Tag Archives: bureaucracy

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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