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The Mirror: When is a bedroom not a bedroom? Lights out on the bedroom tax

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment
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The Mirror: Cameron vetoes plans for new property tax after fund-raisers’ threat

December 9, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/prime-minister-david-cameron-vetoes-1481679

 

9 Dec 2012 15:30

 

 

Super-rich donors warned the PM that if he taxed their London townhouses and sprawling country estates they would refuse to host dinners to boost the Conservative Party’s coffers

DAVID Cameron personally vetoed plans for a new property tax after donors threatened to ban Tory party fund-raising events from their mansions.

Super-rich donors warned the Prime Minister that if he taxed their London townhouses and sprawling country estates they would refuse to host dinners to boost the Conservative Party’s coffers.

A senior insider revealed: “The message went out – tax our mansions and you can forget us ever holding another black tie event for you at our homes ever again.

“Cameron could not have funded the party without these events so he had no choice.

“It was all highly embarrassing.” The revelation will pump up the pressure on Cameron after the outcry over last week’s autumn statement failing to bring in a wealth tax while poorer people were being hit hard with a tough benefits freeze.

George Osborne had been keen on implementing a new high value property tax.

The Chancellor was talked round to the idea by Liberal Democrats, including Business Secretary Vince Cable, who persuaded him it would raise much-needed cash to repay some of the country’s massive debt. But the PM intervened after the donors delivered their ultimatum.

He is said to have stopped Osborne going any further with a mansion tax or new council tax banding, hitting homes worth millions.

Lavish Tory fund-raising dinners are regularly held in some of the most spectacular piles in Britain.

But an insider said the message from Tory HQ fund-raising officials was that “almost all” big donors who offered their homes as venues for the party dinners were unhappy.

Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott accused Cameron and Osborne of “performing a hand-brake turn on donor orders”.

He told the Sunday Mirror: “The Tories are too scared to make their backers pay more than a £26-a-week council tax on their multi-million pound Mayfair mansions.

“That’s not fair, it’s feeble.”

The Mirror: Shameful: £2bn tax dodge strips workers of basic rights

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/jobs/mirror-investigates-tax-avoidance-scandal-1470019?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

 

Shameful: £2bn tax dodge strips workers of basic rights

2 Dec 2012 20:29

 

Bosses are claiming that hundreds of thousands of their workers are self-employed to avoid paying National Insurance

Workers are being denied basic rights in a massive £2billion a year tax avoidance scandal.

Bosses are claiming that hundreds of thousands of their workers are self-employed to avoid paying National Insurance.

Staff are also being deprived of sick pay or holiday pay and can be fired at will with no redundancy rights.

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of construction union UCATT, said: “These workers do the same job as employees but have none of the rights.

“A falsely self-employed worker does not receive holiday pay, sick pay, does not have a pension and can be sacked at a moment’s notice. The major winners are the employers who make massive savings.”

Britain has 770,000 “self-employed” construction workers – the highest proportion of any major industrialised country.

A new report by UCATT today claims that up to 433,000 of them should really be on staff.

The Mirror’s Gizza Proper Job campaign is fighting for better protection for workers unfairly declared self-employed by their bosses.

We have found evidence of self-employed cleaners, taxi drivers, couriers, door-to-door sellers and even pilots who work day in, day out for the same boss, often for years on end, but with no employment rights.

Mr Murphy added: “These practices are sadly spreading into other industries, especially those where there is a rapid turnover of temporary workers.”

Workers who are told to go self-employed are often paid through separate payroll companies using loopholes in the law to protect bosses from tax inspectors – and the workers have to pay up to £25 a week from their own pay packets for the service.

UCATT researchers set up a fake family-owned building company, with 15 staff, and contacted a number of payroll companies for advice on saving money.

One wrote: “We can save you money, 20% of your labour costs, by reclassifying PAYE staff.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “False self-employment across all sectors is a recognised risk.

“The Government is determined to tackle both tax avoidance and tax evasion and committed £900 million to enable HMRC to tackle arrangements that seek to minimise or evade taxes.”

Stop this bosses’ rip-off – say Shadow Cabinet Ministers Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves

Bogus-self employment is a scandal that needs solving.

Often desperate for a job, workers sign contracts with payroll firms that class them as self-employed, when in reality they are an employee.

With the economy flat-lining and long-term unemployment rising, we need to support people at work, not deny them their legitimate rights.

But what is the Government doing to stamp out this abuse? This year, they halved the number of investigations into this type of tax avoidance.

Labour is investigating as part of our policy review process, not just in construction, but other sectors too.

The Mirror: Why Iain Duncan Smith should look at himself before complaining about people living off the state

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Why Iain Duncan Smith should look at himself before complaining about people living off the state

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/why-iain-duncan-smith-should-look-1400558#.UIqleTqkGO4.twitter

 

26 Oct 2012 14:56

The Work and Pensions Secretary has taken aim at those on benefits but they are not the only ones taxpayers pay for

There is nothing worse than people who live off the state for decades and give nothing back.

Help out the unfortunate when they need it, by all means – but give them hundreds of thousands of pounds because they won’t get off their arse and do a proper job? Shocking.

As Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has rightly pointed out, it is”madness” for the state to subsidise large numbers of children born to parents who do not stop to wonder first if they can afford them.

And it would be fairer to the “vast majority” of responsible, normal, reasonable taxpayers to limit the amount they are made to cough up for these irresponsible breeders, who as soon as anyone suggests they’re being a teensy bit greedy with the far-from bulging public purse start whinging about “fairness”.

After all, IDS has promised to cut another £10billion off the state’s handout bill and it has to be found somewhere. Obviously, the people who take handouts they don’t deserve should be the first to take a cut.

So let’s start by talking about someone who lives off the state and has little experience of the world of work you and I know.

He is 58 years old and has suckled upon the publicly-funded teat for most of his life.

He’s signed on the dole. He’s had four children and received child benefit for all of them. He has put them each through private school, too.

His wife hasn’t worked since they married, except for 15 months in which he got her a job paid by the taxpayer.

He and his colleagues eat and drink food you subsidise in a palace you pay for, he is driven around in a car you own, and when he is too old to ‘work’ any more you will pay for him to have a better pension than you, too.

He started out at the age of 21 with six years of taxpayer-funded military service, during which he acted as bag-carrier to a Major-General.

Then in 1981, aged 27, he left the Army and signed on the dole for several months.

He then began a period of ordinary work based upon the skills he had gained at the taxpayer’s expense, and worked in sales for arms dealer GEC-Marconi.

He then moved on to a property firm, where he was made redundant after six months, and then sold gun-related magazines for Jane’s Information Group.

After 11 years of this all-too brief career he succeeded in once again boarding the publicly-funded gravy train in 1992.

In the intervening 20 years he has been paid by the taxpayer every year more money than most taxpayers earn. He has topped it up, along the way, to more than six figures for a few years here and there by being more pompous than the other pigs.

In 2001 he helped his unemployed wife to have a suckle, arranging for you to pay her £15,000 to be his diary secretary.

These days he is given the grand total of £134,565 a year from the taxpayer.

He lives for free in a £2million Tudor farmhouse on his father-in-law’s ancestral estate in Buckinghamshire.

He has three acres of land, a tennis court, swimming pool and some orchards, which is not bad for a life in the pay of the state.

‘Who is this scumbag?’ you might cry. ‘Tell us his name, let the authorities know his address, let’s get this guzzler out of the cushy life and show him what life is like for the rest of us,earning £7 an hour with a rise once every eight years and a pension consisting entirely of penny sweets if you’re lucky.’

His name is Iain Duncan Smith, and his address is the Palace of Westminster, LondonSW1A 0AA.

It’s not the insistence that the welfare bill needs cutting I object to; it’s that the scissors have been given to people who really can’t be trusted not to stab everyone else in the eye.

As IDS himself says: “Can there not be a limit to the fact that really you need to cut your cloth in accordance with what capabilities and finances you have?”

The trouble is he doesn’t seem to have the capability to cut cloth any more than he has to get himself a proper job that might actually be of use to anyone other than warlords.

I wouldn’t trust him to cut paper, never mind a welfare bill of billions.

The sooner he’s back on the dole the better for all concerned – because then he’ll have to live on £71 a week for 26 weeks and if he doesn’t pull his finger out in that time it’s all over.

If only we could say the same for the gravy train.

Read more of what fleetstreetfox has to say:

* On child abuse being swept under the carpet

* On the modern Sheriff of Nottingham

* On a dead duck Prime Minister

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

£1m carve-up: Tories rake in donations from fatcats hoping to cash in on NHS privatisation

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The Mirror 29 Sep 2012 00:00

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/conservative-party-receive-1m-in-donations-1349645

£1m carve-up: Tories rake in donations from fatcats hoping to cash in on NHS privatisation

Shareholders in the company Circle Health – the first private firm to take over an NHS hospital – have given the Conservatives over £1.4m

The Tory Party has raked in more than £1million in donations from City executives set to make a fortune from its plans to privatise large swathes of the NHS.

We can today reveal fatcat shareholders in the company Circle Health – the first private firm to take over an NHS hospital – have given the Conservatives over £1.4million.

Our research also shows that overall David Cameron’s party has been given more than £10million from those with links to private health.

Labour yesterday said the donations, made since 2001, lifted the lid on the cosy relationship.

And it accused the Tories of “carving up” the NHS for their wealthy chums in big business.

The revelations come days after new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt shortlisted Circle Health’s spin chief Christina Linnet to be his new media boss.

She previously worked for former Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley before the Tories came to power.

Official records also show Tory MP Mark Simmonds is paid £50,000 a year by Circle for 10 hours’ work a month.

The links between private health companies and the Conservative Party became a matter of public debate after Circle was last year handed a 10-year contract worth £1.2billion to take over the failing Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Its directors think the contract is the first of many – and have set out business plans to clinch NHS bids worth more than £8billion.

The company’s controversial takeover of the hospital came despite admissions in a document released to the stock exchange that patient care could suffer.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham yesterday attacked the relationship between profit-making private health companies and the Government.He said: “The Great NHS Carve-Up is well under way and it probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that friends of the Tory Party are doing very nicely out of it. But, even so, people will be taken aback by the sheer extent and intimacy of the links between Circle Health and the Conservative Party.

“It doesn’t look or smell at all good given Circle’s success and high profile under this Government.

“It leaves the Prime Minister with serious questions to answer.

“He should publish a list of all contact between his Government and Circle so people can judge whether it is appropriate.”

The donations to the Tories – from those linked to the takeover of Hinchingbrooke hospital – came from four City execs in giant investment companies that have large stakes in Circle.

The firm’s leading shareholders are Lansdowne Partners, Invesco Perpetual, BlueCrest and Odey Asset Management.

Lansdowne Partners holds a 29% stake, Invesco Perpetual 21.9%, Odey Asset Management 21.1% and BlueCrest Capital 7.1%.

The boss of Lansdowne Partners, Sir Paul Ruddock, has donated £630,000.

The CEO of Odey Asset Management Crispin Odey has given £242,000, Sir Martyn Arbib of Invesco Perpetual £413,000 and BlueCrest founder Michael Platt £125,000.

The companies said there was no link between the donations to the Tories – made privately by individuals and not by the firms – and each company’s business investments.

Lansdowne Partners said its chief executive Sir Paul did not decide which companies his firm invested in.

And BlueCrest insisted any donation from Mr Platt had no bearing on its business investments.

The Tories said the original decision to give a private firm the chance to run Hitchingbrooke hospital was made by Labour in March 2010.

A spokesman added: “All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.”

Categories: Democratic Accountability, Health Tags: ,

The Mirror: The REAL reason Osborne was booed at the Paralympics: Team GB blast coalition plans to slash vital disability payments

September 9, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/team-gb-slam-government-plans-1314513

The outraged athletes lined up to slam PM David Cameron and his beleaguered Chancellor George Osborne in a storm that threatens to taint tonight’s ­Paralympic closing ceremony

Team GB’s Paralympic heroes have launched a furious attack on the Government over ­savage plans to slash vital disability payments.

The outraged athletes lined up to slam PM David Cameron and his beleaguered Chancellor George Osborne in a storm that threatens to taint tonight’s ­Paralympic closing ceremony.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people are set to lose out when the ­Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ­replaced with the more restrictive ­Personal ­Independence Payments as part of a £2.2billion cost-cutting plan.

Last week George Osborne was booed as he appeared in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the ­Olympic ­Stadium in Stratford, East London, to present medals to ­triumphant Paralympians.

Now competitors have told of their own fury at the Coalition cuts which will see benefits worth between £20 and £131.50 a week slashed next year. And leading disability charities also hit out at the controversial plan yesterday.

Blind Team GB footballer Keryn Seal, 30, who relies on his £70-a-week allowance to get to training, told the Sunday Mirror: “I find it quite incredible that the ­Government can go around handing out medals when away from the Games they are taking the DLA away.

“It’s all well and good backing disabled sports at the highest level and looking good for the cameras but what they are doing is going to affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people really badly.

“Some of the reason George ­Osborne and Theresa May were booed was because of the DLA stuff.”

Keryn says he spends £50 a week of the allowance just to get to and from training. Like many of Team GB’s ­Paralympic athletes, the unemployed father of two receives no Government funding. He even relies on the DLA to pay for his young children to get to ­playschool.

Keryn, from Exeter, Devon, said: “I came out of university two years ago with a 2:1 in sports studies but I haven’t worked since. I have applied for loads of jobs and only had four interviews.

“In many ways training for the Olympics has kept me going and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have the DLA ­payments.

“I can’t understand why the Government would dream of ­taking this money away from us. It shows a complete lack of ­empathy.

“Disillusioned, disenchanted and disappointed are all words I would use to describe how I feel about the Government.”

The DLA currently goes to around 3.2 million people at a cost of £12.6billion a year. ­

Analysts estimate up to 500,000 disabled people will have their allowance entirely withdrawn over the next four years as ­eligibility criteria is tightened.

Ministers insist the switch to the means-tested Personal ­Independence Payments will enable the benefit to be targeted at “people who need it most”.

Double-amputee Derek Derenalagi, 37, from Bushey, Herts, captured the nation’s hearts this week when he finished 11th in the discus just five years after losing his legs in a bomb attack while serving as a soldier in Afghanistan.

Derek, who receives DLA of £100 a week, said the changes would have a ­“devastating” effect on many disabled people.

“The Paralympics have been huge and people have enjoyed it but when it finishes we are still disabled,” he added. “I hope the Government will change these decisions as it could be terrible for us.

“The money really helps with our ­training and everyday life. I spend it on things like my discs which cost £60 to £70, trainers which can be around £60 and physio which is about £70 a time.

“Not every Paralympian is sponsored and we would hugely struggle without it. We do not get paid like footballers and it really helps us.”

Judo bronze medallist Ben Quilter, 30, is partially sighted and receives around £50 a week in DLA. He said losing the allowance would seriously affect his ­independence.

Ben Quilter

 

“Losing this money will hinder my life, no doubt about it”: Judo medallist Ben Quilter
 

Getty

Ben, from Brighton, added: “Losing my DLA would affect my general life. There is no doubt about it. I need the money to travel around. For example, a train ticket to London costs about £14.

“I also need it to buy iPad apps which help me with my disability and allow me to interact with people.

“I really hope the Government change their mind on this. It’s a real shame as the Paralympics has been so amazing. It is a very important issue.”

Wheelchair sprinter Jamie Carter, 17, who came eighth in the men’s T34 200m on Tuesday, receives a weekly allowance of £50 to £60. The student said the money was “vital” to pay for essentials. His mother Sandra, 45, from Binbrook, Lincs, said: “The money means he can afford the fuel to get to and from ­training in his disability car.

“Losing that money could have serious consequences. It could mean he has to get a job to try to fund his athletics.

“It has helped him buy new tyres for his chair, which can cost up to £100.

“It seems crazy to take it away from people like Jamie who are so dedicated to their sport.”

A disabled star of the Paralympics opening ceremony also joined in the outcry. Wheelchair dancer Laura Jones, 30, who is paralysed from the chest down following a spinal cord ­haemorrhage at 16, is worried her £50-a-week payment is under threat.

She said: “I would have to cut a number of things I do outside of work like going to the theatre and dance shows which are interests linked to my career.

“If people miss out on leisure activities and sports, they end up stuck at home and that will obviously be worse for their health.”

Last night three major disability charities threw their weight behind the Paralympians. Jane Alltimes, of Mencap, said: “The Government’s plans threaten the ability of many people with a ­disability to live independently.

“This is yet another move that undermines the Government’s commitment to promoting social justice for disabled people.”

Keith Andrews, of children’s charity Variety, said: “In light of the success of this year’s Paralympic Games, the ­importance of funding and financial aid has never been more evident that these athletes deserve our support.

“If crucial funding is taken away, they would be unable to achieve their ­potential in such a financially strenuous discipline.”

Richard Hawkes, of Scope, said: “The legacy of the Paralympics should be a Britain where we focus on what disabled people can, rather than can’t, do and where we have the support in place so they can achieve their aspirations.

“The Government must grasp this opportunity and re-think cuts to a critical piece of support.

“The moves appear to be motivated by saving money rather than supporting people to live independently.”

Categories: Benefits, Democratic Accountability, Funding, Health, Media, Mental Health Tags: , , ,

DAILY MIRROR’S KEVIN MAGUIRE COLUMN ~ ‘And the gold medal for hypocrisy goes to… David Cameron’!

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-wins-gold-medal-1283031

And the gold medal for hypocrisy goes to… David Cameron

Atos ­sponsoring the Paralympics when its benefit tests are a sick joke is an insult to disabled people

 

Kevin Maguire column And the gold medal for hypocrisy goes to… David Cameron

Atos ­sponsoring the Paralympics when its benefit tests are a sick joke is an insult to disabled people

Heroes: Tommie Smith and John Carlos with raised fist salutes
Heroes: Tommie Smith and John Carlos with raised fist salutes
Popperfoto

Is it too much to hope that a British medal winner emulates American heroes Tommie Smith and John Carlos with a raised fist salute at the London 2012 Paralympic Games? Probably.

The black power salute of the US athletes in Mexico 44 years ago was a magnificent stand against human rights abuses, a protest against poverty and the abuse of black Americans as ­second-class citizens.

Here in Britain the David Cameron who will quite rightly hail Paralympian champions is also the David Cameron who makes disabled people the fall guys for his failed agenda of austerity ­recession economics.

If hypocrisy was a London 2012 sport, the Prime Minister would win gold.

People are dying after being passed fit to work in a benefit crackdown that stigmatises the ill and disabled.

Alice Maynard, chair of the charity Scope, tells of people shouting “scrounger” at disabled people in the street.

The abuse is getting worse, with two-thirds telling the group they’ve endured taunts, hostility or outright aggression.

Only about 0.5% of ­disability living allowance claims are found to be fraudulent when checked.

More in benefits is unclaimed than cheated.

The rich avoid paying far more in tax than is wrongly paid in welfare, yet the “scrounger” rhetoric against claimants creates a poisonous ­atmosphere.

Maynard revealed that one man who could hardly stand was shopped by one of his neighbours to a fraud hotline.

Something has gone badly wrong when people see somebody disabled and, instead of asking if they can help, wonder if they’re on the fiddle.

The Government’s war on the ­disability living allowance will deprive 90,000 citizens of their freedom to get to work and out and about.

French welfare attack dog Atos ­sponsoring the Paralympics when its benefit tests are a sick joke is an insult to disabled people.

If he has any shame, Cameron will reflect on what he’s doing then offer a fair deal.

Most athletes would think it ­inappropriate to protest on a podium.

Some, including gold medal-winning swimmer Tara Flood, joined ­demonstrations over the past few days.

Yet even the remotest possibility of a protest will have ministers biting their lips. Good.

Because what the Government is doing to the disabled is cruel, and deserving of the widest condemnation.

Categories: Benefits, Disability, Health, Media Tags: , , ,
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