Why can’t we Kickstarter our public spending?
The rather blunt HMRC/Government letters showing how my taxes are spent raised a few questions in my mind (beyond the already answered question of what ‘welfare’ spending is):
- Can I shift the distribution of how my taxes are spent?
- Can I pay more in taxes and have the additional money go to spending areas that matter to me?
- Is there a political party that will let me pay more in taxes to fund spending areas that matter to me?
The answer to each of these questions is no.
But the spending statement has an unintentional consequence. By trying to make a link between my paying and ‘welfare’ spending, HMRC have created a direct link between my exact level of taxes and all public spending.
Well, if my exact level of taxes impacts all levels of spending, why don’t I get a say in how all of it is spent?
The presentation is that of annual statement of a portfolio of pension investments — a little exposure to growth stocks, some high-yield bonds, etc…
But with my pension statement I get to reallocate my exposure if I choose.
Why not let taxpayers Kickstarter which public services they want to support?
(NB: I’d choose pre- and post-natal support for mothers there is almost no funding for these services that have such a significant impact on the quality of life for both parents and child. And I’d prioritise counter-cyclical welfare spending, not cut it!).
If I only choose to actively allocate 10% of my taxes, the other 90% could default into the standard Government distribution.
And, like my pension, if I want to top up my contribution, I can.
Anyway, HMT and politicians would never allow it. As much as they hate hypothecation, they absolutely hate giving up control.
(NB: I’d also worry that some vital public services would be underfunded…there’d need to be some experimentation to see how this could, if ever, work in reality).