Lead story

Bonanza for landlords

by Daphne Liddle

PRIVATE landlords have enjoyed a £14 billion tax break against mortgage interest on buy-tolet properties according to a report released by Shelter last week.

The scale of the tax breaks was revealed by HM Revenue & Customs after a freedom of information request.

Landlords buying properties were allowed to claim mortgage interest as a business expense, according to figures recently released showing the rapid expansion in the buy-to-let sector following the 2008 financial collapse.

Property owners, who can claim tax deductions for a wide range of expenses when they rent out homes, claimed £6.3 billion in tax relief against the cost of mortgage interest alone in the 2012-13 financial year.

These allowable expenses include the cost of insurance, maintenance and repairs, utility bills, cleaning and gardening, and legal fees. Ordinary homeowners are not entitled to similar privileges.

And even the rents they collect are often paid by the state in the form of housing benefit.

Read the full story here >>

Bonanza for landlords

Austerity marches multiply

by New Worker correspondent

THE OUTBREAK of anti-austerity marches that began after the general election shows no sign of abating and received a new impetus last week with the Queen’s Speech and the announcement of new draconian cuts to welfare and benefits.

On the evening of the speech last Wednesday thousands of protesters, most of them young and angry, gathered in Trafalgar Square for a rally and march organised by the Anonymous protest group, Youth Fight Against Jobs, The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and The People’s Assembly.

They marched down Whitehall. Police tried to box them in in Whitehall repeatedly but did not have the numbers to be effective

The matchers kept moving quickly to avoid being kettled and when they reached Parliament Square they found the road going to Conservative Party headquarters at Millbank was completely blocked with 10-foot steel barriers. Many side streets were also blocked.

The marchers turned towards Victoria, walking fast and changing direction often, leaving the accompanying police struggling to keep up with them. At one point they passed New Scotland Yard.

On their way the marchers encountered UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell, leaving Parliament and there were scuffles as he was challenged as a racist.

The police responded with heavy-handed attacks on the marchers and there were clashes with police forced to retreat and abandon a police car at one stage, which became decorated with anti-cuts posters and placards.

Read the full story here >>

Austerity marches multiply


Shooting the watchdogs

THE GOVERNMENT has been forced to postpone its plans to abolish the Human Rights Act. But it is still pressing ahead with reintroducing the snoopers’ charter — in other words allowing Government spies access to store and read all our electronic communications in case we should all turn out to be terrorists, or even worse “domestic extremists”— political activists who do not worship their great God Mammon.

And they are still at it behind the scenes dismantling all those obscure checks and balances of the bourgeois state put there to stop a bourgeois democracy, sliding into a fascist police state.

The parliamentary committee that scrutinises proposed major constitutional changes been quietly scrapped. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which was originally established for the duration of the 2010 parliament, was scrapped following a meeting of party whips.

Britain is facing very big constitutional changes in the current parliament with a referendum on membership of the European Union set to be held within the next two years.

Further devolution of powers to cities, Scotland, and Wales are all expected to be delivered at the same time as the Government tries to draw up a new Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act.

The Tory government also has plans to redraw parliamentary constituency boundaries in a way that would be advantageous to the Conservative party.

There are big changes to welfare entitlement and more anti-union laws in the pipeline. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will have a big impact on planning laws, health and safety regulations and anti-discrimination legislation. If the referendum takes us out of Europe of course Britain may not be part of TTIP but the odds are that even then David Cameron will find a way of keeping us in TTIP. It’s what his bosses would want.

Read the full story here >>

Shooting the watchdogs