Tag Archives: bureaucracy

Boris Johnson was elected in 2019 to ‘Get Brexit Done’. Why are we still waiting for the benefits?

Cliffhanger: The Leave campaign infamously claimed Brexit would result in a £350m a week dividend for the UK. We never received it. Instead, Brexit has shrunk the UK economy by at least 4%, costing a huge amount of working time simply to do the new paperwork it has foisted on us.

Brexit – that was a huge con, wasn’t it?

The Conservatives swept to a landslide victory in December 2019 under the slogan “Get Brexit Done” – and we are still waiting for it to happen.

Instead of the massive boost to the economy that we were promised, along with a bonfire of bureaucratic paperwork, UK importers and exporters have been deluged with such a mountain of new documentation to fill out, simply to get goods across the Channel, that the then-new government has had to “stagger” its implementation and some of it has still not started to affect us.

And Brexit jeopardised the whole Northern Ireland peace process by putting a trade border with the province in the middle of the Irish Sea – an imaginary barrier that will remain there even after the latest attempt to forge agreement over it between the disparate political organisations that have a stake in the matter.

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Brexit was the first subject This Site discussed after the general election and I was justifiably disparaging:

The Tories – not just under Boris Johnson, but going back through Theresa May’s nightmare leadership and right back to David Cameron’s horror show – have used their puppets in the mass media to change it from a debate on our future relationship with the European Union into a divisive standoff, pitting family against family, old against young, cosmopolitan against parochial.

And they succeeded, I think partly because they had dragged the process out so long that people were sick of the whole thing.

Labour’s promise to have a decisive answer within six months was unpalatable compared with Johnson’s lie that he’ll have it all sewn up by the end of January. People want it to be over now.

And I made a prediction that proved to be exactly right – didn’t it? See:

Well, I’ve got news for those people: it won’t be.

Johnson might be promising a vote in Parliament on his Withdrawal Bill on Friday, which will enable to UK to leave the EU on January 31, but of course that’s not the end of the saga. The country’s decoupling will take many years.

How right I was!

But the deal on which MPs will be voting will put us into a “transition” period, with the UK assumed to be clear of the EU by December 31, 2020 – and a top EU official says that won’t happen.

In a leaked recording, Michel Barnier said it would be “unrealistic” to expect a “global negotiation” on trade to be completed within 11 months, meaning that in fact we are likely to leave the EU with no deal.

How right he was!

It will make it possible for Johnson to sell off our remaining national assets. And the nearly 14 million people who voted Conservative on December 12? They’ll be remembered as the patsies who made it possible.

Well, they haven’t all gone – yet.

But the Tories will keep trying. And we know what privatisation brings: corruption, greed and profiteering, a sharp drop in the quality of service, and increasing demand on the public purse to pay for it all.

You can look forward to that under either a returned Tory government under Rishi Sunak or a new New Labour government under Keir Starmer and his Tories-in-red-ties.

That’s why This Site is campaigning for voters to do something different at this year’s general election – and actually engage your brains.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably repeat it many times:

You simply cannot vote tribally – for the party you think represents you (none of them do; they’re all about enriching their MPs and nothing else) – at the next general election.

Instead – and I cannot stress this strongly enough – if you want your vote to mean anything, you have to actually find out what the candidates in your constituency are planning to do, if they are lucky enough to be elected.

That is what party manifestos are for. Independent candidates also have policy documents and they will all be online for you to find and read.

You need to find and read these policy documents, and then you need to make a dispassionate choice, based on what you have read.

Which of the candidates offers the most policies that fit what you need? And, by that, I mean: who will improve your own life the most?

Do not consider how other people will vote, either in your constituency or the other 649 around the UK. That is not your concern.

It is not for you to worry about which party will get enough votes to actually enact its policies. This will lead you down the usual garden path to voting in a government that won’t do anything at all for the good of the country, like the one we’ve had since 2010.

BE SELFISH. Bizarrely, it might be the only way to get the kind of government that all of us need. It might even help us climb out of the Brexit pit into which Johnson, Cameron and all the other Tory twits dumped us.


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More views on Brexit and trade – and none of them benefit Jacob Rees-Mogg

Further to This Site’s analysis of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s response to a wine importer whose firm is jumping through many more hoops to get, after Brexit, the same result as before, let’s have a couple more perspectives on it.

The first is highly in-depth, courtesy of A Different Bias:

The second is a more personal view, examining a small business owner’s frustrations with Brexit – after being told that European businesses would love to trade with him, but Brexit made it impossible because the bureaucracy involved had increased too much:

None of this helps Rees-Mogg, and there’s a very good reason for it:

He was talking nonsense.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg is humiliated over Brexit by business owner

The director of a company that imports wine from the EU explained to the BBC Question Time audience how terrible bureaucracy has become since Brexit, and how much more difficult it is to do business.

He pointed out that there have been no benefits from Brexit – the promised money for the National Health Service never materialised and the Tories had to increase the amount we all pay in National Insurance in order to provide any more.

Tory panellist Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to fudge his way through by claiming that bureaucracy had been eased by his government’s decisions – but the businessman, who has experience of the reality, said in fact matters have been made 15 times more complicated:

Rees-Mogg clearly subscribes to the Michael Gove attitude that “we’ve had enough of experts”.

It’s because experts are going to hand his backside to him any time he tries to cross them.

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Brexit ‘red tape’ slashes UK trading revenue with EU by £17 BILLION in just three months

Prophetic: I made this infographic in December 2020 – almost a year ago.

Remember when David Cameron – the architect of the EU membership referendum – said his Conservative-led government would ‘slash red tape’?

It’s almost funny, with hindsight.

Today we learned that the departure from the European Union that his referendum triggered has resulted in a loss of £17 billion in revenue to UK businesses, while they have been swamped in a quagmire of red tape that Brexit has created.

According to The London Economic:

Despite promises from the Leave campaign that red tape would fade after Britain quit the EU, UK companies have had to fill in an astonishing 48 million customs declarations and 140,000 export health certificates in the eight months since the UK quit the single market and customs union , according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO blamed Brexit for a sharp decline in trade between the UK and EU this year. “Total trade in goods between the UK and EU was 15 per cent (£17bn) less in Quarter 2 when compared with the equivalent quarter in 2018,” the watchdog’s report said.

An additional £600 million in costs has hit British importers since January according to HMRC data seen by The Guardian. The cause has been identified as Brexit, because the taxes were not required for EU imports when the Britain was in the single market.

But isn’t that the exact opposite of what Boris Johnson promised? Didn’t he say there would be no barriers to trade after Brexit?

Why, yes – yes he did:

In fairness, Cameron did cut a lot of “red tape”.

It turned out that these rules and regulations were necessary to keep us safe and secure in our workplaces and financial transactions. I’m sure you can think of your own examples.

Their loss has endangered us.

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Why did the Tories use Brexit to stab our musicians in the back?

Festival: this site stated before Brexit happened that, if you’re a musician who regularly performs at EU events, you can kiss those big crowds goodbye – unless you’re getting paid big bucks for your performance.

This is unlikely to be music to anybody’s ears: not only are musicians facing red tape and costs that make touring in Europe prohibitive after Brexit – it turns out the Conservative government deliberately arranged it that way.

According to the Independent,

The UK rejected an offer of visa-free tours by musicians to EU countries, despite blaming Brussels for what the industry is calling the devastating blow of them requiring permits.

A “standard” proposal to exempt performers from the huge cost and bureaucracy for 90 days was turned down… because the government is insisting on denying that to EU artists visiting this country.

It seems insane. Last year the UK music industry brought £2.9 billion into the country.

Some of that came from tours that went to EU countries. This Writer is willing to bet that more money came from the EU to the UK than in the other direction.

So by denying a reciprocal deal for visa-free tours, Boris Johnson has turned down a huge amount of tax income.

Maybe he isn’t musical.

(More accurately, it seems Priti Patel is the one with the tin ear – as the extra red tape is part of her crackdown on immigration which has introduced tough restrictions on tours by EU musicians.)

If you’re wondering why this is such a problem, the new rules that make touring in the EU under post-Brexit conditions prohibitive are detailed here.

Stars including folk singer Laura Marling and Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess have signed a parliamentary petition demanding visa-free tours, backed by almost 230,000 people.

Burgess explains the problems in another Independent article:

Bigger artists putting on stadium shows will more than likely be able to survive, but anyone below that level will be hit hard. Primarily by, you guessed it, “bureaucracy and red tape”.

Those costs mean that the precarious economics of touring Europe would make it impossible for so many artists starting out. Those artists that are lauded when they make it – those future Florences, Adeles and Eds – are having so many more obstacles put in front of them. It puts the music industry everyone is apparently so proud of under serious threat.

The government has said the Independent‘s story is incorrect and misleading.

But the restrictions have been imposed.

So who, exactly, is misleading who?

And how long will it be before the Tories realise they’ve made a mistake?

Source: UK ‘rejected offer’ of visa-free tours by musicians in EU, despite blaming Brussels for permit blow | The Independent

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Brexit: EU firms refuse UK deliveries (Vox Political Scrapbook)

So much for the big tory “bonfire of red tape”.

It was a David Cameron project, as was the EU membership referendum of 2016. Cameron succeeded in creating more red tape than any previous UK prime minister, it seems.

Oh, and the bureaucracy that he destroyed? That was saving us from the corruption that is now the hallmark of Boris Johnson’s administration.

A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won’t deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape “ludicrous”.

Brexit disruption means Sainsbury’s has reportedly lost around 700 product lines in Northern Ireland – where it has been forced to stock goods from Spar. And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France – where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.

Source: Brexit news – live: EU firms refuse UK deliveries as Boris Johnson’s India trade trip scrapped

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Is this what the UK’s education system can learn from low-tech Africa?

‘My students are making the sort of weekly progress that would make an inspector drool.’ [Image: Alamy].

‘My students are making the sort of weekly progress that would make an inspector drool.’ [Image: Alamy].

The UK’s Kafka-esque education system vexes This Writer.

Discussion of it always falls into the same problem – where to lay blame/make changes.

When central government, regional assemblies and local councils all have a say – not to mention school governors themselves, and don’t even get me started on the private influence brought in with academisation – it’s no surprise that so many teachers end up with work-related stress problems.

Perhaps this snapshot of working conditions and job satisfaction abroad is the kind of information we need (although I doubt anybody in a position to take positive action will even pay attention to it).

This line is extremely telling:

“It’s a low-pressure, high-freedom environment that places absolute trust in its teachers’ abilities. As a result, my students are making the sort of progress that would make an inspector drool.”

Low-pressure? Yes. In the UK ‘The Secret Teacher’ had 130 students; in East Africa, 75 – with no “emergency data-meetings, twilight Insets, morning briefings, and admin-centric departmental meetings”, no “box-ticking exercises of bloated middle-management teams”, no “sharp-suited Machiavellis, clinging desperately to iPads and spreadsheets in the hope that they are projecting a credible image of what a manager looks like”.

So perhaps this is the lesson the UK needs to be taught: Don’t over-manage schools and teaching.

Give them just one boss to satisfy, and make sure that they have a straightforward set of criteria to meet: “We want English to a minimum of this standard, Maths to this standard, Science to this standard”.

And let them get on with it.

Source: Secret Teacher: I moved to Africa – and realised how flawed British education is | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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NHS: It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

141116milibandpromises

Has it occurred to anyone else that elections may be won or lost, not on the substance of a party’s policies, but on the way those policies are described to the public?

Putting aside for a moment the fact that David Cameron and the Conservative Party deliberately lied to the British people about their intentions for the National Health Service, were people not persuaded by their constant claims that Labour had increased expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy and ‘red tape’, and a new administration was needed to cut through it all before we choked on it?

Now, after almost five years of Cameron, we’re all a little wiser.

But it seems we still need the proper persuasion – in the right code, if you like.

So take a look at the image above, with Ed Miliband’s lynchpin policy pledges. See where he said, “I will scrap the Health and Social Care Act, which damages and undermines our NHS”?

Is that really enough to get him elected? It might be, but it probably isn’t.

How about if he said this: “Paying private companies to do what the NHS does anyway adds another layer of expensive bureaucracy to the process while pointlessly throwing away your tax money to provide their profit. I will end this.”

Or how about: “David Cameron’s government has added an expensive new bureaucratic layer to the NHS, as the inclusion of private companies means an unnecessary duplication of effort. I will scrap that.”

And perhaps: “The government’s system of Clinical Commissioning Groups overseen by Monitor to ensure that private companies get their choice of NHS contracts is unnecessarily bureaucratic, expensive, and failing the public. I will cut through this red tape.”

In fact, he could just turn Cameron’s words back on him: “Cameron’s new NHS is expensive, bureaucratic, and failing. Because of his policies, it cannot cope with demand that is lower than it was last summer.

“I will end this profligacy and ensure the NHS provides the best service in the world – together with the best value for money in the world.”

That’s what it’s all about, after all.

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‘Scrap maternity pay’ – how Tories see the future of ‘welfare’ reform

[Image: The Guardian]

[Image: The Guardian]

Yesterday (February 11) we had a chance to see what the Tories – or at least some of them – want to do to state benefits.

Charlie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, launched a debate in the Westminster Hall in which he called for the axing of maternity pay – and other in-work benefits – to make way for a new insurance system into which employers and the self-employed would pay, and from which the costs of maternity leave and other benefits would be met. He suggested that participating employers would see a corresponding cut in their National Insurance contributions.

He said he wanted this system to pay out at minimum wage levels, rather than at the current £137 per week maternity rate. The state would back the scheme, but it would be entirely funded by businesses.

The taxpayer would not fund any of this scheme – at least, not the way the visionary Charlie put it during the debate. It would be “paid for by the workplaces of the nation”.

This is how (some) Tories want the system to be: Insurance schemes-a-go-go, with people and businesses standing or falling on their ability to meet the requirements of the system.

Obviously he has not considered the drawbacks of such a scheme. One is very simple: If employers are paying everything towards in-work benefits, why not simply pay the Living Wage, whether a person is working, on maternity, or whatever? The cost would be the same or lower – because there would be no government administrative burden.

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions minister Steve Webb put some more of them into words.

“As the system currently works… 93 per cent of the cost of statutory maternity pay is refunded to employers. In fact, more than 100 per cent is refunded to small firms,” he said.

“If an employer is reluctant to take on a woman who might have a child, therefore, the pure finances should not make a huge difference.

“I am not therefore sure that having a collectivised… system of insurance is any different substantively for the employer. Either way, employers are getting reimbursed — the costs are being met and are not in essence falling on the employer.”

In other words, there would be no benefit to employers.

He continued: “Whenever we set up a new scheme, we have new infrastructure, bureaucracy and sets of rules. If we had the levy—the at-work scheme that he described — we would have to define the new tax base, have a new levy collection mechanism, work out who was in and who was out, have appeals and all that kind of stuff. There is always a dead weight to such things. Simply setting up new infrastructure costs money. I would have to be convinced that we were getting something back for it.”

In other words, the scheme proposed by the intellectual Mr Elphicke would be more expensive than the current system.

“He then says that he wants the rate not to be some £130 a week, but to be £200 and something a week,” said Mr Webb.

“I was not clear where that extra money would come from. If we pay women on maternity leave double, someone must pay for it. If he does not want that to be an extra burden on firms, paying for it will simply be a tax increase.”

In other words, the scheme might be doubly more expensive.

In addition, he said the proposal created issues around whether it distorted the choice between becoming an employed earner or a self-employed person.

And he pointed out that Mr Elphicke’s proposal was based on a belief that women taking maternity leave would not return to their previous employment – but this is no longer true. Mr Elphicke’s proposal is based on an outdated understanding of the market.

Mr Webb said: “The norm now for an employer who takes on a woman who goes on maternity leave is that — four times out of five — he will come back to the job for which she was trained, in which she is experienced and to which she can contribute.

“We now find that three quarters of women return to work within 12 to 18 months of having their baby… We need to educate employers about the fact that, if they do not employ women of childbearing age, they are depriving themselves of talented people who contribute to the work force. Not employing such women is clearly a bad thing, not only from a social point of view, but from an economic point of view.”

There you have it. Mr Elphicke’s proposal was defeated by a member of his own Coalition government; it was archaic, it was expensive, and it offered no profit for the people who were to pay for it.

That won’t stop him pushing plans like this. You will have noticed that a keystone of his scheme was that businesses would pay for in-work benefits – not the state. Charlie Elphicke is a Tory, and Tories cut taxes for very rich people like themselves. He’ll go on pushing for it in one form or another, for as long as he remains an MP.

Even if it is expensive, harmful nonsense.

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