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Posts Tagged ‘taxpayer’

Some of the things that I’ve come across or heard in the last few days:

  • A granny was robbed of gold necklace after she collected her grandchild from our school nursery. Lunchtime yesterday.
  • A friend’s business was burgled a few days ago. When police came round to look at the break-in they smelt something suspicious. They raided the unit next door and found a cannabis factory.
  • 2 men (dad and an uncle?) were taking a young lad, maybe six years old, to the ice-cream van, just as school was out and streams of kids were passing and queuing. They were dressed in t-shirts bearing what I have found are sometimes called ‘comedy‘ phrases. I wasn’t very amused myself. I don’t shop at Blue Inc, or I’d be boycotting their business.
  • A kid who thought that ‘the taxpayer’ would pay for our broken windows, so it wasn’t such a big issue after all.

And these are just the stories that I can tell in public. The evil and brokenness around us here can sometimes be heartbreaking. Despite that, we are encouraged regularly. This week some kind builders have been supplying us with wooden pallets (for burning and for storing logs on) and some tree surgeons gave us a tree that they’d been chopping down. Vicarage warmth is assured for next winter.

Like every week at the Vicarage, it’s been a fair old mix, but perhaps more of a mix than most people enjoy. It makes me remember that old hymn and resolve to employ my heart and tongue as I should.

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady

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Today in the Vicarage we had two reminders of how our  tax money gets wasted by the government itself and by individuals in our society on behalf of everyone else.

Firstly the Vicar had his PAYE Coding Notice come through from HM Revenue and Customs. This was corrected from the erroneous one we received two weeks ago, which gave palpitations to approximately 7000 Church of England clergy around the country as it almost halved their tax-free allowancee.

I wonder how much money sending out a replacement letter cost? The guesses on the grapevine cite the closure of the specialist clergy tax team as a reason for the error. Whatever the cause, it caused unnecessary stress and extra government-funded work. Not really good enough HMRC.

The other instance was that of a friend, who had spent the morning with a lady from the Benefits office. The friend had been reported for not declaring income from work. Actually, this was voluntary work she’d been doing, for which she received no remuneration. Once she’d explained to the Benefits Agency lady what remuneration meant, the lady was happy with her explanation (which was accompanied by a letter from the folk she was volunteering for) and left.

It seems that someone with a grudge had reported our friend and wanted to cause her inconvenience, rather than just speak to her and ask or even ask the place where she was volunteering. We’re only talking a couple of hours of volunteering a week here, not something that took all her time.  Or perhaps the person didn’t bear a grudge, but was concerned. It’s still a great pity that they didn’t feel able to ask directly. The cost to the taxpayer of letters, staff time and form-filling  must be sizable. Especially when you multiply this situation around the country. And now our friend thinks that someone is intent on causing her trouble. We have a broken society of broken people taking out their grudges by using government agencies. I don’t know how that can be fixed except by the power of change that is brought by belief and trust in Christ.

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ISA logo

More bureaucracy to hamper volunteering?

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I had a little rant about CRB forms. A local journalist picked it up and made a bit of a news item of it. Comments were made on the Express and Star article and on the blog – it seems to be an issue that affects many people.

Since my rant I’ve been off to Sandwell Council to fill in my form and have a mini interview where they viewed all my documents. It’s a good thing I took my marriage certificate, cos since I’d retained my maiden name as a middle name they wanted a copy of that too. I’m still waiting for the disclosure to come through. According to the lady at the council, neither the school nor the council pays for my form since I’m a volunteer. I’d like to know how the agency is funded then – it has to be the taxpayer in the end.

From that interview, and from blog comments, I understand that the really important part of a CRB form is not the disclosure you get given yourself, but the ‘soft information’ sent to the applying organisation. But I can’t see why the applying organisation couldn’t see a previous disclosure and then have a system where the CRB takes the number of that form and gives the soft information to the new organisation.

And it seems that the new Independent Safeguarding Authority‘s Vetting and Barring scheme will merely add an additional layer of bureaucracy, not simplify the system. The CRB’s website makes it clear that

…the ISA will prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults The CRB will continue to support employers, through CRB checks by providing them with access to an individual’s full criminal record and other information so that they can asses that individual’s suitability for a particular post or position

So now people who volunteer or work in different organisations will have to have both a fistful of CRB disclosures and an ISA clearance. Joy. At least the ISA are able to make their check transferable. Why not the CRB? This seems to be a case of a total lack of joined up government or maybe it’s just a job creation scheme.

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