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December 21, 2012 / politicsbitesize

12 Pieces of Good News


With only a few days before the Christmas festivities begin (and end!), Politics:bitesize wants to draw your attention to twelve positive events to have come out of the political arena this year.

1) Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press standards was finally published.  It has called for tighter self-regulation of the press and recommends that any new independent regulating body should be underpinned by state legislation.

2) Motorists will not have to find extra money from their income in order to fill up with petrol.  In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor told MPs that instead of freezing fuel duty he was going to scrap it altogether.

3) A proposed change to the Equalities Bill will mean that same sex marriages will be allowed in places of worship or on religious premises, but only if the institutions agree to perform the ceremony.

4) According to official figures the number of people who are currently unemployed fell by 82,000 between August and October this year.  This is the biggest drop in the unemployment figures since 2001 and is a big boost to the Coalition Government’s policy on reducing joblessness.

5) Although energy prices have increased, the Prime Minister has vowed to compel the big six energy firms to put customers onto the lowest tariff possible.  This promise from David Cameron will make its way into the Energy Bill.

6) The proposal to set regional pay in the NHS has been scrapped because it is recognised as unfair and unworkable.  Paying staff according to average pay in their local areas would have meant a reduction in wages for many members of staff throughout NHS hospitals in the UK.

7) Thanks to pressure by consumers and a series of probing questions by ministers, the coffee chain, Starbucks, has agreed to pay more corporation tax.  After paying only £8.6m in corporation tax in 14 years, the company has said its contributions over the next two years (2013-14) could amount to as much as £20m.

8) The Liberal Democrats have found a voice in the ex-children’s minister Sarah Teather.  In an outspoken interview with the Observer in November the MP for Brent Central denounced the proposed benefits cap as immoral and deeply socially divisive.  She claims the policy would have a detrimental impact on many families who are struggling to make ends meet.

9) In a surprising U-turn the Coalition Government decided to cap the cost of social care to £35,000 per person.  The lifetime cap of the cost of care was added to the draft of the Care and Support Bill in August.  This means that the cost of care in an old people’s home could cost each individual no more than £35,000, after which the state would pick up the bill.

10) In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor told MPs that, ‘£100m worth of tax loopholes will be closed with immediate effect’.  He went on to tell them that around £5bn will be reclaimed over the next six years from undisclosed Swiss bank accounts held by UK residents.

11) Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, called for a crackdown in the number of civil servants avoiding the full rate of tax. He sent a letter to the Chancellor outlining that more than 2,000 civil servants were being paid ‘off payroll’ and calling for the practice to be stopped.

12) Mark Carney is set to take over as the governor of the Bank of England early next year.  He is currently governor of the Bank of Canada, a country that has weathered the global financial crisis impeccably, and is described as ‘the best central banker in the world’.  Let us hope that he can sort out the mess that is the UK economy.


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