Unfair and Unequal

Unfair & Unequal       Margaret+Hodge

The news is full of the poor, brave, hero of a Soldier that was murdered in Woolwich, and of course we can understand why this is woolwich-rigby-wif_2572330bthe case, but murmuring in the background for the last several weeks has been Lady Margaret Hodge (MBE, PC & MP). For those of you who are familiar with Lady Hodge MP, she has been a long standing member of Labour and has worked tirelessly on the back benches since 1994, some 20 years now. Her current roles in Parliament include being the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, which has oversight on all things financial that bring money into the Government or spending in large sums by the Government. This Committee is arguably one of the most powerful that the House of Commons & Lords has and it takes companies and people to task as it sees fit. The murmuring I mentioned at the beginning of this is Margaret Hodge blasting through every media outlet the waste of money by some and the avoidance of tax by others, even if it is within the strict letter of the law. Lady Hodge has been getting her message, the Committee’s message across for some time now, despite what else has been drawing our attention, but we should all be focussing on her message. What is the message:

‘Using the rules to reduce your tax liability substantially, below the proportional level of an average working person in the street, whilst it may be legal, it is totally immoral and the Committee is coming after you”

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jubgI think this sums up the message quite nicely, but what are we talking about? Well we have major employers and seriously big companies that are, according to the Committee, using loopholes in their law to reduce tax liability and maximise profits for their shareholders and owners, which they are supposed to do. The difference is that whilst this is perfectly legal they take this to an extreme level, starving the country of billions of pounds in tax revenue. Let’s face it, we would all do the same if we could but these enormous companies go to an utter extreme that takes them into the immoral category according to Margaret Hodge and other Committee members, and I have some sympathy with this. I think the reason we are so outraged by these companies is that it harks back to the days of the Bankers & Financial Institutions making huge sums of money, also minimising their tax, and then we feel they got off scot free after the collapse of 2008. They were never brought to account for making millions upon millions; many lost their jobs but were then paid off by huge sums. So I think there is a feeling that no one was held to account and now we see the big corporations doing something similar, and our near hatred is galvanised. This is what Lady Hodge is funnelling, bringing our focus onto these tax reducers.

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The Committee has brought to heal Amazon, Google, Costa and the list goes on. A recent report by Oxfam estimated that annuallyDavid Simonds Starbucks 21.10.12 the amount of tax that is not paid, for whatever reason, is in the region of $160 billion (dollars). Oxfam estimated with this much money they could eradicate famine in the African and Asian Continent. I also read that a similar amount could find a cure for cancer and vaccinate the population of the same Continents against everyday diseases that kill millions. The same noted that a cure for Aids was also achievable along with feeding the starving of the world, and this is with one years’ worth of tax that these companies avoid paying. Just one year’s worth! The amount avoided in the UK alone is 1/3 of this total, sum £45 billion (pounds) and this figure is reported to be on the low side, and may be as high as £100 billion just from the UK. With this much money we could pay off the deficit and restore prosperity to the UK in just a couple of years, yet nothing is done and Lady Hodge keeps on beating the same drum.

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6E47DE21FDC8B33343A26F264AB64I wonder, and this is just a thought put out there, could the UK do something to stop this legalised avoidance? Well of course they could because it is our rules that allow them to avoid paying what the public and HMRC think they should. So is the Government going to changes things, I think you may be disappointed at the answer? Whilst the Committee was blasting out Google EU for the level of avoidance they were achieving, legally again, calling their European Chief Executive immoral and bordering on the criminal, their worldwide boss was having tea at Number 10 with our Prime Minister, who never said a word to him about tax avoidance. Well of course he didn’t because these are their friends, their monetary donors of huge sums to fill the Party coffers. So I do not taxevasionexpect things to change any time soon with Committees undermined by their own Government and from the highest position in the land politically. I have to admit I just shrugged and felt bewildered by Cameron, on the one side naming and shaming a comedian for using legal a scheme to minimise his tax and then on the other having tea with the boss of probably the world’s largest tax avoidance cooperation – ho-hum!

But whilst this farce is going on, whilst this comedy of tax minimisation by large corporations is sanctioned by the acts of the Prime Minister, there is another piece of news unfolding that just makes me want to hurl something at the TV. The Government have been utterly ruthless at cutting back, saving money, reducing services despite the consequences to communities, families or individuals. They have even announced another £12 billion in cuts this Coalition of ours, with the Secretary of state for Work and Pensions VOLUNTEERING to make further cuts to the Welfare State (thanks so much from all disabled people Iain Duncan Smith MP and How much tax is paid by major US companies in the UK?general lunatic). Let’s face it; it is far easier to take off non-party donors than it is to nail the big companies that fund your electoral campaigns – bloody shameful in my opinion. But this is not the news item you may have missed, as the Government gear up to take more and more off vulnerable people; the BBC had a little announcement about their own spending.

The new Director General of the BBC, who has been in post only about two months, cancelled their new IT programme that has been in development since 2007. The IT system development was planned to put all the BBC’s vast archive material online for any employee of the BBC to be able to access at their desk, wherever their desk may be in the country. Unfortunately the technological development has missed all its various deadlines and is a little over spent, but nothing new about that when it comes to IT, Government and its agencies. There is quite a long history of the Government under various parties’ leadership not being able to deliver. There was a mammoth £12 billion pound NHS system that was supposed to link all 9,000 NHS organisations together and actually only connected 160 of them. But what they kept secret was that a massive £39 million was on legal fees alone! Some solicitors made millions off margaret-hodge_1414784cthis failed scheme. But there is more, such as the Department of Transport’s internal IT structure. This was revamped and was planned to be around £50 million and actually came in at over £81 million! There was the Offender Management System by the Home Office that was supposed to link all elements of the justice system together to share information, prisons, probation, courts, parole boards, etc. It was going to cost £250 million, racked up costs of £600 million before the alarm bells went off and people started questioning it, and was finally cancelled with costs of nearly £800 million. And recent history is littered with such ridiculously large project management blunders by Government, which the Independent estimated in 2010 the unplanned cost of these IT expenditures was £28 billion (conservative estimate).

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bbcfacadeeditSo what has the BBC done now, when you thought they were getting past all their Jimmy Saville and other peoples’ perversion problems, what in deed? Well the BBC have managed to spend nearly £100 million of OUR money, via tax and TV licence revenue, and failed miserably at getting their IT scheme off the ground. That’s right, £100 million and it is a complete and utter flop. So what can they salvage from the £100 million of our money they spent, nothing, not a thing. So the Director General has cancelled the whole thing rather than waste good money after bad, good money being £100 million of our pigging money! I hope the Director General makes sure all the people connected with this project are sacked and I hope the Government’s Committee (as mentioned above) investigates this complete waste of money, especially when every penny counts at the moment. But I wouldn’t worry too much as the Government can always take more from the disabled to compensate. Personally I would have thought that Governments, Politicians (as they are supposed to be bright people – NOT) would have learnt by know that when it comes to IT schemes they are the worst people to manage them, and that includes the Civil Servants. Every time they get ripped off and achieve nothing other than to make some owners of IT companies very rich. PLEASE learn from your mistakes and save money by getting the hell out of the EU club!

Yours

Jonathan Wade

 

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