Thursday, 26 January 2012

Forgive me for weeping

Under the headline "CBI welcomes report on risks and rewards from climate change" todays reports: "Business leaders have applauded a Government report for highlighting the risks and rewards that climate change offers. DEFRA is right to highlight that, as well as the risks, there are opportunities to be had from adapting to climate change. For instance, the UK has much expertise it can sell in other countries, including advice on water efficiency, insurance and other financial products". Doesn't it occur to the CBI that we could and should ACTUALLY MAKE STUFF to deal with the risks & opportunities, & that might be more important than providing financial services.

Fair taxes - dream on

In a fascinating story buried in the House & Home section of the Financial Times about the buoyancy of the multimillion pound property market in the UK, a buying agent in central London, Simon Barnes, is quoted: "The wealthiest international buyers may have one nanny per child, a chauffeur, chef,personal trainer & nutritionist.Often this team travels with them". Salary costs for this squad are upwards of £150000 p.a. One property at £12million comes with additional mews & flat property linked to the main building to accommodate staff. The only problem that I have with any of this is the level of taxation that the people who can afford this stuff might escape. It would be good if someone who knew about such matters could enlighten us. Just on one issue an earlier post of mine [9th Jan] drew attention to the pathetic level of council tax incurred by such properties & the efforts of owners to avoid it. Like us ordinary mortals trying to escape paying less than 5p on something.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Devo - Max must not be an option

A recent YouGov poll shows that about a 60/40 majority of Scots want more devolution [Devo-Max] and a minority [40/60] want full independence. They are not stupid are they. The Financial Times [14th January] Looked at the issues. In summary Scotland receives a subsidy from the rest of the UK. [The University of Stirling reckons it's £4.5bn annually] Its economy has declined by 4% over the last 4yrs and is more sluggish than similar sized EU countries. Oil & gas revenue, which Alex Salmond thinks is his, has halved since 1999 & is predicted to be only a third of present levels by 2022. And what about these giant aircraft carriers that ALL UK taxpayers are paying for but which are largely being built in Scotland & the submarine base at Faslane? And what about the Banks? Salmond, whose skill as a politician leaves the UK cabinet & opposition for dead, thinks they are London's concern. When it was a Scot - Gordon Brown - who let them run riot in the first place !! So now we move to the emotional side. It is no surprise that the English are allegedly more enthusiastic for Scottish independence than the Scots. London based political pundits, Andrew Marr & Andrew Neil are Scots. Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Michael Gove, Danny Alexander, to name just a few, and a fistful of MPs representing English constituencies, and many others who have screwed up England are all Scots. I could live with this except that the Scots then endlessly parade themselves as victims of the wicked English. More devolution does not need a referendum and Devo Max must not be an option. If Scots want independence they can have it. All of it and not cherry pick the best bits.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

"Twas brillig and the slithy Gove did gyre and gimble in the schools" [with apologies to Lewis Caroll]

The Sunday papers were full of Education Secretary Michael Gove's bullying of parents, staff & governors of Downhills primary school all of whom overwhelmingly reject Gove's determination to force the school to become an Academy.

The Observer reports [8th January]: In January last year 92% of Downhills parents who returned a questionnaire said: "I am happy with my child's experience at this school." Yet the Secretary of State, using one of 50 powers he has awarded himself under new legislation since the coalition came to power, claims to know better and is involved in a battle to force it to do as he says and submit. The school has now called in lawyers and is accusing the Secretary of State of acting illegally. Downhills is just one example. David Wolfe, the barrister acting for the school, is also representing three others in similar disputes with Gove over attempts to force them to become academies.

This should come as no surprise - just as a huge warning. On the BBC about a year ago he said " -- we are taking [an approach] which is different. We trust teachers and we trust Heads" Oh yeah? Talking to the Policy Exchange before the General Election [17th March 2010] he said that if CfBIT, SERCO and anyone else wanted to set up a new school they will be allowed to. He has always intended to bring the profit motive into education.

Commenting on the story 'Shoutfromthebows', attended a speech by Gove at Haberdashers Aske & noted that that schools curriculum was " a straightforward description of the primary curriculum which I see week in week out in maintained schools" So there's a 'nil' difference to ponder. There may or may not be anything inherently wrong with academies - that is a separate argument. What is scary is the Ve haf vays of making you OBEY adopted by this man who belongs to a Party which pretends to believe in giving to ordinary people some control over their lives. Big Society - big joke - big con.

Gove's success in driving through change is fast making him a darling of the Conservative Right and the party's grassroots. He was recently awarded the title of politician of the year by ConservativeHome website, based on a poll of its readers. The one thing the Tory Right is afraid of is that Gove might have a big beast LibDem put alongside him. Be afraid, be very afraid & desert the LibDems for Tories at your peril.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Go after the REAL cheats.

Happy New Year. The piece of print media called the Daily Express, has got stuff all over it's front page about very entrepreneurial benefit exploiters making £60k+ a year.They are costing us poor taxpayers £15m a year. WOW. Of course this is wrong & should be corrected. But I wish I could understand why we poor bloody taxpaying infantry get so worked up about it. It plays into the hands of the REAL rip off merchants. Just one example of scores where we are being seriously ripped off by the rich & powerful.

Liberal Democrats calculate that some £750million is being lost every year in taxes when house purchases are hidden behind offshore companies. A one bedroom flat in the block called One Hyde Park I believe costs over £3.5m. The most expensive was reported at about £136m. Planning permission was granted for 86 apartments. About 60 have been sold - a significant number to overseas companies registered in Tax Havens. For example 25 apparently in the British Virgin Islands. Only 9 are paying Council Tax. Westminster City Council is trying to find out who owns the rest. The developers say they are not responsible for registering people for council tax. It seems the only way is for council officials to do a door to door survey - if they can get past the 'Security' at the entrance to the block.

So what is the huge burden of Council Tax that these poor rich people are not paying?
Council Tax valuations in Westminster ( and Blackpool) are as at 1991 property prices when Band H (the highest) values the property more than £320000. Currently, in Westminster, about 96.5% of properties for sale are in G & H. The Council Tax which is being avoided on One Hyde Park is just £1375.24 per annum.

In Blackpool, (which has the lowest average wage in England of just over £15000 p.a.), only about 10% of properties for sale are in G & H and the Council Tax charge on G & H properties is £ 3032 p.a.. Only those people in Blackpool living in a Band A,B,C, property pay what the Westminster millionaires should pay, but apparently don't i.e. £1375. This is a sick & disgusting story. One Nation? All in it together? Only in Tory fantasy land.

Where are you Daily Express?