James Dyson: Legs-it rather than Brexit. I used that phrase last time but enjoyed it so much I decided to use it again.
James Dyson has defended his decision to move his company’s head office to Singapore, saying Brexit played no part in the decision.
Instead, he reckons the eight-hour time difference between a head office in the UK and a production plant in Singapore could seriously affect the viability of his business there.
Isn’t it more feasible that he just wants to avoid having to pay increased import-export tariffs, and wants to avoid increased taxes that are likely if Brexit harms the economy in the way the experts expect?
The Conservative Party has decided the best way to stop homeless people from dying outside Parliament is to make them go away and die somewhere else.
Tory-run Westminster council is using an excuse that the streets have to be cleaned, so private belongings left there by homeless people will be removed, to force people away from the area.
The council is claiming, weakly, that the purge is not aimed at anybody in particular, but it seems certain this underhanded move has been motivated by the death of Gyula Remes in late December.
Signs have been put up on walls directly opposite tributes to Mr Remes, saying: “These walkways are cleaned on a daily basis. Private property must not be left unattended within the walkways. Any property or possessions that appear to be left unattended for any period of time and for whatever reason may be removed without any further notice and may be disposed of as litter or waste.”
In cold winter weather, possessions like blankets and sleeping bags are a lifeline for people who have been forced to sleep rough because of cruel Conservative policies.
The threat to remove these items under the pretext of cleaning the streets is a transparent attempt to move homeless people away, so MPs don’t have to see the human effect of their policies and don’t have to witness the deaths that are directly attributable to their decisions.
I would not be surprised if Conservative-run Westminster Council had been ordered to do this by their party leader, Theresa May.
The prime minister certainly put her foot in her mouth when discussing homelessness during Prime Minister’s Questions today (January 9).
Here’s Labour’s Rachael Maskell to set the scene:
I asked the Prime Minister what she would do differently to ensure that no homeless person dies in the light of the 11 tragic deaths in York last year.
Mrs May responded: ““Every death of someone while hopeless…erm, homeless or sleeping rough on our streets is one too many.”
If that’s her attitude, no wonder her cronies on Westminster Council are clearing these people off the streets.
And does she really mean every death is one too many, or that every death we are able to see is one too many?
For the answer to that, I think we only have to look at the Department for Work and Pensions, which hid the unexplained deaths of thousands of claimants from public sight until I was able to use Freedom of Information laws to bring the facts to light – after years of legal arguments.
It seems clear that Conservatives such as Mrs May are happy to take the decisions that kill off the vulnerable; they just don’t want to see it happening.
So they get their council friends to do the dirty work for them and then stutter about it in Parliament. Sickening.
Lloyd’s of London insurer XL Group is to move its main EU subsidiary from London to Dublin [Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images].
“Lloyds of Dun Laoghaire”?
Seriously, I know it’s only one of the Lloyds insurers moving out to Dublin, to join one that is already going, but how many will have gone by the time Brexit actually happens (if it ever does)?
And how will the government of the day persuade us that London is still the world’s financial centre when they’ve gone?
Finance was very nearly all we had left after the right-wing dismantling of UK.
So, does Brexit mark the beginning of the end? Is the UK now a failed state?
One of Lloyd’s of London’s largest insurance syndicates is to move its European headquarters to Dublin because of Brexit, Ireland’s prime minister has announced.
XL Group, which operates the XL Catlin brand, chose the Irish capital as its preferred location for its principal EU insurance company subject to regulatory approval, said the Irish Industrial Development Authority.
It is one of a growing number of financial services companies moving some of their regulated EU operations outside the UK to guarantee access to the single market after Brexit.
XL is the second Lloyd’s of London insurer to announce EU operations would be headquartered in Dublin after the July announcement that Beazley would convert its Dublin operation to a business transacting throughout the EU.
This week a Reuters survey found that about 10,000 finance jobs will be shifted out of Britain if the UK is denied access to Europe’s single market.
This is not the first time a bank has threatened to leave the UK over Brexit.
We heard Morgan Stanley was going to go, the day the EU referendum result was announced.
And last month we were told “leading banks” would pull out of the UK in 2017.
So this latest threat is no surprise.
It also carries a little more weight than the others, because it follows UK prime minister Theresa Mayfly’s announcement that she intends to take the country out of the European Single Market.
Of course, HSBC is a bank with a tarnished reputation, having been found to have helped thousands of wealthy clients to evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax.
Does that make it attractive to the French government?
HSBC bank would likely switch 1,000 jobs to Paris from London, with Britain planning to leave the EU single market under Brexit, chief executive Stuart Gulliver told Bloomberg Television.
Speaking from the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort Davos, Gulliver said in an interview that “about 1,000 jobs which are carrying out activities which are covered by European legislation… would probably need, in our case, to go to France”.
While Gulliver had in the past already hinted at such a switch of investment banking jobs, his comments appeared more precise as he suggested France would take precedence over other EU nations.
“We bought Credit Commercial de France in 2002, so we have a full service universal bank in France. And so for us, it’s France.”
Activities covered by European financial regulation that would need to move equate to about 20 percent of revenue earned by HSBC’s investment bank division in London, Gulliver added.
Victim of government persecution: A coroner has agreed that government pressure drove Stephanie Bottrill to suicide.
It’s official – stress and pressure caused by the Bedroom Tax pushed grandmother Stephanie Bottrill into taking her own life.
Zafar Siddique, coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said he was “satisfied she intended to take her own life” after hearing evidence that Mrs Bottrill had blamed the government’s Bedroom Tax policy for pushing her to suicide in a note she left at her Meriden Drive, Kingshurst, home before walking across the M6 motorway into a collision with a lorry early on May 4, 2013.
The coroner also heard evidence from Dr Bindu Nair, who saw the former postal worker the day before her death after Mrs Bottrill’s daughter-in-law, concerned for her safety, made an appointment.
Dr Nair said Mrs Bottrill had “expressed unhappiness at being pushed by the housing department to make a decision, in half an hour, in reference to being made to move into a smaller property”.
He added that Ms Bottrill was “happy to move but it was the way in which she was forced to make a decision” which had caused her “considerable anxiety and stress”.
Unmentioned in the report is the fact that Mrs Bottrill was found to be exempt from the Bedroom Tax (also called the State Under-Occupation Charge) under the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006, because she had been living at her address since before January 1996.
The implications for the government are enormous.
A British court has accepted that a government policy pushed a UK citizen into ending her life.
Organisations including government departments are guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which their activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death, and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.
An organisation is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach.
The pressure placed on Mrs Bottrill, according to the evidence of her own doctor, caused “considerable anxiety and stress” that contributed to her decision to commit suicide.
It seems clear that the Department for Work and Pensions – as the organisation responsible for both the Bedroom Tax and the pressure placed on Mrs Bottrill by housing officers – must now face criminal charges under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
As far as this blog is concerned, responsibility for this woman’s death lies firmly with Iain Duncan Smith.
Doesn’t he look like a puppet? In fact the correct term is ‘marionette’ – for a puppet on strings, worked from above. But who’s pulling Nick Clegg’s strings this time?
The Government is running an independent study into the impact of the Bedroom Tax, in order to find out if it is really possible for social housing tenants to move into smaller accommodation to escape its effects. The result should more likely be feared than welcomed.
Nick Clegg announced that the study was taking place in response to a Parliamentary question from Harriet Harman – but was immediately undermined by the Department for Work and Pensions. A government spokesman said the DWP routinely commissions research on new policies and an independent consortium was already carrying out evaluation work.
Clegg had to say he was taking action after his own party voted to change its policy on the Tax – the Liberal Democrats now oppose it – but this is not cause for celebration.
Who will carry out this independent study? We are told it is an “independent consortium” but what does that mean? What will be their terms of reference? What questions will they be asking and will they be the questions that need to be asked?
Observers should be raising serious doubts about all of these because this is not a government with a good track record on evidence-led policy.
We all know what this is about – the government’s hugely flawed scheme to claw back Housing Benefit cash from social housing tenants, taking 14 per cent of payments from those with one spare bedroom, and a quarter of the benefit from anyone with two. The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for local councils was boosted to £60 million in anticipation of extra demand from struggling tenants.
It is true that evidence about the policy is conflicting. Lord Freud, introducing it in the House of Lords, apparently refused to listen to arguments that there were too few single-bedroom properties into which under-occupiers could downsize. Now he is blaming local authorities for the shortage.
The government said the policy would save £480 million, but the increased cost of DHPs must be subtracted from that, and also the costs of people who do manage to downsize. This could range from just four per cent of the 660,000 affected households to 20 per cent, depending on who you believe – a recent study by the University of York suggested that 20 per cent of households intended to move (which isn’t quite the same as actually doing it), but this was based on evidence from just four housing associations.
It seems unlikely that one-fifth of everyone affected nationally is moving to a different property – but even if they were, this would not create a saving for the government because it would have to pay out, not only increased Housing Benefit for those who have moved into smaller but more expensive private rented housing, but also Housing Benefit for people moving into the now-vacant larger social housing.
And then there are the people who cannot downsize but cannot afford the rent if their Housing Benefit is reduced. Recent reports had 50,000 households facing eviction – around one-thirteenth of the total number affected.
If they become homeless, local councils will have to find temporary accommodation for them – and this is paradoxically much more expensive than putting them in social housing, because they have to go into bed-and-breakfast rooms. Homelessness was already on the increase before the Bedroom Tax was introduced, rising from 44,160 households in 2011-12 to 53,540 in 2012-13.
It aims to publicise the results of a survey by Ipsos-MORI, examining public attitudes to the cap. The survey was carried out among more than 2,000 people who were selected to be representative of the UK as a whole.
“The vast majority (70 per cent) of the public think people affected by the benefit cap should be prepared to find jobs or work more hours,” the piece begins. This is accurate, according to the survey being quoted – but it is based on the premise that the benefit cap should be set at £26,000 per year for a workless family, which is significantly lower than what was originally advertised by the DWP – the income of an average working family.
The DWP, imposing the cap, drummed up support by saying it would limit the amount workless families could receive to the same as the average income of a family in work, claiming that this was £26,000. In fact, a working family claiming all the benefits to which it is entitled can get £31,000 – so the cap means workless families are at least £5,000 per year worse-off, a huge gap of 16-17 per cent.
“Two-thirds (65 per cent) say they should be willing to move to a cheaper property,” the release claims – but the Ipsos-MORI report’s summary makes it clear that support for the policy drops to 44 per cent – a minority – and opposition rises to 26 per cent if it means those benefit claimants affected by the cap have to move to other areas to find more affordable accommodation.
The press release, which came out to support the government policy ‘Simplifying the welfare system and making sure work pays’, continues: “Independent research published today (10 October 2013) shows that 60 per cent support the cap even if it means that those affected have to take a job, regardless of the pay.” So now it seems that making work pay is not the objective; cutting wages is the real plan.
“The Ipsos MORI report finds around three-quarters of the public support the benefit cap in principle.” This, at least, is accurate and is no bad thing. Benefits should be lower than wages – they are a safety net that should enable people to carry on living while they find paying work. But in return, employers need to pay a living wage, ensuring that nobody in work has to claim any benefit at all. That, at the moment, is sorely lacking in the UK.
“58 per cent think that politicians needed to do more to reduce the welfare bill.” But they weren’t asked how they thought this should be done, or whether politicians were doing the right things.
“50 per cent think that benefits are too generous.” Among those who’ve received benefits this drops, but surprisingly only to 45 per cent. Among those who haven’t received benefits, 62 per cent thought them too generous.
“11 per cent think the benefits system is working effectively.” But they weren’t asked whether the Conservative-led Coalition was to blame for the poor performance.
At this point, the press release stops quoting statistics – but there is one further piece of evidence that people need to know. It relates to what the people who were surveyed knew about the benefit cap before they answered the questions.
Only 29 per cent knew even a fair amount about the cap before answering the survey’s questions. Of the rest, 42 per cent said they knew “just a little” about it, 18 per cent said they’d heard of it but knew nothing at all about it, and eight per cent had never even heard of it.
So this survey – put out by the DWP as a measure of public support for the Benefit Cap – is in fact a measure of public ignorance.
Why should anybody accept these findings as authoritative? How can we accept the 70 per cent view that people affected by the cap should be prepared to find jobs or work – that’s fewer than those who admitted they don’t know much about it!
In fact, none of these statistics can claim to be authoritative because only a tiny minority of those surveyed knew enough about the subject.
Now look at Iain Duncan Smith’s comment: “Today’s report makes it clear that the public support setting a limit on benefits and the successful delivery of the benefit cap shows we are committed to returning fairness to the welfare state.”
Lie. It shows that most of the public are ignorant about the limit. The successful delivery of a benefit cap set at 17 per cent less than average income shows that he is committed to returning unfairness to the benefit system.
“Claimants affected by the cap need to make decisions about work and housing and what they can afford, just as hardworking families do. We have made sure the support is there to help people back into work and the Benefit Cap and Universal Credit will ensure that work pays.”
Lie. The press release itself states that people are being pressurised into any work they can get – whether it pays or not. Support is not available to get people back into jobs because the jobs aren’t there. And Universal Credit does not work.
The release goes on to state: “Since claimants were first notified of the benefit cap in April 2012, Jobcentre Plus have helped around 16,500 potentially capped claimants into work.” The wording is very careful; notice no mention is made that they moved into work specifically to avoid the cap – Smith and others have been reprimanded over such claims in the past. But the context suggests that the benefit cap is what motivated these people to get jobs, and that is unsupportable as well.
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