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£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... 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... 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... 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'sinfrastructure is definitely a good idea.  Anyone who has facedovercrowding 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 big government projects... 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... 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...

Conservatives to abandon green taxes

In a revealing interview with the Telegraph today, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne sought to distance himself from new green tax proposals put forward by the Quality of Life policy group.  He said:   "We're not going to have taxes on parking at supermarkets because I know that families going to... Read more...

OECD urges Brown to come clean on tax

From the Telegraph: "The world's leading economic watchdog has urged Gordon Brown to abandon his decade-long use of stealth taxes. TheOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development yesterday issuedthe Government an unprecedented order to be "more transparent" abouttax rises. It said the Government should stopusing fiscal drag - whereby it raises... Read more...

Hospital hygiene

Reuters report today that the Lancet has condemned Brown's proposals to deep-clean hospitals and make all hospital staff wear short sleeves.  Their central contention is that he has neglected more important measures like making NHS staff wash their hands.   Some of the Lancet's criticisms are ill-founded.  The problem isn't... Read more...

Dr Battey's Accounts Book

Dr Battey had to account direct to his customers In the continued absence of the inestimable but exhausted Doc Crippen, we've once again been delving into the cost of our GP services.The bald facts are these (NB: because of the glacial speed at which NHS stats are collected and collated,... Read more...

Kent County Council's "coherence" spending

The Kentish Express reported last week (20th September) that Kent County Council have defended their decision to employ advertising firm M&C Saatchi to “improve its communications” at a cost of £48,000 to the taxpayer.  Kent County Council has a media and communications budget of…wait for it…£1.1 MILLION taxpayer pounds.  What... Read more...

The right way to harmonise taxes, if you must do it

With the news earlier this week of business support for a common corporate tax base in the EU, it seems little will stop Brussels from getting its way. So if we're going to have tax harmonisation forced upon us, let's at least make sure it's done in the right way.... Read more...

NHS fails the elderly

The Telegraph reports a study by the Healthcare Commission today showing a shocking series of failures in the NHS' treatment of older people: "• Only five hospital trusts out of 23 met all of its standards on dignity in care • 23 per cent of elderly patients said they had... Read more...

A lesson in why corporation tax should be reduced

  An interesting new video from the CATO Institute in Washington presents an important lesson on why corporation tax should be reduced. You can watch the video here. It's primarily aimed at a US audience, but CATO are interested in general feedback about the content, before they get it professionally... Read more...

French budget: tax cuts; public spending frozen in real terms

The French government yesterday unveiled its budget for 2008. Public spending is to be frozen in real terms and taxes will be cut by €9 billion, or £6.3 billion, including €5.1 billion to exempt overtime from tax and social charges.   The ususal critics have been lined up to say... Read more...

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