TOP STORIES
CARTOONS
POSH GRAMMAR
OSBORNE KERCHING!!
PROMISES PROMISES
SOUTHERN FAIL
DUMB POLLSTERS
DON'T BLAME TRUMP!
£13bn APPLE TAX DODGE
SAFE SEATS = BREXIT?
UKIP v LABOUR
ALL OUT OF IT TOGETHER
EU IMMIGRATION
TORY v TORY
PRISON SUICIDES
LONDON LEAVES UK!
EU v TORY MANDATE
HMRC IS A TAX HAVEN
PANAMA TAX LEAK
IDS v IDS
RICH v POOR
POSH BOYS
HELP2BUY PROFITEERS
LLOYDS, RBS CEO PAY
HSBC DRUG MONEY
PM'S MUM FIGHTS CUTS
PEAK "STUFF" IS HERE
HMRC GOOGLY
PENSION TAX RAID

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Network Rail's own staff 'choose to fly within the UK because it is cheaper than the train'
Network Rail bosses travelling on business spent £1.3million on UK flights in the last year because it was cheaper than taking the train. Employees of the public sector body took 8,353 flights from April 2013 to March 2015. The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information Request submitted by The Sun, show around 90 per cent of the domestic flights were to Scotland. The data revealed Robin Gisby, former operations managing director of NR, spent the most on domestic flights during the time period. He travelled on 15 flights between January 2013 and September 2014, which cost £2,250. A spokesman for NR said if staff have to attend a meeting in Scotland it is “cheaper to fly than take the train” and spend money on accommodation. He said: “For the majority of staff travel, rail is much the better way to go. A total of £1.3 million was spent on flights in 2013/14 and 2104/15 but £32 million was spent on rail travel during that period... Network Rail's 35,000 people have to pay the going rate for all travel, be it air, rail or car. Our people are also obliged to use the cheapest method available, sometimes that means by air but mostly we travel by rail." A spokeswoman for the rail passenger watchdog Transport Focus (formerly Passenger Focus) said: “It is no surprise that so many longer-distance journeys were made by air. Unless passengers can book weeks in advance, rail can be prohibitively expensive for many people”. GUARDIAN

200,000 "revenge" evictions by landlords: UK in breach of its own UN human rights commitment
The report by Just Fair suggested that so called “Revenge evictions”, where tenants lose their homes when they complain about standards, are so widespread that as many as 200,000 happening in 2013. That, Just Fair argued, amounted to a breach of the UN covenant’s prohibition against arbitrary eviction. Just Fair’s members include Crisis, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children and Unicef UK. They warn of “profound issues of lack of supply, increasing housing costs, lack of security of tenure and homes of such poor quality that they are unfit for habitation”. In a 40-page report, Just Fair concluded: Private rents are at double the level of council properties, at £163 a week, and a quarter of those renting rely on housing benefit to meet the cost; A third of homes in the private rented sector do not meet basic standards of health, safety and habitability; Rough sleeping in London increased by more than a third between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, while funding for shelters fell; Last December there were almost 62,000 households in England living in temporary accommodation, the highest number for five years, and 280,000 households are at risk of homelessness; The number of families living in bed and breakfasts more than tripled from 630 in 2010 to 2,040 last year. GUARDIAN

Poundland is NOT such a bargain: you often end up paying more because you are getting less product
Once the preserve of the poor, nowadays the shop — founded 25 years ago by Dave Dodd and Stephen Smith — is a magnet for the middle classes. Almost every item is sold for £1 in each of its 575 stores in Britain and Ireland. But a report claims Poundland charged up to 50 per cent more than other stores and that while its goods may have the lowest price, they are often sold in smaller amounts. Here are some typical examples: Poundland’s Heinz Beanz cost £1 for 150g, but Tesco’s costs £1.25 for 200g. You get more Beanz for your money at Tesco. It's a common ploy, so you should always check how many kilos or grams you're getting for your money. Poundland’s Quaker Oats cost £1 for 500g, but Iceland sell 1kg for £1.50. Same product, but slightly different packaging, so you can be assured the taste is the same. If you're looking for a bargain, Iceland's pack is twice the size of Poundland's. Poundland’s Bernard Matthews Wafer Thin Turkey Ham costs £1 for 200g, but Asda sells 400g for £1.48. Poundland's packaging claims there's 42 per cent extra free. But buy the Asda pack that's double the size for just 50p more and you'll find it a much better bargain. DAILY MAIL

Britain's biggest banks face further £19bn of fines and charges to pay for financial scandals
The UK’s ‘big four’ banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – have already racked up a £42billion bill over the last five years. This represents 88 per cent of the industry wide total of £48billion in charges faced by 13 banks and building societies in Britain. S&P said it now expects the UK’s four biggest lenders to face further penalties in 2015 and 2016 of £19billion – taking the total for the big four to £61billion. The bill has been driven by the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) as well as interest rate hedging products to small and medium-sized businesses. ‘We think that conduct and litigation charges are now a way of life for the UK banking industry,’ said S&P in the report. DAILY MAIL

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 Posted by Hari 2 comments Labels: , , , , ,

SOURCE DAILY MAIL: Britain's biggest banks face further £19bn of fines and charges to pay for financial scandals
The UK’s ‘big four’ banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – have already racked up a £42billion bill in the UK over the last five years. This represents 88 per cent of the industry wide total of £48billion in charges faced by 13 banks and building societies in Britain. S&P said it now expects the UK’s four biggest lenders to face further penalties in 2015 and 2016 of £19billion – taking the total for the big four to £61billion. The bill has been driven by the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) as well as interest rate hedging products to small and medium-sized businesses. ‘We think that conduct and litigation charges are now a way of life for the UK banking industry,’ said S&P in the report.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , ,
A report by the House of Commons Library, "Membership of UK Political Parties", published in January 2015 provides an insight. The report uses data from before the 2010 election. The graphs below show how a particular demographic is represented in a party compared to the UK population of eligible voters as a whole.

It is important to note this House of Commons Library report states "less than 1% of the UK electorate is now a member of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Party". So while the data tells us something about the parties, it tells us nothing about the electorate. Except that the overwhelming majority have declined to join any political party.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , ,
Fee, KJ and Chris shop for answers...

SOURCE GUARDIAN: UK supermarket “deals” dupe shoppers out of hundreds of millions, says Which?
The consumer group Which? claims supermarkets are pushing illusory savings and fooling shoppers into choosing products they might not have bought if they knew the full facts. Examples raised by Which? include Tesco flagging the “special value” of a sweetcorn sixpack when a smaller pack was proportionately cheaper, and Asda raising the individual price of a product in order to make the multi-buy deal more attractive. The cumulative impact of all these different pricing tactics is that it is impossible for people to know if they are getting a fair deal, the consumer group says, particularly when prices vary frequently, consumers are in a hurry or are buying numerous low value items. About 40% of groceries in Britain are currently sold on promotion, according to the retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel. With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, Which? said consumers could be collectively losing out to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. This is the first ever super-complaint Which? has lodged against the grocery sector after compiling a dossier of “dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products and baffling sales offers” and sending it to the Competition and Markets Authority. Which? has previously made super-complaints on care homes, credit card interest rates, Northern Ireland banking, private dentistry and the Scottish legal profession.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
UK supermarket “deals” dupe shoppers out of hundreds of millions, says Which?
The consumer group Which? claims supermarkets are pushing illusory savings and fooling shoppers into choosing products they might not have bought if they knew the full facts. Examples raised by Which? include Tesco flagging the “special value” of a sweetcorn sixpack when a smaller pack was proportionately cheaper, and Asda raising the individual price of a product in order to make the multi-buy deal more attractive. The cumulative impact of all these different pricing tactics is that it is impossible for people to know if they are getting a fair deal, the consumer group says, particularly when prices vary frequently, consumers are in a hurry or are buying numerous low value items. About 40% of groceries in Britain are currently sold on promotion, according to the retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel. With £115bn spent on groceries and toiletries in 2013, Which? said consumers could be collectively losing out to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. This is the first ever super-complaint Which? has lodged against the grocery sector after compiling a dossier of “dodgy multi-buys, shrinking products and baffling sales offers” and sending it to the Competition and Markets Authority. Which? has previously made super-complaints on care homes, credit card interest rates, Northern Ireland banking, private dentistry and the Scottish legal profession. GUARDIAN

Jail: France convicts Nina Ricci perfume heir of HSBC-assisted tax evasion
The heir to the Nina Ricci perfume dynasty has been sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended, after being convicted of hiding money from the French taxman with the help of HSBC. A Paris court also fined Arlette Ricci €1m (£722,000) after declaring she had shown a “particularly determined willingness for more than 20 years” to hide money left to her by her father in Swiss bank accounts. “The seriousness of the facts are an exceptional threat to public order and the republican pact,” read the judgment, seen as an important precedent for as many as 50 other cases of alleged tax fraud involving HSBC in France. Judges also ordered the seizure of a house in Paris and a property in Corsica with a total estimated value of €4m, that it said had been transferred to family trusts in an alleged attempt by Ricci to “organise her own insolvability” and escape financial penalties. Ricci, 74, is the first of around 50 wealthy French nationals being pursued in the courts for allegedly placing money in Switzerland to avoid taxes. During the high-profile trial, she was accused of hiding €18m from the French taxman. She had fiercely denied the accusations, insisting the measures taken to optimise her tax bill were legal. Ricci’s tax adviser Henri-Nicolas Fleurance was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and a €10,000 fine for attempting to organise her insolvency, and Ricci’s daughter an eight-month suspended sentence for fiscal fraud. The Geneva-based branch of HSBC is accused of having hidden around €5bn for nearly 9,000 wealthy French customers. As well as French investigations, the Swiss branch of HSBC is facing charges of fraud and money laundering in Belgium after the Brussels authorities claimed it had “knowingly eased and promoted fiscal fraud by making offshore companies available to certain privileged clients”. GUARDIAN

Survey: inheritance and gifts the only way for 50% of young people to get on the property ladder
Nearly half parents, or 49 per cent, think their children will be able to buy their first home only after receiving an inheritance, a survey of more than 1,000 parents suggest. Highlighting the generation gap when it comes to home-owning aspirations, nearly a third of 25-to-34 year olds surveyed had used cash gifts for a deposit. One-in-six aged between 25 and 34 relied on inheritance from a relative to buy their own house, compared to just one-in-20 people aged over 55, housing charity Shelter said. The asking price for the average UK house is currently a record £286,133, beating a peak reached last June. This rises to £594,585 in London – a 49 per cent increase compared to five years ago, property website Rightmove said, blaming a shortage of housing and growing demand for the increases. In England, the proportion of young people aged 25 to 34 who are privately renting has more than doubled since 2003/04 to 48 per cent. Over the same 10 years, owner-occupation levels in this age group have fallen from 59 per cent to 36 per cent, according to the English Housing Survey. Shelter said: ‘Rather than pumping more money into schemes like Help to Buy, which just push prices up, politicians should instead give back hope to the priced out generation by making a real and lasting commitment to building the affordable homes we desperately need.’ DAILY MAIL

Payday regulation crackdown pushes Wonga into its first annual loss ever
The reversal of fortunes for the UK’s biggest payday lender — after years of profits — reflects the costs of a large-scale clean-up prompted by a dramatic tightening of regulation. Wonga, which reported a loss after tax of £42.8m for 2014, does not expect to be profitable again this year. The Financial Conduct Authority expects all but a handful of Britain’s 400 payday lenders to be wiped out by a cap on the total amount they can charge, which came into force at the start of the year. For Wonga, the cap has already pushed margins down by two-thirds on a per customer basis. Its customer base of one million has fallen to under 600,000. Wonga has drawn fierce criticism from politicians, consumer groups and debt charities for charging high interest rates and hefty charges to struggling borrowers. Andy Haste, executive chairman, said he was introducing sweeping changes that he warned would substantially dent the group’s profitability in the short term. He has not ruled out dropping the Wonga brand altogether, although said he would not rebrand in the immediate future. FINANCIAL TIMES

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015 Posted by Jake 1 comment Labels: , , , ,
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released in April 2015, just before the May 2015 UK General Election, showed a fall of over 800,000 on the Electoral Register during the year 2014. Is this a symptom of public disgust at all the shabby little things politicians do to grasp at power?


Before even more of us make the mistake of turning up our noses at the ballot, we should consider what is the root cause of the bad smell that comes from politicians.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
EU files antitrust charges against Google for skewing search results
European Union regulators said they had reached the preliminary conclusion that Google “systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.” That conduct started in 2008, the regulators said, adding: “The commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries—to the detriment of consumers and rival comparison shopping services, as well as stifling innovation.” The EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, conceded that the scope of the formal charges was “limited” given it focused on comparison shopping. But she said her agency would continue to look at Google’s conduct in other areas, such as “hotels or flights or maps” and would also “actively pursue” three other concerns expressed by the EU regarding Google’s conduct—allegations that Google copies or “scrapes” content from rival sites, its exclusivity contracts with advertisers, and advertisers’ ability to use competing advertising platforms. WALL STREET JOURNAL

Skills shortage driving up skilled worker salaries
Skills shortages are driving increases in pay, with almost a third of recruitment agencies reporting improved starting salaries, according to a study. Pay growth was especially strong in the Midlands and the south, said the report from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (Rec). The rate of pay growth was the strongest since last September, while the availability of candidates continued to fall. Skills shortages were a particular problem in teaching. For temporary staff, the problem was worse in nursing and healthcare, it was reported. KPMG’s Bernard Brown said: “Recruiters are struggling with industry-wide skills shortages, as demand for talent continues to outstrip the number of candidates seeking work. This pervasive skills shortage could put the brakes on economic growth if it continues unabated.” GUARDIAN

Twenty-eight English clubs are now owned overseas, increasing the risk of tax avoidance
Almost one in three of the 92 Premier and Football League clubs are now substantially owned overseas, including in offshore tax havens, leading to the English football leagues being accused of allowing ownership structures of clubs that could be used for tax avoidance. Research into the ownership of all the clubs has found 28 clubs with a substantial shareholding overseas, including nine of the 20 Premier League clubs. Owners residing abroad, who hold shares in clubs through companies registered overseas, may not be liable for UK capital gains tax – currently 28% for higher rate, wealthier, tax payers – on the profits they make when they sell a club. The huge rise in offshore ownership of clubs, which were almost all UK-owned until the wave of overseas buyers moved in around a decade ago, has coincided with steepling increases in television rights and the value of clubs, in the Premier League, and in the Championship for clubs with a prospect of promotion. George Turner, author of the Tax Justice Network’s report, said: “This should be of great concern to fans around the country, who invest so much time, commitment, emotion and money into their clubs... Football is not just another business and tax havens have no place in our national game, whatever the reason an owner may have for using them.” Premiership clubs under suspicion include Arsenal, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, QPR, Sunderland and Tottenham. Clubs in all four leagues feature in the report. GUARDIAN

Tory housing association right-to-buy policy attacked by big business
The Conservatives have come under fire after David Cameron pledged to give people the chance of a “good life” by extending Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme to 1.3 million families in housing association properties. Under the Tory plans, councils would be forced to sell off their most valuable homes, raising £4.5bn net a year. This would be used to fund the building of cheaper, replacement properties. But the Confederation of British Industry and the blue chip Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) property firm joined many housing associations, warning that the Tory plan would not meet targets to address the chronic shortage of housing. Boris Johnson said last month that the proposal would involve massive subsidies. Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, said: “The expansion of right to buy may be good politics, but represents terrible policy. This is exactly the kind of short-termist thinking that the country’s 4.7m households in social housing don’t need, not to mention the same number again of aspiring owners in private renting”. GUARDIAN

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,

SOURCE GUARDIAN: Tory housing association right-to-buy policy attacked by big business
The Conservatives have come under fire after David Cameron pledged to give people the chance of a “good life” by extending Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme to 1.3 million families in housing association properties. The Confederation of British Industry and the blue chip Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) property firm joined many housing associations, warning that the Tory plan would not address the chronic shortage of housing. Boris Johnson said last month that the proposal would involve massive subsidies. Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, said: “The expansion of right to buy may be good politics, but represents terrible policy. This is exactly the kind of short-termist thinking that the country’s 4.7m households in social housing don’t need, not to mention the same number again of aspiring owners in private renting”. Gavin Smart, the deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, warned that the proposal could make life more difficult for people on lower incomes, adding: “We fear the figures simply won’t stack up.” Under the Tory plans, councils would be forced to sell off their most valuable homes, to be replaced by affordable housing in the same area. The funds from the proceeds of the council house sales would be used to pay for the extension of the right-to-buy scheme to housing associations. A further £1bn from the sales would be used by the Tories over four years to prepare brownfield sites for house building, with the aim of creating 400,000 extra homes. The Tories said around 15,000 council properties that are in the top third price bracket – around 0.4% of the stock – become available every year. Under the new rules, councils would be forced to sell those homes, raising £4.5bn net a year. This would be used to fund the building of cheaper, replacement properties. “That is more than enough to pay for one-to-one replacement of the council houses sold, discount for the right-to-buy housing association property, one-to-one replacement for the right-to-buy homes and this £1bn over four years fund to deal with brownfield sites,” one Tory source said.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015 Posted by Jake 3 comments Labels: , , , , , , ,
What's in a manifesto? Politicians make their careers more promising by promising more. Most of all during a closely fought general election where no party expects a majority. In these tight contests a goon with a gatling could not fire off promises faster nor more recklessly. 

Party manifesto writers confidently disregard truth because win or lose politicians will get away scot-free with failure to deliver their pledges:

  • Lose and they don't even need an excuse. With no power to fulfil the promises, nobody would know if they were fibbing.
  • Win to be the biggest single party in a coalition, and they blame their coalition partners for their broken promises.

In the weeks before the May 2015 general election we saw many promises from the various parties, a few of which we have retrieved from the BBC's collection. There is little point attributing them by party, so we just list them. To paraphrase the poet Catullus, what is promised in an election should be written in the wind and the running water:

  • Raise £1bn from extra corporation tax on banking sector
  • Increase charges to “non-doms”, raising £130m
  • Support weekly bin collections
  • No rise in VAT
  • Take family homes out of Inheritance Tax
  • Keep mortgage rates low so families are more financially secure
  • Make big businesses pay their fair share of tax 
  • Make it illegal for employers to undercut British workers by exploiting migrants 
  • Invest £2.3 billion in over 1,400 flood defence schemes to protect 300,000 homes
  • Allow a public sector rail operator to bid for and take on new lines
  • Scrap Winter Fuel Payment and free TV Licences for pensioners on the 40% income tax rate
  • Restrict child benefit to two children and stop paying it all together for children who do not live in Britain 
  • Introduce minimum pricing of alcohol
  • Maintain the triple lock on the state pension, so it rises by the highest of prices, earnings, or 2.5%
  • No increase in the retirement age 
  • Give 16-21 year olds two thirds off all bus travel
  • Spending increase for the NHS in real terms every year, an extra £8bn a year in England by 2020
  • Make greater use of direct democracy, such as local referendums
  • Guaranteed job for under-25s unemployed for over a year and for adults unemployed over two years 
  • Guaranteed childcare for primary school children from 8am to 6pm 
  • Ensure speed cameras are not used for profit by councils 
  • No out of work benefits for migrants or child benefit for dependents living outside UK 
  • more social housing to be built by local authorities
  • Boost police recruitment of black and minority ethnic groups

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Thursday, April 09, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Drug firm Novartis tried to 'scupper' trials of a cheaper version of eye medicine
Avastin, which costs just $50 (£34) a dose, could save the NHS £102m if used instead of the standard treatment, ranibizumab, or Lucentis, which costs $1098. The drugs giant Roche holds the intellectual property rights for both, but Novartis has the rights to market Lucentis in Europe. In one of several examples given in a report by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a senior researcher from Bristol University, who took part in a UK trial of Avastin said that Novartis had “tried to prevent UK ophthalmologists joining [the trial]”. The chief investigator in another trial, known as Tandem, told the BMJ that a Novartis representative had tried to divert him, during the trial’s planning stage in 2009, to trial work funded by Novartis and had opened up the prospect of funding for his future research projects. Despite positive trial evidence, Avastin is not licensed for use to treat wet AMD, a leading cause of blindness. And the General Medical Council has issued guidance telling doctors it is unlawful to prescribe unlicensed medicines on grounds of cost. INDEPENDENT

Has Austerity caused the UK’s first decline in life expectancy in 20 years?
Life expectancies for women aged 65, 75, 85 and 95 all fell in 2012 compared with a year earlier, the first slip in all age groups in nearly two decades. There was also a small drop in life expectancy for men at ages 85 and 95, while longevity for men in the two younger age groups stagnated, according to a report published on Tuesday by Public Health England (PHE). Although the figures for 2013 did not show any further falls, the life expectancies for men and women aged 85 and 95 failed to recover to 2011 levels, which were the highest to date. Age campaigners warned the unexpected decrease in life expectancies was a “canary in the coal mine”, showing how five years of austerity was beginning to take its toll on elderly people. But PHE said it was too early to conclude there was a significant change in the three-decade-old upward trend in life expectancy. Its report suggested the falls could be due to flu or bad weather, or even a statistical blip, although it noted that they were reflected elsewhere in Europe. To take one example, the life expectancy of an average 75-year-old woman in 2013 was 13 years and five weeks, which is five weeks fewer than people of that age in 2011. The falls in life expectancy come after three decades in which life expectancy has on average increased by 1.2% for men aged 65 and 0.7% for women. It is the first time since 1995 that life expectancy has fallen among women of all four age groups studied. GUARDIAN

A&E waiting in England hits new worst level
The NHS in England has missed its four-hour A&E wait target for the past three months with performance dropping to its lowest level for a decade. Just 91.8% of patients were seen in four hours between January and March - below the 95% target. That is the worst three-month performance since the target was introduced at the end of 2004. The figures were widely expected as the weekly performance has been below 95% since September. Figures released in Scotland showed that in the 12 months up to the end of February 92% of patients were seen in four hours. Monthly waiting times have been even worse in Northern Ireland and Wales, although the latest yearly figures are not yet available. Labour immediately linked the figures to cuts in GP services, forcing people to go to A&E instead. BBC NEWS

Kellogg's effectively paid no corporation tax in the UK in 2013
Tax experts said the complex web of companies it uses to do business in the UK generates 'significant opacity' which makes it hard to tell if it is paying its fair share of tax in this country. Other American firms, in the technology sector, such as Google, Apple and Amazon have been heavily criticised in recent years over alleged tax avoidance. Kellogg's is being accused of acting like these 'classic US-owned IT company' with bases in Ireland and Luxembourg rather than as a food manufacturer known around the world for its cereals. Kellogg's has three factories in Britain – two in Wrexham and the third in Manchester – where it makes cereals and snacks. It sells in the UK through two main subsidiaries owned by Irish-based Kellogg Europe Trading Ltd. The two subsidiaries paid corporation tax of £8.4million on profits of nearly £50million in 2013. It also has six Luxembourg-registered companies which paid corporation tax of £210,000 on profits of about £57million. But the £210,000 and £8.4million figures were offset by an £11.8million tax credit at another UK registered operation, Kellogg Group. DAILY MAIL

Monday, 6 April 2015

Monday, April 06, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , ,
The LibDems and Tories squabbled over who should get credit for the increases in the personal tax free allowance (Personal Allowance), which rose from £6,475 in 2010/11 up to £10,000 in 2014/15.

Whoever did it, did it mean low paid people got to keep all their income to spend as they will? Of course not!

For people receiving Working Tax Credits, who may or may not be getting Child Tax Credits too, their tax credits are clawed back at the rate of 41 pence for every pound (i.e. a 41% withdrawal rate) above an income threshold of £6,420. Note this applies to a household's joint income rather than on an individual basis. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
London’s poorest tenants hit by £50m rent rise as social housing converted to 'affordable' homes
Housing associations quietly switch thousands of tenancies to higher rates to make up a shortfall in government funding. In 2010 the government made a 63% cut in capital investment budgets for housing associations, in effect a £3bn reduction in available funding. The government has also demanded that any taxpayer investment in new housing should be in affordable rather than cheaper social rented homes. Social rents are typically half market rate, while so-called affordable tariffs are up to 80% of private rents, leading to complaints that the definition of affordable is Orwellian. About 11,000 homes in the capital have been converted from “social” housing to “affordable” since 2012, and thousands more are to follow in a policy that has sparked tenants’ rebellions. Annual rents have risen by £29m, but the total cost to tenants over the three years to date has been £49.7m. Over half of the housing associations set the converted rents higher than 70% of market rate in the last recorded period. But others, determined to keep housing genuinely affordable, have charged much lower rents. In the past year Affinity has converted 295 homes across its portfolio. It said it had halted conversions at the estate after a protest by residents and said it would suggest tenants consider moving only if they had surplus room. Among other associations, in the past two years, London and Quadrant switched 1,673 tenancies earning an extra £4.2m a year, Circle Housing switched 1,337 earning £3.8m more a year and Notting Hill Housing Trust switched 853 earning an extra £3.3m annually. The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations, said its members were being forced to convert tenancies because of George Osborne’s deep cuts in investment budgets. GUARDIAN

Huge rise in number of families living in temporary accommodation in England
By the end of the year 61,970 homeless households were in temporary lodging, from B&Bs to homes rented from private landlords, of which 46,700 were families with children. The figures, from the Department for Communities and Local Government, had been falling, dropping to 48,190 and 35,950 respectively in the spring of 2011, but have now returned to the levels seen in early 2009. The number of children in temporary housing increased by almost 10,000 year-on-year to 90,450. The housing charity Shelter said the figures were equivalent to four homeless children in every school. Rising private rents and a chronic shortage of affordable homes have helped push the number of families without a permanent home to the highest level in almost six years. GUARDIAN

Anger as bosses of two of Britain’s biggest firms walk away with annual pay packages of over £11m each
Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive of Nurofen and Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB), took home £11.2million last year – an increase of almost 65 per cent – despite the firm having faced a string of fines over its corporate governance practices. And the Prudential chief executive, Tidjane Thiam, enjoyed a 36 per cent pay rise taking his salary to £11.8million after profits jumped 14 per cent to £3.2billion. Thiam, who will soon take the helm at Credit Suisse, was not even the highest paid employee at the Pru. That accolade went to Richard Woolnough, a fund manager at its investment arm M&G, who scooped more than £15.3million despite his funds slipping to the bottom half of the performance tables. RB’s boss’s £11.2million pales into insignificance compared to the £91m that predecessor Bart Becht took home in 2009. While their shares have risen 20.9 per cent over the past 12 months, the firm has suffered the acute embarrassment of being fined for questionable practices. In January RB was fined £539,800 for breaching stock market rules following share deals made by Kapoor and another director. The City watchdog said the household goods giant had ‘inadequate systems and controls’ to monitor dealing by its senior executives in its own shares. The fine came one month after RB was fined £95million for fixing the prices of products in France. In November it admitted its office in America had been raided by the US Attorney in connection with more alleged anti-competitive practices. And a year ago, RB agreed to pay the NHS £90m after it was accused of profiting from its indigestion treatment Gaviscon after the product’s patent had expired. Earlier this month the Institute of Directors issued a stark warning about excessive pay in the investment industry, warning fund managers could replace investment bankers as the target of public anger. And last night leading shareholder group Glass Lewis recommended voting against the pay of BP boss Bob Dudley, who received a 25 per cent jump in pay and perks to £8.6million despite a drop in profits after it was hit by the plunging oil price. DAILY MAIL

UK productivity growth is weakest since second world war, says ONS
The Office for National Statistics said productivity decreased by 0.2% in the third quarter of the financial year, leaving output per hour worked little changed on the previous year and slightly lower than in 2007, before the UK’s longest and deepest modern recession. The ONS figures show that with workers producing less than they did in 2007, Britain’s productivity gap with its major economic rivals, such as the US, Germany and France, has widened. The UK has the second worst productivity record of the G7 leading Western industrial nations. Weak productivity has been the flipside to strong employment growth, since the increase in the number of people working has not been matched by the hourly output of goods and services they have produced. Up until the global economic crisis, the efficiency of UK workers tended to increase by around 2-2.5% a year. Had that trend continued, productivity would have been 15% higher than it was before the recession. An alternative measure of productivity, output per worker, showed some growth in 2014 but only as a result of employees working longer hours. The ONS said, despite Britain’s poor productivity, businesses were keeping their costs in check by keeping a lid on their wage bills. GUARDIAN

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