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West Oxon Greens Blog

The Big Society gets smaller.

by WestOxon Greens Editor on 04/16/12

When Cameron became Prime Minister a lot of fuss was made around the concept of "The Big Society". Although nobody really understood what exactly this Big Society of his was, the PM kept inferring that many of the tasks carried out by government bodies would be best executed either by individuals, or, even better, by charities.

The recent announcement in the budget to clamp down on charity tax relief came as a nasty shock to an already vulnerable third sector, whose activities had already been undermined by savage cuts at local and national level.  The Charities Aid Foundation polled some of its members and they overwhelmingly expressed concerns that the new measures may prevent large donors from contributing to good causes.  

While there are good reasons for clamping down on tax evasion, and a number of wealthy individuals have managed for years to hide behind the facade of "charitable trusts" for fiscal evasion only, the new rule is a very blunt instrument that will do nothing to prevent the less scrupulous richest people from not paying taxes, while reducing the income of genuine charities.   Enhancing the powers of the Charity Commission would have been a much more effective solution, just as imposing the cap on donations to non UK charities only, for example.

So instead of looking at how political parties are funded, or closing well known tax loopholes, such as those that allow non-doms to fly overnight on their private jet and return to continue to enjoy virtually tax free existence, the government is hitting out at the third sector.  So much for a big society, more like a revival of a Dickensian one instead.

Will the MOD release pressure on housing in West Oxfordshire?

by WestOxon Greens Editor on 03/15/12

Since the closure of RAF Lyneham and the relocation of personnel to the expanded Brize Norton base the housing situation has become more acute in an area of the county where housing is already expensive and beyond the reach of most people.  Previous plans contemplated large developments grafted onto Carterton.  So the recent announcement by the MOD that land in the centre of Carterton could be made available for property is a welcome one.  But even if this plan went ahead the population of Carterton would increase by another 4000 and we all know how congested roads are.  Where is sustainability in all this and how green would any new housing development really be? 


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