In the News

TaxPayers' Alliance latest local government rich list

Mike McCartney

7th April 2022

A good example of a campaign by a very powerful group

The "Town Hall Rich List 2022" has been released by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

First of all, who are the TaxPayers' Alliance?

They are a group set up in the early 2000s, and they very quickly established close links with Conservative Party. So, when the Conservatives are in government, they can potentially wield a lot of influence on public policy. In fact, the Guardian once described them as "arguably the most influential pressure group in the country" (Robert Booth, 09/10/09).

What are their campaign objectives?

According to the group's website, it aims to:

"CUT WASTE. REFORM TAXES & PUBLIC SERVICES.

You know how to spend your money better than the government. Your money shouldn’t be wasted by those in charge. And you deserve a simple tax system and the best public services available.

Our vision is a prosperous United Kingdom with lower, simpler taxes funding better, more efficient public services.

We speak up for British taxpayers. We make your voice heard.

Our mission is to:

  • Make the case for fundamental reforms to taxes and public service delivery
  • Equip a grassroots network with the tools to spread our message to millions, both on the ground and online
  • Speak up for taxpayers and hold those in power to account, and bring our vision to the heart of government."

Before going any further, a quick reminder of pressure group methods:

  • Insider groups work largely within government. They seek to have places on policy committees and units, they provide regular written reports, often showing research findings (environment and business groups are examples), give evidence to parliamentary committees and try to arrange meetings directly with ministers and civil servants. They may also become directly involved in the drafting of legislation (e.g. the national Consumer Council or the Law Commission).
  • Outsider groups – usually promotional groups – largely seek to mobilise public opinion. They do this to place their issues on the public and political agenda. They also try to persuade policy makers that many people support the issue and that the government may gain votes by supporting the group (note Help the Aged with its huge section of supporters) Typically they organise media campaigns (Marcus Rashford and school meals), organise public demonstrations (Extinction Rebellion) and may use stunts which gain publicity (Stop HS2) - the latter can also be categorised as direct action.
  • Sectional groups usually seek insider status. They may also take direct action – notably trade unions who organise strikes and other industrial action. Important groups in society such as the police or doctors and nurses may threaten non-compliance with new policies.
  • Some groups, often promotional, may operate outside the law. Examples are the Animal Liberation Front or Greenpeace. They hope to gain publicity in this way.

So, as alluded to previously, TaxPayers' Alliance could be classified as a classic insider group. It should be noted, however, that this does not restrict a group from using outsider strategies. So, it does not preclude them, for instance, from exploiting the media, or seeking to mobilise public support via petitions.

And this is exactly what their latest campaign does.

It has been widely reported in the papers this week that nearly 3,000 local government officials received over £100k last year. Therefore, this is a good example of using the press. And if you visit the group's website, there is an online petition aimed at increasing council taxes.

By the way, Westminster Council has the largest number of officials (44) on the list. If you want to see details of what local officials get paid in your council district, click here.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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