Mark Wallace

The EU must face cuts too

The EU must face cuts too
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This is a balancing act Budget. At every stage and on almost every topic there's a bit of good news and a bit of bad news for taxpayers.

Spending cuts are (finally) on the way, but at over £30 billion by 2014-15 they aren't large enough, and there is plenty of dead wood that the Coalition intends to leave in place. Similarly, the rise in the income tax threshold is extremely welcome, but the VAT hike will hit the poorest hardest of all.

And so it goes down the list of Government financial activities. Indeed, the theme the Government are keen to communicate is one of leaving no stone unturned, looking at every item of expenditure and every tax for ways to raise or save money....except for one area.

Buried within the Emergency Budget documents is a table that shows what our net contributions to the EU will be over the coming years.

 

Even after taking into account the money that the EU graciously gives back to us (which is often misspent), the amount we pour into Brussels is going to grow from £6.4bn last year, to £8.3bn this year and then goes on to peak at an eye-watering £10.3bn in 2014-15.

This is absurd. If the Government are cutting spending and raising taxes in Britain, surely they should cut the amount of money we pay to the EU? We cannot afford such extortionate sums, and to add insult to injury the EU has been shown time and time again to waste plenty of it and spend the rest eroding our national sovereignty. 

The EU is often treated as an issue for enthusiasts, which is about high principles and complex legal wranglings. Not so - as the above chart makes clear, the EU is an issue of hard cash.

It is already deeply unpopular as an institution because of its interfering, overbearing and undemocratic behaviour. If it continues to suck money from British taxpayers at a time when in every other sphere we are cutting back, its unpopularity will plumb new depths. It would be wrong if the Coalition Government was to turn a blind eye on this due to ideology, whilst implementing cuts driven by pragmatism elsewhere. It must be dealt with.

We produced a video highlighting exactly this issue last week - I'm sure it will be the first of many times that the disparity between cuts in Britain and business-as-usual in Brussels will be raised:

Mark Wallace is campaign director at the Taxpayers' Alliance