Member Since: 14th Jan 2006
27th Jul 2011
What does 'reasonable' mean?
'Reasonable' means that which is rational. So a 'reasonable excuse' is one that is based on rational factors. If a taxpayer can point to a rational explanation for what has happened then he or she should not be fined by HMRC.
22nd Jun 2011
The EU is committed to ending the wide-spread practice of employers employing agency workers so that employers are able to reduce or nullify the employment law rights, pay, terms and conditions of workers who are often forced to accept work via third part employment businesses and agencies. On a wider point, who in their right mind would want to work for an employer that was not capable or confidence enough to recruit its own workers?
15th Apr 2011
The noose is tightening.
Firstly, businesses which deal with claims for members of the public who have suffered negligence from others were required to register with what is called the Claims Management Regulation Unit and, in being required by law to do that, are now required to pay a registration fee and heavy yearly fees to that bureaucracy.
Secondly, businesses which deal with health and safety matters are now required to register under a similar bureaucratic scheme.
Thirdly, it looks like businesses which deal with insolvency will, similarly, be required by law to be subject to a similar bureaucratic regulatory regime. Is there no end to the Coalition Government's love affair and endorsement of the previous New Labour's pursue of regulatory control of businesses and enterprise?
Who will be next? Accountancy businesses? Is it time to emigrate while you have the opportunity? Or perhaps stay put and stage a Lybia-style rebellion against the Coalition Government's dictatorial police-state edicts?
14th Apr 2011
Regulations - the Coalition Government loves them.
It's complete hogwash by the Coalition Government to say or pretend that it is interested in hearing the views of people about which Regulations should be revoked or not be put in place. The truth is that in practice the Coalition Government is enthusiatically endorsing most of the laws and Regulations put in place by the previous New Labour administration.
An example is the Claims Management Regulation Unit. Has your car or household insurance increased lately? One reason is the activities of the Claims Regulator Unit that was a creation of the New Labour Government. All businesses which pursue compensation claims for people other than the businesses of solicitors and barristers now have to pay a high initial fee to register with this Ministry of Justice agency and, therafter, high yearly fees in order to carry on a business that pursued various civil compensation claims for individuals who have suffered injury or loss from the negligent acts or omissions of others.
As you might be aware, these claims have actually increased, not decreased, in the few years that the Claims Management Unit has existed. Costs too have risen in part due to the extra bureaucratic burden to which these businesses are now subjected.
The idea of setting up the Claims Management Regulation Unit was to stop non-law claims businesses from poaching work from solicitors and barristers but it has made no difference whatsoever. Needless to say, being a creation of New Labour, the Claims Regulation Unit is a loss-making agency. Is the Coalition Government concerned about this loss or the increasing tide of red tape? Not on your nellie!
On the 5th April 2011, Jonathan Djanogly, MP (a millionaire and former city solicitor and now a minister in the Ministry of Justice) issued a statement about the Claims Regulation Unit (and health and safety regulations) by saying that 'The Government is committed to keeping the implementation and operation of policy in all of these areas...'
The question that remains is that if the Coalition Government is happy to endorse and follow New Labour's love of red tape, will it set up similar Management Regulators for all trades and professions in the UK and require all those in business - from accountants to zip repairers to register and pay an initial fee plus annual fees in order to lawfully continue to carry on their businesses? This extension of red tape and regulation would be a nice little earner for the Coalition Government, wouldn't you say?
24th Mar 2011
Rethink needed on pensions.
The headline says it all, doesn't it? But what is the correct rethink? Basically, companies and the State will sooner or later be forced by economic necessity to stop the ridiculous practice of continuing to pay their former workers a wage albeit calling it a 'pension.' The same applies to those retired workers who receive a private pension. These can be extinguished but it will need an Act of Parliament to do this and, by so doing, bring some financial sense to this country.
You may think that this proposal sounds hard. Yes, it will make a lot of existing and furture pensioners angry. The money their employers put by (thereby giving they workers an undeservedly high rate of pay over their lifetimes) and the money they themselves have put by in various 'investment' schemes will be annexed to State funds. But the country can simply no longer afford to pay retired workers what amounts to a lifetime of half-pay in retirement. Simple as that. The economic crisis is yet to come - and it's going to be bad. This country is not capable of producing the wealth required: the majority of working people are too poorly education, too poorly skilled and - let's face it - are too stupid (i.e. badly spoken, badly dressed and badly mannered).
There is a provision for pensioners' income: the State Retirement Pension. Since so many existing pensioners as well as those coming up to retirement have enthusiastically voted over the years for governments which have endorsed the State Retirement Pension as being adequate to live on for millions of pensioners who retire without continuing to be paid by their former employers, isn't it just and right that they themselves should be prepared to live in retirement on the State Retirement Pension?
24th Mar 2011
Statutory Maternity Pay/Allowance.
From 11 April 2011, statutory maternity pay (earnings related pay) will be 90% of employee's normal weekly earnings, payable for 6 weeks;
from the same date, statutory maternity pay (prescribed rate) will be £128.73 or 90% of normal weekly earnings if lower, payable for 33 weeks;
statutory maternity allowance is payable at the same rate but for 39 weeks: see Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2010, S.I. No.793 (statement made to Parlament on 08 December 2010 by the Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb, MP.
16th Feb 2011
Happy days are here again... at least for the bankers.
... so that's why the Chief Executive of Barclays Bank, Bob Diamond, left the Commons the other week sniggering with pleasure. He didn't get a 'grilling.' Instead, the MPs on the committee basted in the warm glow of self-satisfaction being radiated by good old honest Bob. What an absolute diamond, eh?
If, as one commentator said (and it's been confirmed by many different sources), the Conservative Party is now receiving 50% of its donations from sources in the City of London, has or is some of the taxpayers' money that was given and is still being given to the Banks being funnelled back to the Tories by way of political donations? More importantly, does this practice constitute money laundering?
Another reason for the Banks' high profits is that they are almost a monopoly and, because of that, can charge excessively high fees on just about every service they provide (and rather than pay excesses tax on these profits, they distribute some of the profits to themselves in the form of bonuses, i.e. unearnt bonuses). This should mean that overseas Banks are likely to set up shop in the UK - but that hasn't happened yet (apart from Santander, of course).
18th Dec 2010
Hard Times Ahead - Again!
Here we go again! Another recession. I remember the first of the modern post-war recession that happened in 1968... 'I'm backing Britain' was the slogan. Denis Healey, MP was Chancellor and he said he'd 'make the pips squeak.' (i.e. make the rich pips squeak). The then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, complained about the gnomes of Zurich. Since then we've had the oil crisis and recession that started in 1974 and lasted ... forever? Well, there was a temporary break during 1987-89 I suppose. Then came the recession of 1990 +. That last until Gordon Brown's (remember him?) 'boom 'n' bust of 1999-2008. What a party, eh? Heaven for accountants and all other bottom feeders. Now here we are in 2010 and living off the ill-gotten wealth we accumulated during the borrow and spend years. Are we in a recession? No. Are we in a depression? No. Instead, we are going through a painful period of economic regression. What's that mean then? It means our living standards are going in reverse, including our pay and income. Not only that, inflation is going to be eye-wateringly high. Could it reach 27% as in the mid- 1980s under Tories? Probably. I would wish everyone a Happy New Year but the outlook is that for many it ain't gonna be that. Am I worried? Having lived through and survived the recessions/depressions since the mid-1960s, I'd say no. Just enjoy life as it is - remember, you can always emigrate (Australia is unaffected by the global financial crisis as is much of the Eastern economies.)
11th Nov 2010
Equality Act 2010.
The sections which came into effect are listed in the snappily named 'The Equality Act 2010 (Commencement No.4, Savings, Consequential, Transitional, Transitory and Incidental Provisins and Revocation) Order 2010.'
Section 158 (positive action) (see Part 11, i.e. eleven, advancement of equality) is on the list. It states that this section 'permits' an employer to take positive action if it wants to and also 'allows' an employer to do that. If an employer wants to take positive action to appoint a job applicant to a position and that job applicant comes from an under-represented or disadvantaged socio-economic group (e.g. Roma, Caribbean negroes youths), the employer has the choice to do so and the range of jobs include offers to a partnership (e.g. an accountancy partnership).
It lists nine (not ten) 'protected characteristics' which are given protection in law against adverse discrimination, regardless of who has or is perceived to have one or more of the protected characteristics and that includes someone with whom the person discriminate against associates with. So the emphasis is on the concept of one or more 'protected characteristics;' not on a particular person. So the example given is that of a female employee was adversely discriminated against on the ground of disability, not because she was disabled, but because her son was and, under the Equality Act 2010, the adverse discrimination would be because she was associated with her disabled son and suffered a detriment as a result. The detriment resulted in a financial loss to her. That became a cause of action for which she could seek financial recompense from an employment tribunal.
Overall, the Equality Act 2010 will provide employees and workers with a wide range of protection against adverse discrimination by employers - and also suppliers of goods and services, the latter of which include accountants who will needs to review their working practices to keep within the law as to how they answer the telephone to disabled people who stammer, for example, or find it difficult to access and exist their offices, or provide reading material to those with poor eye-sight... and so on and so on. Isn't life fun? Let's give a united cheer to Harriet Harman, MP, who steered this Act through Parliament. Hip, hip! Hurrah! Do you know, sitting here in the leafy district of the New Forest, I think I can hear a cry of approval from Wales... or is it a cry of protest?
Discrimination by association (in error listed as number ten in the list) is a form of direct discrimination as is peceptive discrimination. Both these forms of direct discrimination give rise to a cause of action.
Direct discrimination cannot be objectively justified (except for age) - this is one of the defences available to employers being that what they did was 'a proportionate means of achieving an legitimate aim' but applies only to acts of indirect discrimination.
15th Oct 2010
Legal advice privilege v litigation privilege.
Advice given, even by non-lawyers, is subject to litigation privilege if it is given for the dominant purpose of litigation, including how to avoid it and how to be best placed should it occur: Scotthorne v Four Seasons Conservatories (UK) Ltd (2010) Employment Appeal Tribunal, 14 May 2010 (Case No.0178/10) per McMullen QC.
At the original employment tribunal hearing, the employment judge ruled (wrongly) that documents belonging to an employer which a claimant wanted to view were 'protected by legal advice privilege.' However, on appeal to the EAT, HHJ McMullen QC agreed with the employment judge that the documents could not be disclosed but for a different reason which was they were protected by litigation privilege.