Your Tax Money At Work

Bad news for the Green New Deal

A botched government scheme offering homeowners grants to reduce their energy bills racked up £50 million in administration costs, the public spending watchdog has found.

But of course, any scheme planned by Mssrs. Murphy and Hines would not have such problems. Oh No Sir, couldn’t possibly be true. The urgent spending, in a rush, of £100 billion a year simply would not face the same problems at all. Nope.

Honest.

Because good intentions makes government work well, d’ye see?

Well, yes, obviously

State Dept blocking private rescue flights from leaving Afghanistan, organizers say:

No bureaucracy is going to allow people outside the bureaucracy to successfully achieve what the bureaucracy either cannot or has decided not to do. To allow would have people thinking why do we bother to have the bureaucracy?

I’ve been a salesman

Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), urged the debate over net zero to be framed in a more positive light: “It can be done,” he said. “It is worth it … I hope we can move away from thinking about the cost and see it as a mission to modernise the economy.”

The only time you don’t emphasise how cheap the offering is is when it’s grossly expensive.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Boris Johnson is expected to abandon the Conservative manifesto pledge not to raise income tax, VAT or National Insurance and has plans to raise the main rate of NI by 1pc or 1.25pc to ease the care crisis. Policy makers are reportedly at logger heads over the size of the rate increase, expected to hit some 30 million people.

National Insurance is charged at different rates on different bands of earnings. Self-employed workers are also treated differently.

The table below details how workers with various incomes would be affected. An employed worker earning £60,000 a year would pay £504 more a year in NI if the main rate increased from 12pc to 13pc, and the upper NI rate was raised from 2pc to 3pc. They would pay £630 more if it went up to 13.25pc and 3.25pc.

Higher earners will pay much more over their lifetimes. But I rather doubt that they’ll be offered higher thread count sheets, or Nescafe Gold instead of regular.

So what will these people, who are alreaday likely to have saved to pay for their own care anyway, get for their extra payments?

There’s an easy solution to this, Matey

While concerns over racism against staff are undoubtedly genuine, they do not acknowledge the reality that the aid sector is itself a racist tool, embedded in colonial structures and power inequalities, that looks down on countries based on their wealth, history and global positioning. By default, those who control these power structures – donors, international NGOs, charities, private foundations – all perpetuate racism towards their southern counterparts.

So, don’t participate in racism by accepting the aid then.

The gross iniquities of late stage capitalism

More than six million people over the age of 60 face having to find up to £620 a week on top of their state pension to cover care costs after a surge in inflation in the sector, an industry report has found.

The average cost of a care home, estimated at between £600 and £800 a week, is about four times the new full state pension of £179.60 a week, according to Age UK, the charity.

This means that those who need to pay for a care home would need to find an additional £400 to £600 every week on top of their state pension to afford it, according to analysis compiled for Tele­graph Money by Canada Life, the pension provider. A third of over-60s said they would have to burn through their cash savings to cover the expense, as well as any private pension they have.

Err, yes? Folks should pay for their own lives and needs from their own resources, no?

Of course, it’s possible that a just and righteous society will proffer aid to those without the resources to meet their needs. Hmm? We have such a system already? The state will pay the fees for those who cannot? Who have exhausted their own resources?

Oh, that’s good then, we’re done here, right?

WTF?

A local council has lent £150m to The Hut Group’s billionaire founder following a raft of property transactions ahead of his company’s stock market flotation.

Warrington Council made available £151m of a £202m loan facility to an investment company called Icon 3 Holdco, which is indirectly controlled by THG chief executive Matthew Moulding, according to a council report from July.

The money helped with the construction of new properties for THG’s use and followed property transactions undertaken by companies controlled by Mr Moulding around the time THG launched its £5bn stock market listing last September, the Financial Times reported.

The loan, arranged by property firm CBRE, is secured against assets including various commercial properties, some that are currently being built, around Manchester airport. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Many of THG’s freehold property assets have been transferred to companies controlled by Mr Moulding through Guernsey-domiciled Moulding Capital Ltd (MCL), a move that raised eyebrows at the time of the initial public offering. These companies now let the properties back to THG for annual rent of about £19m. THG and Mr Moulding defended the move at the time.

A large distribution warehouse in Warrington, known as Omega, was among those transferred to MCL before THG’s float.

The council defended the loan saying it was “not a new venture for Warrington and is a practice that has been evidenced as being well established for some time in local government across the UK”.

It added: “Our objective is to secure good quality jobs for local residents.”

Local councils funding – through loans – property development?

WTF?

It’s bad enough when they do it on their own account, with equity. But investment banking by the guys hired to run the drains?

An error in thinking here

Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are likely to face a rapidly developing financial crisis, with foreign currency reserves largely unreachable and western aid donors – who fund the country’s institutions by about 75% – already cutting off or threatening to cut payments.

While the hardline Islamist group has moved in recent years to become more independent of outside financial supporters including Iran, Pakistan and wealthy donors in the Gulf, its financial flows – amounting to $1.6bn (£1.2bn) last year – are far short of what it will require to govern.

That is to assume that they’re even going to try and govern as the previous government did.

Paying for the schools, and poverty alleviation, and roads and all that. What they might well do – I have no particular insight here, no local knowledge – is just revert to that more Islamic/medieval system of governance that requires none of that central cash. The roads can go to pot, the schools and charity alleviation are local and through the mosques and what money does central government need anyway?

That private sector test and trace disaster

So we’re told, using anything other than the NHS has been a total disaster.

Many thousands of people may have isolated unnecessarily because a government error meant they were “pinged” by the Covid app for a “close contact” in the prior five days rather than two days, a Whitehall whistleblower has told the Guardian.

As the isolation rules for double vaccinated people were relaxed on Monday, it has emerged that users were never told the app could notify of contact with an infected person as far back as five days before the positive test.

Official guidance for the NHS Covid app defined close contact as occurring two days before the infected person had symptoms, while the official NHS test-and-trace service has always used two days as its definition.

The Whitehall source said that the error had been flagged in a submission to Matt Hancock, the then health secretary, shortly before he resigned at the end of June but it had never been publicly admitted.

If only we’d used the NHS, not Boris’ Buddies!

Who has been involved in creating the app?
The NHS COVID-19 app is administered and owned by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The development team includes product managers & designers, software architects and developers, security experts, testers and support staff. The team has staff from Accenture, Alan Turing Institute, NHS Digital, NHSx, Oxford University, VMware Pivotal Lab and Zuhlke Engineering. As the Government’s lead technical authority on cyber security, the National Cyber Security Centre has also supported in an advisory role.

Oh…..

Don’t these people ever think?

Thanks to decades of trickle-up economics, nearly half of American workers don’t earn enough to afford a one-bedroom rental, let alone buy a house.

There are some 130 million workers in he US. So the country has 65 million homeless?

Well, no, clearly not.

The actual number:

Rents in the US continued to increase through the pandemic, and a worker now needs to earn about $20.40 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom rental. The median wage in the US is about $21 an hour.

That is, the average single and only worker in a household would find it difficult to rent a one bedroomed apartment for 30% or less of his or her income. That’s before any help or aid that comes through government or the tax system of course. Like, you know, Section 8 rent subsidies, or tax credits, or the EITC, or food stamps or whatever.

Or, you know, a lie in pursuit of the piece of political propaganda.

Why is this a parody?

The Garden Museum in London is running an architectural competition for the design of a pavilion for St Mary’s Gardens, a leafy enclave next to its premises in a converted church in Lambeth, south London. I am a member of the interview panel. The winner has yet to be chosen, but I can reveal that it won’t be a submission from one Minecraft builder that shows a blue-tinged skyscraper that occupies the entire footprint of the garden.

It comes with a justification based on the menace of “very bad” grey squirrels to Britain’s ecology: “How do we stop grey squirrel[s]?” it asks. “Squirrels eat nuts. Nuts grow on trees… if we remove the trees we stop the grey squirrels,” the submission explains. So “to remove trees we build a big tower. It will also sell for a lot of money because it’s so big.” It ends with a sop to whoever might be troubled by the loss of green space: “It can also have a garden on the roof.” It’s meant to be a joke and, as I say, it won’t win. But it deserves some kind of a prize: as a parody of the bogus arguments whereby towers are allowed to trample over British cities, it’s genius.

Think of how much of Surrey can be saved if we put a big tower in a couple of acres of Lambeth…..

Buying stuff on the never never is warned against

Nicola Sturgeon is facing fresh scrutiny over her dealings with Sanjeev Gupta after the troubled steel tycoon failed to meet a pledge to set aside £55m for Britain’s last aluminium smelter.

Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance struck a ­taxpayer-backed deal with Scottish ministers in 2016 for the Fort William smelter and associated hydropower plant for £330m.

Holyrood also handed the businessman a 114,000-acre Scottish hunting estate as part of the deal that is now held in an offshore company.

In return, Mr Gupta committed to making regular payments into a “project account” overseen by the Scottish government for the development of the business. A substantial “milestone ­payment” was due by March. Emails released under freedom of information laws now claim Mr Gupta had not made payment weeks later.

Selling stuff on the never never also seems to have its problems.

We can test this

The competitive, for-profit model of social care provision has had 30 years to deliver on its promises of efficient, high-quality services. In that time, the crisis in adult social care has only deepened. Instead of driving innovation, increased competition between providers has undermined care quality. It is time to stop pursuing the same strategy and expecting a different outcome.

The care sector needs an overhaul. Not only do we need adequate long-term funding from central government, we also need to address some searching questions about the role of profit in the sector, and ask: who is benefiting from this dysfunctional model? And who, ultimately, is paying the price?

So, those remaining council run or state run homes provide a better service than the private ones, do they?

Hmm, what’s that, you don’t want to test a beautiful theory against ugly facts?

American political counting

The beleaguered rail operator scored $66 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). After years of legislative chaos on the infrastructure front, nothing is certain. But if the bill passes, Amtrak will get some stability that adds up to a vote of confidence.

In 2019, Amtrak passengers made 32.5 million trips across the entire national network (via PR email).

So, the subsidy should be $2,000 per annual passenger journey?

Maybe we should just buy them each a car?

Not going to happen

Stonewall has received £1 million a year of taxpayers’ money to deliver controversial guidance including on transgender issues, an investigation has found.

Over the past three years, the LGBT charity has been paid a total of over £3.1 million by 327 public bodies for their Diversity Champions scheme, conferences, events and training programmes.

This includes almost half a million pounds from the NHS, while one quango paid nearly £50,000 to the charity.

Members since 2018 have included 87 universities, roughly two-thirds of the total number in the UK, as well as Government departments, police forces and councils.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which carried out the research, is now “calling for an end to the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, so public money is not used to distort political decision making by advancing policy positions taxpayers may seriously disagree with”.

The entirety of that NGO establishment will be against such restrictions. Shelter on housing, Oxfam on poverty, the P³’s constant demand is for funding to shout about tax.

This is what they live for, tax money to influence policy.

Expropriation of the workers!

‘Never knowingly underpaid’: John Lewis hits out after being named Britain’s worst minimum wage offender
Department store caught up in row with ministers after being publicly outed over claims that it failed to pay £940,000 to 19,000 workers

That’s umm, £50 per worker. Or, over a year, 3 p per hour.

The explanation is that they smooth incomes. So, folks doing variable shifts get the same pay each time, aiding in being able to budget. It catches up with itself over time. But, obviously, it’s possible that some will, in some pay periods, seemingly fall below minimum wage.

Do note that there’s not a capitalist in sight here. Nary a single one. But aren’t we lucky that we’ve a government, and a law, ready to ding people for this?

It was claimed that investigations by HM Revenue & Customs found about £2.1 million was owed to 34,000 workers across all the companies.

4 pence an hour over a year. This is not, actually, a problem, is it? Especially as it’s mostly about did they include the shoe allowance in wages or not, time for washing hands etc?

Here’s an interesting solution

Some problems are intractable because there are too many competing interests. Some are hard to solve because they’re hard to predict. And then there’s social care, which is very straightforward. It may be terrifying to plot our ageing population’s needs into the future – local authorities used to call it “the graph of doom” – but it’s not difficult. All a government needs to do is to work out how to pay for it.

How about, umm, not having government pay for it?

Well, yes, things do happen

Mr Khan said: “If we don’t get further Government support in December, there could still be a £500m gap this year and so I urge Ministers to treat TfL as they do the private rail operators, and commit to a long-term funding agreement. This is vital not only for the good of London, but for the whole country.”

A key pillar to the London mayor’s first five years in office was to freeze fares across the capital.

Don’t charge enough and you’ll run out of money. Funny that.

Eventually, of course, you end up running out of other peoples’ money too.