Emphasis On Queue Times Causing Border Staff To Neglect Other Duties

A recent report pointed that the pressure at the UK borders was too high so staff there were made to cut down on searches in order to reduce queues and perform full passport checks.
The pressure had to be lowered during the Olympics last year, when the home secretary Theresa May used to receive current information about the queues every day.

These measures led to cutting queue times and now the Border Force tries to keep this achievement.
Some say these measures are not right because many duties need to be neglected so that the queue time drops. Some of the things missed are searching vehicles for illegal immigrants and checking travelers for contraband.
According to NAO these changes could mean that queues are more important than some aspects of performance which may later turn out to be dangerous.
The home secretary has to be informed about any failure to carry out a full passport check.

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In the words of Labour, the lack of sources was to be blamed for the failings.
Between April 2010 and March 2012, Border Force staff fell from 8,023 to 7,527 but funding will be increased for the next year so the number of staff is planned to reach 8,477.
Margaret Hodge from the public accounts committee commended the Border Force for reducing queuing times at the Olympics, but added: “…it is deeply worrying that this came at the expense of its other responsibilities, particularly customs. The Border Force must be able to check both goods and passengers at the same time – border security cannot be an either/or choice.”
Immigration minister Mark Harper blamed the previous government for many of the current problems.



Google competition plan ‘not good enough’ – EU official

As an answer to the accusation that Google uses its 90% market share of internet search in Europe to popularize its own services, the company answered they would change the way some results are displayed.

However, European Commission competition chief Joaquin Almunia commented that Google’s proposal was not good enough. By the way, have you seen The Legal Stop`s corporate document templates?

On Wednesday Mr. Almunia said: “I concluded that proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns”.

Al Verney, Google’s spokesman said their offer was in force only on the areas of concern that the EU mentioned.

Those were:

  • how Google favours its own services in its search results
  • how it displays content from other websites
  • how it manages adverts appearing next to search results
  • how its actions affect marketers’ ability to buy adverts through rival networks

Both Google and the commission mentioned they were ready to reach a settlement.

The proposal of Google, which came in April, was to start displaying links to rivals close to where it displayed its own services on its results page.

Another proposal was that the results of YouTube, Google Maps and its other sites would be more clearly labeled.

Other companies, on the other hand, said these steps would not be enough in order to show any progress.

“It is clear that mere labelling is not any kind of solution to the competition concerns that have been identified. Google should implement the same ranking policy to all websites,” Microsoft said in April.

Google’s proposals were submitted to the complainants, who in this case are a group of businesses including Microsoft, Expedia and Trip Advisor.

A study of UK web users commissioned by the group, suggested that one in five of the 1,888 people studied clicked on Google’s commercial web services, and only one in 200 clicked on its rivals’.


Army redundancies: Soldiers told of fate

The government had planned to cut the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000. Only for the latest job cut almost 4,500 Army personnel found out they were unnecessary.

According to ministers Army needed to be more flexible so these cuts were compulsory.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that about 84% of these 4,480 Army personnel were volunteers for the redundancy.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

“Although smaller, our Armed Forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need.”

However, Jim Murphy the shadow defence secretary said these cuts were nothing else but a failing strategy.

By 2017 the number of regular soldiers need to reach 82,000 and those of reservists has to increase from15,000 in 2010, to 30,000 in 2018.

In the words of the BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt the government had to make these redundancies because of the announced in 2010 cut in the budget of the MoD.

She added this was an unsettling process not only for the soldiers but also for their families.

The day of the redundancies was a difficult one for all those who were told they would not be part of the Army any more. These people had to be given some time in order to find a place for living and a job.

What was announced was that despite these redundancies the Army had to sign employment contracts with 10,000 new soldiers and officers this year, as well as 6,000 reservists.

The total number of recruited operational staff between October 2010 and February 2013 for the Army, navy and air force together is more than 35,000.

The Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said:

“By doing things differently and by making sure that we focus our military manpower on the jobs that absolutely have to be done by people in uniform, we shall be able to sustain a brigade in the field on an enduring basis, and put a division into the field when we need to. We’ll still be able to deal with the challenges of the future.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, also stated that British army was a strong one and the country had to be proud of it.


Cameron To Appeal To EU Summit For Action On Tax Avoidance

Prime Minister David Cameron is about to ask other EU leaders to consider joining him in the fight against tax avoidance.

This idea came to him because of the rising dissatisfaction in the UK against such companies as Google, Amazon and Starbucks that do not pay as much tax as they have to, as shown in some corporate documents.

This is one of the things recently added to the agenda not only of the UK but also of Germany and France.

According to the latest researches EU loses about 1 TRILLION euros every year because of tax evasion and avoidance and of cource some speculations with the legal documents.

This is why the PM has decided to make all EU members work together and share information with each other so that everybody knows which organizations do pay taxes and which do not.

Before the summit the PM sent to all EU leaders a letter suggesting a “multilateral automatic information exchange” on the taxes each country gathers. The UK, Italy, France, Germany and Spain already try to cooperate in the proposed way.

The declaration in support of a global tax reporting system has already been signed by the finance ministers of 17 EU countries.

Unfortunately there are still 11 nations who have not taken this step so there are fears these may try to

set up their own systems, aside from the one proposed for the whole EU.

Those who oppose the idea of more open tax reporting are Luxemburg and Austria. This is because of the fact they prefer secrecy regarding banking matters.

Last night MEPs voted in Strasbourg on some plans the aim of which is to stamp out tax avoidance.

“According to HMRC figures, in the UK alone £9 billion is lost every year which could pay for the construction of more than 600 new schools or over 50 new hospitals or pay the annual salaries of over 330,000 police officers” said Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy.”


The Queen’s Speech 2013: Immigration

In her latest speech today the Queen announced a new approach to immigration which is supposed to reduce the number of people coming to the UK. What was mentioned was that the government had prepared a variety of measures in order to crack down illegal immigration.

The monarch stated that due to the new measures the country would attract only people who would contribute, which sounds reasonable. The Legal Stop will continue to contribute to the businesses with high quality corporate documents and request a document service.

The future migrants will receive stricter limitations on using NHS and getting social benefits and housing.

Businesses found to employ illegal immigrants will be penalized financially. Landlords will also have to be more careful when taking immigrants in their properties. Illegal immigrants will not be able to receive driving licenses.

The mentioned and also the foreign criminals will have to be deported easier because of the new measures.

When talking to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We want this country to attract people who will add to our national life — but those who will not should be deterred.”

Many shared the opinion that today’s speech was focused on immigration mainly as an attempt to attract voters who supported the anti-immigration UK Independence Party in recent local elections.

Before the speech was announced the coalition was criticized as many people did not understand how in fact a number of the proposals would be put into practice, saying that the mentioned will probably not lead to a significant reduction in the amount of illegal immigrants removed from the country.

Limiting immigrants’ access to benefits and other of the “new” proposals were said to be similar to the rules which are already functioning.


Unfair Dismissal Claims will Follow the Planned Cuts

Since the Department for Education (DfE) announced its plans to cut 1,000 stuff in England it has received a large number of warns that if this happened it would face numerous claims of unfair dismissal. The reason the department has taken this decision is that it plans to cut its operating costs by 50% from 2010 to 2015. Another changes that are about to happen are the number of DfE offices in England the number of which will be cut from 12 to 6.

In the words of DfE the cuts will be made on capability grounds but the department says this is not a redundancy so it does not follow established redundancy procedures.

A solicitor for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) called Andrew James sent a letter to the Chris Wormald (secretary in DfE) in which he wrote that the department would face many employment tribunal headaches if it fails to follow redundancy procedures.

According to Mr. James PCS was being “mystified” by the DfE’s refusal to follow redundancy procedures. “A reduction in costs of 50%, a potential reduction in staff of 25% and the closure of six offices clearly gives rise to a potential redundancy situation.

“The department’s assertion to the contrary is, with respect, completely unsustainable.”

The remark of the PCS general secretary, Mark, Serwotka was that this was just an example of the chaos at the heart of education secretary Michael Gove’s department.

Yesterday 63.6% of the department staff members in the PCS voted pro strike action.

Their industrial actions were denounced harsh by a spokesperson for the DfE in whose opinion the proposed changes were necessary to “create a department that delivers an excellent service to the public, while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.”

“We have made it clear that we want to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible and have held extensive discussions with the PCS and we are consulting with staff on the proposed changes,” he added.

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Cameron Talks about the Potential British EU Exit

If the Conservatives win the next elections British people are promised to take part into a referendum on EU membership.

However, David Cameron said he looked forward to a new settlement between Britain and the European Union. Just after this settlement British people should decide either to accept it or not.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats slammed Cameron’s speech.

According to Nick Clegg, a deputy PM, this acting in the shorter-term interests of the UK is a failure: “years and years of uncertainty because of a protracted, ill-defined renegotiation of our place in Europe”.

The opinion of the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, on the reform is that it will be a beneficial one but he also said that “the idea that you put a gun to the head of your European partners, that you stand in the departure lounge shouting at 26 other members of the EU as a way to get those changes, doesn’t make sense to me”.

Some EU critics claim that the proposal made by Cameron will probably not go far enough while others applauded his approach. The mayor of London Boris Johnson described this speech as “bang on” which would present “a chance to get a great new deal for Britain- that will put the UK at the heart of European trade but that will also allow us to think globally”.

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HMRC vs. the Public Accounts Committee – Round 1

HMRC needs to think about new, tougher measures for businesses, which fail to pay tax in the UK. They are called upon to do it by MPs from the Public Accounts Committee. The current line raised some concerns, due to the recent tax avoidance schemes applied by major multinational companies, such as Amazon and Google, which have paid small tax to the UK, regardless of the huge turn over they have made.

As we have already announced, tax avoidance schemes seem to be very common among multinational companies. A great example is Starbucks for example. According to the researches they have made over #400m in the UK, however as they pay royalties to a sister branch in the Netherlands, for using the brand, they paid no corporation fee in the UK, despite the huge turnover.

After revealing the schemes, a number of other big companies have come under heavy fines. HMRC was criticised for failing to manage the case and ensure the companies pay what they are required to pay in the UK.

“These global companies are making money in the UK,” said Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee. “All we are saying is that if you have economic activities in the UK you are making profits and tax is payable on that.”

She says that the HMRC should be more “aggressive and assertive”, when it comes to fighting tax avoidance schemes, which might hurt the UK economics.

On the other hand, the HMRC replied back that all multinational companies with UK branches, pay the tax with accordance to the current laws.

Despite this, however, Chancellor George Osborne is set to announce details of a £154m fund intended to assist in dealing with tax issues relating to the affairs of large corporations and wealthier people.

Multinational Companies Accused of Tax Avoidance

The UK branches of Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK will face questions, because of tax avoidance accusations. All of them have been suspected to have been paying little or no tax on their UK earnings. The overseers of government financial issues , the Public Accounts committee will meet the executives of these companies and investigate the case, where companies have been accused of seeking various means to avoid paying the required amount of taxes, defined by the UK legislation. Matt Brittin, the chief executive of Google UK, as well as Starbucks chief financial officer Troy Alstead and Amazon’s director of public policy Andrew Cecil, will speak before the committee, which is headed by Margaret Hodge.

Generally, multinational companies, like the stated above usually seek ways to pay as low tax as possible. For example they settle the company in low-tax jurisdiction countries, which legally allows them avoid paying taxes in the countries in which they do the majority of their business.

The question is then which country’s tax authorities should get the tax receipts and over what share of the sales.

For that reason there is a great complexity in dealing with tax law issues- it is difficult to define how much tax should each company pay and where.

The investigations over Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK shows that during a 14-year period, Starbucks paid £8.6m corporation tax, they are also found claim  accounting losses when it was profitable. Google UK is claimed to have paid £6m tax in 2011, with a turnover of £395m and Amazon is reported to have paid no tax, despite profits of over £3.3bn, as the company has been transferred to a Luxemborough-based firm.

Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK are not the only multinational companies suspected in tax avoidance schemes. Multinational companies such as eBay, Apple and Facebook also have faced some controversy over their tax contribution to the UK. For example Facebook in the Uk has paid only £238,000 in tax last year, by having its European base in Dublin, where tax is considerably lower than elsewhere in the UK. Apple is reported to have paid less than 2% corporation tax on its profits outside the UK and eBay is claimed to have paid £1.2m in tax in the UK.

Former City minister Lord Myners has claimed that the current tax regime isn’t working, saying: “Corporation tax for an MNC [multinational company] operating in the UK is close to being a voluntary payment.”

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Co-operative The First to Add Family Law to its Offerings

The first consumer brand to add Family Legal Services to its basket is one of the well established market leaders – the Co-operative.

It was recently announced that due to the official launch of the Co-operative family law services, the supermarket brands will enter into the reserved legal services. As stated by the mutual, the customer service charter that will be published premises that there will be ‘no nasty surprises’ on the product fees. Additionally, the charter will also include a jargon-free service, according to which clients will be treated as individuals. This strategy has been used by The Legal Stop, as well in order to make it easier for everyone, when it comes to legal documents online.

Since the changes of Legal Services Act 2007, it was the Co-operative to become the foremost consumer brand to be granted with an alternative structure for its business in April. Christina Blacklaws, Law Society council member for child care and former TV Edwards partner, leads the family law unit. According to latest news, the Co-operative will present a full list of the family law services available. These will include, but are not limited to, child protection, divorce, financial issues and mediation. Additionally, the Co-operative has the license to provide to customers a face-to-face legal help for Westminster. The mutual will also apply for other licenses in the nearer future.

The Legal Services of the Co-operative was set up in 2006 and it is estimated that out of the 500 staff employed, 281 are actually lawyers. A recruitment plan has been introduced in the beginning of June so that the number of staff could increase by 3,000 over the following years.