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People will be shocked by evidence Google is going to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying fair share of tax
“People will be shocked by the evidence that Google is going to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
“It comes on top of other firms apparently engaging in similar practices.
“It is evidence of a culture of corporate irresponsibility among certain firms which is totally unacceptable.
“And of course we have now seen allegations about petrol fixing as well.
“It comes at a time when ordinary families are seeing services cut, their taxes rising and so many businesses are struggling to make ends meet and are actually doing the right thing and paying their fair share of taxes.
“As so often under this Government, I think it is evidence of one rule for those at the top and another rule for everyone else.
“David Cameron says we have to just wait for international action. He is wrong.”
Posted on May 17, 2013 5:15 am by Paul Gleeson
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The allegations that have been made about these three oil companies – BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil, as well as the price reporting agency Platts, are extremely concerning.
They suggest that these companies have both colluded in reporting distorted prices, and prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting the published price.
If true, they suggest shocking behaviour in the oil market that should be dealt with strongly.
So I’d like to ask the Minister three questions.
First, the Minister will know that the OFT inquiry concluded at the end of January that the UK fuel market was operating fairly and that a competition commission inquiry was not needed.
Given the amendment that has been tabled for debate later on today, it will not be lost on hon. Members that it is the European Commission, not any British authority, that is investigating.
In light of the allegations that have been made today, can the Minister tell us whether any British authorities have plans to revisit their own investigations?
If the EU investigation does uncover any wrongdoing, it will raise serious questions about the effectiveness of our own authorities.
Second, last year, we tabled amendments in Parliament calling for commodities like oil and gas to be part of the Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory net, but Ministers refused to act.
We argued that the regulatory perimeter needed to be explicitly set out in the Financial Services Act last year – and that it was insufficient to just add in references to LIBOR.
Does the Minister now accept that the OFT and the FCA should be explicitly equipped to tackle attempts at rigging commodities trading, whether spot trading, forward contracts, futures contracts, hedging or benchmark pricing indices?
Third, when the allegations of price fixing in the gas market were made last year, we warned that opaque over-the-counter deals and relying on price reporting agencies left the market vulnerable to abuse.
These latest allegations of price fixing in the oil market raise very similar questions.
I tabled a parliamentary question in February asking for an update on those investigations, but the Government was unable to provide any more information.
Can the Minister give us any assurance today that progress is being made, and that we will not need another EU investigation to get to the bottom of what has happened in the gas market?
LIBOR was a massive scandal.
But global commodities markets include a vast range of products – grains, fibre and other food, precious metals, energy – affecting every household.
Consumers need to know that the prices they pay for their energy or petrol are fair, transparent and not being manipulated by traders.
And I hope in his reply the Secretary of State will assure the House that no stone will be left unturned to get to establish the truth behind these allegations.
Posted on May 16, 2013 5:07 am by Paul Gleeson
At the last Cabinet meeting, Boston Borough Council debated the tenancy strategy and the choice based lettings policy. We are disappointed to tell you that Boston Borough Council never used its powers under the new Localism Bill. Here are some examples of what they could have done under the new Bill but chose not to:
If Boston’s Labour councillors had been in charge of this policy we would have introduced some radical thinking to our housing strategy.
1. We would have given tenants who are in low waged full time employment a higher priority on our list, which would recognise and reward them for trying their best to turn their lives around.
2. We would have given higher priority to people born or educated in the local area.
3. We would have given priority to foster carers to recognise their extra commitment to society.
4. We would have given priority to ex armed service personnel who have sustained a serious injury/medical condition or disability during service.
5. We would have assisted with allocation of suitable housing for disabled people including younger people under 50.
Sadly we were told by the Cabinet that they do not intend to adopt good practice from other local authorities across the country. We all know that housing is a key issue to our town. Boston’s Labour councillors recognise that a robust allocations policy using the Localism Bill, building more affordable social housing and licencing of all HMOs is the way forward. Thousands of tenants in Boston from housing associations have already commented on wanting to have greater choice, based on employment, local connections, disability, and they have rejected five year fixed term tenancies during consultation with the housing providers.
Even more disappointing is that Boston Borough Council and our Conservative councillors have not spoken to one single tenant or resident about their proposals and tried to blame their decision on the previous equality rules which have now been superceded by the Localism Bill.
Furthermore Boston’s Labour councillors have suggested that people who live in social housing as children should be at the top of waiting lists. We don’t think it fair that a child can be born in a council house, live in it for 18 years and then lose out in allocation to an Eastern European family who have been in the country for a few months. How is that social justice? Let us have clear social justice priorities.
We are pleased that Labour leader Ed Miliband recently set out an ‘alternative Queen’s speech’ outlining what the opposition would do if it was in power. The alternative speech included a housing bill to create a national register of private landlords, end unfair letting agents’ fees and bring in longer-term private tenancies.
Posted on May 15, 2013 5:51 am by Paul Gleeson
Social care in England is close to collapse and Ministers are “fiddling while Rome burns”, Commons will be told later today.
Severe Government cuts to local authority budgets which fund social care have left the most vulnerable people in society paying spiralling charges for their own care, a Labour survey reveals today.
A survey of 64 council social care departments shows the care charges older and disabled people will pay this year. It reveals:
- People needing home care or home help services will face bills on average £655 higher (10.6%) this year compared to the last year of the Labour Government.
- ‘Dial-a-ride’ transport services have doubled in price – from an average of £1.92 to £4.12 – over the same period.
- ‘Meals on wheels’ cost an extra £235 per year.
- A postcode lottery in the price of home care, meals and transport services. An hour of home help costs £20 in Brighton and Hove, whilst Tower Hamlets in London offers it for free; several councils provide free transport services, whilst Warwickshire charge as much as £12 per ride; and Richmond charges £5.99 per meal compared to £2.30 in Warrington.
- People in Conservative areas pay more for each service on average than friends and family in Labour-controlled areas – on average £15 per week, or £780 per year, more for home care; an extra £2.10 per journey and an extra £160 a year on meals.
The news comes as the Commons prepares to debate Government plans for social care later today. Labour will argue that a new £72,000 cap on care costs – £144,000 per couple – offers scant comfort to people hit by higher charges now. By failing to face up to the collapse of council care services, Ministers are “fiddling while Rome burns”.
The Government has cut billions from local authority budgets, leaving councils with little option but to reduce funding for social care and increase user charges.
Last week, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) revealed that Government cuts to councils will mean a further £800m taken from care budgets in the next year – totalling £2.68 billion so far under the Coalition.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Promises of a far-off cap on care bills will provide scant comfort to families facing higher care charges now.
“By cutting councils to the bone, David Cameron is forcing spiralling ‘dementia taxes’ on the most vulnerable people in society.
“The Government says it is acting to help people with care costs. But the reality behind the spin is that, under the Tory-led Government, people’s savings are being washed away more quickly than ever before.
“Ministers are promising to give a little in the future with one hand, while grabbing a fortune out of people’s bank accounts now. To many families, it will feel like a cruel con-trick.
“These essential services are a lifeline for people and crucial to help them stay in their own homes. If people can’t pay the extra charges, they are more likely to end up in hospital which is bad for them and costs the NHS more.
“The Government’s severe cuts to council budgets, with social care pared down to the bone, are a false economy. Hospitals are now under intense pressure and that is a direct result of the collapse in social care provision.
“Ministers are in denial about the crisis in social care and fiddling while Rome burns. Without urgent action to help councils, under this Tory-led Government vulnerable people will be paying higher ‘dementia taxes’ year on year.”
Posted on May 14, 2013 5:49 am by Paul Gleeson
A new report published recently by the NHF, along with the Dementia Services Development Centre, the Housing Learning and Improvement Network, and Foundations, said good adapted housing can play a ‘crucial role’ in supporting people living with dementia.
The report found that dementia-friendly homes can help people with dementia live independently for longer, and reduce hospital stays and care home admissions.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, only 46 per cent of people with dementia have had a formal diagnosis, with only 21 per cent being diagnosed before being admitted to hospital. The NHF’s report said that early intervention can enable people to get the right care and support, make plans on how future decisions are made and lead active, fulfilled lives in their own homes.
A National Housing Federation spokesperson said that Housing associations are skilled at building and managing homes suitable for people with a range of care and support needs, and they are keen to work with health and well-being boards to help people with dementia. Their approach can also help health and social care services to save money over time.
Boston Labour councillors believe that all the evidence shows that housing and housing services are absolutely pivotal to dementia-friendly communities. Many of the things that people with dementia can do to improve their quality of life and reduce their demand for care are housing-related.
Posted on May 13, 2013 7:45 am by Paul Gleeson
“Iain Duncan Smith is living in la la land. His ideas don’t work so he’s now literally making up stories.
“For the third time in just six months, the Head of the UK Statistics Authority has written to Ministers to warn them about their misuse of statistics. They claimed the NHS Budget was rising when it had fallen, they claimed debt was falling when it’s rising, and now they are making up stories about getting people off benefits and into work, when the truth is unemployment is rising.
“Peoples’ patience is wearing very thin, and they’re getting a little sick and tired of a Tory-led Government that isn’t just out of touch with the public – it’s out of touch with reality.”
Posted on May 10, 2013 8:12 am by Paul Gleeson
The immigration measures in the Queen’s speech don’t tackle important issues on exploitation and illegal immigration
“The immigration measures in the Queen’s speech don’t tackle important issues on exploitation and illegal immigration.
“We support many of the measures promised though of course we will scrutinise the detail, but it appears their impact will be limited.
“The Government is still not tackling the exploitation of foreign workers leading to the undercutting of local workers. There is nothing to improve enforcement of the national minimum wage, no action on agencies recruiting only from abroad, nothing to improve training for local workers for sectors recruiting heavily from abroad, no action to extend the Gangmasters licensing legislation, and nothing to deal with slum landlords using overcrowded housing to recoup labour costs.
“The Government is also missing the opportunity to tackle illegal immigration which has got worse on their watch. There’s nothing to deal with the failure at the Home Office to deport bogus student cases, nothing to deal with loopholes in student visitor visas, and nothing to give UKBA officers who inspect colleges and workplaces the power of arrest.
“Immigration is important for Britain and needs to be controlled and managed so it is fair for all. That is why the impact on the labour market and the problem of illegal immigration need to be addressed.”
Posted on May 9, 2013 9:02 am by Paul Gleeson
These were questions that the Labour Group were intending to ask at the Full Council meeting on 22nd April.
1. From April this year to the start of the next financial year, do you envisage making any staff redundant?
2. From April this year to the start of the next financial year do you envisage changing any pay and conditions for any of the existing staff?
3. Will any staff from April this year to the start of the next financial year see a reduction in their pay?
4. Are you considering changing the pay and conditions of any staff after April 2014 and will any staff see a reduction in their pay due to this?
5. how would you describe staff morale in your organisation at the present time?
Unfortunately our Conservative councillors decided to cancel the Full Council meeting and denied us the opportunity to ask these questions and debate the issue.
We are also disappointed to hear that they have organized a meeting today 8th May with the staff and are refusing to allow any councillors of any political group to attend. This is a council who will not have debates or discussions on the future of their staff. We are aware that the moral at Boston Borough Council is at an all time low of most of its staff, as the rumours are coming out that they are proposing changes to terms and conditions which in real terms will mean a major pay cut for most of the staff, although we are not aware of any proposed pay cuts for the senior management team. Is this one rule for one and a different rule for most.
Posted on May 8, 2013 8:57 am by Paul Gleeson
Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to research by the NIESR showing underemployment has risen from 6.2 per cent of the UK workforce in 2008 to 9.9 per cent in 2012, said:
“Underemployment is the untold story of Britain’s jobs crisis. Under David Cameron, one in ten people are now unable to pick up the hours they need to get by – not including the two and half million locked out of work all together.
“We can’t go on like this. Britain desperately needs action to get our flatlining economy moving again but all David Cameron has delivered is three years of failure, and that’s holding the whole country back.”
Posted on May 6, 2013 11:01 pm by Paul Gleeson
Boston Labour Party candidates who stood at yesterdays Lincolnshire county council elections and Boston Borough Councils by-election would like to thank all the people who voted for them.
Posted on May 3, 2013 9:46 am by Paul Gleeson