploration for shale gas taking place in Wiltshire;
  • Publishing misleading advertising to influence consumer and public opinion, and spread falsehoods about shale gas exploration.

Friends of the Earth also spent more than £100,000 backing a pro-Green crop of parliamentary candidates. The Electoral Commission intervened and fined Friends of the Earth for failing to register properly as a donor. The amount spent was way over the limit imposed on candidates themselves in the final stages of the election campaign…

Meanwhile, the Pesticide Action Network, which has received more than €710,000 from the European Commission over the past decade, is currently campaigning to ban glyphosate (a weed killer). The pressure group claims glyphosate is a “potentially cancer-inducing chemical”, despite Europe’s own chemicals regulator, the European Chemicals Agency, finding

“The available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria… to classify glyphosate for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or for reproductive toxicity.”

A ban would cost taxpayers £228 million a year. A probe carried out by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute found that, overall:

  • A total of €86.5 million has been given to a range of environmental groups by the European Commission over the past 10 years;
  • 34 groups have been given more than €1 million.

This enormous pile of taxpayers cash is being ploughed into lobbying activities which directly prevent UK taxpayers from benefiting from cheaper energy and new infrastructure. Taxpayers’ Alliance Chief Executive John O’Connell said:

“It’s bad enough that politicians are piling costs onto consumers with their hare-brained energy schemes, but the fact that taxpayers are paying pressure groups to campaign against their interests adds insult to injury.


“There are plenty of reasons for the government to stop this gravy train in its tracks as it is, but the fact that some of these groups have run dishonest campaigns and fallen foul of electoral commission rules must surely be a final nail in the coffin for this taxpayer funded lobbying.”

Stay tuned this week for more in Guido’s Green NGO Sockpuppets series…

UKIP Leadership Candidate Linked to Belize Offshore Banking Firm

UKIP leadership candidate John Rees-Evans has a very eclectic CV. He claims to have been a “private soldier” working with the Ugandan People’s Defence Force to fight terrorists. He says he has worked in a meat factory, as a postman, as a pizza delivery man and a builder. He apparently runs an expedition company called Team Kilimanjaro, and has an “apocalypse-proof” compound in rural Bulgaria complete with a cache of weapons and panic room. Yet Rees-Evans is not so vocal about another of his interests…

Rees-Evans’ personal email address is registered at an unusual looking website called SAS.VC. “SAS” stands for “Safaris, Adventure and Survival”, and purports to organise holidays in Africa. The “.VC” domain is the internet country code for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The website is registered to a “Linus Evans” in Belize. Slightly curious for an African holiday company…

Even more curious is the about page for the “SAS” website. Far from mentioning anything about “Survival, Adventure and Safaris”, it reveals “SAS” actually stands for “Systech Accounting Services”. It says:

“Systech Accounting Services is a trading name of Exposure Limited, incorporated in Belize… Systech specialise in assisting their clients with the preparation of annual accounts, income tax and corporation tax returns, bookkeeping, payroll processing, business start-ups, international company formations, company secretarial, translation & proofreading services, and specialist taxation advice.”

So “SAS” is actually a “specialist taxation” firm based in Belize, also using the name “Exposure Limited”. Exposure is run by a Leo Rees-Evans and the company designed John Rees-Evans’ website.

What else do we know about Exposure / Systech Accounting Services? Online directories reveal Systech offers offshore bank accounts and offshore company incorporation. For a fee of €499, Systech boasts it will set you up with “the world’s leading offshore bank”. The directory also gives an address at a PO Box in Popovo, Bulgaria. Remember who else lived in rural Bulgaria? John Rees-Evans, at his famous high-security compound…

It seems odd that Rees-Evans has been so boastful about his varied career and never mentioned Systech Accounting Services and their offshore banking services. Just the other day Rees-Evans was talking at a hustings about how terrible it is when British taxpayers’ money “ends up in offshore bank accounts”. Unfortunately he hasn’t replied to Guido’s requests for comment. We’d need the real SAS to breach his compound to get to the bottom of it…

Hodge Dodges Amazon Boycott

Margaret Hodge is calling for people to join her in boycotting Amazon over their tax arrangements:

“I hope people take a leaf out of my book and stop using Amazon. I don’t use them at all… If we stop using Amazon then they may understand how angry their customers are.”

You can read more about Hodge’s strong and principled views on Amazon in her book Called to Account, for sale on Amazon:

“I don’t use them at all…”

HM Treasury Deletes Appeal for Ideas After Guido Offers One

The Treasury swiftly deleted a tweet appealing for ideas about how to make business “more productive” when it didn’t like Guido’s answer: to simplify national insurance and income tax into a single unified income tax. Social media mandarins acted when they realised Guido’s reply was on its way to going viral. Tweeters were quick to welcome it:

Incidentally on an average £27,000 salary your payslip would show a pay rise to some £31,000, with £9,000 deducted in merged tax, a marginal rate of some 45% on taxed income. Government is all for hearing ideas for increased productivity, except when they show how overtaxed you are…

Abi Now Doesn’t Want 100% Inheritance Tax – for Herself

Abi Wilkinson’s plan for a 100% inheritance tax in The Guardian was met with derision and some scepticism. She has now revised her plans and would actually quite like to inherit thousands from her parents. A tax loophole for her own little personal tax haven. Abi clearly thinks totalitarian socialism is only something for other people to suffer…

100% Inheritance Tax: Stupid or Evil?

Abi Wilkinson in The Guardian has a “utopian idea”, a 100% inheritance tax. Guido thinks that sounds more like a dystopian idea, against human nature, and a totalitarian idea in breach of our most fundamental human rights.  The only question Guido has outstanding: is the idea just stupid or is it evil?

Hammond’s “Sound Money” Speech Sadly All Spin

Philip Hammond’s Mansion House speech this morning was sound in its rhetoric. “We must make anew the case for a market economy and for sound money,” he said, warning that “higher taxes and higher borrowing” must be rejected, taxes must be kept “as low as possible” or else they will “slow growth, undermine competitiveness, and cost jobs”. He repeated this language at Cabinet, telling colleagues of the “importance of making the case for a market economy and sound money”. This is all positive rhetoric. The policy truth is alas very different.

Hammond confirmed this morning that he still wants to push back closing the deficit until 2025, ten years later than the Tories promised. The Tories have added £500 billion to the national debt in 7 years, Hammond now plans to add a billion a week to the burden. That is not “sound money” by any definition of the term.

Taxes have risen under the Tories. The claim by the Tories to be a low tax party has not been true this century. They raised VAT almost immediately upon coming into office. They argue they have cut business taxes, yet they raised dividend taxes on small business owners and tried to raise National Insurance contributions. Hammond ditched the triple tax lock at the election. He has signalled further tax rises are likely. The tax burden under this Chancellor will rise to its highest level since 1969. That is not keeping taxes “as low as possible”. 

Hammond is sounder on economics than Theresa May and her former aides. Talking up the “market economy” is clearly a slap down of the PM’s failed attempt at interventionism in the manifesto. Though his claim to be funding public services by anything other than more borrowing and more taxes is sadly all spin…

Gary Lineker Tax Scheme Loses Court Bid

Gary Lineker is among a group of celebrities who have lost a court bid to overturn a £700 million tax bill. The achingly right-on footballer turned self-appointed current affairs expert claimed the press were pursuing a “vendetta” against him over his involvement in the Ingenious film investment scheme, where tax reliefs were claimed on artificial movie losses. It was all media lies, Gary insisted…

Seems the courts do not agree. HMRC argued that the scheme was an aggressive kind of tax avoidance and yesterday a tax tribunal judge ruled the tax relief claims were not “allowable deductions”. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Tax Burden to Hit Highest Level Since 1969 Under May

Under Theresa May the tax burden will rise to almost 35% of GDP, the highest level since 1969 when Harold Wilson was in office – who was also a PM who liked to introduce price caps. This of course makes a mockery of the mealy-mouthed manifesto pledge to “keep taxes as low as possible”. The Tories say a vote for Labour means more borrowing and more taxes, the same is true of them…

Graph via Ed Conway.

May Manifesto Rejects Free Markets and Individualism

Theresa May has doubled down on the bashing she gave the libertarian wing of her party at last year’s Conservative conference, setting out her and Nick Timothy’s principles:

We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous. True Conservatism means a commitment to country and community; a belief not just in society but in the good that government can do; a respect for the local and national institutions that bind us together; an insight that change is inevitable and change can be good, but that change should be shaped, through strong leadership and clear principles, for the common good. We know that our responsibility to one another is greater than the rights we hold as individuals. We know that we all have obligations to one another, because that is what community and nation demands. We understand that nobody, however powerful, has succeeded alone and that we all therefore have a debt to others.”

Should bring an end to the Maggie comparisons.

In terms of policy this means the previous Tory vow to never raise income tax, VAT and NI has disappeared, replaced by a flimsy “firm intention to reduce taxes”. May’s Tories are not a committed low tax party.

“Paying your fair share of tax is the price of living in a civilised democracy but politicians should never forget that taxes are levied on businesses that employ people, and individuals who work hard and face tough decisions about how they spend their money. The Conservatives will always be the party that keeps tax as low as possible and spends the proceeds responsibly. It is our firm intention to reduce taxes on Britain’s businesses and working families.”

And it means Miliband-style big government intervention in free markets. As the manifesto says: “A Conservative government will strengthen the hand of regulators”.

“Government can also help by making consumer markets work more fairly, and in doing so reducing the cost of the essentials that families have no choice but to buy… Tackling living costs must mean making consumer markets work fairly. Markets should work for consumers, as well as producers – with competition keeping prices low and encouraging new product development. Poor information, complex pricing and exploitative behaviour prevents markets operating efficiently for the benefit of all. As Conservatives, we believe in markets as the best means to bring about prosperity and innovation, but we should act firmly and fast when a market works against the interests of consumers. Since 2010, we have capped the cost of credit for expensive payday lenders and will shortly ban letting agent fees. We will now go further to reform markets in the interests of consumers and reduce the cost of living. A Conservative government will strengthen the hand of regulators.”

The money Britain will stop sending the EU each week will be spent on a very LibDem sounding fund to reduce inequality:

“We will use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations.”

And there will be a new sovereign wealth fund funded by shale gas revenues and privatisation:

“We will create a number of such funds, known as Future Britain funds, which will hold in trust the investments of the British people, backing British infrastructure and the British economy. We anticipate early funds being created out of revenues from shale gas extraction, dormant assets, and the receipts of sale of some public assets.”

Spending more money while delaying clearing the deficit until 2025. Even George Osborne is now attacking May from the right, he says: “Far from using Brexit as a chance to get rid of red tape, the Tories are using it as an excuse for extra regulation”. Tough day for those of us who believe in untrammelled free markets, individualism and reject egalitarianism…

Labour Election Broadcast Star’s Firm Registered at “Tax Efficient” Accountant

The celebrity Corbynista who criticised the Tories’ tax record in Labour’s election broadcast is the sole director and shareholder at a company registered to the address of a “tax efficient” accountant. Maxine Peake, the Dinnerladies actress and Corbynista luvvie, who is a former member of the Communist Party of Britain, appeared in Labour’s PEB attacking the government for “giving the super-rich tax handouts of tens of billions of pounds”. Yet Maxine is not so chatty about her own affairs…

Companies House records show Peake is the sole director and shareholder of Flat Cap Limited – a company with £145,000 cash at bank and in hand. Flat Cap Limited has no other directors or company officers. It has no online or physical presence, except a filing with Companies House. Its registered address is the office of accountants Creasey Alexander & Co, who boast on their website of their tax planning advice and “tax efficient investments”. Guido readers will know this is a textbook arrangement used by all manner of celebrities and entertainers

There is no suggestion that Peake has evaded any tax or that she or Creasey Alexander & Co have done anything wrong. Guido has asked her agent multiple times over the last 24 hours if she pays herself dividends through her company. They would not answer that question or speak to us on the record…

Tory Record: More Debt, More Taxes

As is traditional in elections the Tories are warning that Labour will bring more debt and more taxes. That is a given, however what is the Tory record after 7 years?

In 2010 the Tories promised to close the deficit by 2015. They failed to do that, so Osborne shifted the goal posts to aim for 2017/18. Under Hammond the OBR now says the government is unlikely to balance the budget by 2026. If the political will had been there they could have balanced the budget; from a worse position over the same period Ireland managed to balance the budget and cut the debt. Ireland now has a lower debt to GDP ratio than the UK and a higher GDP growth rate. The repeated Tory failure to balance the budget means that the national debt continues to rise and is now 89% of GDP. The Tories have added £500 billion to the national debt in 7 years, Hammond plans to add a billion a week to the national debt under Theresa May...

Taxes have risen under the Tories. The claim by the Tories to be a low tax party has not been true this century. They raised VAT almost immediately upon coming into office. They argue they have cut business taxes, yet they raised dividend taxes on small business owners and tried to raise National Insurance contributions. To be fair it is a mixed bag, some taxes have gone up, others down. According to the OECD the overall tax-to-GDP ratio has risen from 31.5% of GDP under Gordon Brown to 32.5% under George Osborne. Taxes have risen under the Tories…

This is not to say debt and taxes would not rise catastrophically under Labour. If you want to balance the budget you have to cut spending, George Osborne used to say privately that the Tories wouldn’t get re-elected if he slashed spending. Enda Kenny cut Irish government spending by 10% and GDP growth has been much faster than in the UK. He got re-elected and is the longest serving Fine Gael prime minister in Irish history.

Emily Thornberry Thinks You Pay VAT on Milk

Emily Thornberry was on LBC over the weekend talking about the impact of VAT on people on middle incomes. An important issue, though it was illustrated by Thornberry with a rather odd example:

“Things like VAT are things that people on average incomes are hardest hit – we all have to buy milk.”

Milk is zero-rated. No one pays VAT on milk. This is a more embarrassing mistake than not knowing the price of a pinta…

Hammond’s Tax Bombshell

No surprise: Hammond tells the BBC he needs “flexibility” in the manifesto, so the 2015 pledge not to raise income tax, NI or VAT looks like it’s going out of the window. Hilariously John McDonnell is now attacking the Tory tax bombshell: “You can’t trust the Tories on tax – we can expect a tax bombshell if they get re-elected.” McDonnell is attacking the Tories for raising taxes, threatening pensions and not closing the deficit quickly enough. Funny old world…

Hammond U-Turns on National Insurance Rise

Philip Hammond has u-turned on his Budget National Insurance rise, telling MPs that it was against the spirit of the Tory manifesto. He confirms there will be no NI rise this parliament. The letter:

A sign of how weak the government is that it is forced to u-turn on its Budget after complaints from a few MPs, and also what a disastrous error it was to forget the Tory manifesto. Wow…

You Pay £15 Million For Local Trade Union Pilgrims

Millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded subsidies are still being dished out to trade union ‘Pilgrims’ across the country, a report by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found. Despite promises by the government to clamp down on so-called ‘facility time’, there remain 371 local authority staff members who spend more than half their time working for trade unions, while being paid by the taxpayer. The cost of facility time (paid time-off taken by trade union representatives to carry out union duties) was at least £14,648,030 since 2012. Nearly a third of those local authorities analysed did not publish the data on their involvement with unions, thereby breaking the law.

The map of local authority Pilgrims waste extends across Britain:

  • The worst offenders nationally are Birmingham City Council with £1,124,924 and Leeds City Council with £502,095;
  • In the North East, Sunderland – £258,697;
  • In the North West, Bolton – £390,481;
  • In Scotland, City of Edinburgh – £244,576;
  • In the East Midlands, Leicester City Council – £494,544;
  • In the South West, Bristol City Council – £134,931;
  • In the East of England, Suffolk County Council – £189,741;
  • In London, Lambeth Borough Council – £281,000;
  • In the South East, Brighton and Hove City Council – £262,016.

Alex Wild, Research Director of the TPA, said:

“Trade unions are voluntary bodies of members and so should only receive the support of those members, not taxpayers. A huge amount continues to fund union duties, often without the express knowledge or consent of taxpayers, which simply isn’t right.”
David Cameron’s government began the process of dealing with Pilgrims, time for Theresa May to see it through…

Fraser Nelson Takes Tories to Task on NI

Karen Bradley wheeled out the nonsense Tory line that the legislation only referred to Class 1 NICs. It is the same line that has been sent to Tory MPs doing broadcast today:

This is dire stuff. The legislation came after the election – the manifesto did not mention anything about Class 1 NICs. As spin goes it really is weak…

May: Hiking NI Taxes is Fair and Progressive

If voters wanted fair and progressive that was the offer in the LibDem manifesto.

The Tory manifesto promised not to raise National Insurance. Pathetic excuse.

May Opposed National Insurance Rise in 2010

Awkward…

Hammond’s Tax Bombing Raid on Britain

A White Van Tax, a tax on strivers – safe to say that was not a pre-election Budget…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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