Thursday 19 November 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, November 19, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

Counterterrorism: Tory MPs urge May to resist pressure to cut police budgets
Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe recently warned that planned cuts to the force’s budget risked undermining the country’s ability to foil terrorist attacks. The Met is responsible for counterterrorism policing as well as for its role in the capital. It is likely to face budget cuts of nearly £1bn over the next four years in the Spending Review. Sir Bernard told the Evening Standard last month that this equated to the loss of between 5,000 and 8,000 officers. Now Conservative MPs have urged Theresa May, home secretary, to resist pressure from the Treasury to cut police budgets following Friday’s attacks in Paris, exposing tensions within the party over Britain’s public finances. George Osborne, chancellor, is looking for cuts in some government department budgets — including the Home Office — of as much as a third in real terms over the next five years. David Cameron, prime minister, yesterday said he would boost funding for the security services, including hiring 1,900 more staff, but he did not make an equivalent commitment to policing funding. The Metropolitan Police counterterrorism officers, intelligence services and other police forces are running 600 separate investigations and arresting on average one person a day linked with a suspected plot. FINANCIAL TIMES

The great smart meter rip-off: Energy giants will use devices to DOUBLE the cost of power when you need it most
Britain’s leading power firms are expected to introduce tariffs that charge more at peak times when they roll out new electronic meters which monitor how much energy you use by the second. It means electricity and gas used in the evenings could cost 99 per cent more than at other times — penalising everyone cooking family meals, watching popular TV shows and heating their homes on chilly winter evenings. Higher charges will also apply in the morning when people are most likely to be taking baths and showers and having the central heating on. The aim, according to the energy regulator OFGEM, was to encourage customers to reduce their use at busy times. Money Mail has discovered that British Gas has already trialled a tariff that charges more at peak times. And we have uncovered evidence that smart-meter schemes unveiled in other countries have proved a disaster, with complaints about soaring costs and an outcry over invasion of privacy. Experts have raised fears about complicated payments which could be difficult to understand. More than 1.3 million smart meters have already been installed in British households ahead of a national rollout next year, which aims to put them in every home by 2020. The smart-meter scheme will cost £11 billion to introduce — which homeowners will pay for through their bills. Officials claim it will lead to £17.9 billion of benefits as people will be more aware of how much energy they use and more likely to take steps to reduce consumption. DAILY MAIL

Shops pay charities only 10p a pack for Christmas cards sold
The consumer group Which? looked at 13 major retailers and supermarkets for their charity Christmas card offerings this year. At what appears to be the least generous end of the scale, the Co-op gives nearly 7% (10p) of its £1.50 cards to food poverty and food bank charity FareShare, while Lidl gives the equivalent of 8% (10p) of a pack price to children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. WH Smith donates 100% of the price of its BBC Children in Need charity cards, but for others which it sells, only 10% or 20% is donated. At the same time, Aldi and John Lewis branded cards donate 25% to the charities they support. John Lewis also sells a range of other charity cards where 10% is donated. However, Morrisons has pledged to donate £50,000 to the Sue Ryder chain of charity shops, regardless of how many packs of its charity cards are sold. Tesco is also selling a range of charity cards and donating a total of £300,000 to Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation. A Royal Mail spokesman said there was no sign that Britons intended to cut back on sending Christmas cards this year, despite the rise of e-cards and people choosing to make charitable donations directly. GUARDIAN

Crickhowell tax dodge protest: Residents of Welsh town going offshore to avoid tax, urging others to do the same
Residents of Crickhowell, the market town in Wales which is hoping to become the first UK community to go “offshore” for tax purposes, have released a video urging other places across the country to join their rebellion against HMRC. They have set up two offshore holding companies in preparation for the launch of the scheme, which is currently being scrutinised by HMRC, the video reveals. Their journey will be detailed in a forthcoming BBC documentary called The Town That Went Offshore. “Crickhowell has become the country’s first Fair Tax Town – a little piece of offshore in the heart of the Welsh countryside,” the video’s narrator says, adding that their campaign is based around the simple philosophy that “either we all pay tax, or none of us do”. The group have also launched a Fair Tax Town website, which encourages other communities to sign a pledge of support, allowing them to join the rebellion and brand their own town with personalised signs to show that they are backing the movement. “If the Government doesn’t act to close the tax loopholes, then we’re prepared to use them too, thanks very much. We’ll put our scheme in action and try it out,” the website says. “It might not work. We might get stopped. But it won’t stop us believing that either we all pay tax, or none of us do.” INDEPENDENT

Qatar's migrant workers say they are paid to fill stadiums before World Cup
At an evening match between Al Sadd and rivals Al Ahli last month, groups of “fans” told our reporter they had been paid about £5 to attend or had been given free tickets. They included several African security guards, who wore white robes they said helped them look more like Qataris. Indian construction workers said they had been paid chant football songs in Arabic they had been taught but did not understand. An entire end – about 1,000 spectators – comprised builders from south Asia. Musicians with drums and pipes had been hired to “create atmosphere”. “We are here for the money,” said Kumar, an Indian builder who had been bussed in from a labour camp. “They pay 30 riyals (£5) per match. They teach us the clapping actions and some songs. They think with the World Cup people will worry that there will be nobody to watch the matches so that is why they do this.” Michael, a security guard from Kenya, said: “They are looking for bodies because there is no one to come. The Qataris are not interested. Most are busy and they prefer to watch at home. We earn a minimum amount [in our day jobs] so if you get 30 extra riyals you can feed yourself better.” The migrant workers said their attendance at games was organised by middlemen who arranged bus transport from their dormitory camps and payments, which were normally made a day or two after the match. “I take 70 or 80 [workers] for a match and bring them by bus from the camps,” said a Sudanese agent. “I bring security guards and pay them 30 riyals.” He said he received about 60 riyals per “fan”. “It’s a good business,” he said. “I earn more than in my day job.” Qatar’s successful bid document for the 2022 tournament claimed the region was “brimming with sporting passion”. The World Cup preparations have been hit by allegations of bribery in the bidding process, strongly denied by Qatar, and outrage from human rights groups over the country’s treatment of migrant construction workers. GUARDIAN

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd 'misled' MPs on hitting renewable targets
Opposition MPs say they have been deliberately misled - and accuse the government of a doctrinaire aversion to wind and solar power. In September, Ms Rudd told the Commons the renewables budget had to be reined in because it was "way overspent". It did not matter, she told MPs, because "we're still meeting our renewables targets". However, the following month she sent a confidential note to cabinet colleagues with a very different tone. In it, she warned of a shortfall in renewable energy for 2020 approaching 25%. This was not public knowledge, she said. She said if the gap were not plugged, it would potentially trigger huge fines from the EU and legal action in the UK itself. A new assessment by BBC News suggests almost all of the energy policy changes made by the chancellor since the election are likely to push up CO2 emissions. And the UN's chief environment scientist has expressed alarm at the UK's domestic energy policies. Ms Rudd acknowledged in her leaked letter that getting more heating from biogas - produced from waste - would help the UK meet its targets. Yet companies that have invested in biogas are livid the chancellor has cut the subsidy they were promised. One solution Ms Rudd proposes is to buy renewables "credits" from other nations that have achieved their EU energy targets. Another is to try to negotiate the UK's renewables targets down. Daisy Sands, from Greenpeace, said: "This is hugely shocking. The government is planning on cutting support for the solar and wind subsidies in the name of affordability. This policy makes no environmental or economic sense, as the UK is losing jobs and affordable clean, renewable energy sources." BBC NEWS

Concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith: Ticket re-sale websites 'a national disgrace'
Goldsmith said tickets to U2's recent London shows were advertised for up to £3,300 on resale sites, despite a face value of £182. "We're asking the government to pass a law which says you cannot sell a ticket for more than 10 per cent of its face value."  The government is running a public consultation on secondary ticketing. Fans have until Friday, 20 November to submit their views on the issue. Goldsmith's comments come a week after rock star Prince postponed the sale of tickets to his European tour over concerns about tickets being resold on third-party websites. Consumer magazine Which? spent eight weeks monitoring four of the biggest secondary ticketing websites, saying: "We found things like tickets appearing on resale websites before they were even officially released... And we found tickets that were appearing simultaneously on the primary and the resale websites, as soon as tickets went on sale." The magazine also found that resale restrictions - such as the requirement to show photo ID at the venue - were not being disclosed. "This is really worrying, because people could go onto these resale websites, spend as much as £1,500, then go to the venue and be turned away," said Which? BBC NEWS

Osborne revives plans to privatise Land Registry as The Great British Sell-Off continues
Last July, controversial plans to privatise the Land Registry were thwarted by Liberal Democrat politician and former Business Secretary Vince Cable. Osborne has previously stated he wants to sell-off around £20billion of state-backed assets by 2020. Last month, Osborne confirmed he was off-loading the UK's 40 per cent stake in Eurostar. Speculation is mounting that state-backed broadcaster Channel 4 will be next on the Chancellor's list. The privatisation of Royal Mail, completed in October, triggered accusations from some MPs that taxpayers were short-changed by around £1billion as the postal firm's shares were priced too cheaply. The Land Registry forms part of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and currently employs approximately 4,500 people. It is the UK's most comprehensive source of house prices, because all property buyers must use it to register ownership. Last year, the proposed sell-off had been expected to raise around £1.2 billion for the Treasury, but an announcement in January 2014 that the move was being considered triggered a 48-hour strike by furious employees. DAILY MAIL


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