Friday 2 September 2016

Crossing a line

I’ve never been a fan of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, and I don’t understand why the media give them so much attention.  They are a self-appointed group who have decided that taxpayers’ interests are best served by opposing any and every item of government expenditure, rather than taking a balanced view about the costs relative to the benefits.
Their figures usually come from the submission of Freedom of Information requests; in this case, it was based on one submitted by a Conservative AM, whose party generally seems to share the Alliance’s ideological opposition to government expenditure of any kind.  Once they have their numbers, they then spin them into a press release which the media dutifully report, usually verbatim, as part of their daily onslaught against any type of public service in pursuit of their ideological aim of eliminating most government expenditure.
In today’s piece, they have excelled themselves.  Of course, any expenses paid to public servants need to be scrutinised (whatever Paul Flynn may say), but that is no different from the position in any private enterprise.  In the course of doing their jobs, some staff will need to travel, and there are costs associated with that.  Given the size of the undertaking, an annual expenditure of around £250,000 by the Welsh Government on staff travelling costs doesn’t immediately strike me as being excessive in total.
I certainly don’t believe that it justified the claim that these expenses are being racked up by “… a very small group of individuals intent on bleeding the public purse dry”.  I thought that was a pretty offensive statement to be making; the spokesman seems to have been carried away by his own oratory.  I’m not convinced that the slew of stories which appears regularly based on FoI requests actually adds anything to political debate; in this case, it’s just a bit of nastiness directed at people trying to do their jobs.

No comments: