Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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My contribution to the EU Budget – the best tenner I ever spent

by Ian Shires on 11 February, 2019

My annual tax report for the year 2017-18 arrived the other day.

It outlined to me what I get for the relatively low tax I pay every month.

The last item on the breakdown broke my heart.

“Contribution to the EU Budget – £10”

That’s all it costs.

For that I get:

Freedom to work and travel and live in 28 countries

The prosperity that being in the customs union and single market brings, with the added advantage that showing up with 27 of your mates when you are trying to do business with the likes of Donald Trump and the Chinese Government brings.

This country’s universities getting access to research funding to carry out investigations which will help us to learn more about how the world works and develop ways to fix its problems.

My son having the chance to study anywhere across the EU via the Erasmus programme

Joint arrangements on radioactive isotopes and the like through Euratom

Co-operation on security across the 28 member states

Protection of my employment rights, keeping me safe from the right wing small state instincts of most of the politicians who campaigned for Brexit. 

Free data-roaming across Europe.

Being part of a project hat keeps the peace on this continent and promotes human rights and democracy across the planet.

Development of poorer areas. For example, the EU has funded the building of roads which are a lifeline in the Highlands.

There’s so much more. But it cost me, personally, £10 for the whole year. You can’t buy two glasses of wine for that in Edinburgh. It’s  less than a seventh of what I pay the Liberal Democrats and, much as I love this party and the way it performs miracles with insufficient resources, I can’t say that it brings me quite as much value for money.

I’m not quite sure what I paid for the Home Office. I suspect it is somewhere in the £59 for “Public order and safety.” You can take it as read that I resent every single penny that goes to an organisation that treats people with extreme unfairness and causes untold misery on a daily basis. Today’s egregious heartlessness involves splitting up a grandmother from the rest of her family.

My general take home from my tax report is that I get a lot for very little. £275 for health care for the year. In the US, even with Obamacare, I’d be paying around $4000 and that wouldn’t even cover the entire cost of any medical treatment.

I’m sure the Tories’ whole idea behind putting out these reports was to make people annoyed at shelling out for people on benefits.

Personally, I’d be happy to pay much more than £328 per year if it meant that people had somewhere decent to live and could feed themselves.

Looking at the report, and knowing the perilous state of our public services, it actually makes me think that I, even with my relatively low income, should be paying more in tax if I want to see the end of poverty and inequality. But that’s a whole other conversation.

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