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?"

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Premium Bonds or National Lottery?

I have had a number of Premium Bonds for some years, and when interest rates were higher, I got a small prize with reasonable regularity which gave me the equivalent of an acceptable rate of interest (particularly before I retired) and there was always the chance of winning a million!
However, with declining interest rates, and National Savings pretending that they are even lower that they are, I have not won a prize for some while, and of course my capital is depreciating with the current high inflation.
So currently there  seems some advantage of withdrawing my money and investing it in Index-Linked Savings Certificates. These currently pay 1% plus the rate of inflation, which would at least maintain the value of my capital.

Then the thought struck me; Suppose I "invest" the equivalent of the 1% interest each week in the National Lottery? Would I be better of than with Premium Bonds? Certainly I would be maintaining my capital, and in with a chance of a prize.

So let's invest a theoretical £10,000 in premium bonds. According to Money Savings Expert, with average luck this is likely to win me £100 in a year with a 1 in 338,824 chance of winning the £1,000,000 prize.

Now, the 1% on my £10,000 investment in Certificates would bring in a certain £100 per annum, the same as the most likely probability with Premium Bonds.

So what about the lottery? Well Lotto tickets cost £1 each, and so I could buy two a week with my interest money, but the calculations are somewhat more difficult, and I have to admit to not being interested in probability theory all those years ago when I took my "A Levels"!

However, according to the official statistics, the odds of winning the UK National Lottery jackpot prize are a staggering 1 in 13,983,816! The chances of winning any prize at all is around 1 in 54. 
So it seems that if one spends £100 each year, the above figures can be divided by 100 to give the probabilities of winning in the course of the year. Thus the chance of winning the jackpot comes down to 1 in 139,838, which is actually better than that of winning the top premium bond prize. Of course, there is no guarantee as to the size of the lottery prize, and it might have to be shared with other winners.
However, for the lowest prize, with £2 each week, statistically it seems one should win a couple of times a year, albeit a mere £10 minimum prize.

So all in all, Premium Bonds now seem to be a "no-brainer". Is there anyone out there whose maths is better than mine who can confirm my calculations?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Schools - Will there be any savings?

Getting on for thirty years ago, I was one of the parent governors at our local first/middle school. It was a time of falling school rolls and at one meeting we discussed the need to reduce the teaching staff by one in order to maintain the existing pupil-teacher ratio. The local council education office representatives strongly opposed the retention of the teacher and taking this opportunity to improve the pupil-teacher ratio, as suggested by the parents.
I then asked, as someone working in industry where staff levels were strictly controlled, whether there would be a reduction of staff in the "Office" to maintain the Admin to Teacher ratio. Clearly such a thought had never entered their heads as the response was that they were having to take on extra staff to handle the redundancies. They went apocalyptic when I requested that this point should be formally noted in the minutes!

Which brings me to the Government's proposals for education reform. I just wonder how long it will be before the various Councils' education departments actually start to reduce staff and save money. Think of all the teachers and other staff whose contracts, no doubt, have to be transferred from the Council to the individual schools - surely there's work there for quite a few years.  The Council staff will no doubt be re-deployed on other duties, no doubt related to finding fault with the schools in an endeavour to bring them back under Council control.
From my experience, I think it will be years before we see any savings!..

Monday, 24 May 2010

New Policing Policy

The new government has produced a 32 page policy document about their approach to policing, and it was reported in the press that One police source said the policies contained within last week's 34-page programme for government indicated that the new coalition had "no understanding of what policing is about".

I suspect that the General Public have a very different view: that any police officer above the rank of, say, Superintendent has "no understanding of what policing is about" and is more concerned about political correctness than catching criminals and preventing crime.

Thanks to Raedwald for publishing the list of top Metropolitan management.
The are 38 senior officers of the rank of Commander and above. The staggering thing is that they need to be supported by no less than forty-nine senior civilian managers, equivalent to Commander or above.

Do all the UK police forces services have a similar heirarchy.

New York has an elected Police Commissioner, something many would like in the country. I wonder how many office-bound staff of equivalent grades are employed by NYPD?

Sunday, 23 May 2010

True to Life?

When I look at the "Daily Mail" on-line, I do so because I'm a "Fred Bassett" adict.
But this strip cartoon had me wondering as to how many doctors' surgeries have a receptionist like this and whether it is a joke any longer!
"Up and Running".

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Policeman Stabbed - In Serious Condition

Apparently the news of a Thames Valley policeman being stabbed near Bracknell and now in intensive care does not seem to rate a mention on the BBC.
For this news I relied upon "Police Inspector Blog" which quoted the Sun Newspaper (not my normal reading - the Sun I mean!).
Assuming that the Sun has it right why was it not reported on the TV news, or indeed in any of my normal news sources? Is it that stabbing is now such a commonplace event that it is no longer considered a newsworthy event?

I know the Police at times can be heavy handed and at other times just plain stupid, but the majority are doing their best to do a good honest job and deserve public support.

All the more reason to bring back Capital Punishment for murder.

I wish the Officer well.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Reapeal the abolision of Capital punishment!

Today's Daily Telegraph suggests that the general public will be asked which laws they would like to see repealed. If only this were true. What are the odds that the invitation will only apply to certain laws, possibly those enacted by the last government? And what are the chances they will ignore most suggestions from the public?

I've been thinking about which law that I would like changed, and if it were to be limited to just one law, my choice would be to get rid of the legislation which abolished Capital Punishment.

All surveys over the last few years indicate that between 70 and 90 percent of the country would support this but no government even bothers to listen. With knife crime and apparently random murders now on the increase, there is no reason to believe these figures would be any different today.
And of course we would be thrown out of the EU were we to reintroduce it. This, of course, would be a bonus!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Electoral Reform

It seems, if one can believe the political commentators, that the main area of disagreement between the Tories and the LibDems is over electoral reform.
I cannot understand why the Tories seem to be so opposed to any change as the present system whereby they require almost twice as many votes as Labour to secure a parliamentary majority is clearly unfair. And indeed, the general situation whereby Scottish and Welsh voters have proportionately more MPs than English voters, in spite of having their own Assemblies, is to me a travesty.and totally unjustified.
Whether we should move to a proportional voting system is, to me, a separate issue and requires careful consideration of the various options available and the Conservatives are right is proposing that this is a matter for a committee.
But I can see no earthly reason why the Tories and LibDems should not agree on immediate reform to
  1. Equalise the sizes of all English constituencies to within say 5% of each other,
  2. Either increase the sizes of Scottish and Welsh constituencies to say twice the size of those in England to reflect the power of their assemblies or have the same size constituencies as England but no voting rights at Westminster in respect of those English issues where they have devolved powers.
As a UKIP supporter, I must clearly support the LibDems in their quest for reform, but I remain unconvinced about some of the proposed alternatives.
To me,  essential requirements are a specific constituency MP, and the selection of candidates by the local parties and not from party lists as with the EU elections.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Election

I haven't said much about the election because there is really very little to say. My preferences are well known and I have already cast my postal vote for UKIP, although with the huge Conservative majority in this constituency it is but a gesture. Nigel Farrage has my best wishes for Buckingham, where we need someone to oust the speaker otherwise Parliament will continue with "business as usual".

What appals me about this election is that none of the real issues have been publicly discussed by politicians of any party in any detail. Every thinking person believes that swinging cuts are necessary in public expenditure, but there is no real information on how this might be achieved. Indeed, today's Daily Telegraph suggests that Northern Ireland would be immune from cuts if the Ulster MPs were prepared to support David Cameron. Emigration is being discussed by the public of all classes amongst themselves, but everybody speaks in hushed tones for fear of being condemned as racist (or perhaps called a bigot). Unfortunately, this major issue has been totally avoided by the main politicians.

What appals me also is the number of people who will be deciding how to vote, not on the issues, but on things like the charisma of the candidates. The woman interviewed on TV who said that she would be voting Labour because she was sorry for Gordon Brown; the one who said that she thought Nick Clegg looked "nice" on television and so she would be supporting him. Personally, I don't give a damn what the candidate (or his wife) looks like or whether he is a good orator or looks good on TV. I want someone with good qualifications and experience who has achieved something in life and is likely to be able use his talents to run the country. Sadly, I remain unconvinced that more than a handful of the candidates have what the country needs.