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Bridget_Phillipson_MP_(right)_and_Zoe_Daison_(left)_Biggest_Fight_against_Bone_Cancer_campaign_Bone_Cancer_Research_Trust_1_Feb_2017.JPGOn Wednesday 1st February 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, met with her constituent and a local campaigner for bone cancer, Zoe Davison, at The Biggest Fight Against Bone Cancer campaign event at parliament. 

Ms Davison is from Houghton-le-Spring and works for the organiser of the campaign, the Bone Cancer Research Trust. It is a Leeds-based small charity that provides information and raises awareness of primary bone cancer, a rare albeit serious condition that can affect people of all ages. The Trust was founded in 2006 and relies entirely on the support from the public to fund their work. Ms Davison extended the invitation to Bridget Phillipson as her local MP to attend the event to support the campaign. 

Commenting on the campaign event, Bridget Philipson MP said:

“I was pleased to meet Zoe in Westminster to support her organisation’s important work to fight against primary bone cancer.

“Contrary to the common notion that cancer often affects older people, primary bone cancer can affect children, teenagers and young adults alike. Around 500 cases are diagnosed in the UK each year, and we still don’t know what the risk factors are for the disease.

“Unfortunately, as the condition remains not widely well-known, many people don’t get a correct diagnosis until their cancer is already quite advanced.

“We need charities such as the Bone Cancer Research Trust to continue raising awareness of the condition, providing more information on the symptoms, tests and treatments, as well as support and counselling for those affected. That is why the campaign has my full support and I encourage people to get involved and support it too.”

More information on the campaign and how to support it can be found via thebiggestfight.org.

###ENDS###

 

PRESS RELEASE: Bridget Phillipson MP meets local campaigner to support fight against bone cancer

On Wednesday 1st February 2017, Bridget Phillipson, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, met with her constituent and a local campaigner for bone cancer, Zoe Davison, at The...

Bridget_Phillipson_MP.jpgLast week on the Public Accounts Committee – Parliament’s public spending watchdog – I warned the government that its demands for schools in England to make £3billion of savings by 2020 risks plunging schools into an NHS-style funding crisis.

The government says that it is making the schools funding system fairer by protecting the amount of funding it gives to councils and schools to spend on educating each pupil.

The Department for Education (DfE) website claims that “as the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money that schools get”.

Unfortunately, this claim is highly misleading.

In fact, the current funding settlement for schools does not provide for funding per pupil to increase in line with inflation. This means that, with pupil numbers on the rise, funding per pupil will actually fall in real terms by 2020.

Schools haven't experienced this level of reduction in spending power since the mid-1990s.

No one wants to see a return to the days of over-stretched teachers and crumbling schools when even basic resources were in short supply. I want better for our children.

Head teachers say they are already struggling to balance their budgets and that they urgently need more teachers.

They are right to be worried, as the Education Secretary hasn't told schools how to manage with less without affecting our children's education.

Since most of a school's budget is spent on staffing, it's hard to see how head teachers will manage without cutting subjects, increasing class sizes or slashing support staff - who make such a big difference to our children's life chances.

The proposed introduction of a new National Funding Formula for schools may well lead to further cuts across schools in Sunderland.

Unless the government acts now and gives schools the funding they need, it’s clear that schools’ finances will go the same way as those of the NHS.

Put simply, ministers are asking schools to do much more with a lot less – an approach that can only put our children’s education at risk.

This article was originally published by the Sunderland Echo on 2 February 2017. You can read the online version here

Bridget Phillipson MP: Schools facing NHS-style funding crisis unless government acts

Last week on the Public Accounts Committee – Parliament’s public spending watchdog – I warned the government that its demands for schools in England to make £3billion of savings by...


Bridget_Phillipson_-_Member_of_Parliament_for_Houghton_and_Sunderland_So....jpgBridget Phillipson, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, has joined her colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in calling for the government to be tougher and clearer in its approach to taxing the very wealthy.

In a new report, the PAC sets out measures to enable HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to improve tax collection, be more transparent about its work, seek new powers where required and do more to tackle those involved in tax avoidance and evasion. [1]

In light of changing behaviour that has seen avoidance “moving from off the peg marketed tax avoidance schemes to complex bespoke schemes”, the report also calls on HMRC to assess what more it could do to deter very wealthy taxpayers from bending or breaking the law. 

The report follows an inquiry by the PAC into collecting tax from high net worth individuals held last December. [2]

During that inquiry, Bridget Phillipson MP made headline news [3] by questioning HMRC officials about the rules concerning investment by high net worth individuals in Enterprise Zone Allowance (EZA) schemes. [4] 

Investors in these schemes benefitted from generous tax allowances that enabled them to claim 50% tax relief on the cost of their investment before the allowances were scrapped in April 2011.

According to a recent report by the BBC, millions of pounds in tax relief given to celebrities via an EZA scheme that led to the construction of two data centres on the Cobalt business park in the North Tyneside Enterprise Zone is now being clawed back by HMRC. [5]

At the PAC inquiry in December, Bridget Phillipson MP pressed HMRC officials to provide clarity to both taxpayers and investors over what was going on at the site. [6]

Although HMRC is unable to comment on a specific case, it has since confirmed to the PAC in writing that it has 25 EZA schemes under investigation, covering around 5,300 investments with total tax under consideration of over £400million. [7]

HMRC explicitly stated in that written evidence that the fact that statutory tax relief such as EZA has been claimed does not automatically mean that the relief is due. It also expressed concern that the conditions for EZA relief have not been met by a number of investment projects in respect of which relief has been claimed.

Finally, HMRC defended the time that it has taken to investigate the EZA schemes as the result of the process of requesting and analysing large amounts complicated documentation from taxpayers, including building and financing contracts.

Speaking after the publication of the PAC report, Bridget Phillipson MP said:

“This report is clear that the government must take a tougher stance on taxing the very wealthy.

“It sets out measures to enable HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to improve tax collection and give the public greater confidence that there is not one set of rules for the rich and another for everyone else.

“One way in which HMRC can do this is by playing a stronger role in identifying tax measures which are not being used as Parliament intended, and pushing harder for reform where the rules are open to abuse.

“This was a point that I stressed during the PAC inquiry last year when I questioned HMRC officials about the rules concerning investment in Enterprise Zone Allowance (EZA) schemes.

“Since then, HMRC has confirmed that it has 25 such schemes under investigation, with total tax under consideration of over £400million.

“That is a lot of money, and taxpayers deserve to know how it has been spent.  

“There is also an important principle at stake here. These schemes were designed to encourage investment in enterprise zones, which were set up in regions like the north east to drive economic growth.

“It would be simply unacceptable if a system intended to stimulate economic growth in deprived areas was left open to exploitation by those with no interest in supporting local jobs and investment.

“I understand that investigations of this nature can take time, but I know that many of my constituents will join me in calling for HMRC to complete its investigations into these schemes as soon as possible.

“Like my colleagues on the PAC, I also expect HMRC to respond positively to the full recommendations set out in our report today.”

This story also featured in the Chronicle on 29 January 2017.

References

[1] House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Thirty-sixth Report of Session 2016-2017: ‘Collecting tax from high net worth individuals’, published 27 January 2017: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubacc/774/774.pdf

[2] Public Accounts Committee Inquiry: High Net Worth Individuals & HMRC: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/high-net-worth-individuals-hmrc-16-17/

[3] ‘HMRC claws back celebrities’ tax profit on empty data centres’, BBC News, 15 December 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-37645051

[4] See Public Accounts Committee Inquiry: High Net Worth Individuals & HMRC – Oral evidence, 7 December 2016, Q127-Q133: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/public-accounts-committee/high-net-worth-individuals-and-hmrc/oral/44226.html/#

[5] ‘HMRC claws back celebrities’ tax profit on empty data centres’, BBC News, 15 December 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-37645051

[6] Public Accounts Committee Inquiry: High Net Worth Individuals & HMRC – Oral evidence, 7 December 2016, Q133: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/public-accounts-committee/high-net-worth-individuals-and-hmrc/oral/44226.html/#

Q133       Bridget Phillipson: I appreciate that you look at what you can claw back by looking at some schemes, but you may have, say, an enterprise zone, where the whole point is to drive jobs and investment, and that could be exploited to do quite the opposite. Even if you put to one side the amount of money—the yield—that you could arrive at from your investigations, if you have schemes that are designed to support parts of the country with enterprise zones, it is about the principle at stake as well—that you have a system set up to support regeneration and investment, that is then exploited by others with no interest in regeneration or investment, simply to line their own pockets.

Jon Thompson: Sure. I understand the point that you are making, and I think what we have said is that we will try and give you a detailed update if you can just tell us a bit more—

[7] See written response from HM Revenue & Customs to Q127 by Bridget Phillipson MP, published by the PAC on 11 January 2017: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/public-accounts-committee/high-net-worth-individuals-and-hmrc/written/44609.pdf

Bridget Phillipson MP: Government must get tough on taxing super rich

Bridget Phillipson, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, has joined her colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in calling for the government to be tougher and clearer...


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