Tagged: financial crisis

Tory Priorities Writ Large

On the same day that the government announced it was scrapping the £180-million-a-year Social Fund for the destitute, a new survey showed that the big US internet companies operating in Britain have increased their UK sales last year by 18 per cent but paid even less tax to the Treasury than the year before.

Apple UK made £1 billion this country in 2011, but paid only £15.7m in tax. Last year its UK turnover rose £1.2bn, but its tax payments vanished to almost nothing – £1.7m, or precisely 0.1 per cent of turnover.

Facebook made £20m in the UK in 2011 and paid an almost invisible £200,000 in tax.

Last year its turnover nearly doubled to £35m, but its tax payments to Britain shrivelled to nothing at all.

Taking all the seven companies together – Apple UK, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo UK, Facebook UK and Amazon UK – their turnover in the UK last year was just under £3bn, but their tax payments totalled just £51m, or 1.7 per cent of turnover.

At the other end of the scale the Social Fund is being wound up by the Tories – something even Thatcher refused to do.

The Social Fund is the last helpline for the poorest families in extreme distress, often brought on by an unexpected financial crisis.

This last-resort lifebelt has been in place for the hardest-hit ever since 1948 and its removal will devastate families, often including children, leaving them literally destitute.

The Tories will no doubt argue that it’s part of the drive to make savings to reduce the budget deficit.

That claim won’t pass muster for two reasons. First, the deficit last year was £111bn, so cutting £180m will save 0.16 per cent – an enormously painful and destructive cut for an utterly minuscule saving.

Second, tackling the corporate tax cheats would be far fairer and produce vastly more money.

So why doesn’t the government get serious about industrial-scale tax avoidance?

Partly because HMRC has been significantly scaled back – and it started under Blair and Brown – as a result of industrial lobbying.

And partly because the Tories get half their annual income each year from the finance sector, so Cameron, Osborne and co aren’t going to touch the biggest tax crooks of all with a bargepole.

Of course the companies will come up with their usual plaintive mantra that they’re complying with the tax laws.

What they mean is they devise the most artificial contrivances they can think of to circumvent the weak and inadequate tax regulations that exist, knowing perfectly well that their practices are aggressively anti-social and contravene the national interest, but as long as they don’t actually fall foul of the letter of the law they have no interest in Britain whatever and will go on feathering their own nests – as well as, of course, the Tories’.

Source – BS News,  09 Jan 2014

On Yer Bike ! The Ghost Of Tebbit Rides Again

Old Tory policies die hard – or perhaps they (like Labour, LibDems, UKIP, etc) just dont have the depth of imagination to think up new innovative ones.

Whatever, another Thatcherite policy rears its ugly head again. All the way from the days when they seriously considered cutting cities like Liverpoool adrift to die, comes a reprise of Norman Tebbit’s “on yer bike” advice.

An article in The Economist titled Some towns cannot be preserved. Save their inhabitants instead  informs us that –

“Middlesbrough, Burnley, Hartlepool, Hull and many others were in trouble even before the financial crisis. These days their unemployment rates are roughly double the national average, and talented young people are draining away. Their high streets are thick with betting shops and payday lenders, if they are not empty.

“Under the last Labour government these towns were propped up on piles of public money. Some built museums and arts centres in an attempt to draw tourists, though this rarely worked. All became dependent on welfare.

“But there is little money for grand projects these days. And cuts to welfare, enacted by the Conservative-led coalition government in an attempt to balance the books, are falling brutally there. In Hartlepool the cuts amount to £712 for every working-age person. In Guildford, a middle-class commuter town south of London, they add up to just £263.”

So, nothing we didn’t already know. Can you guess what the remedy is going to be ?

“Governments should not try to rescue failing towns. Instead, they should support the people who live in them.

That means helping them to commute or move to places where there are jobs—and giving them the skills to get those jobs.”

Ok, right – so that means we all have to uproot and head for the South East ? And, if/when we manage to scrabble to the top of the heap and win the coveted prize of a minimum wage service industry job, where are we going to live ? Some London boroughs are already enacting what amounts to economic cleansing of the poor when it comes to housing.

Still, perhaps we’ll see the esthablishment of squatter camps outside the city limits, from where those with jobs can be bussed in every day to labour for their pennies.

Actually, the article may have been thinking along similar lines – “…new communities can be created in growing suburbs fringing successful cities. It has happened before.”

It certainly has. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Finally, I’d like to quote one of the comments published in response to the article, which I think succinctly sums up the problems that the piece’s author evidently failed to forsee –

“The obvious consequence of this article is that you support the people by moving them from “dead” areas to “live” areas like, er, London and the Greater South East. Obviously in leaving a dead area you will get very little for your house (after all it is being effectively abandoned), so you will have to be subsidised in the South – or live on the streets – something I don’t think the locals in London like.

Then of course the problem is London
– The motorways are clogged (despite having more lanes than anywhere else in the country),

– the railways are apparently a hell hole (despite having better rolling stock than the rail-buses we still have where I live and despite getting the Crossrail investment and tube extensions),

– the airports are apparently even worse (despite or possibly because of a hogging of international connections)

– Housing is a nightmare – made worse apparently by immigrants (you wait until the Northerners arrive!)

– Key workers are not available (probably because they cannot afford to live in central London and cannot afford to travel into London)

– There are water shortages (which will probably get worse when the people from Hartlepool, Burnley, Hull Middlesbrough et al arrive)

Actually being unemployed and living on the Durham coast sounds like quite a good life in comparison – and will probably cost the exchequer less than solving all the additional problems London would have if you moved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people from “dead” areas to London.”

 

 

Economist, 12 Oct 2013 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21587790-city-sicker