Scrap stamp duty relief for zero carbon homes

Stamp duty exemption for new Zero Carbon homes sounds like a good idea but…

It only applies to the first sale. Given that the vast majority of zero carbon homes are built by individuals and not by building companies stamp duty would have already been paid on the plot and there would never be a first sale.

This legislation is therefore a waste of paper as virtually no one will get the relief.

It would be more useful to give Stamp Duty relief to all Level 5 and Level 6 houses on every sale.

Why is this idea important?

Stamp duty exemption for new Zero Carbon homes sounds like a good idea but…

It only applies to the first sale. Given that the vast majority of zero carbon homes are built by individuals and not by building companies stamp duty would have already been paid on the plot and there would never be a first sale.

This legislation is therefore a waste of paper as virtually no one will get the relief.

It would be more useful to give Stamp Duty relief to all Level 5 and Level 6 houses on every sale.

Everyone should have the right to DIY

The building regulations are being skewed to only allow certified trades to perform installations. I particular the Part-L wiring regulations.

There is no evidence that there was a problem with the old wiring regulations, electrocution is not a major cause of death in the UK.

Once it is a legal requirement to employ a 'specialist' the price goes up astronomically.

Everyone should have the right to do their own work in their own house in a cost effective way.

Why is this idea important?

The building regulations are being skewed to only allow certified trades to perform installations. I particular the Part-L wiring regulations.

There is no evidence that there was a problem with the old wiring regulations, electrocution is not a major cause of death in the UK.

Once it is a legal requirement to employ a 'specialist' the price goes up astronomically.

Everyone should have the right to do their own work in their own house in a cost effective way.

Stop the 3% Water Extraction Licence fee (tax) for Domestic Hydro Power

Currently domestic hydro electricity generators are assumes to loose 3% of the water used. This is just a stealth tax on hydro electric production. (commercial hydro schemes are assumes to have losses of only 0.3%)

The assumed 3% losses are probably about 10 times more than the real losses and as the hydro electric scheme will be next to a river then any water that escapes will quickly end up in the river. Losses should therefore be assumed to be zero.

This removes the need to have an extraction licence.

Why is this idea important?

Currently domestic hydro electricity generators are assumes to loose 3% of the water used. This is just a stealth tax on hydro electric production. (commercial hydro schemes are assumes to have losses of only 0.3%)

The assumed 3% losses are probably about 10 times more than the real losses and as the hydro electric scheme will be next to a river then any water that escapes will quickly end up in the river. Losses should therefore be assumed to be zero.

This removes the need to have an extraction licence.

Ban the sale of hot water domestic appliances that only have a cold water connection

There are many washing machines and dishwashers on sale that only have a clod water connection. These devices have no option but to use electricity to produce hot water. The electricity consumed may have been generated from 4 units of gas, making a considerable contribution to carbon emissions.

If these devices had hot water connections they could have generated the same heat from only 1 unit of gas or benefited from renewable heat.

Gas is also 1/4 the price of electricity unit for unit reducing the end users costs.

Why is this idea important?

There are many washing machines and dishwashers on sale that only have a clod water connection. These devices have no option but to use electricity to produce hot water. The electricity consumed may have been generated from 4 units of gas, making a considerable contribution to carbon emissions.

If these devices had hot water connections they could have generated the same heat from only 1 unit of gas or benefited from renewable heat.

Gas is also 1/4 the price of electricity unit for unit reducing the end users costs.

Remove the requirement for home made biodiesel to be EN14214 compliant

Currently HMRC insists that home made biodiesel (i.e. exempt producers producing less than 2500l per annum for personal use) meets EN14214 in order to benefit from the reduction in road fuel duty.

However testing against EN14214 is very expensive and therefore makes home biodiesel production uneconomic  or very risky (in terms of a big bill from the taxman). Why have legislation saying you can produce up to 2500l of biodiesel and then make it impossible to do so.

The insistence on EN14214 also excludes the use of Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) which requires no processing. Producing biodiesel uses energy and leads to waste products.

Lifting the EN14214 requirement would encourage the use of biodiesel.

Why is this idea important?

Currently HMRC insists that home made biodiesel (i.e. exempt producers producing less than 2500l per annum for personal use) meets EN14214 in order to benefit from the reduction in road fuel duty.

However testing against EN14214 is very expensive and therefore makes home biodiesel production uneconomic  or very risky (in terms of a big bill from the taxman). Why have legislation saying you can produce up to 2500l of biodiesel and then make it impossible to do so.

The insistence on EN14214 also excludes the use of Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) which requires no processing. Producing biodiesel uses energy and leads to waste products.

Lifting the EN14214 requirement would encourage the use of biodiesel.

Increase the biofuel content of diesel to 25% during the summer months

Currently diesel contains 5% biodiesel. The limiting factor is the viscosity of biodiesel at low temperatures.

At 25 deg C 25% biodiesel/diesel would have the same viscosity as as 5% biodiesel/diesel at -10 deg C.

Therefore the proportion of biodiesel could be 5% in Winter, 15% spring/autumn and 25% during the summer.

It is normal for ordinary diesel to be sold without winter additive during the summer months so it should be no problem to change the biodiesel/diesel blend.

Why is this idea important?

Currently diesel contains 5% biodiesel. The limiting factor is the viscosity of biodiesel at low temperatures.

At 25 deg C 25% biodiesel/diesel would have the same viscosity as as 5% biodiesel/diesel at -10 deg C.

Therefore the proportion of biodiesel could be 5% in Winter, 15% spring/autumn and 25% during the summer.

It is normal for ordinary diesel to be sold without winter additive during the summer months so it should be no problem to change the biodiesel/diesel blend.

Scrap the renewable energy RHI scheme

Whenever subsidies are paid they distort the market place. Organisations and people compete for their slice of the subsidy cake. e.g. you put a solar panel on your roof, the builder charges more because he knows you will get a subsidy and the insurance company charges more for the same reason.

It is possible to produce a renewable heating device that is financially viable without any subsidy. This is the device that should naturally be acepted by the market place, however the proposed RHI initiative will distort the market place by subsidising less cost effective technologies.

Why is this idea important?

Whenever subsidies are paid they distort the market place. Organisations and people compete for their slice of the subsidy cake. e.g. you put a solar panel on your roof, the builder charges more because he knows you will get a subsidy and the insurance company charges more for the same reason.

It is possible to produce a renewable heating device that is financially viable without any subsidy. This is the device that should naturally be acepted by the market place, however the proposed RHI initiative will distort the market place by subsidising less cost effective technologies.

Stop the arbitrary fines imposed by government departments

Stop the unnecessary fines being imposed by government departments. Business does not need any additional costs or having further time wasted challenging a fine.

The imposition of fines and the sending out of aggressive, threatening letters does nothing for the reputation of government departments.

There are also genuine reasons why a business may be late in providing a payment or a form.

Only a tiny minority of businesses fail to pay up for their own financial gain, a few will pay up within two weeks of the deadline and the majority will pay up on-time. However the threat  will be made to all.

Why is this idea important?

Stop the unnecessary fines being imposed by government departments. Business does not need any additional costs or having further time wasted challenging a fine.

The imposition of fines and the sending out of aggressive, threatening letters does nothing for the reputation of government departments.

There are also genuine reasons why a business may be late in providing a payment or a form.

Only a tiny minority of businesses fail to pay up for their own financial gain, a few will pay up within two weeks of the deadline and the majority will pay up on-time. However the threat  will be made to all.

Force BT Wholesale to provide broadband only lines

Broadband users who are not in a cable TV area are forced to have a telephone line in order to get broadband. This is unecessary.

You can add a telephone service on top of a broadband line. This will increase competition and reduce the cost of phone calls.

Telephone charges are around 3p per minute for local calls but the wholesale price for national calls is 0.1p per minute.

Why is this idea important?

Broadband users who are not in a cable TV area are forced to have a telephone line in order to get broadband. This is unecessary.

You can add a telephone service on top of a broadband line. This will increase competition and reduce the cost of phone calls.

Telephone charges are around 3p per minute for local calls but the wholesale price for national calls is 0.1p per minute.

Strengthen and use the Fraud Act to replace lots of other laws

A lot of laws are in fact sub-categories of fraud. If the Fraud Act was strengthened and used effectively it could make a lot of other laws or codes of practice redundant. e.g. the trade descriptions act.

For example if a travel insurance company wrote back to all its'claimants saying 'you are not covered for that', without bothering to read the claim letter, knowing that 50% of the claimants would give up, then that is deliberate deception leading to financial gain, and is fraud.

Why is this idea important?

A lot of laws are in fact sub-categories of fraud. If the Fraud Act was strengthened and used effectively it could make a lot of other laws or codes of practice redundant. e.g. the trade descriptions act.

For example if a travel insurance company wrote back to all its'claimants saying 'you are not covered for that', without bothering to read the claim letter, knowing that 50% of the claimants would give up, then that is deliberate deception leading to financial gain, and is fraud.

Amend the Charities Act so that 90% of donations go to the stated cause

There is a great deal of public concern that Charities are not passing on the donations they receive to the stated cause.

People feel their valuable donations are being burnt up in unnecessary administration, fat cat directors salaries or are being redirected to less worthy causes. In the event of a natural disaster the default response of some British Charities is to send a media spokesperson to ask for money in front of a Medicine San Frontier tent.

The Charities Act should be amended so that it is requirement of charitable status that 90% of donations received (including the sale of non-monetary donations) should be given to the stated cause. The stated cause(s) should be stated in the registration document. If the Charity appeals for funds on a specific cause then 90% of the resulting donations should go to that specific cause.

Why is this idea important?

There is a great deal of public concern that Charities are not passing on the donations they receive to the stated cause.

People feel their valuable donations are being burnt up in unnecessary administration, fat cat directors salaries or are being redirected to less worthy causes. In the event of a natural disaster the default response of some British Charities is to send a media spokesperson to ask for money in front of a Medicine San Frontier tent.

The Charities Act should be amended so that it is requirement of charitable status that 90% of donations received (including the sale of non-monetary donations) should be given to the stated cause. The stated cause(s) should be stated in the registration document. If the Charity appeals for funds on a specific cause then 90% of the resulting donations should go to that specific cause.

Give stand-alone solar panels full permitted development rights

Solar panels are classed as permitted development and therefore do no require planning permission. A good thing.

However stand-alone solar panels are only considered permitted development if they are less than 4m2 and are more than 5m from your boundary. To install a stand-alone panel you would need a garden of at least 11m wide. The vast majority of properties in the UK do not have gardens of this size.

The irony is that a 30m3 shed more than 1m from your boundary is considered permitted development. Sheds are obviously a higher priority than renewable energy under the planning regulations.

The planning guidelines should be changed to classify stand-alone solar panels as permitted development, perhaps with a height restriction of 2m, and to classify solar fencing as permitted development.

Why is this idea important?

Solar panels are classed as permitted development and therefore do no require planning permission. A good thing.

However stand-alone solar panels are only considered permitted development if they are less than 4m2 and are more than 5m from your boundary. To install a stand-alone panel you would need a garden of at least 11m wide. The vast majority of properties in the UK do not have gardens of this size.

The irony is that a 30m3 shed more than 1m from your boundary is considered permitted development. Sheds are obviously a higher priority than renewable energy under the planning regulations.

The planning guidelines should be changed to classify stand-alone solar panels as permitted development, perhaps with a height restriction of 2m, and to classify solar fencing as permitted development.

Prevent discrination against non-public-sector candidates applying for public sector jobs

There are a lot of public sector jobs advertised that discriminate against non-public-sector candidates.

For example you need to be a member of a professional body which is only for public-sector employees, or you need to have experience of a particular piece of computer software that is only used in the public-sector.

There is also the practice of tailoring the job requirements to an existing incubant. For example for a £30k job there was a long list of not very relevant requirements one of which was a Phd. I suspect this job had already been filled.

This practice locks in blinkered public-sector thinking and prevents new ideas entering the public sector.

Why is this idea important?

There are a lot of public sector jobs advertised that discriminate against non-public-sector candidates.

For example you need to be a member of a professional body which is only for public-sector employees, or you need to have experience of a particular piece of computer software that is only used in the public-sector.

There is also the practice of tailoring the job requirements to an existing incubant. For example for a £30k job there was a long list of not very relevant requirements one of which was a Phd. I suspect this job had already been filled.

This practice locks in blinkered public-sector thinking and prevents new ideas entering the public sector.

Limit local government to negotiating 5 year contracts

There are quite a few instances of local government agreeing 30 year contracts with suppliers.

If it's a good deal no one minds, however if it's a bad deal then the next 5 administrations are stuck with this bad deal and at who knows what cost to the rate payer. If the supplier has any sense they'll also write in a massive penalty clause making it almost impossible to get rid of them.

Even if it was a good deal when the contact was negotiated, circumstances and priorities change so there's not much chance of it remaining a good deal for 30 years.

Why is this idea important?

There are quite a few instances of local government agreeing 30 year contracts with suppliers.

If it's a good deal no one minds, however if it's a bad deal then the next 5 administrations are stuck with this bad deal and at who knows what cost to the rate payer. If the supplier has any sense they'll also write in a massive penalty clause making it almost impossible to get rid of them.

Even if it was a good deal when the contact was negotiated, circumstances and priorities change so there's not much chance of it remaining a good deal for 30 years.

Scrap the renewable energy MCS registration scheme

The MCS registration scheme is yet another example of a multi-layered Quango.

Ofgem sub-contract the MCS scheme to Gemserve. All Gemserve seem to do is hold the database.

Gemserve sub-contract to various third party Accreditation Bodies.

The Accreditation Body insist you have your renewable energy device tested by an independant testing laboratory. The Accreditation Body will then look at the test results and charge you five grand for the privilege.

And you have to test against an outdated British Standard that was derived from a irrelavent European standard. We never achieve the levels of solar radiation specified in the European standard. In order to meet this outdated and over-the-top British Standard you are forced to design with more expensive materials.

The whole scheme is pointless as any electricity generated will be measured by a smartmeter. If the renewable energy device doesn't perform no electricity will be generated and no feed-in-tariff will be paid. There is absolutely no need for a certification scheme.

The critical problem with the renewable energy sector is cost not quality. Micro-generation is just not cost effective. The MCS scheme only serves to drive up costs making renewables less likely to be adopted.

Why is this idea important?

The MCS registration scheme is yet another example of a multi-layered Quango.

Ofgem sub-contract the MCS scheme to Gemserve. All Gemserve seem to do is hold the database.

Gemserve sub-contract to various third party Accreditation Bodies.

The Accreditation Body insist you have your renewable energy device tested by an independant testing laboratory. The Accreditation Body will then look at the test results and charge you five grand for the privilege.

And you have to test against an outdated British Standard that was derived from a irrelavent European standard. We never achieve the levels of solar radiation specified in the European standard. In order to meet this outdated and over-the-top British Standard you are forced to design with more expensive materials.

The whole scheme is pointless as any electricity generated will be measured by a smartmeter. If the renewable energy device doesn't perform no electricity will be generated and no feed-in-tariff will be paid. There is absolutely no need for a certification scheme.

The critical problem with the renewable energy sector is cost not quality. Micro-generation is just not cost effective. The MCS scheme only serves to drive up costs making renewables less likely to be adopted.

Surrender of human rights by Criminal Activity

There have been many high profile and unfair cases where the victim of a crime has been prosocuted because the human rights of the criminal have been breached.

The Human Rights Act should be amended to accept the principle that anyone indulging in criminal activities surrenders part of their human rights as they intended to infringe the human rights of others.

e.g. If a burglar is climbing on your roof and falls through the ceiling then there can be no claim for damages from the burglar. The burglar surrendered his human rights with respect to the roof by indulging in a criminal act which took him to a place where he shouldn't have been.

Why is this idea important?

There have been many high profile and unfair cases where the victim of a crime has been prosocuted because the human rights of the criminal have been breached.

The Human Rights Act should be amended to accept the principle that anyone indulging in criminal activities surrenders part of their human rights as they intended to infringe the human rights of others.

e.g. If a burglar is climbing on your roof and falls through the ceiling then there can be no claim for damages from the burglar. The burglar surrendered his human rights with respect to the roof by indulging in a criminal act which took him to a place where he shouldn't have been.