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The onset of the recession on the UK High street has not really been noticeable up until now, but is starting to get quite visible.

We live in a small town in England. One could call our county fairly affluent, but it’s still a small town (full of history, too many tourists on Bank holiday weekends, some shabby buildings, some shops stuck in the 1960ies, and hundreds of grannies going about their chores on a daily basis… you know what it’s like).

There are plenty of shops in our town. There has been a move towards “premium shops” in the last 4 years that we’ve been here. A deli opened up and Costa coffee made its mark, loud and proud as it always does, on the main square (at least it’s not Starbucks, I say). But the outlook is changing. Read the rest of this entry »

Much has been said over the past few months about the responsibility of regulators in the current global financial crisis. I’ve written about it myself back in September suggesting that they are yet to acknowledge their role and their own failings.

Three months on, it still seems that the regulators are either in denial, or suffering from a debilitating shock of their own past incompetence, as we are still not seeing much positive change from them. Even with the current obvious trend for greater regulation promoted on the government level, there is no clear evidence of regulators stepping up their game.

What do I mean by that, I hear you say? Well, there are two aspects to this. The first one is about acknowledging regulators’ failure to prevent the financial crisis – and in this, I am going to specifically focus on auditors in this post. The second aspect is about regulators changing their attitudes immediately, not at some point in the future. That would be the subject of another post.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Labour government is making another attempt at welfare reforms. This week, a white paper is being published by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, for discussion proposing a new approach. If effective, this should result in people living on benefits starting to look for work – or risk benefits being slashed, and should be implemented around 2010/ 2011.

I’ve long since felt a sense of bitter outrage that so many people in the UK get a free ride as “tax consumers” living – and some quite comfortably – at the expense of the rest of us. The system is notoriously inefficient and open to abuse. The case of a man who claimed benefits several times over, clocked up a “salary” in excess of £40K per year and only got caught because he carelessly drove to collect his “dues” in a brand new BMW springs to mind – and there are many other cases of blatant fraud.

In total, UK’s welfare bill tops £20bn. That’s pretty shocking in itself.  

What’s much worse is that many of these people bring up their children to believe that it is absolutely OK not to work as the state will provide. And these families can tend to have many kids (which in itself, I feel, is socially irresponsible) – often many more than the national average. That’s a new fast growing brood of brats, many intending to live off us in future. Great – we’ve created a system in the UK that actually encourages people and their offspring to become long-term and life-long shirkers. That surely was not the original intention of creating a welfare state in this country.

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Yesterday’s Queens speech was notable for its omission of the Communications Data bill, the extremely controversial Big-Brother-esque piece of legislation which received a huge amount of opposition in the UK and against which a number of blogs, including this one, have opposed.

Another public consultation on the bill will take place early next year and will aim to discuss problems the government sees in our national security, and proposed ways to tackle these problems.

Back in October, Jacqui Smith “clarified” what the Bill would and would not do:

“There are no plans for an enormous database which will contain the content of your e-mails, the texts that you send or the chats you have on the phone or online. Nor are we going to give local authorities the power to trawl through such a database in the interest of investigating lower-level criminality under the spurious cover of counter-terrorist legislation.” (quote from ComputerWeekly.com)

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