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Carillion – The Latest Government Contract to Backfire……

29 Jan

For the past 30 years successive UK Governments have been selling off or contracting out this country’s assets in one form or another.  From Nationalised Industries to the Gold Reserves held by the Bank of England.  Carillion is just another failed initiative in a catalogue or errors…..’

Government’s Bad Planning and Expensive Mistakes for Tax Payers……

Although the underhanded ‘quid pro quo’ dealing of the country’s ‘elite’ is as old as government itself.  The particularly damaging policy of ‘privatisation’ was Mrs. Thatcher’s personal priorities.  We’ll get to the whereabouts of the gold reserves and other costly mistakes later but for now here’s a partial list of some the country’s assets they sold:

  • British Petroleum  – 1979
  • British Aerospace – 1981
  • Cable & Wireless – 1981
  • Amersham International – 1982
  • National Freight Corporation – 1982
  • BritOil – 1982
  • Associated British Ports – 1883
  • Enterprise Oil – 1984
  • Jaguar – 1984
  • British Telecommunications – 1984o
  • British Ship Builders – 1985
  • British Gas – 1986
  • British Airways – 1987
  • Rolls Royce – 1987
  • B.A.A. – 1987
  • British Steel – 1988  
  • Water – 1989
  • Electricity – 1990

The party line was that competition was better for the consumer and released the government from its financial obligations to Nationalised Industries.  The empirical evidence would suggest otherwise.  There is an obvious reason why a public services and business are totally incompatible.  The number one priority of a public service is precisely that, to deliver the best possible service to the public. Whereas, a company’s main priority is to deliver profits for its shareholders, increasing year upon year.  This appears to have worked perfectly.  The level of service and investment has fallen whilst profits have risen…

In some instances there were sectors of publicly run companies which made wholesale privatisation untenable, so they were broken up; the profitable parts sold off, leaving the unprofitable parts in public ownership.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the nuclear power industry.  Due to the uncertainty and long term nature of decommissioning, cleaning, storage of toxic and radioactive waste, the nuclear industries were put under the umbrella of British Nuclear Fuels in 1971.  However, in 1984 it became British Nuclear Fuels Limited, floated on the stock exchange, under the control of a Government appointed, ‘independent’ regulator

The profitable parts of the industry, such as power generation were given to the privatised electricity companies whilst the ‘hot potatoes’ remain in government hands and have been, you guessed it, contracted out.  The current estimates for cleaning up range from £119 billion to £220 billion over the next 120 years.  In all probability, as solutions to some issues  remain unresolved, the final bill could be 2 or 3 times the current estimate.  I fail to imagine that any company can give an accurate estimate of an as yet undecided way to proceed.  We currently have nowhere to store highly toxic, radioactive waste.  It isn’t only the nuclear power industry that has these problems.  Many of the privatised industries were broken up before sale, leaving a burden on the tax payer……

What Happened to the Country’s Gold…..?

The ‘gold standard’ existed into the 20th Century.  With an internationally agreed price it was a way of standardising currency exchange and demonstrating a country’s wealth.  On a  $10 dollar bill it used to state ‘This $10 bill is redeemable for $10 worth of gold’.  Not anymore.  The whys and wherefores of the gold standard was decided at a large meeting between the US Government, the banking dynasties and major company bosses during the Great Depression.  All of the key players attended:  Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase, Rockerfella, Rothschild; the list goes on.  Now that gold was no longer a measure of a country’s wealth the ‘Federal’ banks were free to sell gold on the open market.  They also used the country’s financial crisis to buy out smaller banks leaving us with monopoly of banking institutions we are all so familiar with…

Between July ’99 and March ’02 Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer sold 58% of the Bank of England’s total gold reserves.  Some 395 tonnes of the 715 tonnes in the vault.  Not only did he sell it but he sold it in a depressed market.  Its value increased from the original $256.20 per ounce in July 1999, to $1,780.65 in just over 10 years…


The Private Finance Initiative – The Labour Parties Worst Policy Ideas……

The policy was so bad, as was the burden on UK Tax Payers that it was rebranded the Public Private Partnership, although this did nothing to improve public perception, change policy or lower the cost.  The basic premise of PFI/PPP was simple and sounded almost plausible…

How PFI Works……

The traditional way for the government to build a new piece of infrastructure, such as a hospital, a school, or a new road, was to raise the money in taxes, or borrow it from the Bank of England, and then pay contractors to deliver the project.  The finished project was then handed to the relevant Government department to run.  After that, the public sector would own the asset.  However, under PFI it was the builders who borrowed from private markets.  But how could the builders afford to make loan repayments until the endowment ended.  Simple, if you have the exclusive contract for maintenance… 

The state then pays the builder (or a separate company that buys out the contract) to effectively lease the building or piece of infrastructure over several decades; like an endowment mortgage the asset becomes wholey state owned.
The theoretical justification for PFI is that the private sector is more efficient at delivering and managing infrastructure projects than civil servants. PFI also supposedly transfers the financial risk of a construction project over-running from the public to the private sector.  Another benefit sometimes cited is that PFI financially incentivises builders to improve the quality and speed of their work too, since they will be the ones maintaining the asset after construction.  To top it off the U.K. Tax Payer also has the capital expenditure removed from the Treasury’s accounts.  Giving the impression that the economy is doing well.

Although in principle this seems like a workable idea which places hardly any burden on tax payers it came with one big caveat; the contractors had an exclusive right for the maintanance of the building until it was handed over, and this was to be covered by the tax payer.  It soon became obvious how a company can build and lease it back to the Government whilst turning over big profits for the duration.

Here are just some of the ridiculous bills for one hospitals maintainance:

  • £466 to replace a lightbulb 
  • £242 for a padlock
  • £75 for an air freshener 
  • £13,704 to install 3 new light fittings in a corridor
  • £8,450 installation of a dishwasher
  • £997 for a TV cabinet 
  • £929 to swap a single socket for a double
  • £676 putting up 4 fire assembly point signs
  • £198 to mend a door handle 
  • £112 putting a whiteboard 

And the list goes on.  By the time the 20 year leasing arrangements are completed the cost to the tax payer will be over £20 billion.  Hardlya good deal for UK Tax Payers when you consider the cost of undertaking the work itself…

The Mamoth IT Blunders……

Alongside the many costly policies the Government is well known for its expensive IT blunders that either, didn’t work at all, worked partially or were simply ‘not fit for purpose’.  The cost overruns and time delays are legendary.

An IT scheme designed to integrate the Department for Transport hyping it’s human resources and financial services, and also save the taxpayer £57 million? If this sounds too be true, it’s because that’s what it turned out to be. Far from saving money, the scheme ended up costing £81 million due to management ineptitude described by the Public Accounts Committee as an exhibition of “stupendous incompetence”.

An IT scheme designed to allocate subsidies to farms was originally forecast to cost £155 million, but the programme has ended up costing more like £215 million. The scheme has delayed payments to farmers and incurred increasing penalties from the European Commission.

According to a Public Accounts Committee report, the three key bodies trusted to deliver the programme could not work together effectively. It found that there was a lack of consistent priorities and changes in leadership, which caused havoc and delay. Its focus on developing a digital front-end was “inappropriate for farmers” due to the frequently poor broadband in rural areas.  

The Scottish Parliament Building has been controversial for a host of things, including its location, architect and design – it’s described by one particularly glorious TripAdvisor review as a “grotesque brutalist mess” – but the reason a public enquiry was made into its construction was because of constant delays and its escalating cost. Initially scheduled to inaugurate in 2001, its doors finally opened three years later with an estimated cost of £414million, much higher than its original estimate of £10-40 million. The inquiry found incompetence in the management of the entire project, including fulfilment of cost and the way major design changes were added.

The cost hasn’t stopped there. Figures have revealed that the building’s average repair bill has reached £141,000 per month, five times the figure during the building’s first year. This means that since 2004, maintenance costs have set taxpayers back by £11 million, which of course is higher than some of the initial estimates for the cost of constructing the building itself.

The Greatest NHS IT Blunder…

Instant access to patients records from anywhere.  It sounds like the Shangrilla of vital information. In September 2013, an NHS patient record system that would have been the world’s largest non-military IT system was abandoned, in what could be the most catastrophic IT failure ever seen by the government. The failed centralised e-record system cost the taxpayer over £10 billion, £3.6 billion more than ministers had anticipated.

From the outset, the project was plagued by delays. The delivery of core systems was stalled due to fears that some software was not fit for purpose. After seven years, only 13 acute trusts out of 169 received the full patient administration systems they were agreed under the National Programme. The new systems also caused chaos for many users; a newly-installed IT system lost Barts NHS Trust thousands of patient records, delaying the treatment of urgent cases, costing millions in additional staff and warranting an internal investigation. The Milton Keynes Foundation Trust wrote a cautionary letter to the times about the inefficacy of their system, and warning others not to use it. 

The Ministry of Defence’s secure military network was built to help British troops operate more effectively around the world. The MoD gave parliament a figure of £2.3 billion, but a report by MPs has shown that they knew that the project would cost at least £5.8 billion. The true figure has since risen to at least £7.1 billion. By 2008, the programme was running at least 18 months late, had provided only 29,000 of a contracted 63,000 terminals, and had supplied none of the contracted Secret capability.

According to the then chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Edward Leigh, there was no suitable pilot carried out for such a multifaceted programme. The condition of the Department’s buildings where the system was to be installed was badly miscalculated due to insufficient research.
These disasters could all have been adverted by better planning and listening to expert advice. 
The cost to the tax payer in relation to these failed IT projects is exceptional.  Every major IT project cost nearly 3 times the original quotes and took 3 times as long as predicted.  Many still don’t work and although we see doctors and nurses with their Tablet computers, the system is deemed so unreliable that notes are transcribe to paper for safe storage……

Carillion – A Company with Almost No Assets…..


Carillion is more of a management consultantcy than a subcontractor.  I’m sure the latest PowerPoint presentation looked great but if the Government had been listening to the Office of Budget Responsibly and Public Accounts Committee things may have been different.  Profit warnings and a gaping hole in the pension pot (remember BHS) should’ve led to a complete end to any further contracts being awarded, however, Carillion continued to pick up more and more contracts.  As I said Carillion is just a huge management consultant rather than a subcontractor.  Its flags wave above thier prestige projects but it owns almost nothing on the site apart from the flag.  Its assets are virtually worthless considering the size of the contracts they have in their portfolio which is made up almost exclusively of Government contracts…

Too big to fail……

Carillion provide school meals, cleaning and maintenance in hospitals, alongside dozens of other services to nursing homes etc.  That is why a solution must be found.  So far the Government’s only solution is to fund this disaster itself, at an estimated cost of £200 billion.  While loyal Carillion workers worry about how their pensions will be paid, the board have chosen to keep their astronomical bonuses and unnecessarily large pay chequers…

The Classification “Too Big to Fail” is Wholly Down to Bad Government Policy…..

Carillion is no different to the financial institutions we had to bailout 10 years ago.  If you put all of your eggs in one basket as they say.  We could’ve simply taken the banks into public hands instead of handing over tens of billions in bailouts.  Even though most people you ask will tell you how bad things have been during the recession, the banks have continued to make money.  It would suggest that it’s the tax payer is responsible for the ‘to big to fail’ payouts whilst the profits made post bailout is still reaching the pockets of the ‘one percenters’.  If the majority of contracts go to one international organisation they become by definition too big to fail, which if distilled to the basics is this; ‘the club’ relies on these unbreakable contracts to make money for both sides.  It’s just that we’re not one of the sides.  As per usual with these badly thought out policies and certain ‘select’ companies benefitting hugely, we have yet to see any politicians or board members loosing their jobs and being stripped of their ill gotten gains…

It Isn’t Over Yet……

Capita is yet another favoured service provider to the DWP and many local councils.   However, they too are balanced on a knife edge.  If/when Capita fails they too will, doubtless, be deemed too big to fail.  And as for BREXIT, I voted in or out; not for ten or more years of a negotiated contract at great cost to the UK economy.  God only knows how many companies will deemed too big to fail during the exit process.

We don’t live in a Democracy.  We live in a Duocracy where we have a choice of Labour and Conservative, and both have a proven track record of making things worse for us and better for a select few.  Isn’t it time for a major rethink?

And Finally……
‘One of the major problems in society today is the Internet, our manufactured way of life and the way in which all politicians lie or give the answer to a question that wasn’t even asked. People add thier name to an online petition which is the least effective way to protest. If we ever want change it will only come from direct action……’

Stephen P. Walker

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Eight Simple Ways for the Treasury to Save Money……

17 Jun

Introduction……

We are not broke, we do not need to tighten our belts and we are certainly not ‘all in this together’.  Immigration and welfare benefits are not the drain on the economy our politicians continually claim; they are just an easy target to divert attention and act as a smokescreen to the reality of our economic position.

Here are eight ways to emancipate billions of pounds back into the economy……

1 – IT Projects……

Government IT projects are notorious.  They frequently do not perform the function for which they were designed, go over budget and are delivered late, if at all.  Those that make it into public use are usually redundant within a couple of years due to their failure to be able to communicate with newer systems in other departments.

Here a just a few examples:

1980 – TAURUS was an electronic trading platform designed to make the buying and selling of stocks and shares easier.  Outcome: cancelled.  Cost: £75 million.

2002 to 2011 – Electronic Care Records; one of many NHS IT project failures.  Over nine years and despite numerous attempts to make it work, it was never launched.  Outcome: Discontinued.  Cost: £12 billion.

2008 to 2013 – Digital Media Initiative was the BBCs digital platform.  It was scrapped when it became clear that other media companies could provide services at a much lower cost to the customer.  Outcome: cancelled.  Cost: £98 million.

The Government continues with IT initiatives, the latest being the universal benefit system.  Again, it has over run and will doubtless be over budget, if it ever works at all……

2 – Public and Judicial Enquiries……

It is understandable that the relatives and victims of events like Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday want answers.  However, the Public or Judicial Enquiry has become a tool for politicians to kick issues into the long grass.  They are hugely expensive, often take years to complete and rarely deliver results.  The Hutton enquiry into the Iraq war was carefully limited in terms of what it was enquiring into.  As a result nobody faced prosecution and nobody  suffered any consequences in respect to the ‘sexed up’ document that was used as the justification for going to war.  The same is true of the enquiries into the shooting of John Charles de Menezes and Mark Duggan, or the newspaper sales man Ian Tomlinson who died after being assaulted by a Police Officer whilst walking home from work during a demonstration.  None of these cases has led to the prosecution of the Officers involved.

The Jimmy Savile case has as many as 30 enquiries currently taking place……

3 – Defense Spending……

The Department of Defense should change its name to the Department of Attack, as the last time it defended the UK was during WWII.  It is time we stopped acting under the influence of the US as the worlds’ police force and concentrated our resources on defending UK sovereign territory.  A look at a map will show that there are no threats to the UK from any of its neighbors, most of whom are our allies.  The non geographical and greatly exaggerated ‘al Qaeda’ does not warrant £57 billion per year on defense spending.  Government wastage has led to the building of redundant aircraft carriers and the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent, which is not wanted and unnecessary……

4 – Tax Avoidance……

It is estimated that the UK treasury is deprived of £95 billion per year due to tax avoidance.  At the same time, many of the employees of the companies involved receive benefits to support low paid jobs (more on this later).  It is interesting to note and a demonstration of Governments priorities that HMRC have a team of 300 people dedicated to tackling £95b of tax avoidance whilst the DWP has 3000 people dedicated to recovering £1b of benefit overpayments and fraudulent claims……

5 – The Monarchy……

The Queen’s household and assorted hangers on costs the UK tax payer £33.3m in 2013; a rise of £900,000 on the previous year.  Although I am a republican I feel our Queen does deserve credit where credit is due.  She is a tourist attraction, or rather her palaces are, so I don’t propose we wheel our the guillotine just yet.  However, the monarchy are independently wealthy and becomming richer by the day.  Assets such as the Duchy of Cornwall net Prince Charles tens of millions each year.  They also hold a huge private art collection thought to be priceless, all of which they aquired through a questionable hereditary lineage.  I propose that the public purse does contribute towards the Queen’s official duties but the numerous palaces, estates and country retreats should be handed to the National Trust and opened to the public thereby generating an income for their upkeep and relieving the tax payer of a large financial burden……

6 – MPs Expenses and Allowances……

Sure, MPs work a long way from home but then so do thousands of other people who pay for their own travel and expenses.  MPs are already well paid but on top of their salary claim £100m in expenses.  Some of this is for the everyday things you and I pay for out of our own pockets and some is for the second home allowance.  As already mentioned many people commute from as far away as Peterborough, Grantham and even further.  If an MPs commute is deemed reasonable they should pay for it themselves.  If a second home is needed it should be sold when the MP looses their seat to reimburse the tax payers.  Even with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority overseeing claims, MPs are still receiving far too much money for expenses that the rest of the population are expected to pay for themselves……

7 – Diplomatic Travel……

The year is 2014, not 1914 and with technology there is little need for diplomatic travel when a simple conference call will suffice.  According to the Daily Mail a lot of ‘diplomatic’ travel is little more than an excuse for what they describe as ‘jollies’ and range from £2k to £10k depending on the destination and who is traveling.  This money does not form part of MPs expenses but comes from departmental budgets; the same budgets that have been squeezed by 25% in recent years.  It is rich to say the least to expect the UK public to ‘tighten their belts’ when MPs and Diplomats do not.  We are not ‘all in this together’……

8 – A Fair Pay Act……

It is time that laws are introduced setting out a workable minimum wage.  Not the £6.31 (21+), £5.03 (18 to 20), £3.27 (under 18) and £2.68 (apprentice); all of which are an insult when taking into account the increasing cost of living.  If you earn £6.31 per hour for 37.5 hours per week, you will barely be able to afford necessities.  This is the reason for the various Tax Credits which are paid to top up earnings to a reasonable amount.  But as mentioned earlier, many of the companies that pay minimum wages are also tax avoiders, thereby depriving the treasury twice.  Our whole economy would function better if wages were increased, Tax Credits abolished and tax avoidance curtailed……

None of this is rocket science and all perfectly achievable given the political will.  But instead of tackling the real issues of waste and poverty our representatives continually repeat the mantra of immigration and welfare reform; always being careful not to give factual details.  Immigrants pay in far more than they take out and welfare covers pensions, tax credits, child care allowances and a multitude of other benefits including universal benefits such as family allowance.  Unemployment benefits make up 1 or 2% of the welfare pie.  It is a tactic as old as democracy; divide and rule.  Whilst the arguments are focused on two vulnerable groups who have been demons, it gives the public someone to blame for the hardship they are suffering when in reality, with a little political will, this country could be £250 billion per year better off if only the pigs would pull their heads out from the trough and do the job for which they were elected……

NB: On the Radio 4 Today program (17th June) a recent survey revealed that the majority of residents believe most immigrants come to the UK to claim benefits.  It appears the political message is working……

What has the Big Bang got to do with Economics……?

4 Apr

‘At first glance nothing but read on and all will become clear……’

 

In the early 20th century Edwin Hubble, the Cosmologist after whom the Hubble Telescope is named, made one of the most important discoveries in science when he plotted the rate of the recessional velocity of galaxies, demonstrating that the universe was, and still is, expanding.

 

It is from Hubble’s observation that the idea of a Big Bang was born. Put simply, if the universe is expanding today, if one winds back the clock, at some point in the past the universe must, logically, have been smaller; taken to its conclusion, at some point in the past the universe had a beginning. This is now an empirical, undisputed fact in Cosmology and Physics (Monotheistic religions may disagree but that is a whole new ball game), I diversify.

 

An awful lot has happened in the 14 billion years since the Big Bang to leave us with the universe we can see today but what has this got to do with economics……?

 

First of all let’s set out some facts about banks which may not be apparent given that they have names like ‘The Bank of England’, ‘The Federal Reserve’, ‘The World Bank’, ‘The International Monetary Fund’ and ‘The Central European Bank’.

 

All of the above give the impression that they are owned and run for the benefit of the people by their respective governments. They are not. They are all privately owned institutions, given permission by governments to literally print money. They are more like a cartel than a service allowing for the convenient exchange of goods and services without carrying bags of gold or diamonds, and, most importantly, when they ‘create’ money it is a debt with interest payable upon it……

 

Back to the Big Bang……

 

Let us now imagine the application of Hubble’s Law to global economics. The 14 billion years of the expansion of the universe is akin to the interest that is created along with every unit of currency created by a bank as it expands. If we wind back the economic clock to the point at which the very first bank note was issued, that solitary note was issued with interest. Ergo, to settle the debt owed on the first ever bank note printed required the creation of more. This is why the big economic superpowers have national debts which add up to hundreds of trillions of Dollars/Pounds/Euros.

 

Wind the clock forwards and we reach the current state of global economics where more and more money has been required to settle the ever expanding debt. The practical upshot of this model is a debt that increases exponentially at an ever increasing rate; just as the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. This debt can only go in one direction and I’m sure you have all worked out which direction it is going.

 

One could consider the simplicity of the early universe as the solitary note. All of the birth and deaths of stars that created the elements we see in today’s universe is the equivalent of the increasingly complicated business deals that mask the inflationary model. The bonding of atomic nuclei inside stars and transmutation of elements in supernovae could be seen as the borrowing, lending and taxing that make economics seem as complicated as the universe……

It is a model that can never be satified. It can only expand and to keep the expansion in check, money is conveyed from the poor to the rich……

And that is what the Big Bang has to do with the Global Economy……

 

It could not be explained with any more simplicity……

 

‘With special thanks go to Sonia Greaves, the Emeritus Professor of the Inspirational Ideas, without whom the seed of this idea would not have been planted……’

The Great H2O Swindle……

15 Oct

PART ONE:  HYPOCRISY……

In an act of extraordinary hypocrisy the ex-Anglian Water boss, Jonson Cox, who is now the Chairman of the industry

ofwat-logoregulator Ofwat, drew attention to the “morally questionable” tax structures that allowed his prior employer to pay just £1.6m in Corporation Tax between 2004 and 2010 whilst he was in charge.  Cox left Anglian Water in 2010 with a payout of £9.5m, an amount that his UK call centre staff would have taken 575 years to earn (before income tax) and in excess of 1500 years for Anglian Water’s overseas staff.

Love Every Penny

Love Every Penny

Anglian Water serves over five million customers from Grimsby in the north to Basildon in the south, and is owned by Canadian and Australian pension and infrastructure funds.  The company’s immediate parent undertaking is Anglian Water Services Overseas Holdings Ltd, a company registered in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven.  The company accounts for Anglian Water Services Overseas Holdings Ltd state that it has no employees and is administered by the UK division of the company; so nothing fishy going on there then.

An Ofwat spokesperson said: “As our chair, Jonson Cox is using his insight into the sector to shine a light on what companies do, and asking challenging questions to ensure that the legitimacy of the sector is maintained in the eyes of customers.”   Customers have seen their bills rise by 64% in the last 10 years whilst their wages have risen by an average of just 28%.  Approximately 30% of water charges are profit compared with just 9% of other utilities.

A spokesman for Anglian Water denied that it engaged in tax avoidance. “Our corporation tax bill is reduced by specific government incentives and deferred, not avoided. This is allowed by the government to encourage long-term investment in infrastructure and jobs.”  One would have assumed that as a water and waste water company the “infrastructure” was an integral part of the business and should not be subject to “Government incentives”.  The so called investment in jobs has seen back office administration moved to India where the staff are paid 1/3 of their UK counterparts.

Obviously, Anglian Water values its’ customer base, even though their customer base has no choice which company supplies it with water.  They also employ customer profiling to identify those who may potentially have difficulty paying and automatically filter them into specially designed and more aggressive debt recovery cycle; all changes introduced whilst the new chairman of Ofwat was at the helm…….

The fact that Jonson Cox is now the Chairman of the regulator is a direct conflict of interests.  Is a man who aggressively sought to maximise profits for shareholders whilst minimising tax liabilities fit to run the industry regulator.  In his new position he should be seeking the best possible deal for hard pressed bill payers whilst balancing a healthy return for the country and the shareholders.  Based on his prior modus operandi I suggest he is ‘not fit for purpose’, that is, of course, dependent upon your stake in the companies he regulates……

PART TWO:  DIRTY TRICKS……

‘THE INSIDER’S GUIDE ON HOW TO BEAT THE SYSTEM……’

Phone calls to Anglian Water Customer Services appear on their bills as 0845 numbers.  This means for the pleasure of making an enquiry you pay 10 pence per minute (more on mobile networks).  For example:  The Customer Service number is 08457 91 91 55.  What they fail to tell you is that almost all of their 0845 numbers work by simply dialling 0800 instead, ie; 0800 91 91 55 gets you through to the same service at no cost.  The same applies to almost all other Anglian Water numbers quoted as 0845……

Stalling tactics are mandatory as with all automated systems.  When you get through and have been offered a choice of options so they can “Help get you through to the right department”, you’ll be asked to say, or enter on your telephone key pad, your 9 digit account number.  DON’T, it doesn’t link to their computer system and the agent will ask for your account number or name and address to enable them to find your account.  All of the Line Managers are perfectly aware that this is the case and no explanation was ever given as to why this was the case.  Personally, I believe it is a delaying tactic to keep you in the queue without hanging up as this is one of the performance measures used by Ofwat to monitor call drop outs……

If you alone in a one bedroom flat you will use a very small amount of water.  Anglian Water will not advise you of this fact, nor will they tell you that you do not have a meter and may be paying on the old Rateable Value system which could be costing you £500 per year.  If you have a meter fitted and go on a low user tariff (Anglian Water call theirs ‘Solow’), this could reduce your bill by £400 per year.  This information is buried in the usual small print or plethora of booklets you receive but they will not proactively seek to help you, so ask.  If the meter is fitted and your bill worked out higher you are not obliged to use the metered supply.  To go down this route; arrange to have a meter installed and once done, 2 months readings will let you know the result.  I did this for a friend and reduced the bill from £560 per year to £63……

 

The customer profiling may determine the type of reminder you receive if your bill becomes overdue.  The wording of these ‘special’ letters is more strongly worded than the standard reminder and is deliberately designed to pressure you into paying your bill quickly.  Ethics aside, this letter may come from a company calling itself Frontier Debt Collections.  If you search the net you will find that this is an ‘off the shelf’ program available to anyone and customisable.  If you receive one of these letters, don’t panic.  It holds no more weight than a standard reminder.  If you call Frontier Debt Collections you are speaking to the normal Anglian Water Debt Recovery Team, which brings us nicely onto the final step.

Water is considered a basic human right and it cannot be disconnected from a domestic supply.  It is important to keep this in mind when dealing with an outstanding bill or an ongoing bill which you are not able to afford.  When prioritising your debts place water at the bottom.  Anglian Water cannot fit a special meter that steals half of your money whenever you top up and they cannot cut off your supply.  If you find yourself unable to meet your commitments, make Anglian Water an offer of £1 per week stating that you are aware this will not cover your usage and that you aware arrears will accrue.  Then explain that you hope to rectify this situation as soon as your circumstances change.  I am not advocating building up a huge debt with Anglian Water but they can afford to supply you whilst you may be having difficulty feeding yourself, so it’s worth bearing in mind……

As an ethical company Anglian Water has one goal in mind; to return the maximum profit for its shareholders, not to help you, little old ladies, people with health problems, surviving on benefits or with language barriers.  As a company they claim to ‘support’  the WaterAid charity.  The amount of money donated from the company’s vast profits last year: NOTHING, ZITCH, NOT ONE PENNY.  The only money that WaterAid receive comes from the charity work of people who work for the company (on their own time obviously), or from customers whose relative may have passed away leaving their account in credit by a small amount, which they choose to donate……

‘Good old Anglian Water.  Always there to help (their shareholders)……’

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Political Gestures……

3 Aug

Plain Packaging, Plain Arrogance……

The recent proposals to introduce plain packaging for all Tobacco products have been put on hold whilst the Government waits to check the efficacy of the Australian ban.  After all, you wouldn’t want to rush into taking ineffective measures that would damage the enormous profits and tax revenue created by an industry which legally sells a product that kills half of the people who use it.  No; better to wait and see before imposing draconian and expensive measures on the multi-billion dollar industries, who insist that their advertising isn’t aimed a children.

It would seem like a no brainer to most people but not the political elite like Karl McCartney MP, who, along with other political cronies, received a nice Champaign lunch at the Chelsea Flower show, worth £1,100.00 before voting against the ban [no inferences have been drawn].  Mr. McCartney’s benefactor, Japan International Tobacco, didn’t send me a gift, even though I’ve been a loyal customer for 25 years.  I can’t imagine why……

Evidence……

As our Government are so keen on evidence based policy right now, they might like to look at the recommendations of UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) who said in a recent report that the way the Government collect, analyse and use evidence is ‘inadequate’.  They also recommended the setting up of a Royal Commission but it was rejected out of hand by the Prime Minister and Home secretary.  Keith Vaz MP said that ‘After a year of scrutinising Drug Policy, it is clear that many aspects [of the policy] simply aren’t working.

Whilst the Government may want to see whether plain cigarette packaging has any affect on smoking in Australia, no less than seven independent reports by experts in the field of drug prevention, harm reduction and rehabilitation have had any effect on policy.  In fact, every recommendation has been ignored leading to the resignation of Professor David Nutt, the Government’s Chief Policy Advisor.  I’m guessing this may be because drug dealers don’t lobby political parties and give MPs generous gifts……

Other Evidence……

The bravado shown by our Prime Minister with his promises of pornography filters that will keep us all ‘safe’ from indecent images, is evidence that the PM understands less about computer search algorithms than he does about economics.  I have yet to see an expert explain how this could be made to work.  The very idea that someone could simply conjure up a program that can identify what is, and isn’t, indecent images is laughable.  He has offered no suggestions as to how the magic filter will work but has promised us all an ‘opt in’ button as standard.

The definition of what is ‘acceptable’ pornography and what isn’t is the first hurdle.  It is my understanding that sexual acts between consenting adults is legal regardless of how distasteful Mr. Cameron finds it.  We already have an agency which deals with online child exploitation and abuse that do a very good but difficult job.  To bring the PM’s proposals into the fold will make things infinitely more complicated but it’s good PR all the same…….

Stupid Posh Men……

We have a stagnant, crippled economy due the actions of the rapacious financial services industries to which Government pampers and has done nothing to tackle the problem.  Gideon’s jumping for joy over a 0.3% increase in the GDP of our failing economy which is meaningless to people who can’t afford to eat.  The out of touch ‘members’ think they deserve another £10k per year when our hospitals are killing us; not due to bad nursing, due to the seemingly endless appetite for privatisation, centralisation and outsourcing.  Public services have a duty to provide for us.  Private companies have a duty to show returns for their shareholders, the consequence of which is a race to the bottom; selling contracts to the lowest bidder.  A few examples are the ATOS Healthcare mess, G4S incompetence, the now empty centralised fire control centres and the ‘111’ out of hours service.  All Government initiatives, especially those requiring new IT systems, run over cost, over time, over budget and don’t work.

Meanwhile, the best decoy tactics are to demonise the most vulnerable sections of society with a constant barrage of selective statistics that make it appear unemployment and disability is bankrupting the welfare state when the majority of spending goes on pensions (50%), Child and Working Tax Credits and other ‘in work’ benefits, primarily because the people who ‘want to work hard and get on’ are not paid a living wage by the multinational companies who pay almost no taxes themselves.  Perhaps Mr. Cameron should provide them with an ‘opt in’ button on their accounting software.  Immigration is a prime target of spin, when in reality they have no accurate figures but choose to waste tens of thousands of pounds on their divisive mobile billboards stating “In the UK illegally?  Go home or face arrest”.  Because if were here escaping a brutal regime that rapes women in conflict zones and forces marriage and genital mutilation, I would be on the phone quicker than you could say, “Inept, out of touch Etonian posh boys who couldn’t manage a McDonalds, let alone a country’……

Finally……

I’m sad that I live in a country that is run by corrupt back room deals done by the old boy network, where unless you are born into the right bloodline, your chances of progression are severely impaired.  The Police are a disgrace; just ask Mrs. Lawrence, the family of John Charles de Mennenez, or the mothers of children born to climate change protestors of undercover coppers because of the paranoia of ‘the state’.  The mainstream media too are as corrupt as their paymasters.

If anyone still believes that a bunch of tribal cave dwellers, with rusting Kalashnikovs, their transistor radios illegally connected to the intermittent state controlled power supplies, are running a highly organised, well resourced, worldwide terror network ready to strike at any moment, working tirelessly to bring down the UK so they can invade us and impose Sharia law, is sadly mistaken.  The conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and all the others are as old as written history.  Their only reason to attempt to bring it to our attention with their ill conceived and usually futile attacks is to send a simple message: ‘Western countries get out of our lands and go home”.  Only the workings of a real organised worldwide network of terrorism can pull off 9/11 and 7/7, and they are our own, working under a false flag to give impetus to a global ‘war on terror’ to support the Military Industrial Complex.  They have but one goal; return a profit to the Global Elite whom they serve and sell it to us as a necessary ‘security’ measure.  Munitions aren’t measured in lives lost and lives saved, they are measured like everything else in this shitty world; profits……

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Criminal Bureaucracy……

21 Jun

‘Would you like a highly paid job with a gold-plated pension in which you can lie and deceive to further your own ends?  When you are inevitably found out you can leave with a golden handshake and move to another similarly highly paid position where you can continue to act with impunity……’

 

Then the Civil Service or one it’s many QUANGOs, banking institutions, regulatory bodies or a politician could be the job for you……

 

With so much apparent criminal activity being exposed with such frequency including, fraud, corruption and money laundering, I find it hard to understand why our prisons are not full of senior company executives and politicians.

Caught Red-Handed……

cash-in-an-envelopeAmidst the recent batch of exposés carried out by undercover reporters posing as business clients, numerous Lords and MPs have been caught offering their services for a not inconsiderable amount of money.  When a high percentage of the population survive on the minimum wage and take home a little over £1000 per month, employing MPs for a similar amount to do nothing more than pull a few strings and whisper in the ear of their colleagues  it is unsurprisingly viewed by those earning a minimum wage as an insult.  Despite their protestations that they have not committed any crime, it is pretty clear to anybody with a modicum of intelligence that they are abusing their privileged positions to line their own pockets……

Bankers……

The LIBOR scandal is yet another example of people with the power to affect the rest of us by abusing their positions of trust.  The amounts by which they were able to influence the LIBOR rates may have only been in the order of 0.02% but when one takes the size of the average mortgage into account the result is not unsubstantial.  The whole LIBOR and banking system is inherently corrupt.  Why would banks need to lend money to each other?  The answer is what’s known as ‘fractional reserve banking’, a system which requires a bank to hold only a small proportion of the money it lends in reserve.  Because of this system money is created out of thin air and lent at interest to likes of you and me.  For example:  If a bank is required to hold 10% of its liabilities it can lend the remaining 90% to another institution which does the same.  And the result; hundreds of thousands of Pounds are conjured up for the banks to earn interest on. Greedy Pol 02

The same process happens with ‘national’ banks.  The Bank of England, The Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund and World Banks are not institutions of the state.  They are private entities with the power to print money, lend it to the state with added interest, which is then repaid with tax payers’ money.  This effectively enslaves us all to governments and their favoured institutions by creating a never ending cycle of debt from which we will never escape……

It’s a Fair Cop Gov’……

When the heads of the corrupt banking system get caught out some resign, others are pushed out, but almost all leave with a 7 figure pay out and their enormous pensions in tact.  And do they disappear to blend into the background?  No, they pop up like Lazarus in a new equally highly paid job as if nothing had ever happened.  Nowhere else in the universe in which the rest of live does this happen.

Suppose you have a mundane, 9 to 5, minimum wage job and you see an opportunity to make a few quid on the side.  The chances are, if you are caught, you will be unceremoniously marched off of the premises and prosecuted by your ex-employer.  You may spend some time detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure and when released your misdemeanour will follow you around like a bad smell impeding on your chances of finding new employment.  Your original crime may have only been relatively minor but you receive the full treatment all the same.  This never seems to happen in the case of Chief Executives and Politicians……

Taken to the Extreme……

The United States of America and the United Kingdom are both guilty of wars crimes.  Both have, and are, detaining people without charge and without access to legal representation.  The US admits to torturing detainees and the British Government is guilty of involvement in the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of UK citizens to foreign territories where they claim to have been tortured, and I have no reason to doubt them.  The UK authorities, hiding behind the mantra of ‘national security’, most definitely do not want these allegations tested in an open court.

Wanted01The United States of America has carried out the extra-judicial execution of foreign nationals in Sovereign Countries with which it is not at war.  The UK now has the same ordinance, purchased from the US, under its control.  For what reason is unclear.

The UK and US are also responsible for supplying military equipment to Israel which is in clear breach of numerous UN resolutions – for example; resolution 242 which instructed Israel to dismantle its civilian settlements in Palestinian occupied territory in accordance with Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions.  And whilst the sabre rattling continues against Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, Israel still refuses to agree to the IAEA inspections which take place in all other nuclear states apart from PRNK……

Statistics……

As our elected representatives are so keen on statistics, here’s one for them:  The two chambers seat 1468 MPs and Lords.  With the average crime statistic being 2.07% per head of population, statistically speaking there should be 30 (.38) criminals amidst their ranks.  If we count Chris Huhne as one of them, who are the other 29?  (Answers on a postcard to:  I’m a two faced, conniving, self-interested, narcissist, The House of Commons, London, SW1).

 

It seems that money and power buys you immunity from the law and your status allows you to act with impunity and carries no consequences for actions which would find us ‘plebeians’ facing prosecution and ruin……

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Soldier Killed in Attack on UK Streets……

23 May

‘A British Soldier, Lee Rigby, was brutally attacked and killed in London by two men on Thursday.  This was a vicious crime and our thoughts are with the grieving families, but the media cannot help themselves when it comes to speculation and the chance to score points on the word wide stage……’

 

Perspective…..

Due to the reported ramblings of one of the perpetrators in the immediate aftermath, it has been reported as a revenge attack, carried out to highlight the enormous death toll of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, which in effect it has.  The more mentally stable amongst us would agree that this is not the kind of protest acceptable to the majority but to someone who may be mentally unstable they may feel differently.  This brings me neatly on the way in which it is being reported in the mainstream media.

We have already heard the attackers being called ‘extremists’ and ‘fundamental Islamists’.  Allying  them with them with the distorted western  view of a primitive tribal culture, there may well be some truth to these accusations but before the investigation has begun the language of the ‘war on terror’ is ringing out loudly.  At this stage, I believe we are only able to say categorically, is that these men are mentally ill and a danger to society on the whole.

If they are found to be ‘extremists’ or ‘Islamic sympathisers’ their albeit twisted approach in demonstration against the west’s killing of millions of innocent civilians in ‘the war on terror’ still holds some validity, diminished by their choice of demonstration but valid all the same.  This will of course be buried under the web of propaganda that exists between the ‘loony Islamic Jihad-ist’ and ‘the freedoms and equalities’ imposed by their uninvited liberators.

Imagine……

When it happens on your proverbial doorstep as it were, your immediate response is one of horror and disgust, but project yourself onto a hillside in the Peshawar region of Northern Pakistan early one ordinary morning.  You awake to hear the news that an entire family has been dismembered by an American drone aircraft.  These are the pictures you don’t often see.  The ‘target’ has been identified by ‘intelligence’, sometimes extracted under torture, sometimes with bribes (in one of the poorest countries in the world).  The drone was operating illegally in Pakistani sovereign airspace without their knowledge.

The War of Fear……

I don’t want to see innocent British Soldiers killed on the streets; neither do I want to see innocent Pakistani children killed by drones.  The ‘War on Terror’ is now a ‘War of Fear’, for both sides.  Truth and fiction hold no meaning anymore.

‘The only constant in the War on Terror is the USA & UK……’