As a UK taxpayer, I have recently received a letter from HMRC summarising my taxable income and tax deducted. On the reverse is a pie-chart showing how income tax and National Insurance contributions were spent in 2013-14.
Almost a fifth is devoted to health, 13% to education, 7% on national debt interest, a mere 1% on overseas aid and just 0.7% on the UK contribution to the EU budget. The largest, at 24.5%, is spent on the vaguely termed “welfare”.
Personally, I have no problem with a quarter of my contribution being spent on such an item. It is, however, potentially misleading and deserves further examination. What the Treasury calls “welfare” covers items as diverse as nurses’ and soldiers’ pensions, children in care, nursing homes and child benefit. Financial support for unemployed people is just 5%.
As the phrase often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli goes: “there are lies, damned lies and statistics” and I for one cannot help but think that this exercise in conveying information is intended to mislead voters: to obfuscate, not illuminate.
Green Parliamentary Candidate for York Outer