John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
  Charging Council Tax to people on JSA
I explained why Birmingham was wrong to do this in parliament yesterday. The video of my speech is here. The text of the debate is here

There is always a challenge understanding the arguments when different people quote different figures. I will, therefore put up the two arguments about costs. These figures look only at the effect on the city council. That is about 88% of the total council tax bill. The rest goes to Police and Fire.
Labour's figuresMy figures
2012/3 government support88,231,59888,231,598
2013/4 government support(79,494,242)(79,494,242)
Shortfall8,737,3568,737,356
Contingency882,3160
Requirement for 1.45% increase in Council Tax 1,292,152 0
Total to find10,911,8238,737,356
From Flexibilities5,437,9776,012,692
Government Grant02,129,441
Final Shortfall5,473,847595,223
The money that can come in from reducing backdating is 792,542 which is more than that required for my approach to the figures.

The policy question is the one highlighted in my speech. Do you tax the poorest in society in order to find funds to support the council tax of the poorest or do you share the burden amongst people. (ie on the general fund).

I made the point in my speech that without any increase in council tax the council should expect an additional £1.4 million, but that the budget for 2013/4 for inflation is also high and could easily stretch to cover the missing support that results from an increase in council tax of 1.45% (much that there is an argument for taking the government money here as well).

 
Saturday, January 26, 2013
  A polish perspective
This is from the other main polish language media operation in the UK.
 
Friday, January 25, 2013
  GDP, growth and oil and gas
There are two aspects of fossil fuel production that affect GDP. The first is that higher oil prices tend to reduce economic activity. The second is that if the UK produces less oil or gas then that takes down the GDP. Because this is a geological issue it needs to be excluded from consideration.

The GDP index at the end of Q4 2011 excluding oil and gas was 103.5 and the provisional Q4 2012 figure is 103.9. For some reason ONS make this growth of 0.3% (I make it 0.4% - actually 0.3864%). The figures including oil and gas are 102.8 and 102.9. The ONS make this flat whereas I make it a 0.1% (0.09728%) increase. The reason why the ONS figures and mine are different is that I am comparing the 2011 figure directly to the 2012 figure whereas the ONS are summing the percentage variances (their approach brings in a rounding error). [note it is possible that if the figures are expressed to a greater accuracy that the ONS are right on the rounding, but wrong on the economy being flat in 2012 - as in a number rounded to 102.9 is bigger than a number rounded to 102.8]

It is disappointing, but not surprising that we have growth (including oil and gas) within the potential error of a rounding error. We should focus more on the figures exluding oil and gas as there is little we can do about depleting energy figures.

However, the total figure is the one that affects the tax take and hence issues relating to sovereign debt.

 
Thursday, January 24, 2013
  UNITED KINGDOM LIFTS TRAVEL BAN ON AMERICAN JOURNALIST
Follows Success of Online Petition and Motion from Member of Parliament

NEW YORK, Jan. 24, 2013/PRNewswire/ – In the wake of the child-abuse scandal surrounding BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, the United Kingdom lifted its 500-day travel ban on American journalist Leah McGrath Goodman and restored her visa this past week, allowing her to complete an investigation into allegations of systemic child abuse in the UK and its territories.

As reported by The Guardian and the BBC, Goodman was banned after being detained and questioned by UK authorities in September 2011 about her research into allegations of horrific crimes against children at the orphanage Haut de la Garenne on the island of Jersey, a leading offshore tax shelter controlled by the British Crown.

Amid fresh allegations about Savile’s predatory activities on the island of Jersey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley John Hemming filed a parliamentary motion in September 2012 protesting Goodman’s ban. “I am pleased that Leah now has her visa,” says Hemming. “They should not have banned her in the first place. She wished to investigate the story relating to Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne before it became public. Clearly, her ban was part of the cover-up which should be investigated itself.”

Trevor Pitman, a member of Jersey’s Parliament, initiated a petition in defense of Goodman in September on Change.org, signed by thousands. “I'm pleased our campaign has been successful,” says Pitman. “Leah's ban was politically motivated and symptomatic of a justice system that has been hijacked.”

Haut de la Garenne made international headlines in 2008, when Jersey police launched an investigation into nearly 200 complaints of alleged abuse, torture and murder at the children’s home. The investigation was abruptly halted in 2009 after the island’s Health Minister and Chief of Police were removed from their jobs under pressure to end the probe.

Leah McGrath Goodman, a member of The London Speaker Bureau and contributor to Fortune plans to write a book on her findings. Her first book, “The Asylum: Inside the Rise and Ruin of the Global Oil Market,” will be released in paperback by HarperCollins this spring.

 
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
  Procedure Select Committee on Questions today
This is my contribution to the committee meeting today which looked further at the issue of the Department of Education answering questions.
 
Saturday, January 19, 2013
  Monday's speech (the fast one)

It was at 21:33:13.25 I am not sure how to embed it at a particular time. If you wish to go directly to the right time please click here.
The reason the speech was given quite quickly was that the time of the debate had been reduced and I wished to get it all on the record. The record is here.
 
Thursday, January 17, 2013
  Fountain Statue with Icicles
As I was leaving the House of Commons today I noticed that the fountain statue had icicles. It would have been really good with the right lighting sadly I didn't have the time to wait for the sun to get in the right place. IMAG0333
 
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
  Deficits and Benefits
Because of the economic difficulties the government has extended the period during which it is aiming to reduce the structural deficit. This, however, has required the finding of additional saving.

Although I pressed for the full inflation increase on all benefits last year I did support the new Welfare bill which limits the increase to 1%. That is because we cannot expect the Welfare budget to be immune to savings. If we do not have a general limit on benefits then any specific targeted changes would have to be much more.

The proposal is to increase by inflation those benefits that specifically relate to disability, but to hold other state payments to the same figure as applies to public sector workers (viz 1%).

It is worth noting that there has been a 100% reduction on child benefit for families with earners earning over £60,000 (the only benefit available to such families)

In the mean time Labour seem to want to tax people on benefits in Birmingham. This, however, is not the same in other local authority areas. They have also refused to apply for the grant which would stop them taxing people on benefits.

 
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
  Planning irregularities and Hong Kong
This is an interesting story about Hong Kong where the Chinese government committee selected leader is under threat as a result of building without planning permission.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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