Eurobond tax scandal: David Cameron accused of dodging concerns over loophole that costs Treasury at least £500m a year

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eurobond-tax-scandal-david-cameron-accused-of-dodging-concerns-over-loophole-that-costs-treasury-at-least-500m-a-year-8899864.html

Prime Minister refuses to explain why he hasn’t stopped use of Eurobond exemption

cameronunhappyGETTYDavid Cameron’s attempts to “brush aside” legitimate concerns that the Government has not yet closed a legal tax loophole, which is losing the public purse at least £500m a year, have been condemned by MPs and campaigners.

When asked at Prime Minister’s Questions about revelations in The Independent that the Coalition had failed to stop the use of the quoted Eurobond exemption to avoid tax, Mr Cameron said decisions had been made by the Treasury and implied that was the end of it.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood and shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “It’s pretty shocking that David Cameron just brushed aside this important question. We’re talking about a loophole that costs us around half a billion a year, yet the Prime Minister arrogantly dismisses the issue. At a time when families are facing a cost-of-living crisis and the deficit is high, this isn’t good enough.”

She added: “David Cameron and George Osborne must explain why they decided not to close this loophole. And we need a government that takes tax avoidance seriously and is on the side of the majority of families and businesses who pay their fair share.”

The campaign group UK Uncut says it is now considering targeting the high-street chains highlighted in The Independent, which include Nando’s, Pizza Express, Café Rouge, BHS, Maplin, Office and Pets at Home. The companies all cut their taxable profits by borrowing at high interest from their owners through the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

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Continue ReadingEurobond tax scandal: David Cameron accused of dodging concerns over loophole that costs Treasury at least £500m a year

Tax Special Investigation: How Camelot has avoided millions in tax – with help from teachers in Canada

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/tax-special-investigation-how-camelot-has-avoidedmillions-in-tax–with-help-from-teachers-in-canada-8895219.html

The great Eurobond tax scandal

Camelot, the company behind the National Lottery, has avoided millions of pounds in corporation tax by exploiting a legal loophole that HMRC failed to close.

The company saved an estimated £10m in tax in the last two years through interest on loans taken from its Canadian owner via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. Its owner is one of Canada’s largest pension plans, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board. The revelation comes as the National Lottery has doubled the price of its tickets to £2.

The Government estimated in 2012 that the loophole was costing the public purse some £200m, but publicly available accounts suggest the true cost could be more than £500m – and probably higher.


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingTax Special Investigation: How Camelot has avoided millions in tax – with help from teachers in Canada

Tax Special Investigation: HMRC ‘particularly feeble’ over failure to close loophole

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tax-special-investigation-hmrc-particularly-feeble-over-failure-to-close-loophole-8895209.html

Despite the tax exemption costing the UK economy at least £500m a year, the  Government bowed to  pressure after intense lobbying from the financial sector to allow companies to use it

The Government chose not to close a tax loophole which costs the UK economy at least £500m a year after intense lobbying from the financial sector, The Independent has learnt.

<snipped>

More than 30 companies are paying more than £2bn in total to their overseas owners every year as interest on borrowings. As these can be deducted from the companies’ taxable UK income, this amounts to a corporation tax saving of around £500m when compared to equivalent investment in shares in the company.

Without the exemption, any tax savings from the interest deductions would be greatly reduced by the 20 per cent withholding tax that HMRC would otherwise take from interest payments going overseas. As many more companies list debt in the Channel Islands, and the loophole also works in other exchanges including Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands, the total tax lost may be significantly higher.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingTax Special Investigation: HMRC ‘particularly feeble’ over failure to close loophole

NHS news review & other news

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Hundreds of GPs issue a rebuttal to a letter that appeared on Monday by an unrepresentative group of doctors claiming that the British Medical Association is not representative of GPs’ views on ConDem plans to destroy the NHS.

Doctors rebut claim most favour health reforms – Telegraph

Opening it up to “competing private providers” will lead to “fragmentation, chaos and damage to the quality and availability of patient care”, according to 365 GPs, specialists and health academics.

The letter is a tit-for-tat move in response to one from 56 in favour, published in Saturday’s edition.

It was written and signed by senior GPs who are leading the set up of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which will be handed the lion’s share of the NHS budget when primary care trusts are abolished.

They had warned that the Bill’s failure would put the health service “in peril”, arguing: “The risks of derailing the development of clinical commissioning cannot be underestimated.”

But today’s letter, signed by more than six times as many doctors, throws that language back at them.

“The NHS is not in peril if these reforms don’t go ahead,” they write. “On the contrary, it is the Bill which threatens to derail and fragment the NHS into a collection of competing private providers.”

They argue the Bill “will result in hundreds of different organisations pulling against each other leading to fragmentation, chaos and damage to the quality and availability of patient care”.

BBC News – Government offers NHS bill concessions

The government is to promise the health secretary will keep ultimate control over the NHS in England, as it pushes for Parliament to pass its NHS bill.

The legislation, which would bring a fundamental reorganisation of the service, has encountered opposition from peers and various groups.

But ministers will later table amendments aimed at quelling unrest.

These will include giving more powers to the health watchdog and doing more to encourage medical research.

Through the Health and Social Care Bill, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is proposing the biggest shake-up since the NHS was founded in 1948.

‘Backdoor privatisation’

Under the plans, groups of GPs will take charge of much of the NHS budget from managers working for primary care trusts, while more competition with the private sector will be encouraged.

The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal College of Midwives have all opposed the proposals, with some critics claiming they are unworkable and amount to “backdoor privatisation”.

BBC News – Private firm starts running NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital

A private firm has become the first to start running an NHS hospital.

Circle, which is co-owned by doctors, has taken on managing Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire, which had been threatened with closure as it grappled with £40m of debt.

Circle aims to find a solution to the debt problems of the hospital by attracting new patients.

Union Unison said although the hospital had been saved, it was concerned at involving private firms in the NHS.

Lansley pledges a million more people will have access to an NHS dentist | Mail Online

NHS dentists are to treat an extra million patients following a shake-up in funding.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will today pledge that everyone who lost their NHS dentist since 2006 will now have access to one.

The Coalition has set aside £28million, trimmed from the NHS budget via efficiency savings, to pay for the new patients.

The funding will be given to primary care trusts, who have bid for the cash by setting out proposals to expand local services.

They will fund new dentists, increase the number of appointments with existing ones, or provide care in people’s homes for patients who cannot travel to a surgery. Between 2006 and 2008, a million Britons lost access to an NHS dentist.

In other news:

There’s a difference between a veto and an abstention or voluntary exclusion. The difference is that a veto prevents something from happening. David Cameron has a different interpretation of a veto.

Any suggestions for an improved name for this beer? Unloved, Discarded Mutt Ale? Muttley Ale? What a howler? Barking Mad?

Why that veto looks less like a victory | Mail Online

Less than two months ago David Cameron said ‘no’ to Europe. He vetoed a treaty agreed by every other EU member state to impose tighter fiscal disciplines across Europe.

As a result of his veto, Britain rejoiced. Just in time for Christmas, the Prime Minister won his best ever press coverage. His ratings soared. Finally we had someone in Downing Street who wasn’t afraid to upset other EU leaders.

The moment seemed exciting, even historic. Many on both sides of the great European debate – sceptics and enthusiasts – concluded that Britain was now in the EU’s departure lounge and it was only a matter of time before Britain formed a very different relationship with Brussels.

But today Cameron’s Christmas veto looks much less significant than it did. After he used it, he repeatedly promised to stop the countries which had signed that new treaty from using European institutions such as the European Court of Justice – which are part funded by British taxpayers – to implement and police it.

This week it became clear that he was not going to fulfil that promise. His resounding ‘no’ has become a tepid ‘oh, go on then’. Little wonder that Ed Miliband taunted the Prime Minister yesterday, saying the veto turned out to be just for Christmas, not for life.

Wheelchair users block Oxford Circus to protest at disability cuts | Society | The Observer

‘We’re not scroungers and fakers’ say wheelchair protesters

Disability activists blocked one of central London’s busiest road junctions on Saturday with a line of wheelchair users chained together in the first of a series of promised direct action protests against government welfare cuts.

The demonstration, which brought much of Oxford Circus to a standstill for more than two hours, was the product of an alliance between disabled groups and UK Uncut, which came to prominence by staging similar direct actions against corporations accused of avoiding tax.

Planned cuts to the disability living allowance could see 500,000 disabled people losing money, the charity Mencap has said.

Many of those taking part said they had never before joined a demonstration, let alone taken such direct action, but felt angry at the proposed cuts and the associated rhetoric from ministers and the media.

“The tabloids have created this idea that we’re scroungers, or fakers,” said Steven Sumpter, 33, who left his home in Evesham, Worcestershire, at 6.30am. “This has allowed the government to do this [propose the cuts]. Disabled people are seen as a good scapegoat.”

BBC News – Ministers seek to overturn peers’ welfare bill changes

The government will seek to overturn seven defeats inflicted by the House of Lords to its Welfare Reform Bill later.

Ministers will urge the Commons to reject peers’ amendments to the bill, including those to disability allowances proposed on Tuesday.

They will also rule out Labour calls to scrap a £26,000 benefits cap in favour of variable limits for different localities, calling them “unworkable”.

Labour says the government needs to create jobs before cutting benefits.

Far-reaching changes to welfare entitlements are needed, ministers argue, to help people out of dependency on the state, increase incentives for work and make the benefits system fair to both claimants and taxpayers.

But campaigners say the proposals – which ministers also hope will save billions – risk pushing already vulnerable people into further hardship and distress.

A reputation shredded: Sir Fred loses his knighthood | Business | The Guardian

Ex-RBS chief executive pays price for role in the recession, leading to calls for others to be stripped of honours

The former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin, has been stripped of his knighthood by the Queen for his role in the creation of the biggest recession since the second world war.

With unceremonial haste, a committee of five senior civil servants took away the knighthood given to Goodwin by the last Labour government in 2004 for services to banking.

The chancellor, George Osborne, welcoming the move, said: “RBS came to symbolise everything that went wrong in the British economy over the past decade.”

Which is a handy distraction for the ConDems from this story whereby they were previously claiming that they could not intervene in obscene bonuses for bankers.

Labour vows to maintain pressure on RBS bonuses | Business | The Guardian

Ed Miliband says Stephen Hester bonus row cannot be a one-off as party pledges to look at payments to other senior bank staff

Labour has said it will put further pressure on RBS executives to rein in excessive bonuses after helping to force the bank’s chief executive, Stephen Hester, to abandon his plan to take a £1m share bonus.

The shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, described RBS employees as public sector workers and said Labour would be taking a close look at the bonuses offered to the bank’s senior staff.

The threat of a Commons vote to condemn the size of Hester’s bonus was pivotal in persuading him to forgo his bonus, even though it had been sanctioned by the board and had the implicit endorsement of David Cameron.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband – looking for victories to strengthen his leadership – can reasonably claim that his party effectively led the charge demanding Hester’s rethink, but now faces the challenge of setting out the wider criteria by which he will judge other salaries and bonuses in the City.

Apple criticism grows as ‘accidental activists’ make their point | Technology | guardian.co.uk

Almost 150,000 people sign online petition which calls for tech giant to clean up its act on alleged human rights abuses in China

Mark Shields, a communications worker in Washington DC, did not intend to become an activist calling for Apple to clean up its act over allegations of brutal labour abuses in its Chinese supplier network.

But, listening to a recent radio show on the subject, Shields, a dedicated user and fan of Apple products, felt he had to act. He was going to write a letter to Apple until a friend suggested he start a petition at change.org, an online group that facilitates campaigning on controversial subjects.

In its first 48 hours, Shield’s petition attracted more than 140,000 signatures. Now more 147,000 people from all around the world have signed up, and it has become one of the main focuses of consumer discontent at the way Apple makes its sleek computer products that have become a mainstay of much of modern life. “I am an accidental activist here. I have never started a petition before,” Shields, 35, told the Guardian. “I am an Apple person, I have my MacBook and iPhone. I love all that stuff. These products have changed my life, but they are coming at a cost in human suffering,” he added.

Whistleblower: MONSANTO wants to kill the bees to make way for its super bee. – World Affairs – China Forum

Soon to be whistleblower who worked for Monsanto will be releasing documents detailing how Monsanto planned to kill off bee colonies in order to introduce a “new and improved” species of bee that will only pollinate Monsanto crops

Relevant: Monsanto buys company researching death of bees:

        http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9Q1M0UO0.htm

        And for those who said crops aren’t pollinated by bees? You’re wrong. Alfalfa is http://blog.targethealth.com/?p=58

        And if you think Monsanto isn’t dominating our government? Read some cables released by wikileaks all about our officials asking for

talking points from them, our ambassadords urging trade wars on their behalf:

        http://themomu.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/wikileaks-cables-show-u-s-threatening-retaliation-if-europe-wont-accept-monsanto-corn/

        Are they evil enough to do this? Read up about Monsanto:

        http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805?currentPage=1

        http://www.pakalertpress.com/2012/01/26/whistleblower-monsanto-wants-to-kill-the-bees-to-make-way-for-its-super-bee/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+pakalert+%28Pak+Alert+Press%29

posted by Armando Rozário ¹²³ macanese – Cabo Frio, Brazil     –    January 30, 2012.

Continue ReadingNHS news review & other news

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Hundreds of NHS leaders get Xmas ‘sack’ – Public Service

There will be a leadership vacuum in the NHS after hundreds of senior staff in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were sent a letter asking for their immediate resignation before 31 December, the Labour party has said.

Although the Health and Social Care Bill is still going through approval, many of the changes detailed in it have already begun to happen. That’s why heads of the PCTs, which are to be abolished, have been told they must sign and return letters of resignation by the end of the year.

The shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “Andrew Lansley looks increasingly like a man on a kamikaze mission to destabilise the NHS. Not only has he chosen the worst possible moment to re-organise the NHS, he now removes the very people who were crucial to holding things together.”

He went on: “By combining the financial challenge with the biggest-ever reorganisation, the government has created the conditions for a perfect storm that threatens to engulf the NHS in 2012. The government is steering the NHS towards the rocks and, unbelievably, is now busy throwing captain and crew overboard.

“This is no way to treat people and no way to run an NHS. It threatens to plunge the NHS into a vacuum just when it most needs experience, grip and focus. And it is arrogance in the extreme and an affront to democracy to dismantle the NHS in this way before Parliament has given its approval.

Other news:

UK Uncut vindicated? Commons report backs protest group

Allegations about tax avoidance in the highest echelons of the corporate world have been vindicated in a Commons report.

The public accounts committee (PAC) substantiated claims from UK Uncut, which campaigns against corporate tax avoidance, and suggested there are £25 billion of outstanding tax issues with big companies which Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has failed to deal with.

“This report is a damning indictment of HMRC and the way its senior officials handle tax disputes with large corporations,” PAC chair Margaret Hodge said.

“We uncovered both specific and systemic failures which must be addressed.”

The £25 billion bill alluded to in the report is bigger than the entire UK deficit in 2002 and only slightly below the £30 billion level in 2006.

The sum is equivalent to £1,000 for every British family or a cut of 6p from the basic rate of income tax.

Companies such as Vodafone have vociferously denied the figures about outstanding tax made by groups like UK Uncut, but the Commons committee used evidence from a whistleblower and a private eye to reach similar conclusions.

One deal which allegedly let Goldman Sachs off the hook for £20 million would not have been made public without the intervention of the whistleblower, MPs said.

“It is extremely disappointing that senior HMRC officials were not prepared to cooperate with our inquiry in a spirit of openness. We accept that there is a need for confidentiality to protect individual taxpayers, but this must not be used as a cloak to protect the department from scrutiny,” Ms Hodge added.

Super-rich dodge stamp duty while families pay tens of thousands | This is Money

The super-rich are costing the taxpayer up to £1billion a year by exploiting a legal loophole which allows them to avoid paying stamp duty when selling their exclusive homes – meanwhile, ordinary families are paying tens of thousands of pounds simply to move home.

The tax dodge involves transferring ownership of a property to an off-shore company so when it comes to be sold the buyer purchases the company as a whole assuming de-facto ownership of the property.

This means that while a family buying a home costing £400,000 would pay £12,000 to the Government, a multi-millionaire buying a luxury pad could pay nothing.
Tax dodge: All the homes on London’s exclusive Cornwall Terrace have been transferred into offshore companies

Tax dodge: All the homes on London’s exclusive Cornwall Terrace have been transferred into offshore companies

Because the deal is classed as a corporate transaction as opposed to a property sale there are no stamp duty obligations involved. The extent of the avoidance was revealed in a Times report.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Labour Lords criticise Destroy the NHS / Health and Social Care Bill as a “mess” and a “catalogue of compromises”.

The Kings Fund warns of the health situation in London with nobody responsible and huge deficits forecasted.

Many Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are behind (over) budget raising the prospect of cuts.

The Royal College of Physicians states that consultants provide many more than their contracted hours for free.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

NHS Reforms A ‘Catalogue Of Compromises’, Labour Lords Claim

Labour has launched a scathing attack on the Government’s wide-ranging health reforms, branding them a “mess” and a “catalogue of compromises”.

Health spokeswoman Baroness Thornton hit out at the proposed changes as peers began an extended sitting on the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Lords was forced to sit more than three hours earlier than usual in a bid to complete the Bill’s marathon committee stage by the Christmas recess next week. As day 12 of debate got under way, Lady Thornton focused on the role of the independent regulator for all healthcare services, Monitor.

“The Bill is a mess. It is a sad catalogue of compromises,” she said. “We believe that Monitor is being asked to fulfil too many functions, set too many priorities, some of which are potentially in conflict with each other.”

Lady Thornton called for the section of the Bill dealing with Monitor to be rewritten to make it “simpler and more coherent”.

Labour had introduced independent regulation of quality into the NHS. But it did not accept “the handing over of economic regulation of the NHS to a quango”.

She told the House: “There is a place for competition. It is not, and never can be, the main driving force for reform of the NHS. We are against promotion of competition for its own sake as this Bill originally intended.

BBC News – NHS London needs ‘urgent change’, says King’s Fund

London’s NHS is in “urgent need of change” but there is a risk there will be no one in charge to push that change through, according to a report.

The King’s Fund said there could be a “responsibility vacuum” in organising services when the strategic health authority is abolished in April 2013.

The independent think tank’s report also warned there were huge health inequalities across the capital.

The report said London’s NHS could face severe financial difficulties over the next few years, with 18 hospitals forecast to have a net deficit of £170m by 2014.

It also said GP performance was often poor with people’s satisfaction with GP services lower than elsewhere in the country.

The charity added many London trusts would struggle to meet the government’s deadline to become foundation trusts by 2014, as currently only 16 out of 42 trusts have foundation status.

Chris Ham, chief executive, said: “London’s NHS is in urgent need of change, but the risk is no-one will be behind the wheel to push through the changes needed to improve patient care.

Related: Health News – Report criticises quality of NHS care in London RCN shares concerns about health services in London – RCN

GPs lose grip on budgets as CCGs slide into red – Pulse

Exclusive GPs who have taken over budgets from PCTs under the Government’s NHS reforms are sliding millions into the red, according to financial assessments that lay bare the scale of the challenge facing clinical commissioning groups.

A Pulse investigation into CCG budgetary control across 55 PCTs raises questions over their capacity to constrain costs and deliver planned savings, with two-thirds of those reporting figures currently missing their financial targets.

GP commissioning leaders warned the deteriorating financial situation might force them to toughen up restrictions on referrals from practices, despite new figures showing GP referrals fell by 4% last quarter compared with a year ago.

Overall, 29% of PCTs are currently behind budget for 2011/12, with just 9% forecasting they will not meet their financial targets by April 2012.

But among 29 CCGs able to provide figures, 66% were behind budget, while four of the 20 making end-of-year forecasts said they would still be in deficit at the end of the financial year even after bringing in tough measures to catch up.

Concern over NHS relying on consultants’ good will | Royal College of Physicians

Consultant physicians are increasingly working above and beyond their contracted hours. The NHS is relying on this good will to deliver the service that patients need. The amount of time consultants have to spend with trainees is decreasing and some specialties are experiencing low levels of growth in consultant numbers.

Dr Andrew Goddard, Director of Royal College of Physicians Medical Workforce Unit, said:

‘This census shows that senior doctor expansion has fallen and that the NHS remains reliant on doctors working longer than their contracted hours. Consultants contracted hours have fallen significantly as hospitals strive to save £20 billion over the next three years. Despite this, consultants continue to work the hours they have done in previous years and so the amount of ‘goodwill work’ is increasing year-on-year.

‘Furthermore, consultants are finding themselves less available to teach trainees, often having to do jobs that would have previously been done by junior doctors. This is really worrying as training of future senior doctors is vital to high quality patient care in the NHS.’

Each week, consultants are working 11.5% of their contracted hours extra free. This figure jumps to 14% for doctors who work part time. Overall, this ‘goodwill’ work accounts for the equivalent of 1,450 fulltime consultants, up by 205 compared to 2009. Despite working longer hours, 51.8% of consultants say that time available to spend with trainees has reduced during the past three years. This change may result from the fact that consultants are spending more time doing jobs that would previously have been done by a junior doctor.

UK Uncut

We start with some simple points of agreement. The brutal cuts to services about to be inflicted by the current Government are unnecessary, unfair and ideologically motivated. The coalition are particularly fond of two obscene catchphrases: ‘There is no alternative’ and ‘We’re all in this together.’ Both slogans are empty and untrue. The cuts will dismantle the welfare state, send inequality sky-rocketing and hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. A cabinet of millionaires have decided that libraries, healthcare, education funding, voluntary services, sports, the environment, the disabled, the poor and the elderly must pay the price for the recklessness of the rich.

Austerity-economics is the policy of the powerful. It cannot be stopped by asking nicely. We cannot wait until the next election. If we want to win the fight against these cuts (and we can win) then we must make it impossible to ignore our arguments and impossible to resist our demands. This means building a powerful grassroots mass movement, able to resist the Government cuts at every turn.

UK Uncut

The Government’s Line lies

 

“There is no alternative.”

We are told that the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut public services. This is certainly not the case. There are alternatives, but the government chooses to ignore them, highlighting the fact that the cuts are based on ideology, not necessity.

  • One alternative is to clamp down on tax avoidance by corporations and the rich and tax evasion, estimated to cost the state £95bn a year
  • Another is to make the banks pay for free insurance provided to them by the taxpayer: a chief executive at the Bank of England put the cost of this subsidy at £100bn in a single year

Either the tax avoided and evaded in a single year or the taxpayer subsidy to the banking industry could pay for all of the £81bn, four-year cuts programme.

“We are all in this together.”

Since the banking crisis:

David Cameron himself has said that the cuts will change Britain’s “whole way of life”. Every aspect of what was fought for by generations seems under threat – from selling off the forests, privatising health provision, closing the libraries and swimming pools, to scrapping rural bus routes. What Cameron doesn’t say is that the cuts will also disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable, with cuts to housing benefit, disability living allowance, the childcare element of working tax credits, EMA, the Every Child a Reader programme, Sure Start and the Future Jobs Fund to name a few.

The facts speak for themselves; we are not all in this together, we are paying for the folly of reckless bankers whilst the rich profit

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

It is confirmed that NHS Croydon is £35 million in debt.

GMB members at Western Hospital, Swindon complain of harassment by hospital contractor Carillion and intend to ballot for strike action.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

NHS Croydon admits to £35 million overspend as council expresses “shock and disappointment” | This is Croydon

NHS Croydon has announced it has overspent by as much as £35 million this financial year.

The primary care trust (PCT) blamed “higher activity in hospitals” and “understated budget setting” as the main causes of its “significant budgetary challenge”.

NHS Croydon told the Advertiser this evening that the overspend for 2011/12 had been reduced to around £23 million “following the release of financial reserves”.

A spokeswoman said: “As a result of the ongoing detailed analysis of all Croydon PCT budget lines over the last few months we have identified a significant budgetary challenge for Croydon 2011/12.

“We believe we are spending between £30m and £35m more on healthcare than we have in our budget which equates to six per cent of our annual spend on the population of Croydon.

“We are taking robust action to resolve this problem. We are developing a detailed action plan to get back into balance and ensure robust financial planning for the future to live within the funding we are given each year from central government.”

Swindon NHS Ballot

Carole Vallelly GMB Regional officer said “GMB members at the hospital had a private meeting with Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary when he visited them at hospital today (Monday 12 December). He was told of the myriad problems members are experiencing at the hands of managers of Carillion. He was told that these problems have as their root the PFI contractor’s failure to deal properly with concerns over holiday arrangements, shift arrangements and general consultation with the staff. Instead they face a culture of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

They asked that their concerns be reported to the Central Executive Council (CEC) of the union so that they could be given authority to ballot for strike action to get the problems addressed. I will now take steps to consult members to ensure that there is a full report to next CEC asking for authority to move to an official strike ballot on this matter.”

Paul Kenny speaking after his meeting with members said “GMB is calling on Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust to investigate these allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the contract run in their name by Carillion.

There is no place in a modern health service for bullying, harassment or discrimination. Either the Trust takes action about this or the union members will”.

The wrong cure

How cuts will make Britain more unfair

The government says that its cuts programme is not just unavoidable, but also fair and progressive. Is this true?

You can argue about the meaning of fair, but progressive has a definition. If what the government is doing is progressive it would take from the rich and give to the poor (or at least hit them much less than the rich).

Independent experts say the cuts are not progressive.

Let’s first look at the changes in tax and benefits, and then at the impact of cuts in services.

Tax and benefits

Whether changes in tax and benefits are progressive is relatively easy to measure as these are flows of cash.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies is well respected as an independent analyst. It says that the government’s claim that the tax and benefit changes in the budget and spending review are progressive is wrong.

This graph is from their analysis of George Osborne’s first budget:

June 2010 Budget: Effect of tax and benefit reforms by income decile

It shows the biggest losers are the poorest 10 per cent of families with children.

The IFS also had this to say about October’s spending review:

Our analysis (of the budget) shows that … the impact of all tax and benefit measures yet to come reduces the incomes of lower income households by more than that of higher income households, with the notable exception of the richest 2% of the population who are the hardest hit. Therefore the tax and benefit changes are regressive rather than progressive across most of the income distribution. And when we add in the new measures announced yesterday this finding is, unsurprisingly, reinforced. So our analysis continues to show that, with the notable exception of the richest 2%, the tax and benefit components of the fiscal consolidation are, overall, being implemented in a regressive way.

This is the IFS analysis of all government policies on tax and benefit by 2015. The poorest lose the most. It is only the impact of the previous government’s tax increases for the wealthy that make the top ten per cent bigger losers than some of those who are poorer.

Impact by 2015-15 of government policies

Spending cuts

Working out the impact of the cuts in spending on services is harder. Some parts of public spending benefit all of us – such as many environmental protection measures.

But other parts of public spending do benefit some people more than others. To give a simple example the richer you are, the less likely that you use the bus.

Researchers for the TUC trawled official statistics to gather information about how different income groups benefit from public spending. With these figures, and by assuming that everyone benefits equally from spending like environmental protection and defence, they were able to work out whether the cuts were progressive.

This chart shows the value of the services lost as a proportion of household income.

Value of services lost by percentage of household income

Again the impact of the cuts is much harder on the poor and those in the middle than it is on the rich. The poorest ten per cent suffer 15 times more than the richest.

The impact on women

The Womens’ Budget Group is a group of independent experts who have been working with the Treasury to analyse the effect of economic policies on women.

This is what they said about the impact of the Spending Review:

  • Lone parents and single pensioners – most of whom are women – will suffer the greatest reduction in their living standards to public service cuts. Lone parents will lose services worth 18.5% and female singles pensioners services worth 12% of their incomes.
  • Overall single women will lose services worth 60% more than single men as proportions of their incomes, and nearly three times the amount lost by couples.
  • The cuts will lead to hundreds of thousands of women losing their job. 53% of the jobs in the public sector services that have not been protected from the cuts are held by women. The pay and conditions of all public sectors workers, 65% of whom are women, are likely to deteriorate.
  • Cuts in welfare spending fall disproportionately on women’s finances. Child benefit is paid almost 100% to women; while 53% of housing benefit claimants are single women. Both benefits have been cut significantly in real terms and eligibility has been tightened.
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NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Do you realise that Cameron objected to EU attempts to impose a transaction tax on big finance? Unfairly protecting bankers yet again is what the spat between Inger-lander Cameron and the EU is about.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham claims that the health ‘reforms’ are an affront to democracy and that there is no mandate to change the NHS.

“With all eyes on Europe, a constitutional mess closer to home is going largely ignored. Last week, the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill, one of Whitheall’s longest-running farces, hit a new low. Coalition peers trooped obediently through the lobbies on Wednesday to defy the Information Commissioner. He had ruled that the Department of Health should publish its risk register to help to inform their Lordships’ consideration of the Bill and shed light on the risks of reorganising the NHS at this time of unprecedented financial pressure.

Instead, Tory and Lib Dem peers backed the Government’s fight to keep it secret, thereby denying the wider public the chance to learn about the risks its government is running with the NHS. Outrageous – but entirely in keeping with the way the coalition has handled this most important of Bills.”

David Mitchell: I want to talk to you about the NHS. And its IT system. Wait, come back… | Comment is free | The Observer

[A total waste of time article saying nothing.]

 

UK Uncut

Philip Green

Philip Greed is a multi-billionaire businessman, who runs some of the biggest names on British high streets. His retail empire includes brands such as Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge and British Home Stores.

Philip Green is not a non-dom. He lives in the UK. He works in the UK. He pays tax on his salary in the UK. All seems to be in order. Until you realise that Philip Green does not actually own any of the Arcadia group that he spends every day running. Instead, it is in the name of his wife who has not done a single day’s work for the company. Mrs Green lives in Monaco, where she pays not a penny of income tax.

In 2005 Philip Green awarded himself £1.2bn, the biggest paycheck in British corporate history. But this dividend payout was channeled through a network of offshore accounts, via tax havens in Jersey and eventually to Green’s wife’s Monaco bank account. The dodge saved Green, and cost the tax payer, close to £300m. This tax arrangement remains in place. Any time it takes his fancy, Green can pay himself huge sums of money without having to pay any tax.

Before the election, the Lib Dems liked to talk tough on tax avoiders. But as soon as they entered the coalition, this pre-election bluster became just another inconvenient promise they quietly forgot. In August David Cameron appointed the country’s most notorious serial-tax avoider to advise the government on how best to slash public spending. Not a single Lib Dem minister uttered a word of complaint. A Guardian editorial denounced this as “shameful”.

Philip Green’s £285m tax dodge could pay for:

  • The full, hiked up £9,000 fees for almost 32,000 students
  • Pay the salaries of 20,000 NHS nurses

And if that’s not reason enough to take action against Sir Philip, it is worth noting that he has built his £5bn fortune on the back of sweatshop labour, using Mauritius sweatshops where Sri Lankans, Indians and Bangladeshis toil 12 hours a day, six days a week, for minimal pay.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Andrew Lansley and the ConDem coalition government make a CONtemptuous and insulting offer on NHS pensions. The offer is to postpone pension contribution increases for the low paid for a year while increasing pension contributions for more highly-paid staff.

Despite the offer being totally CONtemptuous it is being spun by many corporate media sources as “protecting” the pensions of NHS staff, etc.

There are concerns over the anonymity of anonymised patient records.

GPs bombarded by a new guideline every 48 hours

I’ve been reflecting on the cancelled but continuing national NHS records project. The technical needs of such a system seem simple and straightforward i.e. it is a need for a data specification and interfacing of various systems to that specification: it’s about using databases properly. £7bn wasted on nothing and some crap computer firm demanding a further £2bn. Failed, dissolved companies cannot take anyone to court.

NHS move fails to ease pensions row – Home News – UK – The Independent

The public sector pensions dispute remained deadlocked tonight despite a move by the Government to improve arrangements for more than half a million NHS workers.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that under “improved” proposals, 530,000 staff will not need to pay any more into their pensions next year because the threshold for freezing pension contributions will be raised from £15,000 to £26,557 for 2012/13.

The change will protect lower-paid staff in the health service, with increased contributions distributed among higher earners, said the Government.

Unions accused ministers of trying to “mislead” workers and criticised the timing of the announcement ahead of fresh negotiations which were held today.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “The proposed increase in pension contributions will still hit more than half of all NHS staff who are already struggling to cope with the pay freeze and rising inflation.”

Unite said thousands of middle-income NHS workers will be subject to a “smash and grab” raid by the Treasury under the latest proposals, which the GMB said were not enough to settle the pensions row.

Related: Unions say Lansley offer to protect low-paid NHS staff is ‘divide and rule’ – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent

Postponement of NHS pension contributions hike for lower paid | News | Nursing Times


Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “This is yet another divisive and provocative move by the government and means that more than two thirds of nurses will now face further increased pensions contributions.

“The truth is these increased contributions will not go into the NHS pension scheme, but will go to the Treasury to help pay off deficits that nurses and healthcare assistants have had no part in creating.”

GP contributions to rise under NHS pension offer | GPonline.com

A fresh proposal from the DH will mean that a member of NHS staff earning £69,900 will now pay around £1,680 more in 2012/13 than in 2011/12 towards their pension. Earlier government proposals would have meant an increase of £1,400 for someone at this level.

Under the proposals, NHS staff earning up to £26,557 will be spared any increase in pension contributions next year. This threshold was previously set at £15,000.

But to compensate for the change, higher earning NHS staff will now be forced to make higher contributions to their pensions than previously expected.

Unions criticise government’s new pension offer to NHS employees » Hospital Dr

NHS Pensions Move Not Enough Says GMB

UNISON Press Release: Pension contribution rises will still hit hard

Express.co.uk – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Unions snub deal to protect the pensions of 500,000 NHS staff

Can NHS data be truly anonymised? | Expert opinion

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge Computer Laboratory, says that anonymisation techniques will not work as well as the government hopes

The effectiveness of anonymisation is something piously hoped for all over Whitehall, but I’m afraid there’s bad news. There’s no conceivable way that the kind of things that [the government] wants to do with medical records can be done by just using anonymity as a shield. A small amount of contextual information can ruin anonymisation.

The problems are much worse than some people in Whitehall are prepared to contemplate – we’ve been arguing about this for fifteen years, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to get someone to understand something, when his continued employment depends on his not understanding it.

GPs bombarded by a new guideline every 48 hours – Pulse

GPs face a blizzard of ‘wide-ranging and untailored’ guidelines sent to them every month, according to an analysis by medical defence experts.

The Medical Protection Society found that GPs were issued with 15 sets of guidelines during October, with everything from guidance for CQC inspectors on equality and human rights to the public health risks of fish pedicures’. Some of the guidelines exceeded 100 pages while the majority were more than 30 pages in length.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communications at MPS, said their analysis showed there was a ‘wholly unrealistic’ expectation that GPs are able to have local knowledge about every subject.

How cuts will make Britain more unfair | The wrong cure | False Economy

How cuts will make Britain more unfair

The government says that its cuts programme is not just unavoidable, but also fair and progressive. Is this true?

You can argue about the meaning of fair, but progressive has a definition. If what the government is doing is progressive it would take from the rich and give to the poor (or at least hit them much less than the rich).

Independent experts say the cuts are not progressive.

Let’s first look at the changes in tax and benefits, and then at the impact of cuts in services.

Tax and benefits

Whether changes in tax and benefits are progressive is relatively easy to measure as these are flows of cash.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies is well respected as an independent analyst. It says that the government’s claim that the tax and benefit changes in the budget and spending review are progressive is wrong.

This graph is from their analysis of George Osborne’s first budget:

June 2010 Budget: Effect of tax and benefit reforms by income decile

It shows the biggest losers are the poorest 10 per cent of families with children.

The IFS also had this to say about October’s spending review:

Our analysis (of the budget) shows that … the impact of all tax and benefit measures yet to come reduces the incomes of lower income households by more than that of higher income households, with the notable exception of the richest 2% of the population who are the hardest hit. Therefore the tax and benefit changes are regressive rather than progressive across most of the income distribution. And when we add in the new measures announced yesterday this finding is, unsurprisingly, reinforced. So our analysis continues to show that, with the notable exception of the richest 2%, the tax and benefit components of the fiscal consolidation are, overall, being implemented in a regressive way.

This is the IFS analysis of all government policies on tax and benefit by 2015. The poorest lose the most. It is only the impact of the previous government’s tax increases for the wealthy that make the top ten per cent bigger losers than some of those who are poorer.

Impact by 2015-15 of government policies

Spending cuts

Working out the impact of the cuts in spending on services is harder. Some parts of public spending benefit all of us – such as many environmental protection measures.

But other parts of public spending do benefit some people more than others. To give a simple example the richer you are, the less likely that you use the bus.

Researchers for the TUC trawled official statistics to gather information about how different income groups benefit from public spending. With these figures, and by assuming that everyone benefits equally from spending like environmental protection and defence, they were able to work out whether the cuts were progressive.

This chart shows the value of the services lost as a proportion of household income.

Value of services lost by percentage of household income

Again the impact of the cuts is much harder on the poor and those in the middle than it is on the rich. The poorest ten per cent suffer 15 times more than the richest.

The impact on women

The Womens’ Budget Group is a group of independent experts who have been working with the Treasury to analyse the effect of economic policies on women.

This is what they said about the impact of the Spending Review:

  • Lone parents and single pensioners – most of whom are women – will suffer the greatest reduction in their living standards to public service cuts. Lone parents will lose services worth 18.5% and female singles pensioners services worth 12% of their incomes.
  • Overall single women will lose services worth 60% more than single men as proportions of their incomes, and nearly three times the amount lost by couples.
  • The cuts will lead to hundreds of thousands of women losing their job. 53% of the jobs in the public sector services that have not been protected from the cuts are held by women. The pay and conditions of all public sectors workers, 65% of whom are women, are likely to deteriorate.
  • Cuts in welfare spending fall disproportionately on women’s finances. Child benefit is paid almost 100% to women; while 53% of housing benefit claimants are single women. Both benefits have been cut significantly in real terms and eligibility has been tightened.

 

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingNHS news review