Budget even more regressive than thought!

Following on from my previous post about the budget this post by Adam Lent on the Touch Stone Blog gives further evidence that the Coalitions claimed transparency becomes more opaque by the day.


England beaten by kick-and-rush Germany

England were well and truly stuffed by the Germans yesterday in Bloemfontein. The irony is that German’s first goal was scored by “kick-and-rush” tactics derided by Franz Beckenbauer only days earlier.

In retrospect England  have never been really convincing even in qualifying. They have lacked a cutting edge, the defence has been slow and ponderous and the midfield find it impossible to retain the ball or breakdown opposition defences.

Couple that with the lack of pace all round, the underperformance of our star players and we had no chance.

One answer might be to base a squad around the present U21 team and keep them together for the next four years.

Budget not that transparent!

During his speech George Osborne joked that their was no point hiding things because in 24 hours the IFS had worked everything out and published for everyone to see. Well he was right.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has declared the budget not progressive contrary to the Chancellor’s assertion.

He also made great play of increasing the State Pension in line with earnings but hid the fact that this would make no material difference at present and that pensioners wouldn’t benefit from the rise in personal allowances.

With a freeze on wages and a swap to using the Consumer Prices Index instead of the Retail Prices Index pensioners shouldn’t expect a large pension increase next April.

Government not to blame for Bloody Sunday Deaths

There was much rejoicing by campaigners after The Bloody Sunday Report was published last week. They were rightly pleased by the report’s conclusion that unjustifiable firing by soldiers of 1 PARA caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.

Some of those representing the families of those who died alleged that the civil and military authorities bore responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday. However, no evidence was found to support these allegations. On the contrary, the evidence showed that in the months before Bloody Sunday the United Kingdom Government was working towards a peaceful political settlement in Northern Ireland. Perhaps we can now expect apologies from the families for their attempts to blacken the name of the government and military authorities.

The scandal of this inquiry is not its cost but the fact that it looked at only 13 deaths among  the thousands killed during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland. Maybe now the Official IRA and Martin McGuinness will reveal the full truth about their involvement in Bloody Friday and the many murders they were responsible for.

Nick Clegg on Gold-Plated Pensions

In a speech to the Institute for Government, the deputy prime minister repeated the canard that  “public sector pension schemes are gold-plated”and unafordable.

As the recent report from the Office for Budget Responsibility makes clear the cost of PAYG pensions will rise in the short-term from 1.7 to 1.9% of GDP falling back to 1.7% of GDP by 2050. In other words the real terms cost of public pensions is relatively stable.

In the private sector,  gold-plated boardroom pensions are boosted by taxpayers while growing numbers of ordinary workers get nothing. A quarter of all tax relief on pensions goes to the top 2 per cent of earners, averaging about £20,000 per wealthy individual. The average value of tax relief per worker on basic rate wages is £1,000 per year.

The vast majority of pensions in payment are modest. Most pensions paid in both the NHS and civil service are below £110 a week – and a quarter of NHS pensions are less than £40 a week and a quarter of civil service pensions are less than £60 a week. Teachers’ pensions are some what higher with a modal range of £180 to £200 a week.

The real scandal here is that more than 60 per cent of the private sector workforce are not saving in an employer supported pension, and are likely to face poverty in retirement. This is why the Government has been right to introduce a new pensions system due to start in 2012, which will for the first time compel every employer to contribute to the pensions of their staff unless the employee opts out.

It’s time to start levelling up rather than attacking the pensions of hard-working vital public servants.

Madeley Academy – Wind Turbines

The Academy turbines, aka Madeley Folly, have long been a source of wonder to the ‘locals’ who expect wind turbines to spin merrily generating electricity. For months only the central one turned but after recent maintenance work the two outer turbines now work but the centre one is motionless.

The Folly was presumably built to show the academies “green” credentials but will it benefit from the Government’s new, heavily subsidised scheme to increase renewable energy generation. It has a  “feed-in tariff”, under which producers are paid for the electricity they produce even if they use it themselves.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates that the scheme, introduced on April 1st, will cost more than £8 billion to subsidise over the next 20 years, or £8.50 a year on the average household electricity bill.

Spinning turbines mean even more of our money is going into the academies coffers so maybe stationary turbines are a blessing in disguise?