Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Brown's catalogue of disasters

I usually avoid writing direct political statements, but feel this is unavoidable. Someone needs to list and point out the disasters the our current Prime Minister has wrought. Before launching into the full rant, I ought to point out that I consider the alternatives to be little, if no, better.

The British Prime Ministers started his catalogue of failure soon after he became Chancellor. He made one smart decision - to move the setting of interest rates out of his command. He then plundered the pension funds, by breaching the concept that pensions were taxed on withdrawal, so money going in, and interest earned on this was tax free. This effectively bankrupted a large number of private pension funds. The consequences of this are still with us, and will be for years - as we can be sure that no new government will reverse this decision.

The comes the Child Tax Credit debacle. Billions of pounds have been lost and overpaid in this absurdly complex scheme. Many people are still being pursued for money that was overpaid. The bizarre logic of the Revenue goes as follows. Yes, you told us the correct figures, and we miscalculated your payments. That is your fault and we should be able to claim back the money. Now if you live in the real world, you tend to spend your income. If the government, or your employer, gives you more money, you spend it. To be asked two or three years later for money back is absurd.

Then we come to the merger of tax and revenue. Why was this necessary? It seems to have been forgotten that this happened because Customs and Excise was a disaster area. Operation Venison showed that they were misleading the courts. Carousel fraud had gone completely undetected and more billions had been lost.

Since then, the new merged department has gone from one disaster to another. The latest cock-up is of momumental proportions, but try regisitering your company for VAT and you will have to wait for months. The previously effective on-line self-assessment systems have collapsed and there is no-one to sue - as tax payers would only be sueing themselves.

The only solution is less government. Much less government. The latest Queen's Speech listed over 20 items of legislation. All this will do is give them more things to cock-up. Stop them now! We need to move to a more logical system. Oh, and please don't trust them with all of our personal data in an ID card. There are at least two commercial companies who could do this, then at least we would have someone to sue.

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