Nine tax rises a month under coalition

By DAVID WOODING

WE all feared it was the case. Now we KNOW it. Britain is being taxed to the hilt.

A new study shows the coalition has imposed twice as many tax rises as it has given us cuts.

Since the George Osborne became Chancellor, he’s made at least two grabs for our hard-earned cash EVERY WEEK.

In the first analysis of its kind, the government is shown to have enforced or announced 299 separate tax rises. Over the same period, there have been only 119 tax cuts.

This means a net rise of 180 tax rises have been inflicted on the public since May 2010.

The forensic study was carried out by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who scoured Treasury and HMRC documents.

It found that in the last year of the Labour government, £513billion was paid in taxes – £549billion at today’s prices.

By contrast, the  Tory-Lib Dem government plans to squeeze us to the tune of £671billion, a real terms rise of 15 per cent.

Of the 299 rises, 254 have already been implemented and a further 45 are in the pipeline.

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If crime levels are down, why are detection rates down, too?

By DAVID WOODING
THERE was some scepticism when new figures out last week showed that crime is down.
Some accused police of cooking the books and others claimed victims had given up reporting burglaries, fearing they’d never be investigated.
Now add this into the mix. Even with fewer offences to investigate, police are solving even fewer crimes.
New figures show that detection rates fell for the first time in over a decade last year – with 30,000 fewer crimes solved.
Just one in four offences committed in England and Wales was cleared up in the year to April 2012.
It means 2.9 million crimes went unpunished – despite new stats which show law-breaking is DOWN.
Cops say slump in arrests is down to swingeing cuts in their budgets imposed by the government.
220px-Theresa_May_-_Home_Secretary_and_minister_for_women_and_equalityAbout 9,000 police jobs have been axed under money saving measures since the coalition won power – and there’s more to come.
North Wales police, who cut the force strength last year by 39 to 1,488, now solve just three in ten case, compared with four in ten before the cuts.
In Warwickshire, where 260 officers were lost, an extra 2,063 crimes went unsolved.
Home Secretary Theresa May (pictured left) has insisted police forces can cut costs without affecting frontline crime-fighting.
She has told chief constables to make “back office” saving, which would mean MORE bobbies visible on the streets.
A Sun investigation last month suggested officers are still spending too much time behind a desk.  There’s something odd about all these figures. If there’s less crime,  you’d think police had more time to investigate those that do occur. If it’s down to cuts, you’d expect crime levels to go up.
Official figures out last week showed overall crime plunged eight per cent in England and Wales.
They led to accusations that senior cops were exaggerating the statistics.
Simon Payne, chairman of Warwickshire Police Federation, said: “We want to go out there, preventing crime and catching criminals.
“But with police stations being closed and fewer officers in our ranks that’s becoming extremely difficult.”
Labour claimed the figures would fuel concerns about the government’s “deeply complacent” attitude to policing.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who analysed the stats, said: “Fewer crimes are being solved, fewer criminals caught and fewer victims are getting justice.
“Theresa May has cut 15,000 police officers and done nothing to help improve the performance of the police in catching criminals and solving crime.
“The reduction in violence against the person offences being solved is particularly worrying.
Distorted
“These are serious crimes that can ruin people’s lives and harm communities, yet 7,000 fewer are being solved under this Government.
“Tory policing policy isn’t working. Theresa May needs to look again urgently at how her cuts to policing and chaotic reforms are hitting the work to catch criminals and deliver justice.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Police reform is working and crime is falling under this Government, down eight per cent in the year ending September 2012, according to the latest independent Crime Survey.
“Many forces are achieving significant reductions in crime with reduced budgets and crime is at its lowest level since the survey began in 1981.
“When the last government prioritised detection rates and set targets for offences brought to justice, it simply distorted police priorities which is why these targets were scrapped. By cutting bureaucracy we’ve allowed forces to get officers back out on the front line.
“And we have put in place Police and Crime Commissioners who are representing the needs of their community and holding their police force to account.”

Binge drinking: The answer is right under your nose, PM

By DAVID WOODING
WHY does everyone have to suffer whenever the government wants to crack down on a few trouble makers?
David Cameron plans to ban cheap booze  in a bid to stop binge-drinkers wreaking havoc in our town centres.
He could do it by enforcing the existing law which makes it an offence to sell alcohol to people who appear to have had one too many.
But official figures show that only EIGHT landlords have been convicted of the offence in two years.
So it looks like there has been no attempt to tackle the problem using the powers at the PM’s disposal. Instead, everyone will suffer as he uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut.#
Image
Let’s be clear, putting a minimum price on supermarket beer, wines and spirits won’t stop boozed-up hooligans or problem drinkers. It will hit the less well-off who rely on a cut-price glass or two as a weekend treat, while the price of Chablis and Champers enjoyed by the middle classes won’t go up.
Ministry of Justice statistics show five licensees were convicted for selling alcohol to drunks in the whole of England and Wales during 2011,  the last year for which figures are available. It was only three during 2010.
If there really is a problem with drunks pouring out of pubs at closing time then why haven’t there been more prosecutions?
These figures will inflame a furious Cabinet row over plans to impose a minimum price of 45p a unit on all alcohol.
Selling booze to a person who is drunk carries a £1,000 fine under the 2003 Licensing Act.
Alcohol consumption is already falling, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
It forecasts that by 2018, Britons will be drinking 2.4 BILLLION fewer units – even without minimum pricing.
Unfair
Tory MP Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of backbenchers, urged ministers to enforce existing laws rather than clobber responsible drinkers.
He said: “Government already interferes far too much in people’s lives.
“If ministers want to stop anti-social drinking they already have the powers to do so without punishing everybody.”
Miles Beale, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “The government should enforce existing measures designed to combat problem drinking.
“Minimum pricing is unfair, ineffective and probably illegal. Why should responsible drinkers pay more?
“Alcohol consumption is already falling and there are tried-and-tested ways to combat problem drinking.”
A long and costly legal battle is already under way in Edinburgh over minimum pricing.
A law passed by the Scottish Parliament last year is being challenged on the grounds it breaches EU fair trade laws.
Minimum pricing would add about £600 million to the nation’s annual drinks bill.
It would mean a bottle of Tesco Chilean Chardonnay wine rising from £3.99 to £4.23. The store’s Everyday Value Whisky would shoot up from £11.00 to £12.60.
And 4x440ml of Sainsbury’s Crown Lager would increase from £3.47 to £3.96. Similarly 4x500ml of Asda Belgian Lager would rise from £3.94 to £4.50.

Schools plagued by “sexting” craze, says MP

 By DAVID WOODING
 
SCHOOLS are in the grip of a “strip-tease culture” fuelled by the rise of smart phones, an MP has warned.
Labour’s Diane Abbott says teachers and parents are powerless to halt the growing craze of sending lewd pictures by text.
She fears mobile technology has saturated young lives with porn in a way they were not 20 years ago.
The shadow health minister added: “I think many teachers and parents are struggling to cop.
can_we_stop_the_slut_shaming
“While parents are unlikely to allow their children to see an 18 film, now boys and girls as young as 10 or 11 can go online and see stuff they could not buy in a newsagent.”
Ms Abbott is alarmed by the rise in “slut shaming” – sexual bully by mobile phone or internet.
In a keynote speech this week, she will say: “Young people are accessing far harder pornographic images than 10 or 15 years ago.
“We have to ask, does that influenece what they themselves put on the internet?”
Prudish
Ms Abbott insists she is not being prudish or hankering after some “rose-tinted picture of childhood”.
But she wants to “change the wallpaper of children’s lives” by bringing in more positive role models.
“Schools should encourage girls to value their bodies in terms of their physical ability,” she will say.
“We need more Jessica Ennis, less Paris Hilton.”
She added: “We need a sex education revolution in ordinary British schools. We need Statutory personal, social, health and economic education and sex and relationships education.
“Sex education must focus on preparing young people to form healthy respectful, emotionally fulfilling relationships, and also deal with the issues of self-esteem.
“Gender equality issues need to be central on the educational agenda, and throughout the curriculum.”

L-test interpreters to be banned

By DAVID WOODING

IMMIGRANTS will be banned from taking driving tests in foreign languages in a bid to wipe out cheating.
Nearly 900 have had their licences revoked after being told what to do by rogue translators.
Ministers fear there are many more and will ditch rules which let learners sit the theory test in any of 21 languages.
They are also concerned about handing licences to thousands of people who can’t speak English or read road signs.
Drivers can get translation into a range of languages, including Polish, Punjabi, Arabic, Tamil, Urdu, Mirpuri and Albanian.
By contrast, motorists in France can take their test in only one language – French.

Rogue

About 675 learners A WEEK take the the British test with an interpreter in the back seat.
A further 2,100 use them or rely on specially-made voiceovers for their theory exam.
The free service, introduced by Labour, costs taxpayers £250,000 – plus £10,000 for every “cheat” inquiry.
But ministers are to ditch it after nine rogue interpreters were struck off in the past two years.
They were caught coaching drivers during their test or even giving them the answers in the theory.
Dozens more are under investigation for a scam which is feared to be widespread.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond wants to ban interpreters from all sections of the driving test.
He fears too many learners are being given a licence before they are fit to get behind the wheel alone.
It would also help immigrants to integrate more by ensuring they learned English.
L_plates3Mr Hammond said: “This isn’t about saving money, it’s about cutting out fraud and making our roads safer.
“We have seen too many interpreters helping people pass their test when they are clearly not up to it.
“It’s also common sense to expect people to understand road signs if they are going to drive on our roads.”
Manchester City star Carlos Tevez got a six-month driving ban last week after a court heard he did not understand the word “constabulary” meant “police”.
Mr Hammond will launch a consultation this month about banning all voiceovers and interpreters on theory and practical tests.

ENDS

Did 2012 live up to expectations?

By DAVID WOODING

AS we enter 2013 and ponder what lies ahead, it’s worth turning the clock back a year to recollect what our thoughts and aspirations were as we stood on the threshold of the year just gone.

It turned out to be a tough year in many ways for lots of people but there were some dazzling hightlights which made it one to remember, too.

Here’s the leader I wrote for The Sun on December 31, 2011. Happy New Year!

Roll on 2012.

MANY of us will be glad to see the back of 2011 when the clock strikes midnight.

The past twelve months have been tough — and things won’t get much easier in the year ahead.

But amid the economic gloom, there’s much to look forward to in 2012. Tomorrow is the start of Olympics year, when we can show the world just how great Britain is.

The Sun will be a major cheerleader for both athletes and nation as the countdown to the London games begins.

There’s also a double bank holiday coming up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June.

And to cap an action-packed summer, England’s football aces will be fighting for glory in Euro 2012.

But if you just want to escape, you can always book a £9.50 Sun holiday when the offer returns next week.

We wish our loyal army of readers, distributors, newsagents and delivery teams every happiness in 2012.

So tonight, let the good times roll and have a Happy New Year.