Monday, 22 December 2008

Santa Claus puts Gordon Brown on the 'Naughty List'

Santa Claus has this year placed Gordon Brown on the naughty list, and thus the Prime Minister will not be receiving any presents.
Conservative Future activists obtained a leaked document showing that the Prime Minister has been moved to the naughty list in reaction to the large debt he is placing on future generations.

The leaked document, from Lapland's Department of Poetic Justice, shows that other prominent politicians have also been added to the naughty list:

Alistair Darling – for his part in saddling the future generation with huge debt and tax increases.

Michael Martin - for not teaching the Sergeant at Arms that the Police need a warrant before searching a premises/Parliamentary office.

Jacqui Smith - for her bullying students to get an ID card in order to obtain student loans.

Commenting Lincolnshire Conservative Future Area Chairman, Giles McNeill, said:

"OK, so this story is a bit of fun, but it has a serious message at its centre: the politicians who are on this list have performed a grave disservice to young people of both Lincolnshire and this country.

"The people on this list have eroded democracy, scored cheap political points, recklessly borrowed for electoral gain and, just for good measure, are leaving the next generation with a huge bill to pick up - all in a vain attempt to remedy the follies of the last eleven years."

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

New blow to Lincolnshire’s housing market from new HIP fines and red tape

New Home Information Pack rules will hurt housing market

Giles McNeill, Prospective County Council Candidate for the Nettleham & Saxilby Division, expressed concern today at the announcement by the Government that Home Information Pack regulations will be tightened, pushing up the costs for Lincolnshire’s residents trying to sell their home. This will include forcing town halls to become more aggressive in issuing fines for breaching the burdensome rules. Home Information Packs became compulsory for all homes one year ago on 14 December.

Government research into Home Information Packs has recently found that there is minimal public knowledge and interest in HIPs; that the industry thinks they are a waste of time; that they duplicate costs and that buyers are not bothering to consult HIPs. Yet the Government has announced the following changes:

• Heavy-handed fines: Town halls will be instructed to “identify specific cases of non-compliance and enforce the requirements”. This raises the prospect that Lincolnshire County Council will be forced to start fining home owners £200 a time who do not follow the rules.

• Making it more difficult to advertise your home: From April 2009, the Government is cancelling the “first day marketing” provisions. These allow sellers to place their home on the market if a HIP has been ordered, but has not yet been completed. The cancellation will be mean that sellers will have to wait longer before they can put their home on the market. They will be fined if they advertise their property without a HIP.

• Gold-plating the Packs: The time to complete a Pack will increase, as sellers must personally fill out a detailed new ‘Property Information Questionnaire’ as part of the Home Information Pack. Yet this will be of little interest to buyers, who will instinctively treat information provided by the seller with a touch of scepticism.

Giles said:
“Home Information Packs have already harmed the market and discouraged sellers. The last thing Lincolnshire needs is the prospect of heavy-handed fines being levied by town hall officials.

“The housing market is on its knees and Labour’s response is to make it more difficult and expensive to sell your home.

“Conservatives will scrap Home Information Packs. If anything, Ministers should be using their emergency powers to suspend HIPs and provide a shot in the arm to Lincolnshire’s ailing market.”

Monday, 8 December 2008

Lincolnshire’s pubs being ripped off in tax inspectors’ cover-up

Government hides admission that pubs are paying too much in rates

Local pubs in Lincolnshire are being denied business rate cuts by the Government, Giles McNeill, Prospective Conservative Candidate for Lincolnshire County Council in the Nettleham & Saxilby Division, warned today. Pub landords could be paying thousands of pounds over the odds in tax, but are being kept in the dark by Government tax inspectors who want to avoid paying out tax refunds.

This follows a revelation earlier this year that tax inspectors were hiding the fact that hundreds of thousands of homes could be paying too much council tax. The tax officials kept quiet about the information to save money and save face.

• Five pubs closing every day: The British Beer & Pub Association has estimated that pubs are now closing at the rate of 36 a week - five a day. They are paying a heavy price for smoking ban, fragile consumer confidence, ruthless competition from supermarkets and – not least – higher beer taxes imposed by Gordon Brown.

• Government guidance on taxing pubs: Parliamentary Questions have brought to light unpublished internal guidance by the Valuation Office Agency (an arm of HM Revenue & Customs) on how local firms should be charged business rates. It admits that they have been giving out the wrong advice to firms on the effect of the smoking ban. Until recently, tax inspectors refused to give any business rate reduction for the loss of custom due to the ban. Their latest guidance now admits – thanks to advice from top lawyers – that the smoking ban represents a ‘material change’. Pubs can use this to make a claim for a lower ‘rateable value’ and so cut their yearly rates bill. For example, a £5,000 reduction in rateable value would save publicans £2,300 a year in tax.

• Local firms kept in the dark: Pubs can only apply for this tax cut if they make an appeal and fill out complex paperwork. The Government has made no announcement about potential refunds to local pubs across England and Wales. The Government is happy to hike tax bills, but it will not tell people when their bills could fall. Business rates are the third biggest cost to local firms after rent and staff costs.

Giles said:
“Local pubs in the villages that comprise the Nettleham & Saxilby Division are a vital part of our social fabric and community life. Whilst big pub chains may be making money out of Labour’s new drinking laws, small everyday pubs are suffering from the combined onslaught of higher beer taxes, a weakening economy, supermarkets selling alcohol below cost price and the smoking ban.

“Whatever people’s views on the smoking ban, it has had a major impact on many pubs. The Government’s own tax inspectors have now admitted that pubs may be eligible for refunds on their business rates, but local pub owners are being intentionally kept in the dark about this U-turn. This is yet another tax cover-up from the same inspectors who have conspired to hide council tax errors.

“Ministers are only interested in changing the tax system when it raises extra money for Gordon Brown’s coffers. Thanks to Whitehall secrecy and this stealth pub tax, local firms are going to the wall and everyday pub-goers are being hit in the wallet.”