Nick Boles (Planning Minister) seems to have let the cat out of the bag about migrants accounting for almost half of the housing demand in the UK

But then we all knew there was a clear link anyway, despite denials by previous Governments and any reasoned debate being shut down by the PC brigade with accusations of racism whenever the argument went against them

Is this more about a flawed immigration policy over the past 10-20 years rather than flagging house building? An immigration policy which everyone now acknowledges was wrong; although, rather late in the day after any potential damage has been done

The solution being put forward is to develop large swathes of the English countryside (further 2-3%) in order to redress the balance.

Mr Boles mantra seems to be '.. everyone has a right to live somewhere that is not just affordable but that is beautiful and has some green space nearby ..' and that this is a '.. basic moral right, like healthcare and education ..'

Get real Mr Boles! This is another crackpot idea from a transitory politician who does not have to live with the long term results of his policies. The countryside is a finite resource and one cannot keep eroding it every time there is a problem in another area that politicians do not really wish to address, because eventually it will be exhausted - and then what? Or do you really care because by that time you will have made your mark and be long gone ...!

Quite apart from the fact that one is potentially removing productive land out of growing crops. Taking this approach to it's logical conclusion it results in housing at the expense of food - not an advised policy. Or does Mr Boles intend to rely upon food imports to compensate for any shortfall; so that the country can be held to ransom in the future?

But the problem is this approach may be a solution to todays issues, however, without a radical change in the immigration policy the problems will simply recur again in 10 or 20 years time. At the end of the day there is not enough green space to be concreted over every time politicians try for 'quick fixes' rather than addressing the underlying problems. The country really needs sustainable well though out solutions and NOT quick fixes to these issues which take the easy way out!

Furthermore, nothing has been said to address the huge inflow of foreign nationals under the EU 'open door' policy or chucking out those who are here illegally and have overstayed their welcome; other than to offer yet another amnesty because they cannot be found and our border controls are either hopeless or massively under resourced

Every aspect (housing, food, population etc.) forms part of the equation and must operate in harmony, otherwise the whole thing is out of balance and one ends up sacrificing one aspect to satisfy the demands of another. This is what politicians simply fail to grasp and is also in part why the UK & rest of the world is such chaos at the present time.

Tags: | Categories: UK Government

'.. The US Environmental Protection Agency said that it had temporarily blacklisted BP because of the company’s “lack of business integrity” ..'

'.. lack of business integrity ..' coming from a nation that has a whole catalogue of integrity issues and regards friends solely as 'business opportunities' - mmmmm !

Now bearing in mind that in some areas of Florida the fishing industry and other job sectors were on the wane at the time of the Gulf disaster it could have been regarded as an opportunity from heaven. How many false claims for losses were made in the aftermath of the Gulf spill - the odd $20,000 here or there to bolster the failing Florida economy in the light of Mr Obamas economic policies?

We know for certain that many such false claims were made by local Florida business of all types (from hospitality through to marine related businesses) where they had not actually suffered any loss. So what has the US Government done about investigating these fraudulent claims against BP - it would be fair to say NOTHING, because after all BP is regarded as fair game by the US authorities and in any case the majority of Americans erroneously believe that BP is a 'UK foreign company' and therefore expendable or available to be milked mercilessly.

So what price integrity?

Well it is about time that the UK reciprocated with these 'blacklisting' games. How about starting with CSC who, as we all recall, were involved with the disasterous NHS computerisation under the project name of Lorenzo as well as number of other projects

Why does the UK Government employ CSC (Computer-Sciences-Corporation) ?

Then we can move onto other areas such as the very one sided extradition laws where the rules applied to the UK are manifestly different to those applied for the USA

... and if we wish to go back a few years, simply look at midnight on 31 December 2006 when Britain finally paid off the last tranche of its multi-billion debt to the Americans from the end of the Second World War - see reference below

Regrettably all our experiences with the USA from history boil down to - '.. a cautionary tale tells us about our so-called 'special relationship' ..'

Essentially all the UK dealings with the USA are a very one sided arrangement in which the UK is invariably the looser

References

Times - BP blacklisted by America over disaster in Gulf of America

Mortgaged to the Yanks

BP Ownership Statistics - Shareholdings

Tags: | Categories: US Government

Who does Chris Patten think he is with his unbelievable arrogance? Mr Patten seems to have forgotten his place as a public servant, with a salary paid for by the taxpayer which makes him accountable to our elected representatives, whether he likes it or not.

Frankly Mr Patten seems to got above himself, and to make comments out of the gutter ('.. Do you want to know my toilet habits? What else do you want to know? ..') in response to perfectly valid questions from an MP on his use of BBC (his employers) time, in an attempt to score points or belittle the questioner is totally reprehensible; although it did seem to amuse some of the fawning other people in the room. Furthermore, no-one present reprimanded Mr Patten for his lack of respect - which just about says it all!

Unfortunately this simply demonstrates the calibre of the man and just how removed from reality some of these public servants really are in terms of accountability. Regrettably it would seem as though Mr Patten has ideas above his station in this matter

Let us just recap on what this whole matter is about - CHILD ABUSE and the failure of the BBC to conduct themselves in a proper manner in the past and present. Therefore, however, glib Mr Patten is IT IS NO LAUGHING MATTER. He would do well to remember this and demonstrate a bit of humility because latterly, he presided over this unaceptable situation, without doing anything about it and is therefore as culpable as everyone else who just stood by

Furthermore, an MP should not be told that his question is impertinent or to issue a Freedom of Information request to obtain answers to simple questions at a public enquiry

'.. he was asked for an itinerary of his day by Mr Davies, to which he refused, saying: "I think it's a thoroughly impertinent question ..'

'.. I think you're entitled to put down freedom of information requests for how many days I spend in the office, or how many days I spend doing other things ..'

Mr Patten seems to have presided over a complete shambles at the BBC and yet disavows all responsibility or blame for the various debacles other than to state that he is responsible for rebuilding trust in the BBC. Presumably this is the same trust that he has been instrumental in destroying during his tenure?

Neither is it appropriate for Mr Patten to block  any proposed enquiry by the National Audit Office into the payoff for Mr Entwistle

We are not simply talking about overseeing the hapless Mr Entwistle but also his predecessor Mr Thompson, although none of those involved seemed to have much grasp about what was going on in respect the Jimmy Savile saga

Mr Patten would do well to remember that it is not

'pass the buck'

but actually

'the buck stops at the top'

With all this in mind should Mr Patten continue with his role in the BBC or is his resignation required?

References

Guardian - Patten BBC Savile Hearing Put Down

Telegraph - Lord Patten clashes with impertinent MP over BBC role

Times - Patten letter blocks inquiry into payoff for Entwistle

Tags: | Categories: BBC

The current hysteria about freedom of the press is interesting to say the least

Obviously there are vested interests on both sides of the argument but laying aside for a moment the 'moral outrage' that has been whipped up, is muzzling the press at the behest of a few terribly wronged individuals, really in the best interests of either the country or the public at large?

Clearly in the past the press has made huge errors of judgement involving unwarranted (and illegal) intrusion into individuals privacy and for this they should be punished with the full weight of the law on a case by case basis

However, is seeking to impose a blanket censure on the press by statute an appropriate way forward, rather than simply a vendetta to get one own back under the guise of concern; tarring everyone with the same brush in order to curtail the activities of a few

Surely it would be far better to weed out those who abuse the system and ensure they face relevant sanctions such as a ban for a specified period (i.e. 1 month, year, lifetime) coupled with damages in favour of the injured party?

Additionally, press ownership needs to be addressed so that the media is not concentrated in the hands of a few media moguls, who have been proven to abuse their position and in doing so, interfered with the electoral process. They must understand their role of reporting the news and not trying to make the news.

Furthermore, the role of politicians in this whole sorry saga needs to be reviewed because they have behaved appallingly by 'kowtowing' to the press

Hugh Grant seems to be one of the major protagonists and is associated with Hacked Off a spin off from Media Standards Trust; in the past Hugh Grant has had his own run-ins with the press (i.e. Davine Brown). With all this in mind can Mr Grant ever be regarded as impartial in the matter of press freedom having been a 'victim' of press intrusion since beginning his acting career many years ago?

After all - nothing focuses the mind better than being in the spotlight oneself!

Nevertheless, it is disappointing that 'celebrities' seem to have hijacked this enquiry and as one bereaved parent put it - In the future this will be looked back on as the Hugh Grant Enquiry. What a damning indictment of the whole thing!

Perhaps more importantly - why do people such as Mr Grant think that they have an unelected mandate to speak for the rest of us? For goodness sake the man is an actor and whilst he has been given access to the Leveson Enquiry because someone hacked his telephone does he actually have any greater standing than that? So why is he being given a platform and all this air time?

Tags: | Categories: Press

Being flooded is a simply appalling experience in the first place and is inevitably made far worse by a loss of insurance cover.

However, insurance is a risk business and premiums are affected by the underlying assessment of risk and probability of a payout. Insurance premiums are a commercial decision based upon the likelihood of events occurring and are weighted accordingly

Therefore if one lives in the middle of a flood plain then the risk of flooding is infinitely greater than living half way up a mountain - those are the facts of life and premiums should reflect this position. Furthermore, nobody forced property owners to buy in these areas, it was their choice and if it was an ill advised decision why does everyone else have to bail them out?

Unfortunately people make bad decisions or simply get caught out by events, but is it really the responsibility of the Government (taxpayer) to bail them out for bad judgement or unforeseen situations?

There are far greater injustices in the country that Governments need to address (i.e. failing to properly regulate, Equitable Life etc.); so why does underwriting flood risk insurance premiums take pole position? Unless of course it is a PR exercise by a posturing Prime Minister

Alternatively, what are the boundaries of Government interference with insurance - do we propose to

  • Assist young drivers with huge insurance premiums? After all they may never have had an accident are being penalised purely on their circumstances of age and sex.
  • Help old age pensioners obtain realistic insurance premiums
  • and so on .... the list is endless but a line needs to be drawn otherwise the whole matter becomes absurd

Clearly these are not a viable suggestions but in the same vein, why is underwriting property flood insurance deemed acceptable? Therefore, should the UK turn into a nanny state whereby every decision by an individual becomes underwritten by the the Government, as an electioneering policy?

Finally assuming that the Government does go ahead with mutualising 'at risk' flood insurance properties - is there a 'quid pro quo' whereby the taxpayer gets a percentage of the properties eventual sale price for helping to maintain the property value in the first place?

Nevertheless, the fundamental question in all this is why have the planners allowed properties to be built in entirely unsuitable places. The picture below shows Tewkesbury Cathedral in the 2007 flooding - notice how it sits on an island surrounded by water

Why do planning offices never take account of history or the location of historic buildings which invariably identify safe ground opposed to potential flood plains - have we learn't nothing since medieval times?

Tags: | Categories: UK Government

You know the sort of thing

The system tells you that a existing application on  your computer needs updating and presents an update screen

The problem is that all sorts of other download options are offered (which you don't want) with their default tick box set to accept

Either because you are in a hurry, not aware or overlook these option tick boxes you simply press the update button

'Hey Presto' as if by magic you find you have downloaded all sorts of other programs that are not wanted and have to begin the endless process of removing unwanted 'dross'

Oracle(Java) and their toolbar option as well as Adobe Flash with McAfee Scan are prime examples of this stunt.

Well Oracle, Adobe or anyone else if I wanted these other programs I would go to the appropriate web site and download them myself. With your updates, I do not want to download anything other than the simple update so stop 'conning' users into accepting other products

You are wasting my time and that of everyone else who has been caught by your predatory approach - alternatively just tot up the time your user base spends trying to unload all the extra rubbish you confuse us into downloading

When users are presented with additional options THE DEFAULT SHOULD BE SET OFF (do not accept) and user should have to make A POSITIVE ACTION TO ACCEPT other downloads

Any other approach to this is underhand and sly by hoping to execute an optional download on the users oversight or mistake

SO STOP CONNING THE USER BASE WITH OPTIONAL DEFAULTS SET ON

ALL OPTIONAL DEFAULTS SHOULD BE SET OFF

THE USER SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO OPT IN AND NOT OPT OUT

Tags: | Categories: Software

Has anyone recently bought a Cadbury Chocolate bar?

If you have you, will notice that the size remains the same as the old bars, but they are now half as thick as their predecessors.

Gone are the nice chunky pieces of chocolate only to be replaced by thickness reminiscent of the 'Milky Bar Kid' (Nestle) product.

Maybe we should hold a competition and lay odds on how long it takes for Kraft products to become wafer thin in the same way as pre-packaged ham, turkey etc. which is sliced so thinly that it becomes entirely transparent.

This is simply another marketing deception being perpetrated on the consumer by producers - keeping the packaging the same size whilst reducing the content and maintaining the existing price; dishonest & chicanery !

Tags: | Categories: General

Multi-nationals Transfer Pricing or 'profit shifting', call it what you wish, is a by-product of globalisation that enables companies to avoid taxes and facilitates the flight of capital from one jurisdiction to another

Whether it is 'Costa Del Crime' or 'Costa Del Tax Avoidance' the effect is basically the same - countries setting themselves up to potentially shelter companies or individuals from the penalties of avoiding the law in other states

This is nothing short of 'cooking the books' by affording corporations the discretion to allocate costs & overheads to favourable geographical locations; thereby minimising taxes and maximising profits

Essentially state sponsored encouragement for corruption and there are a number of countries making a very comfortable return from this approach.

Anyway, perhaps someone could explain how the likes of Ireland manages to get away with this as well as being a member of the EU. Yes it does help them remain solvent but at what cost to other member states with the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google etc. avoiding tax in other EU countries

Is this a harsh assessment?

Well consider this:

  • These practices affect the state both in setting tax rates and also in allocating tax revenues
  • Capital is exported from the country of origin to favourable locations. This inhibits the flow of money in the country of origin which is an essential component for healthy growing economies
  • This capital flight could seriously impact on citizens in the county of origin. This affects hospitals, pensions, state benefits, country wide infrastructure etc. So anyone in the country of origin is being deprived of the resources (taxes) which would enhance their quality of life
  • Some of this infrastructure is used by the multi-nationals to facilitate their sales and yet they are trying to avoid paying for its upkeep - i.e. roads etc.
  • Don't forget that the major beneficiaries of suggesting these schemes are the accountancy profession

Solution

A good start would be for HMRC to be given powers similar to US section 482 Internal Revenue Code

'.. to allocate income, deductions, credits or other allowances between or among controlled entities if that allocation is considered necessary to prevent evasion of taxes ..'

This should place all these multi-nationals on notice - then take matters forward from there

Tags: , | Categories:

Sunday 04 November 2012

The Treasury told Financial Mail:

‘The changes to income drawdown policies have given individuals more choice over the use of their pension savings to provide a retirement income.

‘Before the Government made these changes, those over 75 were effectively compelled to use their pension fund to buy an annuity. Since the risk of funds being depleted increases significantly at higher ages, we have had to strike a balance between generosity on capped drawdown and ensuring that people do not exhaust their pension funds prematurely.

‘The Government recognises gilt yields are currently low, and we have sought to provide some protection to individuals receiving drawdown pensions who are facing their drawdown pension review.

‘If the 15-year UK gilt yield should drop below two per cent, the scheme administrator will calculate the basic amount for drawdown purposes using the gilt yield figure of two per cent.’

Hang on - '.. The Government recognises gilt yields are currently low ..'

Of course they should, after all they were instrumental in the 'lowering' process and Gilt yields are a direct result of Government/BOE monetary policy, so between these two bodies they have engineered the situation of artificially low interest rates in the first place.

Futhermore the BOE is actually profiting on their own account from this misery they have inflicted on others

Unfortunately the Governments 'holier than thou' attitude is simply dishonest - although, goodness knows why are we surprised?

Perhaps someone in Government could explain how a sensible retirement income can be achieved when '.. The changes to income drawdown policies have given individuals more choice over the use of their pension savings to provide a retirement income ..' means pensioners drawdown income has been slashed (up to 40% down) by badly thought out GAD process & BOE artificial interest rates

Come on Mr Osborne / Mr Cameron and

STOP IGNORING THOSE REPRESENTING PENSIONERS

You have made serious errors in this matter. Therefore you need to sort out the situation urgently and not just ignore the hardship you have imposed on those who do not have the power to stand up to you

All you are doing is behaving like privileged thugs and mugging old age pensioners

Tags: | Categories: UK Government

We are now witnessing yet another complete howler from a totally disfunctional Conservative Government hell bent on daft policies of 'form over substance'

This subject was originally mentioned in May 2012 - SIPP Pension Income Scandal and is now finally gaining momentum once eveyone realised what a crass approach the UK Government has taken over the matter

Not content with mutualising everyone elses problems over the entire UK population (i.e. flooding, negative equity, interest rate cuts, quantative easing ... and so on the list is endless) they now propose to finacially cripple pensioners and those who have saved by making their own pension provisions and saying they cannot have access to their own savings

The fact that the Government is being lobbied by Sage, AJ Bell, members of the public and others over their wholely inequitable seems to fall on deaf ears and so far the Conservative Government has refused to budge on the issue

As we have said before this is completely unfair treatment of those who have made their own pension provisions and coming from a collection of politicians who do 'very nicely' themselves on the pension front is an absolute disgrace

Quote

'.. A combination of drawdown rules introduced from April 2011 and continued reliance of 15 year gilt yields as a means of calculating maximum drawdown income has created an imbalance ...'

and let us not forget that 15 year gilt yields have been artificially fixed by the Government anyway

Frankly Mr Cameron needs to stop playing telephone footsie with Rebecca Brooks and start engaging with the real issues - a career of PR and spin just will not pass muster any longer

Could we suggest that all politicans take and immediate cut in their own salaries equivalent to that imposed on pensionser by artificial interest rates, QE and a reduction in GAD rates. Hitting these politicians in the same manner as they have targeted pensioners would drive home the message, especially if it had an impact on their pockets

References

Time to save those hit by unfair pensions drawdown rules

Fury over another pension scandal

Slashed our income by HALF': Drawdown limits cause misery for thousands AND forcing pensioners to sell their homes

Tags: | Categories: UK Government