Steven Severin presents Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr

Founder member of Siouxsie and the Banshees provides music for a screening of Carl Dreyer’s classic silent horror, Vampyr, and the Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, onSaturday January 21, 7.30pm.

Tickets £10, box office 01274 233200, theatre@bradford.co.uk.

A Brief History of Hawking and Epiphany church service

A Brief History of Hawking and an Epiphany church service are in the pipeline and should be online at Liberation Radio by the end of the week.
The former, celebrating Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday and engaging with his pronouncement that "creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god" and that our universe was created out of nothing, includes the actual "voice" of the DECtalk DTC01 voice synthesiser which he controls by twitching he muscles in his cheek.

The Epiphany service includes music from Blondie, T.S. Eliot’s reading of his poem, The Journey of the Magi, Annie Lennox singing the Coventry Carol, and an a capella rendering of the traditional carol, King Herod and the Cock, as well as the usual readings and prayers.

You can follow our broadcasts and church services at http://bit.ly/liberation-radio.

Under cyberattack

We most be doing something right, because we’ve been under cyberattack for the past week, rendering three of our servers inoperable.

Naturally, God has enabled us to triumph over this, but readers of this blog should beware because it’s unlikely that our attackers will leave this system free of their ministrations.

 

Like the man said: Take it easy . . . but take it!

Youtube test

I’m supposed to be able to drag’n ‘drop a video into this posting, but I’m not sure if it’ll work, so here goes:

Emailing your MP about the NHS

Have a look at this:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

For a year Andrew Lansley has refused to release a report into the risks of his NHS plans, written by his own Department of Health. Now the Information Commissioner has ordered him to publish it. But he could still keep it hidden for another month – until after key votes on his plans have taken place.

We can’t afford to wait that long. The House of Lords is debating the NHS plans right now – if the report on risks to the NHS is released immediately, it could persuade key members of the House of Lords to stand up to the government.

Let’s raise an uproar in Parliament and force Lansley’s hand.

It took me two minutes to e-mail my MP to ask them to call for this report to be released straight away. Can you email your MP right now?

Click to send your MP an email:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

Here’s a specimen text:

Subject The NHS risk register
Message The Information Commissioner has ordered Andrew Lansley to release the “risk register” on his plans to change the NHS. I’m concerned however that Secretary of State Lansley may try to delay publication until after key debates on his plans have already taken place.

Please could you write to Andrew Lansley as my MP and ask him to accept the ruling of the Information Commissioner and release the report immediately?

In my humble opinion, it is vital that all information, advice and analysis etc should be in the public domain. No secrecy.

Mr Lansley’s plans will affect us all, therefore we should all know what is going on; the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Certainly no omissions. Let us all be fully informed and apprised of the benefits (if any) and costs of all government proposals.

E-petition against cuts to benefits and services

Hi All,

This petition is to:

Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families

It reads:

“We ask the government to stop this massive programme of piecemeal change until they can review the impact of all these changes, taken together, on disabled people and their carers. We ask the government to stand by its duty of care to disabled people and their carers. At the moment the covenant seems to be broken and they do not feel safe. Illness or disability could affect any one of us at any time, while many more of us are potential carers.”

To sign the e-petition against cuts to benefits and services, click here

Emmerson

Fair Taxes now – stop the offshore VAT dodgers!

We should all pay our fair share of taxes. In an age of austerity and spending cuts, tax avoidance is morally unacceptable: It effectively amounts to robbing from the poor.

What is the problem?

· The gap between rich and poor continues to widen. The UK is more unequal than at any time for at least the last 50 years. The UK generates great wealth, but distributes it unequally. This is not just or sustainable.

· Inequality makes things even worse for everyone – not just for the poorest. There comes a point at which the gap between rich and poor is so great that society starts to be run for the benefit of the rich and not for the common good. This gap is not an Act of God, it can be traced to specific policies which can be challenged and changed: One aspect of this is the Tax Gap.

· The Tax Gap is officially defined as the difference between the amount of tax actually collected and the tax that should be collected, if all individuals and companies complied with Parliament’s intention in setting tax law (‘the spirit of the law’).

According to the Government’s own official estimates, the UK Tax Gap stands at £35 billion a year, others estimate the figure to be much higher.

· Corporate tax avoidance, mainly by big business, is estimated to be costing the taxpayer anything between £25-100 billion per annum. To this amount into context, the current Government is seeking to cut public spending by an average of £30 billion per annum over the lifetime of the current parliament.

The Churches’ task is to enable all people to enjoy life in all its fullness, to speak out and challenge unjust structures and practices which deny people this God given opportunity. Tax avoidance is one such practice.

Tax avoidance is the process of getting round taxation law without actually breaking it, a report prepared by tax specialist Richard Murphy for the TUC in 2008 (The Missing Billions: The UK Tax Gap) revealed that the amount of tax lost to avoidance and planning is a number bigger than most might ever imagine. It estimated that £25 billion annually is lost from tax avoidance. This is made up of £13 billion p.a. from tax avoidance by individuals and £12 billion p.a. from the 700 largest corporations.

Estimating these figures involved an original detailed analysis of several sets of Government data and further analysis of 344 sets of accounts published by the UK’s fifty largest companies covering a seven-year period.

The result of this is that the UK tax system is not nearly as progressive as Parliament intended and as social justice requires.

Individual tax avoidance

If you are wealthy enough, apparently, other rules apply. With the right accountant, paying taxes (or not paying taxes) is a matter of choice. And for some, paying tax is to be avoided at all costs.

Top Premiership footballers like Wayne Rooney and Gareth Barry, avoid millions of pounds in tax – and it’s all legal. They are able to use complex tax avoidance schemes based on their ‘image rights’ that allow them to pay as little as two per cent on the earnings. According to press reports, Rooney has saved almost £600,000 over the past two years by using the tax loophole.

In the case of individuals, tax avoidance usually takes the following forms:

· shifting income from the person who should really pay tax to someone else;

· moving transactions out of the UK

· changing the nature of transactions, in particular so that income is subject to Capital Gains Tax rather than income tax

· abusing the law on limited companies.

But its big business who are the really big tax dodgers. Companies have more opportunity than individuals to avoid and plan for tax. This is, in particular, because they operate internationally, opening avenues for tax planning and avoidance between territories that no individual can exploit. This is why the rate of tax lost to corporate tax planning and avoidance is found to be greater as a proportion of tax actually paid than that for individuals.

Have you ever bought CDs or DVDs on-line from the likes of Tesco and Amazon and wondered why they have been shipped from Jersey? A straightforward tax avoidance scheme, described on Tesco’s own website, to avoid paying VAT. The cost to the Treasury? £140 million a year.

The Missing Billions report based its findings on original research of the fifty largest companies in the UK and showed that:

· The fifty largest companies almost always pay 5% less tax on average than they declare in their accounts.

· The average tax rate paid by these companies fell by more than 0.5% a year over a seven-year period to 2006, even though the UK tax rate for these companies was constant throughout that time – as a result, the de facto corporation tax rate for UK companies in 2006 was 22.5% when the actual rate agreed by Parliament was 30%.

· If this de facto tax rate was the official tax rate it would place the UK 16th in a table of corporation tax rates for the EU 25 with France the highest and Malta the lowest – it would also mean that the UK had the lowest corporation tax rate of the Western European economies with the exception of Ireland.

· By the end of 2006, the cumulative tax savings recorded in the accounts of the fifty largest companies was £47 billion; this actually exceeded the total tax paid by all companies in 2006 by some £2 billion.

98 of the UK’s top 10 largest corporations operate between them a network of over 8,400 subsidiary companies in ‘offshore’ tax havens, potentially allowing the companies and their clients to avoid huge sums in tax.

Putting the numbers in context

When trying to understand the importance of tax avoidance, it is worth considering the impact of the loss of tax income on the Government’s ability to fund socially desirable activity in the UK.

· A third of the amount lost in tax avoidance by the UK’s 700 largest corporations could increase the child tax credit by enough to halve child poverty in the UK.

· Just under half of the total amount lost to tax avoidance would pay for a 20% increase in the state pension or could reduce the basic rate of income tax by 3p in the pound, or could build an extra 50 hospitals.

On 30 June, the UK Treasury unveiled new proposals on tax avoidance, which will effectively hand out millions of pounds every year to multinational businesses.

Hidden under the bland title of ‘proposals on Controlled Foreign Companies’, the plans amount to a big relaxation of anti-tax avoidance rules. Advocates of the policies say that it will increase the UK’s ‘business competitiveness,’ but what it actually offers is big incentives for companies to shift their financial operations ‘off-shore’ – to tax havens such as Jersey, Guernsey or the Cayman Islands – as a means of avoiding paying UK taxes. Even on the Treasury’s own estimates, this will cost £840 million in lost taxes a year.

We can tackle the tax gap by pressing for a tax system in which businesses and individuals pay their fair share, tackling widespread tax avoidance will reduce the need for further damaging cuts in public spending.

This can be achieved through a combination of improved transparency and stronger anti-avoidance measures:

Improved transparency:

· The European Union and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) should introduce country-by-country reporting: One of the main targets of Christian Aid’s current Trace the Tax campaign.

· Stronger International Tax Information Exchange Agreements covering tax havens

· Increased pressure on the accountancy profession to improve professional conduct on tax

Stronger anti-avoidance measures:

· The UK Government should legislate to introduce general tax-avoidance principles

· Increased resources for HM Revenue and Customs to tackle large scale corporate tax avoidance

Pressure by the UK Government to reform UK-linked tax havens (including Jersey, Guernsey, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man)

You can take action by supporting the Church Action on Poverty (CAP) – Close the Tax Gap campaign by clicking here.

Emmerson

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