Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Britain shows where advanced bureaucracy leads
Pay or we'll raid your home, taxman tells 95-year-old widow (and they owe HER money). It was only intervention by a newspaper that saved her
HM Revenue & Customs debt collectors have threatened to visit the home of a frail 95-year-old widow and confiscate her possessions, even though she has paid too much tax.
This shocking threat was made in a letter that arrived on Saturday, just three days after HMRC chiefs had been hauled before a committee of MPs to explain the chaos that has engulfed millions of taxpayers.
The letter warned: 'We are arranging a visit to your house. We will view your possessions and list those that we will sell at auction. We strongly advise you to avoid this as it will cost you much more to pay this way and can be embarrassing.'
The letter was received by Beryl Frew, whom Money Mail featured in January. Mrs Frew has failing eyesight and hearing, and needs daily medication for her blood pressure.
HMRC sent her a bill for £3,946.27 after she became confused by complex tax forms. We asked the charity Tax Help For Older People to look at her case. After examining her records it emerged that she has in fact paid more than £380 too much tax.
HMRC agreed with these f igures . But in another staggering example of incompetence it failed to tell its debt management section, which issued the threatening letter. A spokesman says: ' We apologise to Mrs Frew for the distress caused. The letter was issued in error and we are urgently looking into how this happened. We will be contacting Mrs Frew to apologise and put her mind at rest.'
Following our intervention, HMRC has promised the pensioner will not be visited by debt collectors.
Mrs Frew's family knew the tax bill was wrong, but like tens of thousands of others, faced frustration in getting it resolved.
Much more HERE
Africa aid has been wasted and created army of beggars, says Mandelson
Surprising realism from a prominent British Leftist
Most of the aid sent to Africa in the past half century has been wasted and has turned the region’s countries into ‘professional beggars’, according to Peter Mandelson. The former Cabinet minister gave one of the harshest assessments yet of successive governments’ aid policies, warning that Britain had failed to help African economies grow. Lord Mandelson, a former business secretary, insisted that the money should have been poured into trade rather than handouts.
The Labour peer told The Times Summit on Africa in London: ‘Most of the aid we have sent to Africa over the last five decades has probably, in the main, been wasted as far as growth is concerned. ‘I’m not anti-aid, but if you ask me where I would put my money, it would go on trade rather than aid as a key to African economic development.’
His extraordinary intervention comes as many on the Tory backbenches are questioning the wisdom of the Coalition’s policy to ringfence overseas aid while making cutbacks elsewhere.
Lord Mandelson, who is also a former EU trade commissioner, then said that the elimination of subsidies and opening up Europe’s markets was key to helping Africa. ‘Far too much EU trade policy since decolonisation has interpreted our responsibilities in Europe as shielding these economies from economic change rather than in a progressive way opening up these economies,’ he said. ‘This has marooned many African economies, demeaning many African governments by turning them into professional aid beggars. ‘Protectionist economies are great sources of corruption.’
But as trade commissioner, Lord Mandelson proposed a blanket duty on all leather shoes from former struggling economies such as China and Vietnam. This was to protect manufacturers in rich, European countries. It was also under Lord Mandelson’s watch that the Doha trade talks failed, after five years of negotiations between the West and developing countries.
Malcolm Bruce, the chairman of the International Development Committee, said Lord Mandelson’s remarks were an ‘appalling admission of failure’. Mr Bruce said: ‘He was in government and in the EU for 13 years. What was he doing? ‘He spent too much time plotting rather than trying to reform aid policy.’
Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, said he backed Lord Mandelson’s view that trade, not aid, was key to fighting poverty. But he added: ‘It is rather depressing that Lord Mandelson has only had a dose of commonsense once he left office and it was too late for him to do anything.’
The Government has promised to ringfence spending on aid policy. It is one of only two departments to have its entire budget protected – alongside health.
While other areas face the full brunt of the government spending axe, the aid budget for the Department for International Development alone has risen by 37 per cent in real terms.
Leftist "homophobia" in Australia
THE ABC has apologised today after it broadcast an anti-gay jibe against a Liberal MP. A hailstorm of criticism erupted today after a Q&A panel session with federal member Christopher Pyne last night ran a viewer's tweet: "Does Pyne really light up when he's talking about men in uniform?"
Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sarah Rogan said the ABC should know better. "It is a cheap shot," she said. "It is not one of the worst levels of discrimination but it is stereotyping and playing on gay men in particular."
Q&A publicist Rachel Baugh rejected accusations of homophobia and said the national broadcaster was sorry for the tweet. "Q&A has a complex moderation process that deals with over 19,000 tweets during the course of the live program," she said. "This tweet was one that unfortunately went to air and shouldn't have. "The program agreed it was inappropriate and has contacted Christopher Pyne's office to apologise."
Though he is married with children, Mr Pyne has been dogged for years by sideswipes over his sexuality. In 2009, Kevin Rudd referred to him as "the member for skirt that is, the member for Sturt".
When Mr Pyne was appointed manager of Opposition business, Julia Gillard expressed surprise that the then Coalition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, hadn't given the job to Tony Abbott instead. Faced with a choice between a doberman and a poodle, she said, Mr Turnbull had opted for the poodle.
So: "Violence never solved anything"?
It's solved some very bad human relationships here
A 12-YEAR-OLD bully who hit international headlines after being slam-dunked by his victim has written a personal apology. Ritchard Gale yesterday left a note on the doorstep of Casey Heynes' home, which said: "Sorry for hitting you ... Hopefully all this trouble will stop after I say sorry to you and shake your hand," reported the Herald Sun.
In the letter Ritchard also said he should not have taken things into his own hands: "should of went to the office instead", "I just want to say sorry", he wrote.
Casey become an internet sensation after turning the tables on Ritchard in a clip that showed him being bullied before he snapped and retaliated, the result he said of years of cruel taunts about his weight.
The families of the two boys have reportedly made about $40,000 each for TV interviews following the incident. Casey said he has been bullied nearly every day at his school, Chifley College in Sydney's west, but could take no more when Year 7 student Ritchard tormented and attacked him last Monday.
"All I was doing was defending myself. I've never had so much support," he said during an interview with A Current Affair.
Casey reveals he'd been targeted by a new group of Year 7 boys who had started picking on him and teasing him about two weeks prior to the fight.
The Year 10 student said he found himself surrounded by the students when he went to get a school timetable before class.
As Ritchard backed him against the wall and started throwing punches, Casey said he felt scared and worried that others in the group would also start hitting him.
Eventually, he snapped, picking Ritchard up over his shoulder and throwing him to the ground.
The brawl was recorded on the mobile phone of another student who later posted the video online where he has earned "hero" status.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.