Another year, another budget. However, budget figures are largely impenetrable.
Tax is a great thing. We are all lucky to live in a society where we trust each other enough to contribute to a centralised pool of services that are beneficial to everyone and where taxes are collected and spent by a democratic government.
You don’t have to like paying tax and you don’t even have to agree with the taxation system or the expenditure to see that.
However, you do have to have an appreciation of where your tax goes. It is very hard to understand from the information the government publishes.
Governments don’t make enough of an effort to explain to tax payers where tax money actually goes. The main document the government publishes with details of budgeted expenditure is ‘Estimates for Public Services‘ It is quite comprehensive, but it doesn’t really give you any sense of how your money is spent. There isn’t even an excel spreadsheet to let you do any analysis. You can get historical vote data on the databank on the PER website in various formats and that is good, but this year’s data is not included.
What is really needed is a way to help regular people understand this data. Graphics, Excel templates, websites. It needs a lot of work to make this meaningful for ordinary taxpayers.