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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, December 10, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

Tories scrap criminal courts charge 'that made innocent people plead guilty'
More than 50 magistrates quit in disgust after the scheme - which hits small-time criminals with flat fees of up to £1,000 - began in April. MPs on the justice select committee warned the fees were 'grossly disproportionate' because they were charged on top of other fines and not linked to the ability to pay. And fines could be five times higher if defendants said they were innocent but were found guilty - leading an expert to warn people would take the rap for crimes they didn't commit. Mr Gove announced today the fees will be scrapped from Christmas Eve and there will be a full review of all other charges in the court system. One woman aged 32 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, had to pay £300 including a £150 criminal courts charge for stealing a 75p pack of Mars bars because she had 'not eaten in days' . A 26-year-old homeless man in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was billed £150 for stealing a 99p can of Red Bull despite receiving a conditional discharge. Malcolm Richardson, National Chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, told the Mirror: "Since April our members have seen penniless defendants hit with charges they know they’ll never be able to pay, faced with the impossible choice between pleading guilty to get a lesser charge or not guilty and running the risk of a massive alternative. "That’s why magistrates are enormously relieved Mr Gove has listened to our concerns and axed the charge in the interests of justice.” MIRROR

Families 'dread Christmas' as they seek money to buy presents, warn teachers
The warning comes amid growing concerns that many children are turning up to school hungry and teachers are dipping into their own pockets to pay for food for their students. Meanwhile, "cohorts of children" are "disappearing" from schools across the country, having their education disrupted, as they move homes because of high rents and benefit cuts, teachers warned. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said that for some pupils in Britain, the free school meal they get for lunch may be their only hot meal of the day. "We have members who take food into schools every day so children are not too hungry to learn,” she said. Borrowing an approach from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has used the stories of ordinary people to articulate his questions in the new-look PMQs, Ms Blower, in a speech to the People's Assembly in London, told about a mother called Rebecca: "My husband and I are both in full time employment but we still struggle. Anyone bringing up children will know how heartbreaking it is to have to say no to something a child wants. I dread Christmas. I hate it when their trainers have got a hole in, or they bring another letter home from school saying they need money for a trip. Food seems to be the only expense we have immediate control over, so that budget gets squeezed. And our home isn't as warm as we would like it to be during the winter." DAILY MAIL

Record number of 'fit' patients stuck in hospital because local social care is inadequate
Such ‘fit’ patients, who cannot be safely discharged usually because local social care is inadequate, accounted for 160,094 bed days in October - the highest number since records began more than five years ago. That is the total number of bed days in effect lost to the NHS because hospital staff could not use them for another patient, which leads to hospitals getting overcrowded. In addition, hospitals are already struggling to treat and either admit or discharge A&E patients within the required four hours and to give patients key diagnostic tests quickly enough, ambulance services are missing key targets to respond to 999 calls, and growing numbers of cancer patients are not being treated within 62 days. The figures come after the Nuffield Trust, a leading health thinktank, and the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, warned that the NHS will struggle to cope this winter, particularly due to a small number of patients classed as “delayed transfers of care” taking up a small but disproportionate number of hospital beds. GUARDIAN

Former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling joins Morgan Stanley
Mr Darling, who served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 to 2010, will take up the role in January. Mr Darling, 62, played a key role in addressing the global economic crisis. In 2014 members of Morgan Stanley's board of directors received $75,000 (£49,960) a year plus an additional $10,000 to $30,000 for leading or joining a committee within the board. Each board member also received $250,000 in stock awards. His move follows former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's appointment to an advisory panel at the global investment firm Pimco. The other panel members include former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, and Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the European Central Bank. A spokesman for Mr Brown said he was taking on "a minor advisory role" and would not financially benefit. The spokesman added: "Any money goes to the office of Gordon and Sarah Brown to support their charitable and public service work." BBC NEWS

Storm Desmond: Floods 'made worse after hundreds of flood defence schemes shelved'
Flooding which brought chaos to Britain and saw thousands of people evacuated from their homes may have been avoided if the Government had not cancelled hundreds of defence schemes. Hundreds of families are spending the night in Red Cross Shelters after Storm Desmond brought record levels of rainfall to the North of England and Scotland, causing already swollen rivers to burst their banks, deluging towns, flooding 2,000 properties and leaving 60,000 homes without power. In Cumbria water rose to first floor windows and the army was mobilised to rescue trapped householders as David Cameron convened Cobra to deal with the growing crisis. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, whose constituency Westmoreland and Lonsdale was severely affected by flooding said that the situation had been made worse because nearly 300 flood defence schemes had been dubbed "low priority" and shelved in recent years. They included a plan for the River Kent in Kendal, where an elderly man is feared drowned. Unprecedented levels of rain has fallen on Britain over the weekend, with rivers across the North of England reaching record heights and Honister in Cumbria recording 13.4 inches of rain in 24 hours, the most rain to ever fall over a 24 hour period. The River Eden in Carlisle reached 20.3 feet, nearly five foot higher than previous records. TELEGRAPH

EU to investigate McDonald's tax deals with Luxembourg
McDonald's tax deals with Luxembourg enabled the U.S. fastfood chain to escape paying taxes on European franchise royalties from 2009. The EU competition enforcer said McDonald's had not paid any corporate taxes in Luxembourg or the United States on royalties paid by franchisees in Europe and Russia since 2009 as a result of two tax rulings by the Luxembourg authorities. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "The purpose of double taxation treaties between countries is to avoid double taxation - not to justify double non-taxation." Vestager's move against McDonald's came following critical media reports and evidence from trade unions. "For too long, McDonald's has stashed billions in tax havens and ducked contributing to state coffers ... and it’s time that the company be held accountable" Scott Courtney, organising director at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said in a statement. SEIU represents 2 million healthcare, public sector and property service workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The action by the European Commission comes two months after it ordered Luxembourg to recover up to 30 million euros (£21.2 million) from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) and the Dutch to do the same for Starbucks (SBUX.O) because their tax deals were seen as unlawful aid, to attract corporates to their own countries. REUTERS

Cadbury owners pay NO corporation tax despite making £2BN in sales
Mondelez International , one of the world’s biggest food companies, legally dodged paying tens of millions of pounds which could have helped fund schools, police and hospitals. The firm was previously called Kraft Foods and bought iconic chocolate maker Cadbury in a bitter £11.5billion takeover in 2010. Cadbury UK made profits of £96.5million in the year to December 31, 2014, but paid no corporation tax. Its holding company, Cadbury Ltd, previously Cadbury plc, paid dividends of £1.3billion in the same year but also paid no corporation tax. Labour MP Margaret Hodge , chairwoman of the Commons all-party group on responsible tax, said: “Multinationals like this are deliberately exporting their profits with artificial company structures to avoid tax... The founders of Cadbury who set it up as an ethical company will be turning in their graves.” MIRROR

Thousands of new family homes could be built on green belt land in the biggest shake up of planning rules for three decades
The Department for Communities and Local Government is considering whether local communities should be able to allocate sites for small starter home developments in their green belt. In what would be the biggest shake-up to planning protections for more than three decades, the ribbon of green belt land around towns and cities which prevents urban sprawl - bar in exceptional circumstances - could be built on more freely. Chancellor George Osborne has declared numerous times in the past that the Conservative party are 'builders.' But experts warn that Britain should be building around a quarter of a million properties a year to keep up with demand. The consultation comes as Osborne outlined plans for 400,000 new homes before 2020 in his Autumn Statement last month. The consultation said: 'We consider that the current policy can hinder locally-led development and propose to amend national planning policy so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the green belt specifically for start homes.' But Clive Betts, chairman of the Commons Communities and Local Government committee, criticised the move, saying: 'I have no problem with a proper review of the green belt to see whether it is all appropriate or whether more should be added in. But that is how it should be done, not as a bit of an opportunity to cherry pick the best sites by developers, which this sounds like it could develop into.' DAILY MAIL

Plight of the renters: Housing costs leap by 36% for tenants - while falling 3.2% for owners since the financial crisis
The disparity means it will be even harder for renters to save up towards a deposit so that they can take a step on to the first rung. The rental payment figures, from the Office for National Statistics, only refers to payments householders have to pay themselves, excluding any benefits or rebates, so the total rental cost could be considerably higher. And rising numbers of households are being forced to rent because they cannot afford to get on the property ladder. As many as 31 per cent of households now have mortgages, 35 per cent are renting and 31 per cent own outright. In 2006, 40 per cent held mortgages and 29 per cent rented. The estate agents Savills predicts the situation will worsen for Britain's tenants, with average rents rising by 16.5 per cent in the next five years and by 22.8 per cent in London. Richard Donnell, research director at Hometrack, said: 'The access to equity remains an issue. The Autumn Statement announced a big push to access home ownership with the new Help to Buy London scheme and Starter Homes. However, in reality this is only going to help about 6 per cent of renters access home ownership. DAILY MAIL

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