Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 27 June 2010

ACPO Limited - Yes that's The Association of Chief Police Officers

That's right, it is APCO Limited, a private company.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is in fact a private limited company, which for some totally unknown reason is funded with £10million grant from the taxpayer. It also trades, selling a "Police Approved" logo to firms producing security equipment, and trains private organisations in the use of security devices and equipment like speed cameras, etc. It is thus immune from the "Freedom of Information" legislation.

It is this private organisation which seems to govern the way we are policed and has a huge influence over the Home Office which is supposed to be in charge of our policing. More to the point, it is totally unaccountable to anyone other than itself although all those who attend its meetings do so as an official duty and at public expense.

The article in today's  Mail on Sunday is well worth reading.

Now I have no objection to people of any walk of life gathering together to discuss mutual interests. As a professional engineer, I used to belong to the Institution of Electrical Engineers and occasionally attended its meetings. But I did so in my own time and at my own expense, and as far as I know the Institution didn't get a grant from the government.

When the new Home Secretary Theresa May addresses APCO this week, she should make it clear that the Home Office is in charge of policing, not APCO. She should also terminate their government grant; they apparently have something like £15 million in their bank account, so they should be able to get by, even with their lavish banquets, for quite a few years without further money from the taxpayer.

And perhaps she should prevent them from trading on the "Police Approved" logo, etc; if there is money to be made out of this, why isn't it being done by the government or individual police forces rather than by a private organisation which seems to have more control over the policing of this country than our elected representatives.

And whilst is is (hopefully) making changes, the government should perhaps amend the freedom of information act in order to bring within its scope not only this organisation, but any other that is supported by a substantial government grant. They are using taxpayers' money - why shouldn't the taxpayer be able to ask about their activities?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Budget Cuts

I have been trying to make sense of the Budget and how it will effect the population at large. I've read and listened to the various so-called experts, and the first thing that becomes clear is that few of them are experts but rather lobbyists of the various political parties or special interest groups which may be effected, and thus their comment is far from impartial.
My personal view is that government cuts should hit everybody equally as a percentage of their expenditure. I believe that there is no group which should be exempt, even those on benefits. The government has been giving claimants more than it can afford, and hard that it may be, they have to  accept that they need to make cuts as well as everyone else.
Certainly arguments that VAT increases fall disproportionately on the poor don't stand careful examination. Theoretically, the poor should be spending the bulk of their income on housing, heating and food. Basic food is VAT free, but of course if they prefer takeaways, not only are they paying extra tax, but also getting obese in the process. Presumably the poor aren't buying wide screen plasma televisions, computers or indeed petrol on which VAT is paid by the better off.
As a pensioner drawing the state pension in addition to a private pension, I pay tax at the standard rate, and it seems that I will be largely unaffected except for increases in fuel duty and VAT. How the re-indexing of my state pension will affect me, only time will tell.
Both my daughters will be affected as their husbands are higher rate tax payers and any future change to mortgage interest rates could cause a problem.
I don't know any really wealthy people; however one strong argument for not overtaxing them is that they frequently employ staff, which with the present unemployment situation, can only be a good thing. Cut their income, and being businessmen, their first economy will always be to cut staff.

So, provided that one does not accept the Labour argument that the way out of the present crisis is to spend, spend, spend, it seems to be a reasonable budget under the present circumstances. Indeed, there are arguments that it didn't go far enough, but that depends on what savings the government actually intends to make elsewhere.

I'm happy to go along with it so far; its just a pity the Chancellor didn't make one big saving by saying that he was not going to pay any more money to the EU until we all can see a full, independently audited set of accounts showing exactly where all the money is going.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Football and Doughnuts

As the only news on radio and television seems to be football, and my interest in the subject is zero, I have assumed that nothing else is happening in the world.

Well I have noticed something important, the rising price of doughnuts!

I am always reluctant to visit supermarkets, but Mrs EP doesn't like supermarket carparks and usually needs some help to load the shopping into the car. The one consolation, apart from ensuring she buys my favourite biscuits and an adequate quantity of beer, is that the doughnuts at both Sainsbury and Tesco are excellent if you buy them before mid-morning. Now, for quite a long while, in both Tesco and Sainsbury, they cost about12p or so, but suddenly, and more or less simultaneously, they shot up to 17p about a couple of months ago. Worst to come, yesterday in Tesco, they had suddenly gone up to 20p. This represents an inflation rate of 67% in quite a short period!

We haven't been into Sainsbury since (next Tuesday is scheduled), but if their doughnuts have gone up as well, surely this is prima facie evidence of a cartel which should be investigated by the monopolies commission.