“IFS: UK’s richest people exploiting loophole to cut tax rate”

“More than 9,000 of the richest people in the UK collected more than £1m each in capital gains last year, exploiting a loophole that could result in them paying tax at a rate as low as 10%.

Economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) thinktank said wealthy professionals often chose to form companies and partnerships to be eligible for lower capital gains tax (CGT) rates rather than collect salaries that would be subject to the top rate of income tax.

HMRC data shows 9,000 people paid just £5.1bn in tax on £33.7bn of capital gains income in the latest financial year available. That works out at an average tax rate of 14.8%, lower than than the basic rate income tax of 20% that people pay on salaries of between £12,501 and £50,000.

Andy Summers, a tax expert and assistant professor at the London School of Economics, said that despite recent changes to tax rules, private equity fund managers were still able to receive most of their remuneration in the form of “carried interest”, taxed as capital gains instead of income. Other highly paid professionals can convert their income into gains by retaining profits inside their companies as they approach retirement.

“Capital gains are highly concentrated at the very top of the income distribution; the vast majority of reported gains go to people who received more in one year than a worker on the median wage would earn in their entire lifetime,” he said at an IFS conference in London on Tuesday titled “Inequality and the very rich: what do we need to know?”

Business owners can qualify for entrepreneurs’ relief, under which they can pay just 10% CGT when they sell all or part of a company. The standard CGT rate is 20%. This compares with the 40% income tax rate on salaries of between £50,001 and £150,000.

People recording gains of more than £1m each accounted for 62% of all capital gains receipts in the 2017-18 financial year, the latest available data set.

Mike Brewer, a professor of economics at the University of Essex and expert on inequality, who chaired the debate, said: “Capital gains are not counted as income when the Office of National Statistics, Department for Work and Pensions and Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate income inequality in the UK. This means that our impression of inequality or top income shares is overlooking 9,000 people all with at least £1m of capital gains, with an average capital gain of £3.7m, and a total capital gain of £34bn.” …”


Retiring MPs like Swire getting golden goodbyes

Poor Mrs Swire is being made redundant from her “research assistant” job in her husband’s office from which she has claimed a salary of £30,000 per year for many years. Doubt we will be seeing her at her local Job Centre.

” … The MPs’ expenses body has had to request an emergency £30million to cover payouts and winding-up costs for MPs leaving Parliament.

IPSA would have needed the money at the next election but it wasn’t budgeted for this year.

It will cover loss of office payments for any MPs who stand but lose their seat – equal to double the normal redundancy payment.

It’ll also cover a winding-up payment worth two months of salary for MPs closing their office.

And it’ll cover a winding up budget worth more than £50,000 per MP to go towards office expenses and staff. …”


Can you be really thick (and very, very unpleasant) and be an MP? Yes, of course!

And anyone who wants to know more about Mr Bridgen, check out the link below. It was reported by Owl in 2017 when it appeared in the Daily Mirror. It has now disappeared from the Mirror site but has been accessed hundreds of times on this site as journalists searched for historical information about him:


“The Conservatives edited interview footage to falsely suggest Labour’s Keir Starmer was left speechless by a Brexit question”

“The Conservative party have been accused of spreading fake news, after posting footage of Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer which was edited to falsely suggest he was left speechless during an interview.

The video, which has been shared by senior government figures including the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, is an edit of a video Starmer took part in this morning on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

In the video, the Shadow Brexit Secretary is asked a series of questions about Labour’s Brexit policy, the last of which appears to leave him lost for words.

However, footage of the full interview shows that Starmer immediately answered the question put to him by the show’s hosts.

Social media users accused the party of spreading “fake news” after the misleading nature of the video was pointed out by the BBC journalist Daniel Sandford.

“I hate this stuff. I saw too much of it in Russia, and it only ends badly,” Sandford, who is the BBC’s Home Affairs correspondent, posted on Twitter.

The Conservative Party were contacted for comment.”


“Don’t sign pledges on NHS or climate, Tory HQ tells candidates” (but shooting ok)

“Conservative candidates in the general election will be told not to sign up to specific pledges on protecting the NHS from privatisation and trade deals or tackling climate change, according to a leaked internal document from party headquarters.

The 11-page briefing note explains the party’s position on nine key areas and “strongly advises” prospective Tory MPs “against signing up to any pledges” unless they have been agreed from the centre.

However, supporting shooting is allowed “as an important part of rural life”, the document says. …

The issues on which candidates have been told to avoid signing up to pledges include:

Trade deals with the NHS.

The memo warns candidates to avoid signing any pledges to “protect our NHS from trade deals with new legislation which ends privatisation”. It says this kind of pledge would “give credence to factually inaccurate smears … The NHS is not for sale.” It says candidates should focus instead on “Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to override the British people on Brexit”.

Climate change.

Tory candidates are told that many campaigns to tackle climate change “contain unrealistic targets that would be impossible to achieve” and that it would be better to focus on “practical, reasonable steps to protect our planet while keeping bills down”. The memo claims Labour does not have a credible approach to the problem.

Women’s state pension age.

This highly charged issue could be a significant factor for women in the general election as the age for receiving a state pension rises from 60 to 65. Boris Johnson has promised to review the change, but the memo urges candidates not to engage on the issue. “Avoid signing [pledges],” it says.

“Changes to the state pension age are part of a long overdue move towards gender equality and will put the pensions system on a more sustainable footing for future generations.”

Standing up for Brexit.

The memo says it is unnecessary to pledge to stand up for Brexit because “a Conservative government with a functioning majority will immediately get Brexit done”.

Other pledges to avoid relate to private schools. Tory hopefuls are told they could say: “Labour’s plans to abolish private schools … would dramatically increase class sizes and do nothing for our children’s education.” …”


Swire insults Claire Wright, tries to sabotage her vote and says good riddance to East Devon

Hugo Swire where he belongs

Hugo Swire where he belongs

If you want to read the article, find it yourself.

Owl will just offer a few quotes (with Owl comments) from it so you can see that Swire is sucking sour, sour grapes and is so happy to be quitting East Devon – where, in the last few years, he hasn’t even lived:

“Voting for an independent would not achieve anything.

(he then goes on to suggest splitting Claire Wright’s vote between other parties to ensure she is not successful).

“Crucially, when Parliament is more important than ever, we do need people of quality.”

(Indeed, Hugo, pity we have had to wait so long for you to stand down to get within spitting distance of this).

“I will not interfere in the politics of East Devon because that would be unfair on the next MP but I will return to see friends and colleagues.”

(Well, to be fair you only came to East Devon to shake hands, schmooze and see friends so nothing changes there).

“It’s been a huge chunk of my life but, at the end of the day, I only did it because residents continued to return me.”

(Yep, he only did it so he could swan around the Middle East on the back of our votes).

Goodbye and good riddance. We await with bated breath the announcement of your replacement …

“None of pledged [200,000] starter homes built, says watchdog”


The comments by developers at the end of this post, in BOLD, defy comment!

“A government plan to create 200,000 new homes in England for first-time buyers has resulted in no homes being built, the National Audit Office has found.

Announced in 2014, “starter homes” were meant to be aimed at those under the age of 40 and sold at a 20% discount.

But legislation to take the project forward was never passed.
Labour called the policy a total failure, but the government said it had a “great track record” for house building.
Former prime minister David Cameron committed to the scheme in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto as a way of tackling the affordable housing crisis.

The project was also supposed to support the wider growth and regeneration of local areas, and some town centres.

The homes were meant to be built across the country by the end of the decade and more than £2bn was set aside for the first tranche of 60,000 dwellings.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spent almost £174m on acquiring and preparing sites originally intended for building starter homes.

These were in places such as Plymouth, Bury, Basildon, Stockport, Bridgwater, Cinderford and Bristol.

But the spending watchdog said the sites were all now being used for housing more generally, only some of which was affordable.

‘Dashed expectations’

It said the scheme had faltered because the necessary legislation and planning guidance had never been put through Parliament, despite expectations it would happen in 2019.

As a result, even new homes conforming to the intended specifications cannot be marketed as starter homes, which has made getting developers on board challenging.

The NAO said the government also no longer had a budget dedicated to the starter homes project. …

… David O’Leary, policy director at Home Builders Federation, said that even though starter homes had not got off the ground, the scheme had not been a total failure.
He said the engagement it had generated between local government, builders, mortgage lenders and valuers was positive.

“The difficulty in creating a workable set of rules demonstrates the importance of ensuring that proper consideration is given to the practical implementation of interventions and their market impacts as early as possible.”


“Boris Johnson criticised for selective quotes about NHS in letter to voters”

“Boris Johnson has been criticised for misleading voters over the Tories’ record on the NHS, after he sent letters to voters in swing seats that selectively quoted a charity.

The letter, sent out across marginal seats such as High Peak and Reading West, highlighted comments from various media sources and charities praising the long-term plan for the NHS, which was set out before Johnson took office.

One of the highlighted quotes, from Sarb Bajwa, the chief executive of the British Psychological Society, lauded the plan for a “clear commitment to mental health through increased spending and introducing access standards”.

But Johnson’s letter missed off subsequent parts of the quote saying that there was “still a long way to go”, though the plan showed the NHS was listening to concerns about mental health provision. It also highlighted the need for “immediate action for children and young people’s services as they have become woefully underfunded and overstretched” and for mental health provision outside the NHS to be resourced effectively. …”


“UK tourism industry set to struggle under post-Brexit immigration plans”

“… Set to come into force in 2021, the proposed immigration plans feature a minimum-salary requirement of £30,000 a year. At present, the average salary of tourism workers is estimated at £17,000. A large number of UK tourism businesses, surveyed by UKinbound, believe they will be unable to operate should the cap come into play – this amounts to 65% of businesses nationally, , rising to 73% in London and 88% in Northern Ireland. …”


“Health Secretary Matt Hancock deletes ‘1,000 more GPs’ claim after statistics watchdog censure” – real number 41

“The health secretary has deleted claims of a “terrific” increase of 1,000 GPs joining the NHS in just three months, after being censured by the government statistics watchdog.

Matt Hancock made the claim in a tweet last week and was widely criticised by doctors and health groups who said he was misleading the public, as the actual figures showed qualified doctor numbers fell.

Those figures were also drastically inflated by the new intake of junior doctors who started GP specialty training in August.

Even counting these doctors, who work under supervision but by third year are seeing patients largely unsupported, there were only an additional 41 doctors when compared to September 20 …”


Election snippets

Record 1.6m food bank parcels given to people in past year as the Trussell Trust calls for end to Universal Credit five week wait.

Record 1.6m food bank parcels given to people in past year as the Trussell Trust calls for end to Universal Credit five week wait

Third of promised police funds to be kept back for recruitment

Cuadrilla vows new data to overturn UK fracking moratorium