One Hundred Thousand Welcomes - The Kingdom Of Fife

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In a new age of energy conservation, waste recycling and more, one would normally consider the advent of electric automotion cars to be regarded to be a 'good thing' and aiding the preservation of our environment but like 'Ying and Yang', it seems that virtually silent mobility brings surprising problems and in which up to 40% of such vehicles are more likely to hit a pedistrian on account of their quieter characteristics. In practice, we're not talking about slow electric vehicles of old, like milk floats, but rather cars like the 'Nissan Leaf' which can attain can attain speeds of up to 55mph and a have a range of about 75 miles on a single charge under the most idealistic climatic temperatures and circumstances. Trouble is; they're virtually silent! One man was apparently hit twice by the same car driven by the same owner and where the latter decided to sell it after the second incident. (Source:BBC). Such incidents has promoted greater scientific research as to whether electric vehicles present a risk to those highly dependent on Guide Dogs and others with partial sight and/or hearing disabilities. Members of Warrick University are researching a range of artificial noises which could be compulsory on electric cars by 2021. In a recent Radio 4 broadcast, researchers were asking listeners to suggest what kind of noise might be used and inviting one to suggest the bleet of a lamb or maybe a barking dog! Being entirely cynical and unkind, shouldn't the sound be more like a conventional car engine whose pitch and volume changes with the revolutions per minute (RPM) or does that seem too sensible?  
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Sticking with cars, I'm surprised that the 'summertime budget' was calmly accepted by so many organisations since it was definitely one designed to extract more taxation whilst reducing costs and benefits in the welfare area. It sounded good that Chancellor George Osbourne had elected to keep the fuel tax level at the same rate since it's perfectly obvious that the forecourt prices are on the rise again as oil prices increase. The net result is an increase in revenue and allegedly ringfenced for road improvements. Believe that if you will but previous administrations used this tax to support other projects and while a measely 17% of revenue was actually expended on roads!

I suppose it was inevitable that with car makers striving to reach zero carbon dioxide emision that the 'goalposts' would be shifted to make it far harder for motorists to receive major road tax reductions. Although nothing has changed for existing cars, any new car bought on or after 1st April 2017 will be subject to a new road tax system and in which 95% of all new cars with low emission status will benefit for the first year only and thereby pay a road tax of £140 per annum. Given an idealistic scenario, if your shiny new car emits less than 50 g/km, then you pay a £10 road tax fee in the first year and then £140 thereafter. Moving up the scale, a car closer to the former benchmark level of 100 g/km will pay about £120 per annum before also reaching the £140 per annum tax thereafter. In the worst case scenario, a 'bad car' emitting over 250 g/km might incur a road tax of £2000 in the first year and then falling to £140 thereafter. In short, the Chancellor expects to get £140 per annum in road for most cars in the near future. The only way to evade the road tax will be ownership in which CO2 emissions are virtually zero! Cars worth £40,000 or more also receive an additional fee of £312 per annum but i guess if you can afford to buy such a car then you can afford the road tax for it!

Car insurance (plus any other form of insurance) took a knock when the sales tax was hiked from the present 6% to 9.5% effective from November. The principal motoring organisations of the AA and RAC have already expressed concern about how the growng issue of young uninsured drivers might increase as a consequence.
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In the absence of Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osbourne replaced him and made his PMQs debut. In this, he said "the UK is home to 1% of the world’s population, has 4% of world GDP, but has 7% of global welfare spend." Such an apparently rash statement pricked my ears and attention. It just didn't seem possible but then it sounded similar to claims of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s allegation that says, "Europe has 7% of the world’s population, 25% of its wealth, 50% of its welfare spending.” So just how accurate are the British Chancellor's claims? 

Sadly, upon investigation on the Internet, what George Osbourne said was essentially true and which might explain why so many economic migrants from distant African countries seek to settle in countries like Britain. Truth is, I was always a shade in awe when the notion of 'tax credits' was introduced and the kind of sums that it involved. It's a fact that when New Labour was elected into power, they inherited one of the best treasury balances in recent years thanks to the skill and dligence of former prime minister John Major and his administration. It took New Labour just three years to fritter away this massive advantage. By the time, the Conservative-Liberal Alliance replaced New Labour, the threasury was broke and the new government was settled with many expensive contracts that demanded continuance as a less expensive option rather than cancellation. Following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the British econonomy was in a poor state. Throughout that term of office, any suggested reforms of the welfare state was taboo.

Frankly, I'm not  surprised that the new Conservative administration has decided to tackle this issue head-on since it has been a contentious issue right from the start and enabling unscupulous employers to keep to the legal minimum wage while expecting their employees to receive 'top-up' payments from the taxpayers. Ultimately, governments don't generate wealth and don't have any money of their own. Whatever they spend is income taken from the wide variety of taxes applied to the system. In this budget, the news that over 25s will receive a substantially better 'living wage' over the minimal wage legally enforceable at present was welcome. A colleague of mine admitted to me that he, for one, was looking forward to it because it suggested that he was paid less than that level at present and which came as quite a surprise to me. His comment suggested a conundrum that I haven't worked out yet.

In the budget, public sector pay was to be limited to 1% increases but if these targets are to be met then how does a cleaner working on close to minimum wage in a hospital fare as the transfer to a living wage minimum takes place? Does it mean that they receive the biggest slice of a 1% increase budget allocated to the NHS as a whole and where better paid workers receive nothing? Just a thought!

Limiting the amount of welfare paid towards landlords makes sense and particularly if the landlord is reliant on low interest payments of mortgages. Once again, it's example of where landlords can charge what they like and where the taxpayer often foots the bill.

Overall, there are many aspects of the 'summertime budget' that make it one perhaps best remembered as one designed to gather more revenue whilst reducing expenditures on benefits for the unemployed yet tempered by the promise of a higher threshold next year and making it closer to a zero tax balance situation for those on minimal wages. There's not a lot in the budget to be gleeful about for your average British citizen and where we can look forward to higher costs in the future and perhaps offset by the threshold increase.
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It's been a while since I revised the front page of this website and largely on account of employment and work pressures. I apologise for this and will try to do better in future. This month, and by request, we've added another employment resource to the web site and which might aid the search for any form of new employment research.
Editor, FifeServe.Com 

 
 
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