The policy of centralisation pursued in the UK for many decades has resulted in severe discrimination against communities in the remoter parts of England, Scotland and Wales. People in these communities pay the same taxes (both direct and indirect) as those living in large towns and cities, yet they are frequently denied essential services because central government deems it too expensive to provide them.
This mentality prevails, even though remote areas unquestionably have a greater need for such services than city areas. Examples of such discrimination are:
- Fuel pricing
EU regulations allow for a reduced rate of VAT to be applied on petrol and diesel in remote areas. Even though countries such as Finland apply this policy in relation to their remote island communities, the UK government has never adopted it. As a result, petrol on the Scottish islands is priced as high as £1.33 per litre, in areas where public road or rail transport is virtually non-existent.
- Digital TV and licensing
Despite massive publicity about the digital switchover, Freeview will not provide universal coverage within the UK. This situation is unjustified when everyone, irrespective of location, is legally required to pay for a TV licence. The conclusion is that people in remote areas have paid for a digital TV service which is not being provided to them.
There is no political will to provide the resources from central government to ensure that every location in the UK has access to a basic broadband service of at least 2mbps. Whilst funds, raised from general taxation, are made available to develop high-speed broadband for densely-populated areas, remoter communities are unfairly denied a basic service.
Why does this idea matter?
"Equal services for equal taxation"
Remoter communities, which receive no tax concessions, have for decades been marginalised by a government which is only interested in the main centres of population. Remoteness implies a greater need for private transport and good communications technology, and a recognition of this fact by central government is long overdue.