Three ideas to reduce the deficit
Three ideas for how the government could save money without affecting frontline services or raising taxes:
1. Hire more tax inspectors.
A government report in 2008 calculated that cutting 600 staff saved £74 million in lower staff costs, but led to a loss of £204 million in tax. On average, each member of compliance staff has a tax yield of £640,000 after employment costs each year. There is over £20 billion in uncollected tax and £25 billion in tax evasion which tax inspectors could help to collect.
2. Introduce rent controls.
The government spends more than £20 billion on housing benefit payments, much of which goes to private landlords. If they reduced the rents that landlords were allowed to charge their tenants, then the housing benefit bill would be cut.
3. Stop paying private companies to harass cancer patients and wounded ex-soldiers.
The government pays a company called Atos healthcare to carry out medical assessments to see whether people are able to work. The more people that Atos healthcare assess as capable of work, the more money they get from the government.
However, up to 70% of their decisions get overturned at appeal, and every appeal costs the government extra money. If the government only paid Atos healthcare money when they got their assessments right, it would reduce the amount they paid the company, and save money on having fewer appeals.
Each of these policies also has other benefits. Hiring more tax inspectors would reduce unemployment and ensure that there are fewer tax dodgers. Rent controls would save tenants in the private rented sector money and help make sure people are better off in work than on benefits. And paying Atos healthcare money to do their job properly and assess people accurately would make life a lot less stressful for many sick and disabled people who have wrongly seen their benefits cut.