Friday, 17 March 2017

Mind the gap on house prices

Least and most affordable areas in England and Wales, from ONS, comparing now with 17 years ago...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

ABTA cyber attack

The travel agents organisation ABTA says 43,000 members and travellers may have had their personal information stolen in a cyber attack.

It says the attack was perpetrated by an external infiltrator on its web server on 27th February.

ABTA says most of the information taken is what it calls "low risk", including email addresses and encrypted passwords.

But up to 1,000 holidaymakers who uploaded documents to do with holiday complaints may have been more seriously affected.

In their cases photographs, addresses and phone numbers could have been accessed, although ABTA says banking details would not have been available.

Also, more detailed information about 650 travel agents could have been hacked, along with documents supporting their membership applications.

They are being told to monitor their bank accounts and to be vigilant about online fraud.

ABTA says the vulnerability in its server has been identified and dealt with. It wasn't able to identify the infiltrator was, saying that was now a matter for the police.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA's chief executive, apologised for the anxiety and concern the incident had caused.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Self-employed underpaying by £5bn? Really?

What did the Chancellor mean when he said in his Budget speech that...

"The lower National Insurance paid by the self-employed is forecast to cost our public finances over £5 billion this year alone"?

Some might have though he was implying that if only the self-employed paid what employed people pay then the Exchequer would be £5bn a year to the good.

But it's not quite like that.

Yes, Mr Hammond is simply totting up what he would get if all the self-employed were employed - and subtracting what he receives from them at the moment.

He reckons he would be £5.1bn a year better off.

Yet most of that large sum would come from the National Insurance paid by employers, the so-called tax on jobs.

Employer NICs are a substantial 13.8% of pay.

That's not money deducted from wage packets, even if employers see it as part of the cost of taking on staff.

The self-employed do contribute less, £2.80 a week and 9% of pay over £8,060, compared with the straight 12% contributed by employees.

But not £5bn less.

In fact some would argue that they are pushed into self-employment by companies who want to avoid having to pay employer NICs.

Even so, it was individuals whom the Chancellor targeted in his short-lived National Insurance hike, not companies trying to trim their tax bills.