Posts Tagged ‘government’
If you’re middle class, chances are you’re constantly swilling Voigner from a glass as big as your head, and murmuring something about fruity top notes while stirring the cous cous. Unfortunately, wine is bad for you. So the government, (because they drink like fishes as well) want to do something about it.
But instead of telling them to stop boozing, ministers are suggesting that wine should be watered down. Lord Howe, the health minister, is arguing that the minimum strength of wine should be reduced from 8.5% to 4.5%, to protect middle class livers.
According to the NHS, professionals are twice as likely to drink more than poorer people, who are too busy queuing at the food bank to get their drink on at All Bar One.
Lord Howe argues that the market for reduced and low alcohol wines has been increasing in recent years. He said: ‘The Government has consistently made the case for a change to the EU wine rules to permit reduced and de-alcoholised products to be called wines.’
A government spokesman added: ‘We will continue our efforts to change EU wine rules, to allow all wine producers to make and market lower-alcohol products. This will help to help promote healthier choices and tackle the serious harm alcohol causes’.
But surely that’s not the point. Wine buffs don’t want to quietly sip watered down rubbish while they watch the telly. They want robust reds and cheeky whites. They want to gurgle and sniff and spit and drink so much they can’t SEE. That’s the POINT OF WINE.
Maybe they could just encourage the middle classes to drink one bottle less a week and give their wine money to the poor?
No wonder we feel so skint. We are skint. Brits are officially moth-eaten, pond dwelling losers, earning some of the lowest wages in the EU. Even Spain, which has been hit by severe austerity measures, is doing better than us.
House of Commons figures show that the UK’s average hourly wage has dropped by 5.5% since 2010 – which puts us in the bottom four countries along with Portugal, the Netherlands and Greece. Conversely, in Germany and France, everyone is living it up with steins of beer and cheeky absinthes, with wages rising by 2.7% and 0.4% respectively.
With the recent news that British workers will have lost £6660 from their wages by the next election, things are looking grim. Shadow Treasury minister Cathy Jamieson said: These figures show the full scale of David Cameron’s cost of living crisis. Working people are not only worse off under the Tories, we’re also doing much worse than almost all other EU countries.Despite out of touch claims by ministers, life is getting harder for ordinary families as prices continue rising faster than wages.’
Why aren’t we taking to the streets to protest? Well, we would, but we’ve got to don our tabards and put in another shift at Chicken Cottage.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is championing a move to allow shoppers to park on double yellow lines, in a bid to perk up the high street and encourage more business.
Say for example, shoppers want to nip into a shop to buy very large pork pie (not that Eric would do anything like that). They’ll get a 15 minute grace period and they wouldn’t be subject to any fines.
Pickles has called British high streets ‘ghost towns’ and partly blames lack of parking and high parking fees for the exodus of shoppers to larger shopping malls. (Nothing to do with the fact that the high street is made up of two branches of Card Factory and a William Hill.)
Between 2000 and 2007, average parking charges jumped 40 per cent from 86p for two hours to £1.21, and research has shown that shoppers are put off by extortionate charges. However, critics say parking fees are necessary to curb illegal parking and encourage shoppers to use public transport.
AA president Edmund King was less sure about the proposal and recommended a full review of the double yellow system.
‘Rather than just allow drivers to park on double yellow lines, a thorough review of the lines would be more effective. Many double lines are there for historical reasons and could be lifted.There is plenty of opportunity to ease back on the signs and lines in many places, giving drivers short-term waiting bays instead, so they can stop briefly to buy a paper or loaf of bread.’
Where do these people go shopping? TRUMPTON? You need more than 15 minutes to browse the rails at TK Maxx, try on lipstick at Boots, get a fish pedicure and go for a Nandos, mate.
Mary Whitehouse David Cameron is going after porn, because porn is, according to our glorious leader, a “corroding” influence. And there’s us thinking it was just something to whack-off to when you were bored.
Now, every household in Britain with an internet connection will be obliged to declare whether they want to access grot or not. By the end of next year, you’ll have to actively disable smut-filters.
And why is he doing this? He’s doing it under the pretense of child sexual abuse.
He says that “extreme pornography” will be outlawed, even that which only features consenting adults. He also says that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) are going to draw up a blacklist of “abhorrent” internet search terms to identify and prevent paedophiles searching for illegal material.
Of course, he’s not actually going to go after the people who MAKE child abuse videos or indeed, try and go after paedophiles. He’s just going to shout at Google & Co in the hope that, if it disappears offline, everything will suddenly be better. Sending people who want to rape children into the undergrowth, where they’ll be even more difficult to find, doesn’t seem like a good idea.
It has been reported that the prime minister will say: “By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account the settings to install family-friendly filters will be automatically selected. If you just click ‘next’ or ‘enter’, then the filters are automatically on.
“And, in a really big step forward, all the ISPs have rewired their technology so that once your filters are installed, they will cover any device connected to your home internet account. No more hassle of downloading filters for every device, just one-click protection. One click to protect your whole home and keep your children safe.
“Once those filters are installed, it should not be the case that technically literate children can just flick the filters off at the click of a mouse without anyone knowing. So we have agreed with industry that those filters can only be changed by the account holder, who has to be an adult. So an adult has to be engaged in the decisions.”
“There are certain types of pornography that can only be described as ‘extreme’ … that is violent, and that depicts simulated rape. These images normalise sexual violence against women – and they are quite simply poisonous to the young people who see them.”
“I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest. You have a duty to act on this – and it is a moral duty. If there are technical obstacles to acting on [search engines], don’t just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them.”
“You’re the people who have worked out how to map almost every inch of the Earth from space; who have developed algorithms that make sense of vast quantities of information. Set your greatest brains to work on this. You are not separate from our society, you are part of our society, and you must play a responsible role in it.”
So there you have it. Stop weird stuff from appearing online and that’ll fix everything. Not that everyone will easily find a way around this anyway and that, prior to the internet, rape and child abuse existed anyway. Funny how people who want to do illegal things tend to ignore warnings, laws and restrictions and crack on with it anyway…
Young people in England can only dream of home ownership these days, as 1 in 3 houses are now owned by beige warriors over the age of 65. And while they smugly sit on their decking in their amazing mortgage free homes, occasionally yelling ‘it’s all mine!’, the younger generation is forced to put up with landlords who consider a toilet a luxury.
The Government English Housing Survey revealed that 35% of people are forced to rent, the highest figure since 1987, while the amount of pensioners who own their own homes is at a record 30% high.
In 2003, at the height of the property boom, 71% of people were owner occupiers, but that figure has slid to 65.3%. Meanwhile, the number of renters has risen by 2 million.
The Housing Minister Mark Prisk said the government was ‘determined to offer help to anyone looking to get on in life and take that first step onto the property ladder.’ But now house prices are rising again, it seems that even if you want to ‘get on in life’, you’re buggered.
You could argue that older people have worked hard to pay off their mortgages, and therefore should be entitled to enjoy their dotage, using their spare rooms as storage for their spare cash and cigar humidors.
OR, we could demand that they quit hogging all the UK’s prime real estate and move their baggy arses into a nursing home (where they’ll end up anyway). Meanwhile they could donate the houses to young families who actually need the space. Just a thought.
Britain needs a million more affordable houses to rent to avoid a homelessness crisis by 2021, a Cambridge University study has revealed. At the moment, the UK is already suffering a shortfall of 300,000 rented homes at below market prices. In London alone – where it costs a million pounds to live in an old Amazon box under the Westway with the crack fox – the shortage amounts to 190,000.
While the UK bristles with overpriced properties that are ‘stunning’ (ordinary), ‘bijou’ (suitable only for a Lego Minifigure) and boast ‘open aspects’ (view of abbatoir), a lack of cheap social housing will soon be epidemic.
Jack Dromey MP, the shadow housing minister said: ‘This is yet more evidence of the biggest housing crisis in a generation. The Government’s failure is having dramatic consequences for people all over the country.”
Meanwhile the government say they’re building 170,000 new affordable homes to rent by 2015, and are planning to accelerate the building rate.
It’s doubtful that the Tories are really going to put a rocket under a huge social housing project, though, what with their intense hatred of council houses, poor people, devil dogs, curtains drawn in the middle of the day etc. You can bet they’ll want everyone to buy, buy, buy.
So if you are unemployed, an asylum seeker, or on benefits, you should probably get your box sorted out now.
How many grams of fat are in that massive pie you’re eating? Chances are you neither know, nor care – and you probably didn’t read the label (unless you’re on some kind of special high-fat pie diet.)
For a long time, food labelling in the UK has been a mysterious and inconsistent art, with industry leaders unable to agree on universal front-of-pack nutritional information. But finally, a new colour coded system has been designed that everyone can kind of agree on. AND HERE IT IS.
It’s not exactly earth shattering stuff, and quite similar to the ‘traffic light’ system already in use by some supermarkets. But campaigners are praising its simplicity, in that you can see how crap your food is by just glancing at the packet.
The new system will be rolled out across all the major supermarkets over the next 18 months, and food companies like PepsiCo and Nestle will also take it on.
Health Minister Anna Soubry said: ‘By having all the major retailers and manufacturers signed up to the consistent label, we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food – this is why I want to see more manufacturers signing up and using the label.’
But the scheme is voluntary, and some major brands – including Coca-Cola and Cadbury – are refusing to sign up, preferring to use the Guideline Daily Amounts system (and maybe because all the little tabs would be red?). In fact, only around 60% of foods will have the new labels, leaving a fairly substantial amount of shadowy, unmarked cheese puffs and sausage rolls lurking around in the food chain.
Well, sometimes, it’s better not to know.
Consumer watchdogs are welcoming new government proposals to strengthen consumer rights. At the moment consumer laws – especially those relating to online purchases – are murkier than Nigel Farage’s lunchtime pint.
But the ALL NEW draft Bill of Rights, which seeks to simplify rights for businesses and customers, would reform the law on unfair terms and conditions.The bill would also give consumers more power over faulty downloads and digital purchases.
Lib Dem Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said: ‘We want to make sure consumers are confident about their rights in everyday situations, be it their washing machine breaking down or an online game they purchased always crashing. This will also benefit businesses as they are going to spend less time working out their legal obligations when they get complaints from customers.’
The bill would be designed to ease the suffering of hacked off consumers, who currently spend a mind boggling 59 million hours a year complaining, crying down the phone and threatening to firebomb guilty companies.
If the legislation goes through, we could all be looking at more power over the dodgy dealers who sell us terrible services and defective guff and expect to get away with it.
Of course, no story about consumer rights would be complete without a quote from Richard Lloyd from Which! What do YOU think, Richard?
‘The new Bill of Rights will bring consumer law into the 21st century at last, making it easier for everyone to know their rights and giving people more power to challenge bad practices… This will be good for consumers and good for businesses that try to do the right thing by their customers.”
Ricardo, he say yes. That means everything is going to be OK.
He’s planning to announce his bargain bucket shares in a speech in 10 days time, then he’s going to flog them out of the back of a yellow Robin Reliant below the market price. There’ll be incentives built in so that people will hold onto them for several years. (He can also do you 10 lighters for a pound).
Self-serving little get Osborne says this is the ‘right time’ to sell off Lloyds, namely because shares have skyrocketed in the last year from 28.5p to 62.3p. They’re still nowhere near the price they were in 2008, leaving long standing shareholders out of pocket. But crucially, the current share price means the Government has broken even on the price they paid for shares to bail out Lloyds at the height of the banking crisis. So he’s selling them back to us– and he might even throw in a set of cutlery and some plastic crystal wine glasses from Esso.
For his next dodgy, underhand trick, George will come into your house with a bag marked ‘SWAG’ and steal all your possessions, then he’ll sell back your TV, sofa and precious family heirlooms for a slightly lower price than you paid for them. Whatta guy.
Energy tariffs are deeply boring by their very nature. Say the words ‘unit prices’ and the average punter will fall asleep into their cornflakes like a narcoleptic on Nytol. What’s more, despite the Government’s proposal to simplify tariffs, consumers are still finding them too complicated.
When asked by Which! to identify the best deal in a range of tariffs using the proposed Ofgem Tariff Comparison Rate, most people’s mouths flapped open and shut like dying fish and they slumped to the ground clutching their heads saying ‘Unnnnggh’.
Only three in ten people were able to identify the cheapest deal using the Tariff Comparison rate. Which! is calling for a single unit price for electricity and gas, rather than the proposed system, which requires several hours of painstaking comparison and figures scrawled on bits of paper. When they arranged the same tariffs in using a single unit system, eight out of ten people were quickly able to make the cheapest choice.
‘You shouldn’t need a maths degree to work out the best energy deal,’ huffed Richard Lloyd of Which! ‘The complexity of energy pricing makes it virtually impossible for most people to make sense of the market.’
Isn’t that what energy companies are secretly hoping for?
Not content with charging the earth for a Grab Bag of Quavers and a pine forest Magic Tree, service stations seem to think they can charge what they like for petrol, too.
Prices at the pumps at your average motorway services can be 10p a litre higher than elsewhere, but that’s soon going to change, say the Government.
They want to make them advertise their prices on the road, to create competition between service stations and ‘drive’ prices down. So you will never again be stuck at the South Mimms Welcome Break with tears in your eyes and a petrol bill of £2 million pounds. It happens in France already, so it must be good, right?
Pete Williams from the RAC welcomed the proposal, which is currently being drawn up by the Downing Street Policy Unit.
‘This is welcome news for motorists and commercial drivers but we still need motorway services to be transparent and fair on all their prices. They have held the motorist to ransom for far too long – let’s hope that Number 10 encourages them to sort out their food prices and their parking charges too.’
Encouraging words for anyone who has ever had to extend their mortgage so they can buy a Costa coffee and a tuna melt panini that tastes like fish weetabix.
The survey showed 87% of small firms experienced a security breach last year, which is up 10%. For large companies, 93% had also been targeted by ne’er-do-wells online.
The Information Security Breaches Survey, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), found that some of these attacks had caused more than £1 million of damage.
As such, the Government wants to help and have set up a scheme with the Technology Strategy Board, which allows smaller firms to bid for up to £5,000 from a £500,000 pot to improve their cyber security by bringing in experts from outside their company. As well as this, BIS will publish guidance to help small firms make cyber security part of their everyday risk management.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Keeping electronic information safe and secure is vital to a business’s bottom line. Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack. But there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the majority of incidents.”
“The package of support we are announcing today will help small businesses protect valuable assets like financial information, websites, equipment, software and intellectual property, driving growth and keeping UK businesses ahead in the global race.”
Next week: UK Government lose a laptop with small businesses private data on it.
If you’ve given a month’s deposit to a dodgy geezer in a cheap tie and never seen it again, you might be one of the thousands of tenants demanding better regulation of letting agencies.
Unscrupulous letting agents are currently at liberty to run off with people’s hard earned money and refuse to fix urgent problems. But an amendment to regulate letting agents in England will be presented in the House of Commons next week, in a move to clamp down on rogue agencies.
At the moment, complaints about letting agents to the Property Ombudsman have increased by 9% from last year to 8,000. New legislation would make it compulsory for letting agents to belong to an Ombudsman scheme so that tenant’s rights are protected.
‘At the moment anybody could set up as a letting agent. They don’t have to promise to give minimum standards to the tenants or to the landlords.” Said Labour peer Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town.
So if the bill is approved, you’ll no longer be at the mercy of fly-by-night letting agents called ‘Lets Be Honest’ with an office in their mum’s shed. Which can only be a good thing.