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Hospital infections at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

The news from Kent is truly shocking.  In the face of financial problems and in an effort to meet government targets a clearly incompetent management presided over hospital infections that the Healthcare Commission say directly killed at least 90 patients and may have contributed to the deaths of 331 people. ... Read more...

Yet another council votes against cutting council tax

TPA activist Tony Flynn, who also happens to be a councillor on Tivetshall Parish Council, put a motion to his Parish council this week (similar to Wendy Nevard’s motion) calling for council tax to be frozen this year and cut in the following years.But this motion also failed.  Whereas two... Read more...

Australian unemployment falls to 33-year low

The Financial Times reports that unemployment in Australia fell to a 33-year low of 4.2 per cent in September. Could that have anything to do with its sustained period of tax reductions (see Chapter 4 of the Tax Reform Commission report for a discussion); its comparatively low burden of public... Read more...

State spending at Soviet levels in some parts of the UK

   The Times today publishes a regional breakdown of public spending as a share of GDP, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. It makes fascinating, if worrying, reading. In the UK as a whole, public spending has climbed to 44.1 per cent of GDP, 15th highest in... Read more...

Hong Kong cuts tax rates: no surprise there

The Financial Times reports that Hong Kong will cut corporate and salary taxes by 1 percentage point to 16.5 and 15 per cent respectively. This really isn't surprising. The Hong Kong government knows how to maintain the city's world-leading position, although the tax cuts have only used a small portion... Read more...

Almost all children are victims of crime

The Howard League for Penal Reform have released figures, reported in the Guardian, showing that almost all, 95%, of 10-15 year olds are victims of crime.  72% were hit or kicked, more than half threatened with violence, almost a fifth have had things stolen outside of school, 11% have had... Read more...

£150m Northern Rock Gift

When the Northern Rock crisis broke, we blogged that taxpayers should on no account be made to bail out NR shareholders. And the Bank and Treasury denied they would do any such thing.But today they've executed a complete U-turn, and handed Northern Rock shareholders an exquisitely wrapped giftbox. The authorities... Read more...

Tax credits "unfair" to poorest households

The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has released a report calling Gordon Brown's system of tax credits "unfair" to some of Britain's poorest families. Ms Abraham also accused HMRC staff of failing to apply overpayment guidelines properly, which had led to some "unduly harsh decisions" that had "caused extreme worry and... Read more...

Junior doctors

The Telegraph reports that the failed computer system for recruiting junior doctors to training posts is to be scrapped.  An inquiry headed by Sir John Tooke has found that those running the system failed in two key ways: The IT systems were full of errors and did not keep applicants'... Read more...

Council re-branding

Cash-strapped one-star rated Stoke-On-Trent Council are once again ploughing taxpayers’ money in the wrong direction, and instead of improving on their poorly ranking children’s services, or attempting to raise themselves from amongst the country’s very worst ‘value for money’ councils they are looking to re-brand at the expense of their... Read more...

Disposable income at 10-year low

Research by the price comparison website uSwitch.com found that disposable income - the money left over after taxes, mortgage/rent payments and household bills - has fallen to just 32.6 per cent of gross income, compared with 34.5 per cent in 1997. The biggest increases in household costs, apart from house... Read more...

Weekly Waste Watch- 76

Crushed by bureaucracy In the news this week:Cost of Olympics venues spirals by another £295m- "The London Olympics were hit by a new costs crisis today. The bill for the aquatics centre is set to double to £150 million while the budget for the stadium will rise from £280million to... Read more...

Crossrail- How Much Really?

Plans finally given go-ahead Yesterday, Gordon Brown gave a pre-election go ahead for Crossrail, Britain's biggest civil engineering project since Hadrian's Wall. It's supposedly going to cost £16bn, but if you believe that, you obviously haven't been paying attention.The cross-London tunnelled rail project has been around since the days of... Read more...

Crossrail gets the go-ahead

With an expanding population and economy improving London's infrastructure is definitely a good idea.  Anyone who has faced overcrowding on the tube in the morning can see that.  However, with the project expected to cost £16 billion, more than the Olympics and Heathrow Terminal 5 combined and the record of... Read more...

Myopic Unions

The Royal Mail's managers have stepped back from the brink and are not going to play the Grinch this Christmas.  Unfortunately, the workers have not and are now on strike with threats that regular stoppages could continue for some time.  This is an abuse of politicians' willingness to waste money... Read more...

Thoughts on the Conservative Party conference

This week’s Conservative Party conference marks a very important shift in the Tory strategy on tax.Two years ago, a number of the “über-modernisers” were suggesting that the Conservatives may even have to support tax increases to win the trust of the electorate to get back into power.  This strategy fortunately... Read more...

The Health Commission Wales fail a patient and taxpayers

Channel 4 news reports another story of structural failure in the NHS today.  Doctors told a woman in South Wales that she needed a scan to discover whether a lump on her lungs was cancerous.  The application for a scan was rejected on the grounds that it would be too... Read more...

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