Council red tape threatens 100 jobs in Neath
Aug 2013 21

Media Wales recently highlighted the plight of 100 workers in one of Wales last major drift mines. The Unity Mine at Heol Wenallt, Cwmgwrach in Neath has in recent years been affected by the decline of the global price of coal, however any chance of salvation has been crushed by Neath Port Talbot County Council.

It has been claimed that the council has been stood idol behind red tape whilst Peter Hain, the MP for the area, has apparently been working tirelessly to save the mine. Mr Hain stated,

 “I have been told that men were being laid off because of delays from Neath Port Talbot County Council in delivering planning consents necessary to give confidence for new investment.
The jobs are paid well above the local average and are vital for local communities.”

These job losses are in addition to the 300 jobs lost at a nearby mine earlier this year, which has since re-opened with a faction of the staff.  The area also suffered a major jobs blow in 2009 when car parts plant TRW, formerly Cam Gears, announced it was closing.

Job losses in the area could have been limited with more effort from local representatives to cut the bureaucracy standing in the way of business. The Welsh Government have apparently been working to promote Welsh business and Welsh opportunity for over a decade with no benefit for the people of Neath Port Talbot. This is what happens when we put politicians in charge of picking winners and losers in business with other people’s’ money.

Rather than the local economy benefiting from resilient business and well-paid jobs we now have another 100 families worried about their future thanks to the local authority blundering.

Big savings made on staff transport in Croydon
Aug 2013 20

Croydon Council has vastly reduced the cost of staff transport, resulting in a substantial saving for taxpayers. It previously spent £1.3 million a year on transport costs, but since reviewing the situation in 2010 the council is now seeing huge benefits.

It formerly relied on a combination of lease vehicles provided to staff and employee-owned vehicles. This combination not only meant that the Council was adding significantly to local congestion, it was also blighted by the fact that the Council had no real understanding of what state all these vehicles were in. Cllr Sara Bashford, Croydon’s cabinet member for corporate and voluntary services, admitted that it was “difficult to evaluate how fit for purpose these vehicles were at any one time”. Continue Reading

Somerset Farm Show says ‘Cut Cider Tax!’
Aug 2013 19

Amid prize-winning bulls and horse jumping, South West TPA supporters gathered 360 signatures for our ‘Cut Cider Tax!’ petition at the Mid-Somerset Agricultural Show in Shepton Mallet. ‘They were very keen to sign our petition,’ said supporter Lucy Wildman. ‘We left the stand for a few minutes and they kept on signing even when we weren’t there!’ Continue Reading

New research shows potential for serious cuts to Stamp Duty
Aug 2013 16
  • New report shows how Stamp Duty could be simplified and cut without significantly impacting revenue to the Treasury
  • LSE research shows that cutting Stamp Duty significantly increases the number of housing transactions
  • Analysis from Walbrook Economics shows how an increase in transactions would mean new tax receipts and mitigate the cost of cutting Stamp Duty Land Tax
The Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA) believes that Stamp Duty is an unfair double tax and should eventually be abolished. It stops young people buying a home and starting a family; discourages elderly people from downsizing and makes it harder for people to move to new places for new jobs. The TPA recently launched the Stamp Out Stamp Duty campaign calling for a cut in Stamp Duty, but new analysis shows that substantial reforms to ease the burden on home-buyers and limit the economic distortions created by the tax are possible with little or even no impact on overall tax receipts.
Key findings of this research:
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax raised £6.1bn in 2011/12 with residential property accounting for £4.2bn of that total. This represents 0.8 per cent of the £549bn of taxes raised in that year.
  • Work by Best and Kleven in their recent paper, ‘Housing market Responses to Transaction Taxes; Evidence From Notches and Stimulus in the UK (June 2013)’, clearly demonstrates a link between Stamp Duty transaction tax rates and valuations and activity levels. Reducing the rate of Stamp Duty by 1 per cent has increased volumes by 20% over a 16 month time frame in the past, with a permanent positive effect in the longer term.
  • Walbrook Economics estimate around 1.1m jobs are dependent directly and indirectly on the housing market. The fall in housing activity has cost 80,000 construction jobs and 80,000 to 100,000 associated positions in other trades.
  • They estimate that the decline in transaction volumes has cost the Treasury in excess of £1.3bn p.a. in lost Income Tax and National Insurance. VAT receipts will also be affected by the reduction in economic activity and their estimate is that the decline in transactions has reduced VAT receipts by £1.75bn p.a.
  • Stamp Duty accounts for less than 30% of the total tax receipts associated with housing transactions overall. Therefore – if higher tax rates reduce transaction volumes – higher receipts from other taxes, as well as more people paying the remaining Stamp Duty rates, will mitigate the loss in revenue when Stamp Duty is cut.
The TPA presents three proposals, all of which are designed to simplify Stamp Duty and reduce the burden on home-buyers:
  • Proposal 1 – Move to a marginal tax: The slab rate structure of Stamp Duty is unfair and creates enormous distortions. If people only paid each rate on the value above its threshold, rather than paying the highest rate for which their property is liable on the entire value, that would be a substantial tax cut and remove those anomalies. This proposal would particularly benefit those at the middle to low end of the market.
  • Proposal 2 – Double the thresholds: Stamp Duty currently has 5 rates, between 1% and 7%. If the thresholds were doubled, 77% of all transactions in 2011/12 would have been exempt from any Stamp Duty Land Tax.  This proposal would also particularly benefit those at the middle to low end of the market.
  • Proposal 3 – Halve the rates: Halving Stamp Duty rates would send a clear signal to householders that the Government was determined to encourage home ownership and mobility, and would benefit all home-buyers.

Each of these proposals would provide a substantial economic stimulus at little or no cost to the Exchequer. As the economy is finally showing some signs of recovery, this is an ideal time to act and cut Stamp Duty, before it becomes even more onerous.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Stamp Duty is an unfair double tax that stops young people buying a home and starting a family, discourages elderly people from downsizing and makes it harder to move to new places for new jobs. The Government could cut Stamp Duty with a limited impact on the amount of money going into the Treasury’s coffers, as lower taxes would encourage more people to move and therefore increase the number of transactions being taxed. Politicians should seize this golden opportunity to reduce the burden and make things easier for the hundreds of thousands of people looking to buy or sell a home each year.”

Aug 2013 15

When Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was put into special measures,  after the review carried out by NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, there were many who thought the position of chief executive, Karen Jackson, was untenable. Today it has been revealed that her reward for a litany of failure was a huge pay rise.

According to the Yorkshire Post, her salary has increased from £140,000 a year to £170,000 – a rise of 20 per cent. The Trust is now saying this is wrong. Her salary was £145,000 a year, so this means her percentage rise was not as high as previously stated. Whether it’s a 20 per cent rise or a 15 per cent rise, it is still a massive reward for failure. Continue Reading

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