Archive for the ‘DPM’ Category

Democracy

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

My understanding of democracy is that decisions are generally based on the majority view. Not necessarily an ideal form of government, but apparently the best we have. Brexit is the result of a majority vote in a referendum. Fairly clear-cut it would appear – a democratic decision.

The Liberal Democrats must understand the principal of democracy – it’s in their name. Why, then, are they intent on overturning that vote and determined to stop Brexit?

Politicians have today decided not to approve a deal with the EU until parliament (the same politicians) has agreed and passed legislation on each element of the parliamentary bill that will be required to make the deal part of UK law. To date they have not been able to agree the deal as a whole. Why is there any belief that legislation will be passed to enable them to agree the deal. If amendments are included in the legislation, won’t that change the ‘deal’? How does that get approved by the EU? The EU have indicated that they will not renegotiate.

The labour party reject the present deal entirely and, along with others, insist on not leaving without a deal.

Isn’t the choice between accepting a deal (there is only one) and leaving without a deal. By rejecting both, the result must be to remain in the EU. This would suggest that all MPs voting against a deal and insisting there must not be a no-deal are intent on remaining in the EU – contrary to the democratic decision arrived at in the referendum. This is democracy in operation is it?

The only conclusion to draw is that there’s a conspiracy (organised or otherwise) to undermine the referendum vote. Neither a general election, nor another referendum, should be allowed to let this succeed.

I don’t agree with referendums. Very few of us are bright enough to adequately judge the multitude of issues involved in complex situations, even if we had all the ‘facts’; [especially if we had all the facts] – much like contemplating the universe.  And to suppose that we would ever have access to, or understand, all the ‘facts’ is fantasy.  But – if a referendum is held, its result must be upheld – not have another one until it gives the result you want.
Who will tell the self-opinionated politicians forcefully enough?   I’m with Boris.

More on MTD and Spreadsheets

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

My post in August 2018 on the imminent demise of spreadsheets (for accounting records) was a little pessimistic and has proved to be wrong – The ‘linking’ software to which I referred (and doubted would be available) has indeed been developed and the one we use – from Absolute Accounting Software, works perfectly, at an affordable price and is as practical as it can be. It links perfectly with our own spreadsheet accounts record file, enjoyed by many and varied small businesses.

Spreadsheet accounting records are not the answer for everyone, but they are for many. With proper controls, the spreadsheets create information that can be translated efficiently into accounts and readily create the VAT returns.

Spreadsheets are ideal for the ‘Cash’ basis of accounting for VAT. A system introduced to aid small businesses and simplify their record keeping. The precise rules for records required by MTD are doing their best to thwart this simplification. The rules require a separate record for each and every ‘supply’ so that the recording of a payment that embraces several invoices for different types of supply, does not satisfy the MTD record-keeping rules. Each separate component of the payment is supposed to be recorded individually. This not only removes the comparative simplicity of the ‘cash’ recording, it makes it very difficult to identify errors, to reconcile the records to bank accounts and creates a significant increase in the number of transactions to record. A far cry from the simplification intended by the ‘Cash’ basis for VAT.

HMRC have relented on the rule to an extent – but further relaxation is required to make many spreadsheet records ‘legal’.

There had been a suggestion that the sanctioning of spreadsheets for MTD would be temporary but HMRC have confirmed there are no plans to prevent their use for the foreseeable future. Undoubtedly, the proper use of accounting software is to be encouraged but the learning curve for many ‘small’ businesses remains an issue. Records maintained badly, without understanding, in a software package, are likely to contain more errors, not less, than a controlled spreadsheet and the resulting accounting figures presented by the poorly maintained software package may be very unreliable and misleading. Far from helping with control of the business, the figures may be detrimental.

Training is the answer, but at what cost? Teaching even keen clients how to post transactions correctly can be a time-consuming challenge – at a cost the small business will not stand. So, at who’s cost? Cloud accounting and collaboration may be an answer – but a cost remains.

For now there remain choices and, as always, its a matter of horses for courses.

Is it only me?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Is it only me that wants to see Boris succeed? My understanding is that he no more wants a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit than anyone else. Is it only me (and him) that understands he needs the ‘No-Deal’ option in order to negotiate?

Removing that option is like having a nuclear deterrent with no means of using it. No-one wants either option to be used, but without them you have no ability to negotiate.

In the days when Boris appeared regularly on the Have I got news for you TV program, the thought that he might one day be Prime Minister didn’t bear thinking about – but Is it only me that believes his approach is the only way to resolve the embarrassing stalemate?

Is it only me that sees Boris as someone who believes in something; not doing it just to gain popularity?  He is also trying to carry out the democratic will of the country.  Far from him being a threat to democracy, the politicians hell-bent on thwarting him are the dangers to beware of. They have demonstrated quite clearly their inability to reach any agreement on how to move forward  – with any strategy, yet alone a solution. But they insist on having a say in the terms on which the UK leaves the EU. How will they ever agree? And that has the result of a ‘No-Deal’ – ‘No Brexit’, contrary to the will of the people. Is that democracy at work? Is it only me that thinks it represents the complete opposite?

Is it only me that wants Boris to be allowed the unencumbered freedom to do his job – on our behalf?

How many MP’s does it take to change a light bulb?

Just one could do it.  But they would all want to be involved and it would be impossible to find two that were willing to turn it in the same direction.

The brightness of the broken light would be a fitting match to the House full of MPs.

TriVia

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Television has the ability to inform and educate, as well as entertain us, but on the evidence of last night’s program featuring the five Prime Ministers in waiting, it is failing miserably on all counts.

Was it the format? Was it the presenter? Was it the candidates – that made it a complete waste of an hour. The time constraints resulted in gabbled answers squeezed between the condescending ‘thank you paddy/taffy/jock for raising that issue’ and the irritating over-talk by the presenter trying to interject some prior quote of the speaker to elicit a response – all in the ‘minute and a half’ allocated. There was also no attempt to stop several candidates speaking at the same time, principally because SHE was too busy trying to get in her two-penn’orth Where are the Richard Dimbleby’s when you need them?. Of course, even HE wouldn’t get the job these days would he? What bloody nonsense!

The only entertaining bit was watching Boris stumbling for how to address the questioner who’s name he couldn’t recall. Boris is more like the rest of us. Shall we be saying to him soon ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?

Why is it that people have difficulty understanding the concept of negotiating. No-one (in their right mind) would want to leave the EU with ‘no deal’, but no-one (in their right mind) would let the opposition know that you would not be willing to.

TV’s biggest problem in presenting this sort of program is scheduling, time constraints. There is not enough time to allow anything meaningful to be said. Having said that, there is a limit to how much time anyone would want to listen to five politicians spouting a response to the same question – and several questions to boot. ’tis a dilemma. There are too many candidates for this approach, too little time. But the program makers should know this. There is no intention to inform or educate – just titivate, hoping someone will fall on their (s)words.

No-one would be satisfied with the politicians’ responses. The questions were impossible to answer in the sound-bite language required from such TV programs. ‘Will you be willing to leave the EU on 31st October with No Deal’? The answer is ‘Yes’ – whether you would or would not.

This program was not a debate, it was a debacle – contrived by poor format and poor presenting, and doing neither the candidates, the process nor politics, nor us, any favours.

Democracy gone wrong – otherwise known as Brexit

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

What do politicians think they are achieving by trying to arrive at an alternative compromise that a majority will support? What makes them believe that their compromise will be acceptable to the other 27 EU states? What makes this disjointed bunch of self-opinionated, self-important representatives think they can arrive at a better option than has been achieved through years of meetings and negotiations? They cannot even agree amongst themselves.
We elect politicians to help govern the country with a view to making life tolerable and as bearable as possible for as many people as possible. They, in turn, elect a committee (the Government) to decide, largely, on policies to be carried out. The Government is charged with decision making and negotiations to enable their policies to be actioned.
In this one instance (one too many in my view) a decision was delegated back to us – to remain in or leave the EU. The decision was to leave. It was never expected that we would each have our say in the detailed decisions necessary to achieve our exit from the EU. Why would individual politicians believe they should have a say either? There was a committee to do that – the Government. It was their job to arrive at as good a deal as possible. The deal could not be a unilateral one. It had to be acceptable to the other member states.
Why, in all of this, would the Irish border (between north and south) not be an obvious issue? Unless you have a common market with no tariffs between countries, how can you have the free passage of goods from one country to another? Yet another Irish problem.
In any negotiations there is never an outcome that universally satisfies everyone. Could I or you have done any better? Does anyone believe that our MPs, individually or collectively could have done any better? We have a Government, given the responsibility to negotiate a deal, which they have done. It’s time to leave.
What is the logic or the benefit of asking ordinary people to decide on a matter, the complexity of which is far greater than most of us could comprehend? – much like the universe. Even if we had all the facts (and fantasies) at our disposal, understanding it would be beyond most of us. It’s why we have Governments and Civil Servants.
The future result of either decision – to stay or leave – could never be known. It represents a leap of faith. Many subsequent events, unrelated to the leave or stay decision, will impact on the ultimate outcome of that decision.
The current mess outlines why democracy can be a very bad form of government. In this case the MPs have taken the concept of democracy too far – they think they have a say. Just as well they don’t try to meddle in every decision. And what on earth has Teresa May’s resignation got to do with whether or not to support ‘her’ deal?

Full of ..it

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Last week I listened to Chris Evan’s Breakfast show on Virgin Radio and have realised he (to quote a phrase oft-used in the comedy drama, ‘Suits’) is ‘full of ..it’.

One of his reasons for deciding to leave the BBC was that he believes we are either ‘mountain climbers’ or ‘mountain observers’.  He regarded himself as a mountain climber, and that, if he stayed any longer at the BBC (Breakfast show), he would become an ‘observer’.

His attempt to conquer Top Gear may be regarded, for the purpose of his metaphor, as mountain climbing.  Unfortunately he didn’t make it beyond base camp.  He is obviously more suited to mountain observing as evidenced by his move ‘lock, stock and barrel’ from the BBC to Virgin.  He’s simply observing from a different valley.

I do not agree with awarding jobs to satisfy some gender equality quota, but I do wish Zoe Ball every success with her version of The Breakfast show.  As far as Chris Evans is concerned, there was no intent to mountain climb, rather to slither from one studio to another.  I do not deny he is good at what he does, but no question either that he is full of ..it.

 

 

More on Making Tax Digital – Demise of the Spreadsheet

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Tim Fouracre (founder of accounting software Clear Books) has suggested that HMRC’s concession to allow the continued use of spreadsheets for MTD is a ridiculous backward step; that HMRC are missing an opportunity to correct all the VAT errors, supposedly caused by spreadsheet records.
If Tim Fouracre believes that all business records maintained using software such as Clear Books are accurate and without error, then he inhabits a different world to me. He refers to ‘garbage in – garbage out’ as though it applies exclusively to the use of spreadsheets. I can assure him it does not.
I would not disagree that accounting software, operated correctly and as originally intended by the developers, is capable of providing correct accounts, VAT records and meaningful information for business owners. If he believes all accounting software is operated in this way and that businesses actually make use of the potentially useful information available from the software, I would welcome a visit to his planet.
We have a controlled spreadsheet capable of producing the basic information from which to prepare accounts and creating the necessary figures for VAT returns. The reason we advocate its use is the comparative ease with which clients can understand how to use it and continue to use it correctly.  In spite of this and in spite of HMRC’s apparent concession, our very practical spreadsheet solution is unlikely to survive MTD.  It is unlikely that any software will be developed capable of integrating with a multitude of spreadsheet formats sufficient to satisfy the ‘link’ requirement between the original spreadsheet record and the API facility transmitting the information to HMRC.
In theory this should represent more work for us – helping, teaching, correcting – but at a cost affordable to the very small businesses involved?  If not, who do you think picks up the cost?

Why don’t they join up the dots

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

According to HMRC, around three million couples across the UK have boosted their finances by claiming the Marriage Allowance, but more than a million married and civil partnered couples are still eligible for the free tax break worth up to £238 a year.

Thanks to the start of the new tax year couples can backdate their claim and boost a potential tax refund to a possible £900.

HMRC further announced:

Applying for Marriage Allowance is quick and easy and once an application is complete it’s processed immediately. The new online form takes fewer than ten minutes to fill out and eligible customers will receive backdated claims of up to £662 as a lump sum. Over 300,000 couples have signed up for the Marriage Allowance tax break since March 2018.

Which is all very well, but if HMRC can estimate the numbers of couples that are still eligible to make a claim – the 1 million referred to above – then why don’t they simply re-allocate the allowances automatically? Obviously, HMRC would need the permission of the partner who was transferring their spare personal allowance but HMRC could set up a much slicker digital process to cope with the formalities?

Surely most of the one million taxpayers will not have access to HMRC’s press releases, and this is precisely why there are still one million couples who have not claimed?

Perhaps the department that is tasked with developing the Making Tax Digital technology should get involved?

If you are reading this post and either you or your civil partner/spouse have income below the personal tax allowance (£11,850 for 2018-19, and equivalent amounts for earlier years) then follow this link to make a claim: https://www.gov.uk/apply-marriage-allowance.

As an addendum to this post I can see that data protection is relevant here.  If HMRC even suggested to the potential transferor that they could transfer part of their personal allowance to the spouse, it would be confirming that the spouse was a basic rate taxpayer.  Not all couples are open with their financial affairs and it would be wrong to disclose any such information.

Tax collecting at its most robust

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

The following is an extract from a tax coding notice issued to one of HMRC’s ‘customers’ recently:

Tax you owe – earlier year
We previously told you that you owe £0 tax from an earlier tax year. We have therefore included an adjustment to reduce your tax-free allowance by £1 so we can collect the £0 tax in equal instalments. To make sure you pay the £0 by 5th April 2019, we will increase the amount of tax deducted from your wage, salary or pension.

You couldn’t make it up!

‘cos I was there

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

At the weekend I was reminded of the Max Boyce tour, many years ago, in the (19)70s, that he called ‘I was there’. He had stories and songs about events that he knew were true “ ’cos I was there’ “. That was 40 years ago, when both Max and I were (just) in our 30s.

Well, last weekend (18th November), I joined him in the 70s. We may not have sung hymns and arias but we did have dreams and songs to sing – and not alone. My special treat from Christopher and Timothy (and I can’t tell you how special) was a 1st class trip to Liverpool. 1st class, not only in content, but in travel as well. I’d never travelled 1st class before.

The alarm was set for 4:00 am. Although this was early, it is only one hour before my alarm normally goes off. Timothy had pre-booked the train tickets and we headed to Huntingdon station together to catch the 6:00 o’clock train. Timothy’s geography has never been very good, evidenced by the fact we were now travelling south – to Liverpool?. Unusually for us, we met up with Christopher at Euston without a hitch, and had time for a drink before taking our seats (1st Class) on platform 7 – the train on platform 7 – bound for Liverpool. I know what you were thinking, but, yes, it was the right train (this time).

Although it’s a fairly long journey, it passed very quickly. I’d never been to Liverpool before. Rarely been north of Sleaford, to be honest. We headed for the Liver building for the LFC hospitality lounge. Took photos, had a drink and three course meal – all before 12. Well, it was 5:00 o’clock somewhere. After a few tales from John Aldridge it was on the coach for Anfield. From where the coach dropped us, it warranted another bus ride to the ground, but we walked together amidst the myriad of other supporters arriving in droves in anticipation of another successful game – optimism is rife.

Scarves were purchased – not because it was cold – mainly to avoid any more piss taking for when I next held a scarf above my head it wasn’t a plain brown one (that I had taken with me). We were a little apprehensive about the seats we had – Block U, top corner of the main stand, adjacent to the Kop. Were they so modestly priced for a good reason? Might there be an obstruction? Would we actually see any of the game? We climbed the steps to Block U9 – what a magnificent sight it was – a perfect view of the pitch, the Kop, and beyond the stadium to see the afternoon sky turn to dusk – could not have been better.

It is true the pitch and players resembled a Subbuteo game but it was perfect. Players were identified by anything other than their faces, but the challenge enhanced the experience and in no way detracted from it. We watched the players warming up and the ground filling up. I had never been this early to a match before – it was a far cry from the windswept terraces of the Posh ground in Peterborough that I recalled from far off days. The atmosphere was nothing but friendly and excited anticipation of a good game to come. No sign of troubles that plagued soccer grounds for many years. Seated around us were familiar faces from the hospitality lounge.

We had dreams and songs to sing. I am stirred by the sound of a male voice choir, especially when they’re singing a rousing song, and I can safely say that 50,000 football supporters, filling a football stadium, make a very good choir. The singing may not be pitch (excuse the pun) – perfect but the singing of You’ll never walk alone (YNWA) did not disappoint. It was everything I’d anticipated it to be, and more. It stirs the soul. I could have left at that point and would have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the day – but we stayed, and watched an exciting, entertaining game of football, made all the more enjoyable by the 3-0 Liverpool win.

The journey home was not without incident – wrong train, someone else’s seats, that sort of thing – and it takes longer to come home than to go, (it doesn’t really, it just seems that way). It was a very long day, wouldn’t have missed it for the world, made the more enjoyable to share it with my two sons and my sincere thanks to them for organising it, paying for it, and for sharing it with me on my 70th birthday (the actual day). It was a Happy Birthday to me. I had often hoped one day to go to a Liverpool match, and now I have.

With hope in your heart, you’ll never walk alone – I had hope, and I didn’t do it alone – thank you. And, on this occasion, like Max Boyce, I too can say all this is true – ‘cos I was there!