Saturday 8 February 2014

Turning Off The Tax Tap

Via Taking Liberties, if you listen carefully, you might just hear a gravy train coming off the rails down in the South West.
On Wednesday a producer rang to tell me that councils in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset have been reviewing their financial support for Smokefree South West. 
One council has decided to stop funding the group, another has cut its funding, and a third is considering its position.
I'm sure your heart, like mine, bleeds at news of this tax tap being slowly turned off.

Simon Clark continues ...
It's council tax payers' money, after all. I think they have a right to know [how much money Smokefree South West get], even though the Sunday Politics film made a point of saying that the cost to the local community is just 30p per person. 
Add it up across the region, though, and it's a tidy sum. Exactly how much I don't know because the Smokefree South West website doesn't say, but I'm sure, with a few FOI requests, we could find out.
I can give you a ballpark, though, because I asked just that question to all Smokefree South West's funders - "15 Public Health teams based in local authorities across the region", according to their website - back in 2012. For 2010/11, these were the amounts.

Swindon £86,627
Bournemouth £149,019
Dorset £181,371
Torbay £66,601
Plymouth £124,051
Cornwall & Scilly £263,184
South Gloucs £127,197
Bristol £184,718.70 (and 70p?!?)
Bath & NE Somerset £87,814
NHS Somerset £259,318
North Somerset £100,702
Wiltshire £224,356
Gloucestershire £260,384

That's without counting Devon who acknowledged my request but somehow forgot to reply. So the yearly sum was somewhere just shy of a cool £2.5 million! Whether it has increased since then, we don't know but I'd expect not.

Never mind the floods down there at the moment, Smokefree South West are swimming in cash compared to the same reply I received from North East PCTs detailing funds of a comparatively small £733,000. Little wonder, then, that much of the UK tobacco control industry's activity is coordinated by their poster child in the South West, eh? You may remember that the plain packs campaign was led by SFSW thanks to their ability to pull £486,462.06 from their usual funding to lobby the government with their (or our) own money.

As Clark says, congratulations to the councils concerned for recognising that this is something which shouldn't be consuming such a large proportion of our taxes. Seeing as so many other groups have so much to say on tobacco control, let them put their own money up instead of ripping off the public and getting their pharma industry lobbying done at our expense.

Bravo Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset, let's hope other regions follow their lead and cut hard; cut deep.


Miles Dolphin said...

Hmm - I must consider reminding Bournemouth council of this bit of saving they could be making. trees down all over the place - council workers working hard - on a Saturday even! All needs paying for...

Miles Dolphin said...
@bournemouthbc @Bournemouthecho Is the council still paying to support Smokefree South West? if so, why? pay for #floods repairs instead.
@bournemouthbc @Bournemouthecho Every £100,000 is needed now for #floods repairs ------ … why support these parasites?

Longrider said...

A few weeks back South Glos council sent out a questionnaire asking us how we wanted council tax money spent - and, crucially were we prepared to pay more for services. I suspect that many did as I did and told them that we do not want to pay more. I also told them I don't want to pay for most of what they already provide. it would be nice to think that I've done my bit to stop these leeches getting more of my money. Makes me feel all warm inside.

moonrakin said...

I'd like to think the message is sinking in.

I always mention SFSW to any Air Ambulance tin rattlers and explain what they do with the front line NHS funds they steal - ditto for local rag Air Ambulance stories and the drip-drip is working as after about 2 years - I now get a scowl from many of the tin rattlers at the mention of SFSW.

I also comment on SFSW stories suggesting they might consider sponsoring the Air Ambulance :-)

dodderer1 said...

I found this after reading Chris's blog

"Funding for 2012/13 is £2,308,486 based on the agreed contribution of 50p per capita from the fourteen Primary Care Trusts with a rebate of 10%. "

The Dry North said...

The flooded South West begging and cadging for millions to dredge their rivers and yet squander millions on anti smoking freaks and yokels.
Get stuffed , grab a bucket and start bailing or kick the puritanical parasites into the Channel,one or t'other
Guess what's the next excuse for PUB CLOSURES in the South West.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

That £150k would certainly go a long way. Will be interesting to see if you receive any reply.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Good find.

50p per capita? The programme above mentioned 30p. We'll just lob that on top of all the other tobacco control lies, shall we?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ha! Hate smokers? Fine, just "grab a bucket and start bailing". Love it. :)

Kath Gillon said...

Fantastic news let's hope other councils follow suit and sever the life blood of more of these organisations.

The Filthy Engineer said...

There are dedicated anti-smoking quangos in the NW, NE, &SW. Do you know if there is such a quango in the SE? I haven't heard of one mentioned. I live in the SE and feel sadly neglected.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

There is this lot in Medway who are quite active, if it makes you feel better. I think there's an outfit called "Breathe" down there too. Don't even need to look to see if they're tax-funded, it's par for the course.

Apart from that, I expect ASH do most of the legwork for the South East with their foot in Westminster and their snouts in the govt grant trough.

What the.... said...

Expect squeals and screams of sanctimonious protesting from the antismoking nutcases.
As the old saying goes –
Hell hath no fury like antismoking activists forcibly being separated from their “five-star” funding stream.

harleyrider1989 said...

I got a good one.

How is it a county Health Dept can have money to invest in the Bond markets!

I kid you not,they are after all funded via taxpayers and how is it they can keep extra money and invest it as they please...........

How is it this hasn't been brought to the state legislatures attention here in Kentucky when we don't have enough money to pay the normal expenditures anyway.


The local health board was the first in Kentucky to pass a countywide workplace and public space smoking ban regulation in 2007 over the opposition of some residents and restaurant owners. E-cigarettes were added to the ban in 2011.

Finance Director David Reed reported on health department and MEPCO finances through the end of December. The health department was $711,000 in the black while MEPCO, the board’s home health agency, had an operating deficit of $34,500.

The board voted 6-4 to invest $2 million in health department reserve funds in bonds equally between three investment advising companies – Edward Jones, Van Leeuwen Associates and US Bancorp. Reed said splitting the investment would foster competition and yield better interest rates while also reducing risk.

The health department’s reserve fund totals $4.4 million. All the money had previously been held in checking accounts, which earn only about 0.1 percent interest, according to Reed.

The board also conducted an annual evaluation of Public Health Director Nancy Crewe and several board members voiced their approval of Crewe’s job performance. The board voted for each member to fill out an evaluation form for submission to the board chair. - See more at:

John M said...

I agree, I didn't realise Bournemouth was hosing our council tax money all over these people when at the same time they are moaning about lack of funding and cutting jobs within the council to make ends meet.

That and the pretty little £20k salmon coloured speed hump they installed in the entrance to the town hall car park last year...

Financially I guess Councils just live on a different planet to the one thier hard pressed council tax payers have to don't they?

hawkeye said...

The bigger picture of international financial abuse
Tucked away in BBC Health news on a WHO report on funding
Developing World...
Cancer,,,,,,,,, deaths............ 4.8 million
Funding......................$168 million (90% on anti tobacco campaigns sic)
HIV/AIDS........Deaths............2.1 million
Funding......................£6.2 BILLION
TB.................DEATHS 1.1 MILLION FUNDING.....$903 MILLION
MALARIA.......DEATHS 711.000.........FUNDING.....$1.3 BILLION
Strange but true,,,,,,,dont wait for the headlines in the Media they receive to
many millions ad revenue from vested interests.
Room with a view.