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Proportional Fines – Fairness

Comment 23rd July 2010

It will not have escaped the notice of the lower paid, that if they have to pay a £60 parking or speeding fine it is a significant proportion of income. If you are on an income of £12,000 per annum the £60 fine is 0.5% of annual income.

So for simplicity, let’s argue that the benchmark for a fine is 0.5% of annual income and not just a standard £60 fine regardless of income.

 

The following scale of charges would then apply to the annual incomes shown below:

Income                Fine

£12,000              £60

£20,000             £100

£50,000             £250

£75,000             £375

£100,000          £500

£150,000          £750

£250,000       £1250

£500,000       £2500

£1,000,000    £5000

I should clarify that I am not writing this because I or any of my family members have recently been fined!

I am also not advocating that the impact of a £60 fine for speeding should be lessened for the lower paid; indeed, we are told that it is important for road safety, that the fine has to have an impact to alter behaviour that is considered dangerous for all road users.

Justice must be served fairly – regardless of income and there is NO fair reason why the wealthy should pay proportionately less than those on a much lower income. My proposal for proportional fines would also hopefully have some effect in changing the arrogant disregard for parking regulations so evident in towns and cities where wealthy owners of top-of-the-range car owners blatantly inconvenience other road users, including pedestrians and totally disregard parking regulations because the fine or clamping and recovery fee they will eventually pay, is only a tiny percent of their income/savings.

Whenever a proposal is made concerning proportional fairness, there is an outcry about the cost of administering the scheme and a FAIR idea is shelved with a return to the status quo.

My method is simple – anyone fined, must submit their previous years P60 stating taxable income and the fine administered is based on this. As with any idea, my proposal is not perfect, as there will be some who have more savings in bank accounts than income; but where there is doubt – such as a Ferrari owner claiming an income of £10,000 etc – then maybe in such unusual cases there is discretion to request copies of annual bank/savings statements. The very wealthy will use their accountants for a bit of creative accountancy, but that will always be the case.

As the Inland Revenue is a Government department, the P60 information from the department could be sent to the office dealing with the fine bypassing the need for the person being fined to submit the P60 in the post, reducing cost and an unnecessary paper trail. It merely requires emails between the Inland Revenue and the department currently administering the fine that then send out the notice of amount fined.

Any politician who says this unworkable should therefore immediately abolish the financial element – the £60 fine and administer a points on licence system as it is so obviously unfair and aimed at the lower paid. By abolishing the financial penalty the lower paid are on an equal footing with the wealthy.

Why does this matter?

Justice must be served fairly – regardless of income and there is NO fair reason why the wealthy should pay proportionately less than those on a much lower income.

I believe that to adopt my proposal would be a radical step in the right direction of a Government purporting to support FAIRNESS across the social spectrum. The idea of the proportional fine could be applied to courts for a range of offences and is not far removed from the current law allowing the proceeds of crime being recovered once someone has been convicted of fraud or drug dealing, or similar crimes.

If politicians cannot accept the principle of the wealthy paying a proportional fine then there is only one FAIR solution abolish the financial element (£60 fine) and restrict the punishment to points on license. Then the lower paid will be on an equal footing with the wealthy.

This simple principle of checking an annual P60 could also be applied across a range of government issues, overcoming obstacles such as paying child benefit and pensions to millionaires and if the wealthy don’t want to declare their full income and savings to the government, then they don’t get the state benefit – their choice.

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