Hot on the heels of this story about Swire lauding a company that is registered in the Cayman Islands:
comes this nugget:
Hot on the heels of this story about Swire lauding a company that is registered in the Cayman Islands:
comes this nugget:
“John Lewis, the embattled retailer whose profits collapsed by 99% in the six months to July, will be charged £10.5m in business rates for its flagship Oxford Street shop from April, according to new figures — a 60% rise in three years.
A short walk away, Selfridges’ flagship shop also faces a 60% hike: its business rates bill will climb to £17.5m. That figure is almost four times the total UK corporation tax paid last year by the online retail giant Amazon: just £4.5m.
The looming threat to the high street will put pressure on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to throw businesses a lifeline when he delivers his budget on October 29.
This weekend, Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “These figures lay bare the shocking burden the business rates regime places on British retailers, who make up 5% of the economy and pay 25% of business rates — £7bn a year. The rates bill is leading to store closures, preventing the reinvention of our high streets, and is damaging communities the length and breadth of the UK.”
The BRC is lobbying for a two-year freeze in business rates until a revaluation in 2021, while the New West End Company, which represents businesses in London’s West End, is lobbying for a rates reduction of £5bn. This would be financed by a 1% tax on online businesses but would not apply to traditional retailers’ internet sales.
High street trading has been squeezed by online shopping, which now accounts for 18.2% of the market, with fewer stores surviving to shoulder the rates burden.
A phased four-year settlement in 2017 will bite hardest from April, with some stores facing huge increases. Burberry, which this month unveiled a new collection, faces a hike for its London headquarters of 186% compared with its rates in 2016-17.
In Manchester, Zara must pay £1.26m and Manchester City football club £2.4m, up from £1.7m in 2016-17.
Altus Group, the property adviser that researched the figures, found NHS hospitals will have to pay £386m and council-controlled state schools £957m.
Nickie Aiken, the Conservative leader of Westminster council, said: “Our taxes should reflect our way of life. I would ask the Treasury: do we want to continue the decline so that the only things left on the high street are charity shops and betting shops?”
Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)
Has Swire gone the way of Trump? It seems the only credible explanation for this:
A few of Young’s beliefs:
“Toby Young was fired by Tories, who appointed him a few days earlier, from his post as head of the “Office for Students” over homophobic remarks and for proposing that when the technology for genetically engineered intelligence is practical it should be allowable for a decision to be made by poor parents with low IQs [note – not rich parents with poor IQs] over which embryos should be allowed to develop using intelligence as a marker. “It could help to address the problem of flat-lining inter-generational social mobility”, he wrote.
In 2012 Young wrote an article in The Spectator criticising the emphasis on “inclusion” in state schools, saying that the word “inclusive” was “one of those ghastly, politically correct words that have survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be ‘inclusive’ these days. That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library…”
Young has come under criticism for comments he made on Twitter, most of which were deleted upon his appointment to the Board of the Office for Students. Young claimed to have posted more than 56,000 tweets, of which 8,439 remain.
These included what a London Evening Standard editorial called “an obsession with commenting on the anatomy of women in the public eye”. He referred on Twitter to the cleavage of unnamed female MPs sitting behind Ed Miliband in the Commons in 2011 and 2012. When later challenged by Stella Creasy on Newsnight he said of the second such incident: “It wasn’t my proudest moment”. Other remarks included homophobic slurs, including a claim that George Clooney is “as queer as a coot”.
One tweet by Young was in response to a BBC Comic Relief appeal in 2009 for starving Kenyan children. During the broadcast, a Twitter user commented that she had “gone through about 5 boxes of kleenex” whilst watching. Toby Young replied: “Me too, I havn’t [sic] wanked so much in ages”. He has expressed remorse for his “politically incorrect” tweets.
Young is believed to have edited his own Wikipedia page 282 times in the last ten years.
Prior to getting married, Young employed a Russian ‘daily’ whom he later described as ‘a kind of surrogate mother’. Young has since complained about the difficulty of finding reliable domestic staff.
Young has admitted using illegal drugs – specifically taking cocaine at the Groucho Club in central London, and also supplying drugs to others. He was subsequently expelled from membership of the Club in late 2001 for writing about the cocaine use of his friends whom he had supplied with the drug during a photo shoot for Vanity Fair.”
“The government believes there is evidence that allowing foreign buyers to snap up homes while paying the same duty as British residents “is inflating house prices”. …”
Well, who would have guessed!
Interesting to note that a large number of people in East Devon have been pointing out deficiencies in internal and external audit foy YEARS!
“The government has called for a comprehensive review of Britain’s auditing industry in what could herald huge changes to a sector dominated by the firms known as the big four.
Calls for reform have grown after the collapse of the construction giant Carillion and the former high street stalwart BHS revealed serious inadequacies in the auditing process.
The business secretary, Greg Clark, said it was “right to learn the lessons and apply them without delay” as he ordered the inquiry into competition within the industry where Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG audit 98% of the UK’s largest listed companies.
“The collapse of Carillion exposed deficiencies in an audit process, where the market is dominated by just four large firms,” Clark said, in an interview with the Financial Times.
He added: “We know competition is one of the key drivers for maintaining and improving standards, so I have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider looking again at what can be done to improve the audit sector.”
Thousands of jobs were lost following Carillion’s collapse in January, with a subsequent parliamentary report finding that Deloitte – which received £10m to be the outsourcing company’s internal auditor – had been either “unable or unwilling” to identify failings in financial controls, or “too readily ignored them”.
Ernst & Young was paid £10.8m for “six months of failed turnaround advice”. Elsewhere, PwC was fined £10m by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) for signing off on the accounts of BHS, before its sale for £1. The retailer collapsed in 2016, prompting the loss of 11,000 jobs.
Frank Field, the chairman of the work and pensions committee, said poor business practices were “waved through by a cosy club of auditors, conflicted at every turn”.
The FRC has previously called for an inquiry into whether the big four should be broken up, with their audit divisions spun off. This year, Deloitte warned that such a measure could affect the UK’s standing as a global financial centre.
Labour welcomed the announcement, but claimed the Conservatives were “playing catch-up”. …”
These are the people charged with our Brexit it negotiations and keeping the UK safe!!!
“The Conservative party has accidentally allowed the personal mobile phone numbers of hundreds of MPs, journalists, and party members to be revealed to the public on its conference app.
A security flaw allowed anyone who downloaded the app to log in as any attendee to the party conference, which begins in Birmingham tomorrow, using only their email address. No password was required to view any attendee’s personal details, including their mobile phone number.
BuzzFeed News was able to access the personal mobile phone numbers of cabinet ministers, MPs, journalists, and Tory party members within seconds.
Users of the app are also able to change the privacy settings of other attendees using only their email address, allowing anyone else using the app to search their name and then view their mobile number.
An MP who had their personal phone number tweeted out told BuzzFeed News: “CCHQ genuinely can’t be trusted to do anything. This is a serious security breach and no laughing matter. Whoever is responsible needs to go.”
Labour MP Jon Trickett said: “How can we trust this Tory Government with our country’s security when they can’t even build a conference app that keeps the data of their members, MPs and others attending safe and secure?”
Journalist Dawn Foster reported being able to log in as Boris Johnson and then view his personal mobile number.”
Nice story about Swire meeting Tristram Harris from Exmouth:
“Tristram, from the Merchant Exmouth, was invited to the House of Commons to celebrate the 200th general manager appointment from Stonegate’s Pub Company’s pool of home-grown talent, having successfully completed the company’s award winning ‘Accelerator’ programme.”
At least it would be nice if Stonegate Pub Company wasn’t incorporated in the Cayman Islands. And its directors were not all non-Devon based and with fingers in many, many pies and pints.
From Town Council website:
“For distribution – question: What is “Cranbrook Limited” referred to in the last line?
Town Council site:
“The Town Council has been advising previously that we have been chasing the Consortium to release householders from the rent charge deed and yesterday we received the following statement:
“The development partners, Persimmon Homes, Taylor Wimpey and Hallam are continuing to work with their agents to conclude the Estate Rent Charge audit process and Deed of Release on final payment of balances due from each household. Please bear with us as we complete these tasks. We will continue to liaise with the Town Council on this and update you further in due course.”
Whilst we are doing all we can to help progress this matter, the Town Council is not responsible for the development and distribution of the documentation which removes the rent charge deed from individual households – it is and remains the responsibility of Cranbrook Limited.
The Town Council will continue chasing this matter on a regular basis.”
“WHY DID ITV DELETE THE FILM OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S CAR SPEEDING THROUGH OTTERY HOSPITAL CAR PARK?
ITV’s short clip of Matt Hancock, Health Secretary’s ministerial blue-lighted car travelling at speed through Ottery Hospital’s car park, was deleted yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after it was posted.
Given that the video, which was in the process of going viral, must have dismayed both Mr Swire and Mr Hancock, my suspicions are directed firmly at these two.
I will be interested to hear from the two politicians whether they played a role in removing the embarrassing footage.
The tweet in question from political correspondent, Nick Smith, also confirmed that Mr Hancock’s black jaguar, using its security alert blue lights, appeared to be fleeing the apparently terrifying prospect of talking to me and around a dozen peaceable looking residents….
Here’s the video of the ministerial car speeding away after trying to shake us off…
For more detail see…
“An NHS worker living in Cranbrook has spoke of her shock at finding her garden path replaced with a deep trench – and has fumed that the contractor hasn’t even had the decency to erect safety barriers.
Julia, 28, who is also studying physiotherapy at Plymouth University, said the mess left by workers ‘space for a coffin’ after they removed the slate pathway to the front door of her privately-owned home at Stone Barton yesterday.
She claims there had been no letter drop by homes builder Taylor Wimpey to warn locals about the incredibly intrusive and disruptive works.
All the pathways in her road are missing, and she is worried it could lead to a life-changing injury for some of her elderly neighbours.
She said: “I turned up home in the afternoon and they were just gone.
“Apparently they are now going to tarmac it as it’s easier to maintain.
“They have left huge trip hazard with uneven surface and gap 11 cm long in our only entrance to the house! No barriers, no warning signs.
“It is so inconsiderate. They didn’t send us a letter about it, they just did it.
“What if somebody on crutches or in a wheelchair has to leave their house?
“I work in a hospital with elderly patients with broken hips, many don’t make their way though it.
“It is so serious.”
Council contractors have returned today and are digging even more holes in the street.
The section of the pathway removed is maintained by Taylor Wimpey, and it is part of a series of scheduled works in the area.
She has tried ringing the relevant authorities to find out how long the works will last but has not yet been able to get through to anyone who can help.
A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers at our Cranbrook development while we carry out works to footpaths outside their homes.
“The health and safety of our customers is our priority and, following the concerns raised by residents, our construction manager has visited the working area and confirmed that it has been left safe ahead of the weekend.
“Our sub-contracted groundworker wrote to all affected customers to notify them of this work on 18th September 2018. The work is due to be completed on Monday 1st October.”
“A head teacher has cut the number of hours children spend at school to save money.
Neil Porter said he would save £18,500 by cutting an hour and 20 minutes every Friday at Birmingham’s St Peter and St Paul RC Junior and Infant School.
The pupils’ early finish means teachers can plan their lessons and there is no need to pay supply staff to supervise children.
But parents have said they have had to change their working hours.
The day finishes at 15:20 BST Monday to Thursday at the Erdington school.
But on a Friday after lunch, the 210 pupils now go into a whole-school assembly with the head at 13:00. They are then picked up by parents at 14:00. …”
“England is building 21 per cent fewer homes than during a peak in 2007 as the government struggles to reach its target of 300,000 homes a year.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government showed that housebuilders started work on 38,730 homes in England on a seasonally adjusted basis in the three months to the end of June. This is down from 48,920 in the first three months of 2007. However, it was 126 per cent higher than a low of 17,120 in the first quarter of 2009, in the depth of the financial crisis.
Conversions — for example, turning an office block into flats — also count toward the 300,000 target. When these are included, the figures show that there were 217,350 “additional dwellings” in England in 2016-17, a ten-year high. However, the number of housing starts for new homes is still declining, suggesting that a higher total figure may not be achieved this year. Compared with the previous quarter, the number of housing starts fell by 3.7 per cent from 40,200 in the three months to March and by 4.1 per cent from a year earlier.
Hansen Lu, of Capital Economics, said that demand was weakening. Analysts believe that buyers are starting to hold back because of uncertainty about what Brexit will do to the economy.
“With starts having fallen in four of the last five quarters, the big picture is that housing construction is on a gentle, downward trajectory,” he added. “We expect builders to slow construction further over the rest of 2018, rather than run the risk of building homes they cannot sell.”
The government figures were contested by property analysts and housebuilding groups, and have been discredited by the UK Statistics Authority, because they are compiled through local planning departments. These have been seen to be less reliable in recent years because the planners do not always receive information from all builders in their area.”
Source: Times, paywall
“Head teachers from schools in Devon and Cornwall will join about 1,000 colleagues from around the country in London today, to demand extra funding for schools.
They will meet in Parliament Square before delivering a letter to No 11 Downing Street, amid concerns over work conditions and overcrowded classrooms.
The heads quote the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ claim that per pupil funding has fallen 8% in real terms since 2010. …”
“Loyal customers of mobile phone and broadband operators, banks and insurers are being ripped off to the tune of £4bn a year – or as much as £877 per person – according to Citizens Advice, which has lodged a “super-complaint” with the competition watchdog.
The charity said customers who stayed with their utility providers were being unfairly overcharged and that measures must be taken to end “this systematic scam”.
Citizens Advice said its research across five sectors – mobile phones, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings – found British consumers were losing £4.1bn a year to the “loyalty penalty”: the difference between what existing and new customers pay for the same service. It added that eight in 10 people were paying a significantly higher price in at least one of these sectors for remaining with their supplier.
Using its legal powers, Citizens Advice has submitted its super-complaint – the fourth it has made since being given the right to do so in 2002 – to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which must respond within 90 days.
A consumer who was overcharged across all five markets faced a potential total penalty of £877, made up of £439 for a mortgage, £264 for a mobile phone contract, £113 for broadband, £48 for a cash Isa account and £13 for home insurance. …”
“The government has spent two years and £40,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to hide how little the northern powerhouse minister visited the north of England in his role, in what one prominent northern figure called “a blatant disregard for the principles of democratic accountability”. …
The Information Commissioner’s Office then undertook an investigation, during the course of which it found that the department adopted “what appears to have been a strategy of wilful procrastination in order to obstruct a request for information”.
The DCLG appealed against the decision to the first-tier tribunal of information rights, where in early 2018 Judge Hazel Oliver ruled that the department must hand over Wharton’s diary.
From start to finish, the process took 26 months. …
Hidden in 111 pages of internal DCLG emails relating to the FoI request is a document headlined “Official – Sensitive” dating from March 2016 which includes official advice stating “there is a strong likelihood of a decision to withhold the requested information … being overturned”.
Legal experts are unimpressed. “It sounds like a classic: they knew they were likely to lose and still wasted time and money on it, and come out looking even worse,” said Paul Bernal, senior lecturer in law at the University of East Anglia.
Manchester-based data protection consultant Tim Turner said: “Departments have shown time and again that they’re very secretive about who ministers meet and what they do, and spending £40,000 to hide it doesn’t seem close to the spirit of open government.”
The information that the government tried to suppress for two years shows that Wharton rarely left London as part of his role as the north’s representative in government.
Of the 693 lines of entries in Wharton’s ministerial diary, just under half contain identifiable addresses or office rooms in the “Location” column. Ninety percent of them are based in London. …”
Remember when we were told that Help to Buy was for first-time buyers? We were sold a pup – it was for many-time developers!
“The average salary required by a first-time buyer to purchase a home in the UK’s biggest cities has risen by 18% in the past three years, above the rate of earnings growth – making it harder for young people to get on the housing ladder.
London house prices post first annual fall since 2009
In the latest sign that homeownership was becoming an increasingly distant prospect for young adults in the UK, figures from the research company Hometrack showed only three out of 20 major cities had become more affordable since 2015.
The biggest drop in affordability in the past three years was in Bristol and Manchester, where rapid growth in house prices had pushed up the average wage needed by a first-time buyer by almost a quarter.
In Bristol, a first-time buyer now needed to earn £58,826 per year to afford the average property, compared with £47,283 three years ago; while Manchester has seen the salary requirement jump by more than £6,500 to £34,770.
It has also become harder for first-time buyers to purchase a property in cities that include Leicester, Birmingham and Nottingham, with home values rising by more than the rate of growth in earnings over the past three years. …”
From Claire Wright’s Facebook page:
“MATT HANCOCK, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH, VISITS OTTERY HOSPITAL BUT LEAVES AT SPEED, JAMES BOND STYLE ….
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care sped out of Ottery Hospital car park, in his ministerial car, with blue lights flashing this morning, in an apparently desperate attempt to avoid speaking to me and around a dozen hospital supporters.
Just before he left in a hurry, officials asked me and around a dozen residents to leave the car park where we were peacefully waiting for him to exit. We didn’t have placards and there was no chanting.
For more see…
See coverage on ITV Westcountry at 6pm this evening”
“Carillion taxpayer bill likely to top £150 million
Taxpayers are on course to pay more than £150m following the collapse this year of Carillion after it was revealed the bill for redundancy payments is expected to hit £65m.
A freedom of information request by the Unite union showed an arm of the Insolvency Service has already made £50m of redundancy payments to former Carillion workers and expects to hand over a further £15m.
The cost of lawyers and accountants handling the liquidation of the construction and services companies is expected to be more than £70m and other costs are expected to escalate above £20m, taking the total beyond £150m.
Earlier this year the National Audit Office said the cost would hit £148m, prompting condemnation from opposition MPs who accused the government of mishandling the company’s collapse and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.
Considered one of the most spectacular corporate collapses of modern times, Carillion filed for bankruptcy in January after its stock market value slumped 90% on the news it had racked up debts of about £1bn and was struggling to fill a £600m hole in its pension fund.
At the time, the Wolverhampton-based company had more than 19,000 employees, many of them working on Whitehall-commissioned contracts to build roads, schools and hospitals.
Ministers were accused of realising too late that the company was in financial difficulties and then making matters worse by offering fresh contracts in an attempt to boost investor confidence.
Several contracts were taken over by rivals after the collapse, but the £335m Royal Liverpool hospital will be finished with government money, the hospital’s chief executive said on Tuesday, while the £550m Aberdeen bypass will be completed by the joint venture partners Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try.
Labour’s shadow cabinet spokesman, Jon Trickett, said he had received pledges from ministers in response to questions in the Commons that the costs associated with Carillion’s downfall would be met by shareholders.
“We were assured that shareholders, who have taken hundreds of millions out of the company over the years, would bear the burden, not the taxpayer,” he said. “Now it feels like the taxpayer has been skinned twice. First by contracts ministers signed with Carillion that were a bad deal and then by picking up the tab for the company’s failure.”
The Redundancy Payments Office said: “The total amount we may pay out is approximately £65m, of which £50m has been paid so far based on actual claims received.”
Unite said ministers were to blame for allowing Carillion to file for compulsory liquidation with only £29m in the bank, rather than enter a managed form of administration.
It said the decision meant thousands of staff that transferred to other employers could not claim continued employment and fell outside the transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations (Tupe) that protect a worker’s pay, terms and conditions.
“The lack of continuation of service means that the affected workers are considered new starters and have also lost many of their employment rights for a two-year period,” Unite said.
“The taxpayer will also have to pick up the bill for the work to complete several of Carillion’s key strategic projects including the Royal Liverpool hospital and the Midland Metropolitan hospital in Sandwell, West Midlands. The cost of concluding these projects is expected to be in excess of £100m. …”
“The announcement today (Wednesday, September 26) that plans to merger Devon and Cornwall Police with Dorset Police have been delayed has not helped what has been, from the start, a flawed process.
This latest delay – coming moments after a farcical episode involving an abandoned meeting in a supermarket – has been caused because those in charge of our police cannot agree whether the merger should move to the next stage. …”