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Everything posted by Wayo

  1. I'm sure the market has factored most of this in already, the CGT changes have been widely trailed. When Little Georgie rises tomorrow and announces Disability Living Allowance and War Pensions are going to be cut in real terms, Ian Duncan Smith and his hard working families trying to sell their holiday cottage in Devon are not going to get a look in. The danger will be that having royally peed off both the right and left, he will face the serious prospect of being voted down in the house, leading to the political chaos markets have been fearing. There is a further danger that in trying for purely political reasons to get all of the cuts out of the way at once, they will indeed cut too far and deep and send the economy into a death spiral.
  2. You can just about make the numbers for an average salary scheme work with 10% employee, 15% employer contributions. As an example the local government pension scheme is at around 6% employee contributions for average salaries (not a lot is it?) so a further 2.5% wouldn't be a million miles wide of the mark if they deleted the final from salary. What you do about all the accrued losses from those lost decades of even lower employee contributions is anyones guess.
  3. We also have a huge number of buildings that are only used for a few hours a day, or half of the year. or both. Schools, hospitals, universities, hotels, nightclubs, shops etc.... We spend a few hours in similar functional buildings, then set the alarms, kill the lights (or not) abandon that neighbourhood, and move across town to do different things in different buildings.
  4. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/employment/resolvingworkplacedisputes/discriminationatwork/dg_10026667 They might argue "open to" merely implies ethnic minorities can apply, I can imagine the Oxford debating circus earning huge fees out of arguing that one....
  5. They might well invest more in new issuance for venture capital funds, given their rather generous, and so far 'not on final notice' tax relief.
  6. There was some tat on today about paying for the upkeep of a country manor (now split into 23 owner occupied apartments) The 'fixer' went to see a working farm where they charged £400 per week to stay in something so 'rustic' between a tent and a crevice that it wouldn't even pass for a holiday chalet. Idea number two was to use a function room for 'yoga retreat' - it certainly would be in the middle of nowhere for days on end!
  7. Sounds like the council are outsourcing their cuts? Trouble is the axe falls on front line public services and the probably low paid people who deliver them. Meanwhile: http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/News/Gaelic+Plan+is+Talk+of++the+Town.htm
  8. That sounds like music to the ears of the National Audit Office who have been wax lyrical about the provision of major trauma facitilities in the NHS. Basically incredibly expensive kit and highly qualified staff spread far too thinly - requires drastic concentration of highly skilled people and resources more regionally. Not only is money wasted, but patients are dying needlessly because many of the trauma centres see too few cases to be adequately specialised or have consultants in constant attendance. When it comes to education - universities are even worse than schools. Huge campuses and tower blocks, empty for most of the year. Even a 'modern' university only teaches for about 8 months a year, 5 days a week, outside which these campuses (many of which have been greatly expanded since the 1990s) are deserted. You could easily fit many social sciences courses into 2 years of study without shrinking the syllabus. Stop the arms race to see who can waste the most £bns money of electrifying our railway lines! It made sense in France and Switzerland in the early-mid 20th century when there were steam trains about that couldn't climb hills and kept stopping to top up with water, but there is a negligible speed improvement these days, and aside from small fill in schemes it is not worth shutting the main routes down for years on end, when we will have renewable car / train engines long before a renewable power grid. Pensions - need to take bull by horns on this one! Raise the employee contribution to 11% of pay +say another 2% for 5 years to help fund the huge accrued shortfall and change to an average salary scheme whose final returns can be met by no more than a ballpark 11/18 split in contribtions. The resulting strikes would save a few £bn too. Still far more generous than most of the private sector, but where employers often don't pull their weight either.
  9. The most generous tax break I can think of for PAYE would be Venture Capital funds (30% relief on an investment). Footballers and such also seem to go for some of the UK film industry tax breaks, but it sounds extremely risky IMO. There is of course tax relief on pension contributions and the personal ISA rates rising this year.
  10. I feel sorry for the Underground drivers on the Victoria line now. They have to open and close the doors every couple of minutes for half the pay.....
  11. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=407 Employment rate of working age was 72.2%. 21.5% of working age inactive. Unemployment rate was 7.8% of age 16+ You can't add them together though, probably because the unemployment rate is measure from a wider population than working age.
  12. Sadly the French didn't replace their truly antiquated system. It is still there and one of the most backward in Western Europe. TGV has soaked up all the money and attention. You go for hours without trains in the middle of the day and they are incredibly slow. In Britain you can get from almost any station as far as Southern Scotland to any other, comfortably in day. Arrive at a French airport and there is probably a railway line at the back of the runway, but if they have got around to putting up a station, there probably won't be a train stopping for several hours. There are undoubtedly big benefits of High Speed Lines, and Spain and Italy are now getting in on the game. But France is a good advert for a one trick pony, and Japan is simply bust.
  13. Are people over 60 not expected to buy anything any more? OK I kind of see the point in subsidising local travel for people in decling health and mobility, but completely free travel after age 60 throughout the whole of Greater London? In the year to March 2009 it is reported to have cost a mere £270m and no doubt rising fast.
  14. I guess they have allowed for the fact there are two more months of said year to go? Some more records to be broken then. Although the claimant count is staying relatively calm, many people are only making it into part time work, where many will pay little tax and receive similar benefits (sorry tax credits) as if they were unemployed. So analysts trying to use one set of numbers to predict the other is beginning to look pretty flawed.
  15. Annualise the last month of RPI-X data and it is nearly 8% - and that was before the VAT change.
  16. It was most bizarre. Mandy kept on saying he and Ken were in agreement, at one moment I though he was going to plant one on old Ken's cheek, the guy was as slippery as a deep fried eel. He was infuriating effective in subduing one of the so called 'big beasts' of politics, so much so, that he should be left in a cage with Prescott next for his next interview.
  17. In my state 6th form the tutors openly admitted to having re-written several of the personal statements because they were so inadequate. Given the amount of coaching that goes on in the 'independent' sector, UCAS forms are probably subject to multiple layers of quality control before being allowed to leave the premises.
  18. Well I certainly blame the councils. Their collective mouthpiece, the Local Government Association are the first to blame central government for their members waste and inefficiency, and the first to blame central government for not spoon feeding them, with Soviet style gritting plans and resources. If the agencies, bodies and committees involved turned their hot air to the snow we would be suffering from flash floods right now. And since the February 2009 debacle, yes 2009 not 1009, on top of the rest, we now have the Salt Cell, comprising no less than Cabinet Office civil contingencies secretariat, Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Local Government Association and the Communities and Local Government Department. And yet they made exactly the same mistakes by not preparing for more than 6 straight days of gritting. Gritting the roads and pavements is not rocket science and doesn't require every council to have millions of £ of snowblowers sitting in a yard all summer. Every road I have seen in England over the past 3 weeks that was gritted has been fine, it is the completely untreated ones that are preventing people getting to school, work and the shops. The councils say it isn't a priority, or an extreme event, yet look at the money being spent in the NHS on injuries with several fatal falls to date and cars skidding across pavements everywhere. Older people who suffer fractures falling over on the compacted ice may never fully recover. You don't see this nonsense in other developed countries. Emergency committees abound, we have 3m unemployed and Gordon pictured looking over maps of his empire, but precious few people are actually out there doing anything. Every year we pay more and more in tax and get fewer and fewer services for it.
  19. 50+ years! I doubt it. Many of them made N.I and occpational pension contributions that were nominal, as a result of the flawed life expectancy projections and more recent pensions holidays. It might not be their fault, as they paid exactly what was asked for, but most of those pensions have not been paid for by the people that are now entitled to them.
  20. Aren't they the ones who hire charter jets to the MoD to take troops to and from the Middle East?
  21. http://www.wrt.nhs.uk/index.php/work/tools/98-christmastrees I bet this Christmas tree cost the NHS more than £2,500!
  22. It was Brian Souter who said you could irritate pensioners in Perth, but delay stockbrokers in Surrey and they would mark down your shares. The guy from Monument Securities advocating a downgrade sounds pretty scorned to me!
  23. How did the World manage before the NHS super database? Many of these collosal IT projects should never have been started, let alone finished. About time government stopped trying to be too clever for its own good and started serving the public. Not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise the IT industry, they should sell their wares to the productive economy instead.
  24. The National Insurance Increase and the expansion of the 50% tax looks like one serious tax rise. £204 a year for someone on average earnings! They do seem bereft of ideas on cutting though. As Vince said the atra money has gone on spending not reducing debt.
  25. The Laffer curve is about tax take vs tax rate. The theory cannot be used as an excuse for a rampantly socialist government raising taxation until every barman, taxi driver and pizza delivery boy is unemployed! Looking at the millions underemployed by our tax and benefits system and those fleeing our soon to be 50% income tax we are certainly close to the top of the curve if not well over it. I think most economists would agree that the tax rates of the 1970s were self defeating even if they made the left feel better. The only reason the 50% rate was even introduced was to shore up the core vote and put political water between Labour and Conservative by daring Cameron to announce he would cut it. There is plenty a new government could do to right the ship - introduce mandatory new pay scales around the £200k Gordon is on, move to local pay rates where national ones are currently disproportionate to what the local population earns, raise public sector pension contributions to 10-12% and aim to have one bureaucrat for every two soldiers or nurses instead of one. But judging by the vacuous debate so far, it looks like neither Gordon or Dave have what it takes to deal with the deficit. Public spending is a bit like Fairy Liquid - it is all very well saving £600m on missed NHS appointments, but the bottle won't last any longer unless you put less of it in the water! Naming and shaming big public sector earners? That will achieve what exactly? And as for the poor old potato council the reason it is not costed is because it is funded by an industry levy, and costs the taxpayer £0. It has also been going in one form or another since 1950 something.
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