The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

January 2010 Archives

John Terry Affair With Wayne Bridge Girlfriend Goes Public

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The worst kept secret in English football is finally out: the national team captain, John Terry, 29, had an affair with French model Vanessa Perroncel, 28, the ex-girlfriend of former Chelsea teammate, neighbour, fellow England player, and supposed friend Wayne Bridge.

On Friday, Mr. Terry lost a legal battle to keep details of the affair secret.  In lifting the week-old "super-injunction" - which prevented publication of stories about the relationship and the very existence of an injunction - High Court Justice Michael Tugendhat said Mr. Terry's prime concern was "to protect his reputation, in particular with sponsors."

Mr. Tugendhat also dismissed Mr. Terry's contention that publication jeopardised the rights of his family to a private life under the Human Rights Act: "I do not find it credible that rumours that have circulated as widely as the rumours in this case ... have not yet reached the ears of at least [Mrs. Terry].  If they have not yet got that far, they surely will do very soon."

UK property market bounces back

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December data from the Land Registry shows an annual average house price increase for the first time since May 2008, indicating the UK property market is bouncing back after a torrid 18 months.

Seven regions in England and Wales experienced increases in their average property values over the last 12 months.  The region with the highest annual price change was London with an increase of 6.1%.  The region with the most significant annual price fall was Wales with a movement of -2.5%.

The 2.5% annual average house price increase was accompanied by a slight monthly increase in December of 0.1%.  The average house price in England and Wales now stands at £161,783.

Underage Drinking: New Powers To Tackle Alcohol-Related Crime

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New powers to tackle underage drinking, including making it easier for police to confiscate alcohol, move on groups of teenagers causing trouble and stop retailers selling to underage children came into effect this week.

The powers were introduced through the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and include:

Redundancies: Truly Terrible Week For Toyota, As 750 Jobs Go

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A truly terrible week for Toyota culminated in the announcement of 750 at its plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire.  "[Last year] was a tough year for Toyota Manufacturing UK," the carmaker said.  "The decision is related to production capacity and efficiency, not to production volumes."

The Burnaston plant manufactures Toyota's Avensis and Auris models.  reports the will be voluntary and negotiated with the company's workforce.  Toyota employs about 4,000 people in the UK.

British National Party Have One Last Chance To "Get It Right"

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Last autumn, in the face of a legal challenge from the (EHRC), the to comply with the Race Relations Act.

Yesterday, a judge at Central London County Court ruled the party's new constitution illegal and gave the group one last chance to "get it right" before a final court hearing in March.

The British National Party's old constitution limited membership to "'indigenous Caucasians' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that race."  This kind of  on the grounds of race, ethnicity, or skin colour is forbidden under UK law.

John Wadham of the EHRC said the party's amended constitution, which repeatedly uses the words "indigenous British", "is not that much of an improvement," and still displays "."

Constructive Dismissal: Worker Treated As 'Sex Object' Wins Case

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A former office worker at Cardiff-based chartered surveyors Ferrier Hart Thomas has won her case for , , and  before an employment tribunal in Wales.

Lizzy Bibby, 26, of Lisvane, Cardiff, accused director Andrew Ferrier, 61, of offering to "kit her out" at an Ann Summers sex shop, smacking her bottom, grabbing her waist and showing her transsexual pornography ().

She said: "I was being treated as a sex object and I found it very hard to get through the days.

UK Tax Relief For Married Couples & Civil Partners

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An excellent article appeared on the website this week, written by Robin Williamson of the , addressing the misconception that the tax system does not recognise marriage.

"There has been some debate in political circles about whether the tax system should reward marriage, or be neutral as between married and unmarried couples," begins Mr. Williamson.

He then proceeds to set out the "facts" about the UK tax and tax credits system, which should make interesting reading for the likes of Iain Duncan Smith who favour .

Irish & UK Drivers Agreement To Keep Disqualified Off The Roads

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British, Irish and Northern Ireland Ministers have agreed a groundbreaking agreement to keep drivers disqualified for serious motoring offences off the roads.

As a result of the new law, UK drivers disqualified in Ireland will no longer escape punishment when they return home.  Similarly, disqualifications earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised and enforced when they return to Ireland.

The new law is the first step towards implementation of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications, pursuant to which each EU member state must recognise another's driving disqualifications.

Life In UK: Citizenship Laws

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Read on for important information about your future life in UK: citizenship laws changed this month...

Family Court Proceedings 'Too Complicated & Adversarial'

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The Ministry of Justice has announced a wide-ranging review of family court proceedings and the current family justice system in England and Wales.  Justice Secretary Jack Straw wants an expert panel to examine reform proposals that through the .

Affordable Home Ownership Scheme For Members Of The Armed Forces

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The Ministry of Defence and Department for Communities and Local Government launched a new home ownership scheme yesterday for Armed Forces personnel looking to buy property.

Members of the Armed Forces will be able to claim up to 50% of a property's value under the scheme.  They can also sub-let their properties and will not normally pay any fees on the equity while they remain serving members of the Armed Forces.

Animal Health: New Reform Bill To Reduce UK Disease Risks

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The Government has published its proposals for a new body to take responsibility for animal health.

If approved, the Animal Health Bill would also:

UK student visa: new rules - effective February 22, 2010

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Students and education providers beware: new UK student visa rules will apply starting Monday February 22, 2010. The new rules, introduced under , mean will soon have to obtain a from their , rather than a .

After February 22, the UK Border Agency will ignore applications from students who send  - even if an issues a letter before February 22. Until February 21, however, students can continue to apply under Tier 4 using a , even if their course of study will start after February 22.

Information for education providers / sponsors:

Employers To Get £1,000 Subsidy To Recruit Young Unemployed

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Employers can claim a £1,000 subsidy for each young unemployed person they recruit, the Government announced yesterday.

Young people will also receive pre-employment training packages going into new jobs as part of the Care First Careers initiative announced by Work Minister Jim Knight and Care Minister Phil Hope.

The Government has made £75million available to fund the initiative and create up to 50,000 jobs.

Care First Careers is part of the Government's wider  scheme, which warrants that everyone unemployed for six months aged between 18 and 24 will get a job offer, work experience or training.

reports Debenhams has launched a new divorce gift list service.  Traditionally  as economies come out of recession, so the big question for 2010 is this: will the new service outperform the more established wedding gift list business?

Well, quite possibly.  The divorce industry has become an established part of the economic landscape.  Okay, Hallmark hasn't started printing 'Happy Divorce' cards yet (as far as I'm aware); friends don't wrestle over expensive separation bouquets; and nobody buys a divorce dress or divorce cake (unless it's a ).  But as any self-respecting socialite knows each week brings another invitation to some kind of divorce party or splitting up bash; PR agents harass tabloids on a daily basis to win column inches about their celeb clients' divorces; and, according to some, the 's really starting to take its toll.

Asylum & Immigration: 45 American "Refugees" Seek UK Asylum

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When one considers the legacy of George W. Bush, one's mind wanders to the war in Iraq; Guantanamo; the Patriot Act; and, ultimately, financial meltdown.

For many, his presidency was simply too much to bear: according to Home Office statistics - released to the under the Freedom of Information Act - 45 U.S. citizens applied for between 2004 and 2008 claiming persecution as "political refugees."

UK Tax Law: Chartered Institute of Taxation Issues Tax Code Alert

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The has urged taxpayers to check the amount of tax being deducted by employers and pension companies through the Pay As You Earn system. 

HM Revenue & Customs introduced a new computer system this year and the Chartered Institute of Taxation say "huge numbers of people" may have received the wrong tax code information.

A report in the last week said ex-Bath players and joint captains Michael Lipman and Alex Crockett intend "to seek legal retribution for the nine-month ban imposed on them last June by an RFU disciplinary tribunal for allegedly missing drug tests."

The pair denied missing the tests and walked out on Bath shortly after the ban came into effect.  According to the , they believe they had no option but to resign and are considering a case of .

Backing Young Britain: The Young Person's Guarantee Scheme

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A Government scheme reminiscent of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programme went live yesterday.

As part of the , all jobseekers aged 18-24 who have been unemployed for six months or more can demand a job, training or work experience.

About the Young Person's Guarantee:

Anti-Social Behaviour: Are You A Victim Of Noisy Nooky?

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reports a woman who breached an  banning her from having noisy sex received a suspended prison sentence last week.

Caroline Cartwright, 48, from Washington, Wearside, earlier pled guilty to three counts of breaching the ASBO.

Neighbours, a postman - even a woman who walks past Ms. Cartwright's house to take her child to school - all complained about her blusterous bonking with husband Steve.

Next door neighbour Rachel O'Connor explained: "The noise sounds like they are both in considerable pain.  I cannot describe the noise.  I have never ever heard anything like it."

NHS Constitution: What's All The Fuss About?

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All National Health Service (NHS) organisations must now comply with the rules and pledges enshrined in its new Constitution.

The NHS Constitution, established as a result of the Health Act 2009, sets out patients' rights and, its proponents argue, "safeguards the NHS for the future."

Among other things, the Constitution gives patients the legal rights to:

  • access NHS services;
  • drugs and treatments approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE);
  • choice about where they receive their care; &
  • be treated with dignity and respect.

UK Immigration Fees: £15,000 To Renew A Visa?!

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The Government have announced they intend to significantly increase UK immigration fees and the cost of nationality services to levels considerably above the administrative costs of the services provided. 

notes the new regulations offer the "super rich" - such as international bankers and footballers - who want to extend their stay in Britain a £15,000 premium visa renewal service. 

As part of the service, UK Border Agency officials visit migrants at home or work to sort out their immigration papers, take "biometric" photographs and fingerprints and, crucially, provide an on-the-spot decision.

The actual cost of providing the service?  Only £1,982, but Immigration Minister Phil Woolas plans to reinvest the surplus to "fund the UK immigration system" and "support wider government objectives."

Roadworks Permit Schemes

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The Government released new guidance to help local authorities tackle problem roadworks today.

Road works permit schemes give councils more power to coordinate roadworks and take action when they overrun.

Once a scheme is in place companies must apply for a permit before they start roadworks and abide by certain conditions (e.g., on timing and the amount of road space to be left available to road users during the works).

Comment: The Manifesto for Happy and Healthy Families

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The rather oddly named Conservative think-tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) released a Manifesto for Happy and Healthy Families last week.

Announcing the Conservative Manifesto, CSJ Chairman Iain Duncan Smith said:

"Thirteen years of Labour misrule have inflicted grave damage on the family.  All the evidence shows that children brought up in two-parent families do far better in life.  Yet under Labour, rates of family breakdown have soared."

He then proceeded to list a number of facts that would make even  proud:

iTrust You... Not

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A new iPhone app - iTrust - has the power to catch snoopers red-fingered everywhere say its designers .

The app's targeted at consumers who leave their iPhones unattended, but don't want loved ones snooping through emails and text messages when they're not around.

According to :

"iTrust takes a screenshot of your homescreen (which you can take by pressing Sleep+Home at any time) and sets it as a full-screen background.  If someone tries to use your phone while it's running, they'll see what looks like a regular homescreen, but won't be able to do anything with it - it's a dead image.  Whatever they try to do, however, is saved in an excruciating, slo-mo simulated screen recording."

Take a look at this video to see how the app works:

Card Fraud Index Shows Cardiff Is UK's Worst City

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According to research conducted by , Cardiff has surpassed London as the UK's worst city for credit card fraud.

Over the past three years, Cardiff has leapt from fifth to first place in the company's Card Fraud Index.  37% of its residents have fallen prey to card fraud.

Compare this to London, on 35%; Norwich, on 30%; Southampton, on 28%; and Leeds (which has moved from 12th to 5th in the index over the past year), on 27%.

Nationally, incidents of card fraud rose by more than 6% in the past two years, which equates to an extra three million victims.  Over a quarter of adults in the UK now claim to have suffered from card fraud.

Islamic Finance: New Laws To Support Corporate Sukuk In The UK

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The UK Government has proposed new regulations to support Islamic finance and the issuance of corporate sukuk within this country.

NDSThe regulations have four main aims: (1) to level the playing field for corporate sukuk within the UK; (2) provide clarity on the regulatory treatment of corporate sukuk; (3) reduce the legal costs for these types of investments; & (4) remove unnecessary obstacles to their issuance.

Sukuk are a broad class of financial instruments designed to replicate the economic function of bonds, but with a structure which complies with Islamic principles.  Although there is an obvious appeal to the Muslim community, sukuk can be issued and bought by everyone.

Tax Benefits For Community Amateur Sports Clubs: The CASC Scheme

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According to Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, thousands of amateur sports clubs across the UK are missing out on a share of tax savings running into millions of pounds.

Under the Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme set up under the Finance Act 2002, amateur sports clubs that meet certain criteria qualify for a number of tax advantages, including:

  • 80% business rate relief;
  • Gift Aid on donations (for every £1 received in donations, clubs can claim an extra 25p tax refund from the Government with an additional 3p per £1 available until April 2011);
  • Corporation Tax exemption if a club's annual trading income is under £30,000 per year.

Deloitte produce monthly updates for the CASC scheme.  They estimate 5,500 clubs registered with the scheme have saved around £60 million over the past seven years.

Financial Assistance Scheme: £3.5 billion To Protect Pensions

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The Government has announced tens of thousands of people who lost pensions when their employers went bust will get at least 90% of their retirement savings guaranteed, as the final phase of the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) regulations are put before Parliament.

As part of the Scheme, the Government will pay out £3.5 billion to around 150,000 people.

Part of the funding for FAS will come from the Government's absorption of assets remaining in the affected pension schemes.

Unemployment Numbers Keep Falling

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The government has welcomed the drop in the December unemployment numbers and youth unemployment figures but warned that the jobless total was still expected to rise again before the summer.

Office for National Statistics figures show a 7,000 drop in unemployment (to 2.46 million), a 15,200 drop in the jobseekers' allowance claimant count (to 1.606 million) and a 7,600 drop in the youth claimant count in December.  Moreover, the employment level fell by less than in previous quarters and the number of vacancies increased.

These figures mean that unemployment is 450,000 lower than predicted at the time of the Budget last April, reflecting the £5bn extra investment in expanding education and training, supporting jobs and helping the unemployed back to work.  Even more support for young people is being introduced later this month.

Crack Down On Alcohol Crime

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A ban on alcohol promotions such as "all you can drink for £10" deals plus a compulsory requirement to check under 18s for ID are among the final conditions of a proposed mandatory code for alcohol retailers, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has announced.

Following a nationwide consultation, that generated more than 7,000 responses, the government has set out five mandatory conditions to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, which costs the UK an estimated £8-13 billion each year.

Bragg Blasts RBS Bonuses: Threatens Not To Pay Taxes In Protest

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Music icon and activist Billy Bragg has threatened not to pay his taxes in protest against the proposed £1.5 billion RBS bonuses soon to be distributed among bankers. 

RBS, also known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, is now 84% owned by the taxpayer. 

"At a time when the rest of us are being softened up for cuts in public services, I think the RBS investment bankers - who are after all are now the most highly paid public servants we have in this country - should be the first ones to take the cuts, rather than nurses, teachers, soldiers, and people like that," Mr. Bragg told .

"I think we have to worry about the money pit that is RBS, which recorded the worst corporate losses of any British company in history just 12 months ago," he added.  "I think we should be asking ourselves how and why they are paying themselves such huge bonuses."

Scrappage Scheme Laws: Government Introduce Quota System

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The Government has announced more than three quarters of its budget for the has been used up.  As the ' nears its end, funding for less than 82,000 new vehicles orders remains.

Because of the limited remaining funding, the Department for Business has amended the scrappage scheme laws and will now allocate order quotas to manufacturers.  The scrappage quota system will be based on brand popularity and has been designed to "ensure a smooth closing of the scheme."

Leasehold Advisory Service: Beware 80 Year Time Bomb!

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The has warned "unwelcome chickens may be coming home to roost" for people who bought flats in the 1970s and 1980s on relatively short leases of 125 years.  Under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, leaseholders have the right to extend their leases by 90 years, but the costs of doing so can jump dramatically once the unexpired term of the lease dips below 80 years.

The main reason the cost of extending a lease jumps so dramatically when only 80 years remain is that valuers must take into account .  Under the Act, marriage value is defined as "the potential for increase in the value of the flat arising from the grant of the new lease" and requires that this "profit" be shared 50:50 between landlords and leaseholders.

BA Cabin Crew vs. Willie Walsh: "Ding, Ding - Round 2!'"

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The war of words between BA and Unite union ramped up again yesterday.  First, Unite announced it intends to re-ballot its BA cabin crew members over industrial action.  The union said "the move follows the failure to secure an agreement on the crucial issues of ."

Of course, BA cabin crew have already  once before during this dispute.  But the ballot was  in December and the strike abandoned.  The parties  only two weeks ago and Unite spokesman Len McCluskey sounded almost apologetic announcing the new ballot:

Spurs Boss Harry Redknapp Charged With UK Tax Evasion

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Spurs Boss Harry Redknapp was charged with two counts of UK tax evasion, or "cheating the public revenue", yesterday at Bishopsgate police station.

The Crown Prosecution Service Revenue and Customs Division decided there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest to pursue a case against Mr. Redknapp.  He is jointly charged with former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric following an investigation by the City of London Police and HM Revenue & Customs.

The charges concern two payments, totalling USD$295,000, from Mr. Mandaric to Mr. Redknapp via a bank account in Monaco, evading the payment of a £40,000 in UK tax and national insurance contributions due between 1 April 2002 and 28 November 2007.  The payments were in relation to Mr. Redknapp's employment at Portsmouth.

He will appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 11 February.

Cheating the public revenue is a common law offence.  There is no maximum sentence.  If Mr. Redknapp is convicted, his sentence will be determined by the presiding judge, rather than statute.  Technically the judge could impose an unlimited fine and/or prison sentence.

Home Buyer Debt Burden At Record Low

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The Council of Mortgage Lenders has released new data showing mortgage loans have increased by 67% over the past year.  The figures also show the percentage of income spent on mortgage interest payments is almost 4% lower than twelve months ago and the lowest it has been in thirteen-and-a-half years.

On average, home owners needed only 10.6% of gross income to cover mortgage interest payments in November 2009, down from 11.1% in October. Other than a brief low of 10.2% in the middle of 1996, this is the lowest debt burden on home movers since the Council of Mortgage Lenders started recording this data in 1974.

Massage Therapist Denies Groping Clients At Luxury Health Spa

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Massage Therapist Denies Groping Clients At Luxury Health Spa

A massage therapist standing trial on five counts of sexual assault denied groping clients at Leicester Crown Court yesterday.  Four women allege Batini Mpofu assaulted them during rub downs at luxury health spa Radgale Hall, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

One of the women told the court Mpofu slowly moved his hands from her lower back, to her bottom and then between her legs:

'I thought maybe his hand slipped.  I was shocked, then I felt him do it again.  He asked me, "How's that?"  I said, "That makes me feel uncomfortable".

'I touched my towel (over her chest) to make sure I was covered.  He said, "Don't worry, I won't do there".  But he put his hand under my towel and in a sweeping motion he touched on, and around, my breasts.

'He said: "You love being touched, I can see it on your face".

Unite Union Indignant Over Edwards Redundancies Video

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Okay, so we've had "you're fired" by fax, "I want a divorce" by text, and all sorts of shenanigans over the phone...  Now UK electronics manufacturer  have really gone and done it.

Yesterday, the company announced via video message that it intends to cease all manufacturing at its Burgess Hill and Shoreham factories and move the work to new plants in Korea and the Czech Republic - with the resultant loss of 220 jobs.

As if that weren't bad enough, instead of consoling the redundant employees, says the video "."

IVF Treatment & Employee Protection Against Sex Discrimination

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Under the , employers may not discriminate against employees on the .  And the Employment Rights Act 1996 makes it to dismiss a woman for a reason connected to her pregnancy.

Recently, the Employment Appeals Tribunal considered the , a woman trying to become pregnant.

Ms. Sahota began a course of IVF treatment in 2007 and claimed  on the ground that her employer subjected her to various detriments and harassment because of that treatment.

UK VAT Rate Rumours Rumble On

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The UK VAT rate rumour-mill ramped up a notch this week, in the wake of comments made by lynchpin George Bull.  He was quoted in the  as saying a standard rate increase to 20% is "possible" - not only as a way to tame a ballooning budget deficit but also "to bring the country in line with other EU member states, several of which have recently raised their VAT rates."

Even if the UK does increase the standard VAT rate to 20% it still "has one of the lowest rates of VAT in the EU," according to Bull.

Pension Reform: Employers To Fund Retirement Commencing 2012

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Radical pension reform moved a step closer to fruition yesterday as the Government presented its plans to Parliament yesterday.

"These landmark reforms, on a scale unprecedented anywhere in the world, will ensure millions of workers on low and moderate incomes will be able to save for their retirement with a guaranteed new minimum contribution from their employer, many for the first time," said Pensions Minister Angela Eagle.

The changes kick off in Olympic year 2012.  Large businesses with 120,000+ employees will be affected first.  They will be expected to pay employer contributions of 1% of each employee's salary into a pension scheme.

Smaller businesses will then be phased into the scheme over three years through to 2016, with start-up small business given additional time to comply.

As the scheme establishes itself, the Government will also phase in increased employer contributions.  For example, large businesses who start making 1% contributions from the get-go in October 2012, will be expected to make 2% contributions from October 2016, and then 3% contributions from 2017.

Community Development: Clarion Call For 'Community Pioneers'

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The Government issued a clarion call yesterday for community pioneers to step forward to lead the and .

Local Government areas, estates, team areas, (CDRPs) and (CSPs) can apply to become 'Neighbourhood Agreement Pathfinders.'

The Pathfinders will require police, councils and other agencies to agree service standards with local residents - and enable the residents to hold them to account.

Rolling out Neighbourhood Agreements builds on the experience of the Department for Communities and Local Government in developing across a wide range of services in England (for example on local environmental issues - such as litter, graffiti, fly-tipping and street lighting - and promoting healthy living) and core national standards such as the .

Sunbed Ban: Government Backs Private Member's Bill

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The Government has announced it's in favour of a ban on tanning salons allowing under 18s use sunbeds.

A Private Member's Bill imposing a sunbed ban, introduced by Julie Morgan MP, will have its second reading in the House of Commons later this month.

"The scientific evidence is clear," said Health Secretary Andy Burnham.  "Sunbeds increase your risk of getting skin cancer.  It is far too easy for young people to use sunbeds and I am determined to take action to protect them.  I fully support this Bill which will force tanning salons to ban access for people under 18 years old."

The move comes after a Cancer Research UK report, commissioned by the Government and published in November last year, showed worrying levels of sunbed use amongst under 18s.

The report showed that:

Redundancy Selection & Scoring: "Major Discrepancies" At Fujitsu

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Unite union claims that IT services company may have selected "a disproportionate number of women, part-time and ethnic minority workers" for , as the fourth day of strike action came to a close yesterday.

Unite say it has identified "major discrepancies in  scoring and selection" in the company's Application Services capability unit, which has around 1,500 employees out of a total workforce of around 11,500.

The union has disclosed the following  selection and scoring data for the unit:

Twitter Tough Talk Takes Centre Stage In New York Murder Probe

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On 1 December 2009, 22-year-old nursing student Kwame Dancy was gunned down in cold blood in Harlem, New York City.  A shotgun blast blew through his neck, killing him instantly.

The alleged perpetrator?  Childhood friend Jameg Blake, also 22, who'd grown up on the same floor of a high-rise apartment block as the victim.

The evidence?  A number of aggressive Twitter messages, including one sent by Dancy just hours before the shooting in which he taunted Blake with the tweet: "Niggas is lookin for u don't think I won't give up ya address for a price betta chill asap!"

Age In The Workplace: Harman Heralds Working 'Wellderly' - Part 2

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[Continued from .]

Ms. Harman believes that people should not be forced to work beyond 65, but should at least have the option of choosing to do so. 

And any change in the law would have no affect on when people can claim the state pension.

She also wants workers over 65 to be given the legal right to request part-time work and to work from home.  Employers could lawfully decline such requests, but would have to provide one of eight valid reasons for doing so.

Age In The Workplace: Harman Heralds Working 'Wellderly' - Part 1

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Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman caused a stir at the 'Challenges for Our Age' conference yesterday, as she said she favours abolition of the .  Noting the 1.4 million people who choose to work beyond 65 and the fact that in 20 years half the adult population will be over 50, she said:

Tax Dodging Docs Under Scrutiny

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HM Revenue & Customs have encouraged medical professionals to get their tax affairs in order and disclose any undeclared income and tax liabilities.

While the terms of the are a little complicated, it would seem it may benefit some taxpayers.  When in doubt, for help.

HM Revenue & Customs say those who make a voluntary disclosure before 31 March 2010 will benefit from putting their tax affairs in order "simply and on the best available terms."

After that date, the Revenue will carry out targeted investigations aimed at medical professionals who have not come forward.  Substantial penalties (e.g., up to 100% fines on the tax due) or even criminal prosecution could follow for those who have undeclared tax liabilities.

Unfair Dismissal: Posh Police Officer Branded Incompetent Coward

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A former Surrey police officer who claimed  and said fellow constables bullied her because of her "posh" background has had her case thrown out by an employment tribunal in south London.

Alison Wheeler, 39, of East Molesey in Surrey, was educated at a public school, gained a diploma from Trinity College of Music, and worked as a mezzo-soprano opera singer for ten years before joining Surrey Police force in January 2006.

Ms. Wheeler was sacked for cowardice, dishonesty and incompetence, however, one month before the end of her two-year probationary period, for not intervening as a colleague was punched and kicked to the ground as he tried to make an arrest.

Single Equality Act: The Socio-Economic Duty - Part 2

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[Continued from .]

Research proves socio-economic factors affect how well people do throughout their lives.  The Government argues the socio-economic duty is needed because:

Single Equality Act: The Socio-Economic Duty - Part 1

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The Government has published details about how the socio-economic duty in the Single Equality Act will transform the way public bodies work to narrow the gaps between rich and poor and make society fairer.

The Act will impose a new legal duty on public bodies, including central government and local authorities, to consider the impact their strategic decisions will have on narrowing socio-economic inequalities.

With the average life expectancy in the poorest areas of the country up to 13 years shorter than in the most affluent areas, the duty will require public bodies to consider how they can reduce the barriers that hold people back, block aspirations and prevent people fulfilling their potential.

No Fault Divorce: Lawyers Demand Reform

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According to a recent report in the , three in four divorce lawyers want the Government to reform the current divorce system and allow "no fault" divorce.

Unlike Canada, Germany and 49 states in the U.S.A, the U.K does not recognise "no fault" divorce nor allow couples to make joint divorce applications citing "incompatibility", "irreconcilable differences", or "irremediable breakdown of the marriage".

Instead, one spouse (known as the "pursuer" in and "petitioner" ) must blame the other spouse (the "defender" in Scotland and "respondent" elsewhere) to obtain a divorce.

Rule Against Perpetuities Replaced By New Standardised Period

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The Ministry of Justice has issued a press release reminding everyone that the rules on leaving property in trust for future generations are set to change.

The Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 2009 seeks to modernise and simplify trust law and will come into effect on 6 April 2010.

The Act covers two areas of trust law: (1) perpetuities; and (2) accumulations.

Perpetuities

The centuries-old will be replaced under the Act by a standard perpetuity period of 125 years.  The perpetuity period limits the length of time that the future ownership of property can be dictated by a person setting up a trust, by will or otherwise.

Offshore Tax Evasion: What You Need To Know

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Treasury Minister Stephen Timms called offshore tax evasion "morally unacceptable" today as HM Revenue and Customs announced that some 10,000 people had notified their intention to disclose previously undeclared offshore income and gains.  Those who came forward under the before the 4th January deadline now have to disclose and pay any unpaid tax, interest and a 10% penalty.

Top 10 employment law changes in 2010 - part 2

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[Continued from .]

6. Fit notes replace sick notes

Under the Social Security and Statutory Sick Pay Amendment Regulations, 'sick notes' will become 'fit' notes in April.  Doctors will be allowed to issue printed notes rather than handwritten ones.  The Regulations also allow doctors to state whether an individual is fit to carry out their job, able to carry out some work or no work at all.  Moreover, the law permits doctors to state whether a sick employee could return to work on adjusted terms such as altered hours, amended duties and workplace adaptations.

Top 10 employment law changes in 2010 - part 1

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UK employment law faces another overhaul in 2010.  Here's a rundown of the top 10 biggest changes affecting you and yours:

1. Increase in the Default Retirement Age

The current  (DRA) stands at 65.  Most commentators, however, expect the Government to increase the DRA later this year.  In October 2009, following the , the Government began a public .

2. Equality Act

The will become law in October.  The Act introduces groundbreaking new laws which will help narrow the gap between rich and poor; require businesses to report on gender pay; allow businesses to positively discriminate in recruiting and promoting people from under-represented minority groups (as long as they are as well qualified for the job as the other candidates); and significantly strengthen and harmonise UK anti-discrimination law.

Identity Cards For Foreign Nationals Programme Expanded

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Skilled migrants seeking to renew their visas will now be required to apply for a compulsory ID card, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas announced yesterday.

Since the scheme was introduced in November 2008 for students renewing their visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System (PBS) and people seeking to renew marriage visas, more than 130,000 cards have been issued.

The scheme is now being extended to incorporate skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the PBS.  This brings the roll out forward from April this year and adds around 40,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with the cards.

Unite And British Airways Agree To Hold Talks

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Unite the union and British Airways have agreed to hold talks aimed at finding a negotiated settlement to their dispute over cabin crew terms and conditions under the auspices of the TUC.

Representatives of both sides will be meeting the TUC over the next few days to start the process of finding a resolution to the dispute, which led to a decision by the cabin crew to take strike action, subsequently , last month.

Hidden Economy Under Scrutiny

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New ways to deter people from entering the hidden economy and to encourage them to move into the formal economy will be examined by a newly formed group of experts - the Hidden Economy Advisory Group.

The Advisory Group is chaired by HM Revenue & Customs and was announced as part of the 2009 Pre-Budget Report.  The Group will:

Bogus Bride Jailed Over Fake Marriage Scam

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A Dutch woman who tried to take part in a marriage scam with an illegal immigrant has been jailed for six months at Coventry Crown Court.

Eunice Ridderstap pleaded guilty to facilitating a breach of immigration law by entering into a sham marriage with a person from outside the European Union.

Acting on intelligence, UK Border Agency officers swooped on the Parish Church of St Albans in Stoke Heath, Coventry on 18 July just before Ridderstap was due to marry Vincent Akingbo, a Nigerian national.

The bride and bridegroom were arrested, and Akingbo was removed back to Nigeria in September.

Over 50s Hit Hard By Recession

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New figures released the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal the number of long-term (6-12 months) unemployed over-50s has increased by 135 per cent, the highest increase among all age groups.  Men are being hit hardest among this age group, with the numbers of long term unemployed increasing by 185 percent, the highest increase among all age groups.

Andrew Harrop, Head of Public Policy for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said:

Divorce Rates Set To Sky Rocket In 2010

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reports that divorce rates are set to rocket during 2010.

While divorce rate have fallen over the past decade, the recession has prompted increasing numbers to end their marriages.

Apparently many divorce settlements were delayed in 2009, but this is likely to change in 2010 as the economy improves and house prices increase.

UK Property: 'Substantial Improvement' In Affordable Housing

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According to new research from the Halifax, home affordability for potential first-time buyers improved significantly in 2009.  The shows the average price paid by a first-time buyer was affordable for someone on average earnings in nearly four in ten (39%) of local authority districts.

This represents a substantial improvement on 2007, the zenith year for property prices, when only 6% of areas were affordable. 

The proportion of disposable income devoted to mortgage payments by a potential new first-time buyer on average income - a measure of affordability that includes the impact of interest rate changes - has almost halved from a peak of 50% in June 2007 to 27% in November 2009. 

The current level is below the average over the past 25 years of 34%.

This improvement in affordability arises from a combination of lower house prices and interest rate reductions.   

Commenting on the figures Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said:

Boiler Scrappage Scheme: Everything You Need To Know

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The Boiler Scrappage Scheme has four main aims: (1) upgrade household heating systems; (2) cut carbon emissions; (3) reduce fuel bills; and (4) sustain work for the heating industry.

Under the Scheme, up to 125,000 households in England with working "G-rated" boilers can apply through the for a voucher that will entitle them to £400 off the price of a new "A-rated" boiler or a renewable heating system (e.g., a biomass boiler or a heat pump).

The Scheme has already triggered some companies to complement, and in some cases match, the £400 Government subsidy - and it is expected others will follow suit - this could provide consumers with savings of up to £800 on the price of a new heating system.

UK Age Discrimination: 42-Year-Old Banker Wins Big

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A 42-year-old London banker has won his case for  against one of Canada's largest banks after he was made  during the credit crunch.

An employment tribunal in south London found Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) was unable to demonstrate its decision to dismiss Achim Beck, a senior derivatives salesman earning £900,000 a year, "was not significantly influenced by his age."

Damages will be determined at a later date but CIBC face a potentially hefty pay-out for breaching .

Self Assessment Deadline Fast Approaching

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HM Revenue & Customs has issued a reminder to submit your 2008-09 Self Assessment tax return online by the end of January, or you could risk a penalty.

The 31st October deadline for paper returns has now passed, which means you must file your return online by the 31st January deadline.  If you submit a paper return after 31 October, or you file online after 31st January, you could receive a £100 fine.

When filing online, your tax is calculated automatically, you get an online acknowledgement once you've filed, and it's processed faster, so any money you're owed is repaid more quickly.

Violence Down At Football Grounds

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Football-related arrests for violence dropped last season the Home Office has announced.

NDSThe overall number of fans arrested also fell last year, with no arrests at 67% of all international and domestic matches.

'Statistics on Football-Related Arrests and Banning Orders Season 2008-09' reveals there were 3,752 arrests last season - down 2% on the year before.

They also show violent incidents were down 5%, with just 354 fans arrested for violence out of the total attendance figure of 37 million at football matches last year.

The New Year will see a new team taking up the fight against rogue employers who refuse to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage.

HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) new Dynamic Response Team will work on the most high profile and complicated National Minimum Wage cases faced by HMRC, particularly in areas where employers are using migrant labour to undercut competitors by paying below the minimum wage.

New Boost For Affordable Housing

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The Government has spent £2 billion on house-building since June 2009 and has announced it intends to allocate an additional £278 million to build 5,000 more affordable homes across the country.

In an upbeat end of year report from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Government says its house-building programme has not only helped to tackle the shortage of affordable homes but it has also supported the construction industry - it will protect and create thousands of jobs, including 2,800 new apprenticeships.