Unison branch’s big idea . . .

When we heard about Brighton & Hove Council’s competition to come up with money-saving ideas to help with austerity, with the chance to win £1,000, some of us thought it was a malicious piece of satire from Labour’s opponents on the council.
Some Unison members came up with ideas such as scrapping golden handshakes to senior officers, scrapping PFI payments to buildings we’ve already paid for such as Jubilee Library and putting income straight into the bank instead of letting private contractors collect it and keep their cut – or in the case of parking meter cash, keeping all £3.2 million.
Branch members were also keen to win the £1,000 and have planned to put it straight into Brighton & Hove Unison’s strike fund, seeing that as the best investment in our futures.
However, we can now reveal a money-saving scheme that can not only allow the council reverse the cuts made so far, but also fund a pay rise sizeable enough to make up for the last five years of below-inflation pay rises (AKA pay cuts).
So, with tongues firmly placed in cheeks, read on!
Brighton & Hove: Independence Or Offshore?
Some local anti-austerity campaigners were so disappointed with May’s election result that they declared “The Independent Republic of Brighton & Hove”. However, going “independent” is not necessary to remove ourselves from the slow decimation of council jobs and services which we are currently at the beginning of. All we need to do is emulate our more efficient business models in the private sector.
All we need to do is register the council as an offshore concern like those inspiring examples from the free market such as Starbucks and Amazon. Human Resources would need to give staff advice on securing bank accounts in Switzerland or elsewhere, where wages would be paid tax free. Alternatively, staff could all follow the route of many top earners, including until recently some top government officials, and have our salaries paid tax free to a “limited company”, further reducing tax liabilities. We believe that there may be many other tax loopholes that could be utilised to save the council money. By outsourcing our accountancy services we could recruit from the more efficient private sector – the unparalleled expertise in taxation.
Brighton & Hove Council employees, faced with a tax rate of 0% would not be greedy. Our research indicates that the majority would happily accept a pay cut of 10%, and 30% for top rate payers, as their take-home pay would still increase by at least 10% across the board. The total saving to the council would be at least 10% of the annual wages bill – or over £25m per year. Enough to stop all cuts. In addition to this, with tax no longer payable on any council income, the money saved could be used to reverse the cuts imposed in the last few years.
It has been pointed out by some sceptics that adapting ourselves to the new, deregulated international finance markets would soon backfire as our example would certainly be copied by everybody, depriving HMRC of most revenue. Those less charitable towards central government may point out that since they want to break all financial support and links to local government, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, some government departments, such as the Royal Family, MI5, The Ministry of Defence say that they could never be subjected to the uncertainty of the free market. (A MoD staff competition’s suggestions of “citizen-consumers” voting weekly which country’s monarchy or army they wished to have was rejected as “market madness.”)
It is expected that the government would be forced to close tax loopholes, thus preventing organisations and individuals “going offshore”. While this may disappoint staff hoping for their increase in real incomes for many years, the clampdown on tax avoidance and evasion could net HMRC with up to £120 billion annually. This would be enough to stop all cuts currently planned by central government, begin to reverse cuts made in the last few years, and give public sector workers a much needed pay rise.
Our proposal , however it turns out, leads to the type of “win win” solution often praised by management gurus. We hope that if the council’s competition doesn’t turn out to be a piece of satire, our entry is taken seriously. We would be joining the people of Crickhowell in Wales where the whole town is trying to go offshore and the BBC will soon be featuring it in a documentary. If implemented, we would be happy to donate the £1000 prize back to the council, allowing further service expansion elsewhere.

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