- The Conservatives believe in cutting services; the Liberal Democrats believe in raising taxes; Labour believe in standing still. We reject all of these approaches. Elsewhere in this manifesto we highlight where money is being spent on the wrong priorities and where tax concessions distort the market with indefensible consequences for society and the environment.
- Our aim is to stabilise the total burden of taxation, while redistributing its impact. ‘Smart taxes’ will be applied to discourage production of goods that damage society and the environment. For example, fossil fuels will be taxed according to their carbon content and there will be similarly ‘deterrent’ taxes on aggregates, organo-chlorines, pesticides and plastics.
- Since 1979 there has been a major shift in taxation from direct to indirect taxation, principally in the form of VAT. Indirect taxation falls on spending, so is a good way to reduce unnecessary consumption of resources. However, despite the zero-rating of many necessities, it does fall hardest on the poor, while income tax cuts have resulted in disproportionate gains to the well-off. Wessex Regionalists are committed to redressing this imbalance. We support the creation of a unified tax and benefit system that would integrate people’s ability to pay with the wide variety of their basic needs. One of its aims will be to ensure that the disposable income of the highest-paid cannot exceed ten times that of the lowest-paid.
- The Conservatives oppose democratic regional government; Labour and the Liberal Democrats see it as a talking-shop providing ‘jobs for the boys’. Our aim will be to make savings from the transfer of powers downwards that will more than make up for the cost of regional government itself. This will be possible because the Witan will have no permanent meeting place or assembly building and it will have real power over real services, not merely the expensive add-on of a ‘consultative’ or ‘co-ordinating’ role.
- Because we believe in government from the bottom up, the Wessex treasury will be responsible for collecting all indirect taxes in Wessex. It will then forward negotiated proportions to the UK Exchequer and the European Union to spend on services that it is agreed should be provided at UK or EU level. In this way, even where services remain formally the responsibility of Westminster and Whitehall, Wessex will have real influence over how they are delivered. In respect of income tax, the Wessex treasury in turn will be reliant on counties for its funds, the counties on hundreds and the hundreds on parishes. No money will be released to government by the Inland Revenue without the consent of each authority in turn. Every community will therefore have the ultimate sanction of the sovereign consumer: refusal to pay for a poor service.
- National Non-domestic Rates and the Council Tax will be replaced by a local Land Value Tax (LVT). The rate of LVT will be related to a plot’s rental value and varied locally according to the social and environmental desirability of the land use. Empty properties and vacant sites will attract high rates to discourage speculative land ownership.
A regionalist government in Wessex will:
- undertake a fundamental review of spending priorities and tax concessions
- shift taxation to target the consumption of energy, the use of raw materials and pollution rather than productive work
- link taxation to ability to pay
- ensure democratic, decentralised control of tax revenues
- replace existing local taxation with a Land Value Tax.
Meanwhile, the Wessex Regionalists will:
- continue to identify and publicise areas of public spending where priorities are mis-directed.