Most MPs concentrate on representing people who need the state for support and often see the state as an ally. I too represent my constituents when they need welfare, state help with housing, school places and care from the NHS. By definition most of an MP’s job is going to be helping those who need state assistance, and supervising or seeking improvement in the large free at the point of use state services.
I also seek to represent my many other constituents who do not see the state as helper, and have to spend their time complying with state dictats and paying all the bills. Parliament has been much less good at representing taxpayers and all the people who set up, manage and work in the private sector companies that supply much of our goods and services and provide most of the jobs and incomes.
It has also not been kind to many savers seeking to live on their past prudence. To many people who get up and go to work to pay the family bills and to keep our country civilised with plentiful supplies of what we need the state can come across as hostile and unhelpful. At times the state is the worst kind of chugger, extracting money in so many ways. The state as chugger of course is more worrying than a too persistent fund raiser elsewhere, as you have to comply with every demand the state makes.
One of the worst features of the modern state is the great complexity. They have so many ways of demanding your money that you have to devote considersable time to compliance. The state expects you to know when you have to pay and to get it right according to their process.
You park your car in a municipal car park and then have to be sure you get back within the stated ticket tine. It puts pressure on your meetings or shopping as you seek to conform. It means fewer impulse buys or leisurely cups of coffee at the weekend as you are time limited. You often are not allowed to buy as much time as you might need.
You drive to your next engagement. You need to be ever vigilant for the hours of operation of bus lanes, endless changes of speed limit, box junctions, cycle ways on the carriageway, left and right turn rules and the rest. One mistake that does no harm to anyone and you may well face a penalty fine.
You have to remember to pay the Council tax bill to be allowed to carry on living in your own home, whilst some Councils have now made it difficult to pay unless you are prepared to put in a direct debit.
Every payment that you receive needs to be recorded so you can explain if it was not income or pay tax on it if it was income.
If you save you may find the rules of those savings change after you have committed your money, as many have discovered with pensions savings over the years. The government can change the tax they levy on it even though you are locked in to a contract based on different tax rules.
Every time you have to deal with the state there are requirements to produce documents and reference numbers. Despite all the money spent on government computers there us still no single simple access and one ID per person to make your reporting to the state easy.
Whilst I agree we need rules and need to raise revenue, we could do so much better by making it easier for people to comply. The complexity means quite a lot of people do not bother to take on something extra or grow their business, for fear of the blizzard of state demands extra effort by them will bring forth.
Given the way that the state gets reports on people’s savings income and on employment income from companies that handle our savings and employs them, why can’t the state send a tax return request with the details they know already filled in? Why are people who wish to defer NI on other income because they are paying their full amount through their main employment made to fill in the same details each year on a new form?
I wish the next budget would be friendlier to taxpayers, would try to make their lives a bit easier, and would understand you raise more revenue if you set sensible taxes and allow people to profit sufficiently from their extra effort, investment and hard work.