Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

Majority of tenants in Britain are ‘trapped renters’ who can’t afford to buy a house even though they would like to

March 27th, 2012

A report revealed that most people are tenants by compulsion and not by choice and most of them would prefer to own a home of their own, a report has revealed.

They find themselves trapped in the vortex of tenancy as buying a property in the prevailing condition has not only become high but also prohibitive.

The average home in one part of the country has an asking price of 2 million pounds.
The average home may be costing £163,000 but the salary averages for a full time worker is just £26,000.

The report says the number of families who are privately renting has ballooned and would continue to rise over the next few years.

Since the 1970’s the number of families renting a home has shown a high with one in every six families renting a home, they live in, an official figure has revealed.
A report by estate agency, Rightmove in its property website has said that the numbers are bound to rise even higher to one in five families in just four years time.

The agency said that it was expecting that, by 2016, 20 per cent of all households would be privately renting their home, with many finding their take-home pay wiped out by the monthly rent bill.

It said that the rental Britain was here to stay. The report said that the spotlight was usually pointed only at young people, with first time buyer unable to get onto the property ladder as the banks insisting 20 percent average deposit before giving any mortgage loan.

The report also said that first-time buyers were now joined by a new generation of more mature renters, particularly families.

According to Rightmove estimates ‘trapped renters’ form more than half of the rental sector in the UK with quarter of these being over 40. It added that a country which has so much emotional quotient attached to private homeownership it would be difficult to accept the condition.

The report reveals that renting of property was more costly than paying the mortgage Property loan. Overall the report estimates that there are 4.8millio privately rented homes in Britain, compared to just 2.5million a decade ago, a boon for buy-to-let investors.

Bank manager involved in defrauding his elderly customers to the tune of £128,000 jailed by a court

March 27th, 2012

Owen Danter a bank manager using his position of authority defrauded£128,000 of elderly women customers to fund his lavish lifestyle the Hull Crown court was told.

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The 33 year old manager took advantage of the trust the elderly had in him and knowing fully well that the targeted pensioners depended upon him and rarely checked their savings accounts, siphoned off tens of thousands of pounds over a period of four years.

The Santander Bank branch manager was never suspected and his thefts went undetected even in the quarterly audits.

Danter, a former deputy chairman of the local Conservative Association and leading light in the Chamber of Trade, was a respected figure who went around the town dressed in stylish suits and driving luxury sports cars.

As a manager of the East Yorkshire market town of Driffield branch he drew a salary of £35,000 plus bonuses which was not enough to fund the lifestyle he wanted to lead, the court heard.

He started with small amounts and gradually went on to steal thousands; he emptied the accounts of his most vulnerable customers and spent every penny on drinking, entertaining and socializing.

Detective Sergeant John Meagher said that Danter led high life and spent the money on expensive drinks such as champagne.

All this came into focus when he attempted suicide which failed. He had left a note for his employers about his criminal activity and named the accounts he had stolen from.

Danter, of Beverley, East Yorkshire, who admitted nine offences of theft, was jailed for 21 months.

Judge Jeremy Baker QC told him that his victims were ‘emotionally upset’ they came to know that their own bank manager who they trusted had defrauded them.

The court heard Danter had become an alcoholic and his condition made him commit more and more thefts.

Jane Bryan, prosecuting, said Danter picked on elderly customers with bonds and savings accounts where ‘the missing money was unlikely to be noticed’.

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All money stolen from customers has been reimbursed by the bank and Santander has recovered £30,000 from Danter’s pension fund.

ATM fraud – mostly, the doing of gangs from Romania

March 26th, 2012

Of the £30million that is stolen out of the cash machines across Britain it was found the crime was being committed mostly by Romanian gangs.

The very purpose of these gangs coming into Britain was to target the cash machines, using sophisticated equipment to get through to the bank details of unsuspecting victims.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, heading the police’s cheque and plastic crime unit said that 92 percent of all fraud committed at the Automated teller machines (ATMs) in the country was being committed by the Romanian nationals. Meaning more than nine in ten cash point crimes are committed by Romanian gangs.

Every year £30 million is stolen through this type of crimes. In the first three months of last year, detectives identified 120 Romanians linked to cash point crime, with the majority from or connected to the Bacau region of Romania.

The most common cash machine crime is skimming, in which a device fitted to an ATM copies a customer’s bank details and a small overhead camera records their PIN. Criminals then place the victim’s details on to another card, which they use to withdraw money. In less than minute equipments are fixed at the ATM’s and on an average £500 is taken from each cloned card.

Mr Barnard said that the criminals kept improvising their technology to beat the technology the banks developed.

Though improved security has seen the fraud come down to 12 percent since last year it was estimated that there are still 1000 Romanian cash point gangs operating in Britain and the officers fear that the activity would spill out during London Olympics.

In 2008, Romanian fraudster Adu Bunu, from Bacau, was jailed for five years for cloning 2000 cards and stealing more than one million pounds.

A spokesman for industry group Financial Fraud Action UK said although cash card fraud had decreased in the past year, the cardholders need to be cautious and if they think a card machine has been tampered with, they should immediately end the transaction and use an alternative ATM.

He said users should keep the keypad covered when entering their PIN, and check their bank statement for any suspicious withdrawals and in case they spot any discrepancies they should contact their card issuer immediately. An innocent card fraud victim has legal protection and should not suffer any financial loss.

HMRC to crack down on parents who avoid tax on the salaries paid to their nannies

March 26th, 2012

In their effort to crackdown on people who avoid paying taxes, the tax inspectors have warned thousands of parents who have been paying salaries to their nannies in cash. The inspectors have warned that it was not particularly hard to find such people.

It has emerged that thousands of British families pay in cash to avoid paying tax and National Insurance contributions.

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have started using part of the £917 million fund allocated to tackle tax avoidance and to hunt those who were involved in it.HMRC Westminster

In the event of any body getting caught of the offence they would have to repay all the taxes that they had avoided plus a 100 percent fine which comes to around £19,000 for a year calculated on the average salary of a full time live in child carer in London.

An HMRC spokesman said that they were expecting apprehend more parents who were avoiding PAYE (Pay As You Earn) in the next year.

He said that it was not difficult to find such people as it often became clear that previous payments were not made when the nanny leaves and finds a new job.

Around 30,000 nannies officially work in England alone, according to a recent Government report.

The nanny business being largely unregulated the government treasury was losing tens and millions every year as a fifth of the nannies have said that their employers did not pay tax or National Insurance.

Child care cost is so high and the parents who feel the pinch of the double taxation, avoid paying tax on the salaries of their nannies. First they pay for their own income and then they have to pay on what they pay to their nannies virtually paying twice on the same income.

Many declare only a part of the wages they pay to their employees and pay the balance in cash which is illegal.

Employers have a legal obligation to make PAYE payments if an employee’s earnings reach the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit.

This is £5,564 a year in 2012 to 2013.

The threshold of minimum income to be doubled to discourage immigrants from using family visa route to settle their loved ones in Britain

March 26th, 2012

home secretary

In an attempt to curb the abuse of family visa system the authorities are going to take up a major immigration crackdown targeting tens of thousands of people who are using the system to settle their partners, spouses or dependants in the UK.

In a communication leak the letter by Home Secretary Theresa May had outlined plans which could impose a new minimum income of £25,700 a year for anyone who would try to bring in a relative or loved one from outside the European Union.

The requirement means the minimum income threshold is almost being doubled from the existing £13,700.

And for those who would like to bring in children the threshold would be raised to £37,000 for one child, £ 49,000 for two or £62000 for three.

Notwithstanding the above stipulations the letter addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has also called for the minimum probationary period to be raised from two years to five years before anyone could make an application.

Mrs May says that the move would reduce the costs on the exchequer, promote integration and tackle abuse. She wants the move to be implemented from June.

The move is expected to cut the number of immigrants to 15,000 a year helping in the cause of the Tory’s election promises of reducing the numbers of immigrants entering into UK from 250,000 a year to tens of thousands by the promised year 2015.

Though the proposals to stop abuse of family visa according to Mrs May has been a popular choice of the public in the Coalition’s consultation last year it is not going to cut ice with Mr Clegg and his Lib Dem colleagues who have a softer approach towards immigration.

The Lib Dem had in its 2010 election manifesto had pledged to provide amnesty to all illegal immigrants already in Britain.

The relationship between the coalition partners is bound to see some rough weather over the issue of immigration and Chancellor George Osbourne’s accusation that the Lib Dem’s leaked his budget diluting its positive effects.

The Chancellor believed that the issue of granny tax took the center stage as there were leaks before the actual budget was read.

New city might spring up alongside the High Speed 2 rail line if a proposal is given a go ahead.

March 26th, 2012

Faced by housing shortage the government is thinking of building a new city in the Midlands alongside the High Speed 2 rail line.

The transport projects chief engineer had said that up to 100,000 homes could be possibly built in the green belt land alongside the rail line.

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In the process of simplifying the planning laws to give a boost to the economy the ministers came out with the details to launch a National Planning Policy Framework.

The plan of building the new city was being backed by the Chief Engineer Andrew McNaughton, and if it is given the assent the houses may come up in the open countryside between Birmingham and Coventry.

If it becomes a reality then it would be the biggest metropolis starting from Coventry in the East to Wolverhampton in the west.

The project would be part of the development being envisaged over the coming years which would see nearly two million new homes coming up by the year 2020.

The growth is being visualized by the Office for National Statistics to take place outside the major cities with the population of England being expected to touch 4.4 million.

To cope up with the demands of the growing population it is being estimated that some 59,000 new homes would be needed in Essex, 55,000, in Kent, 49,000 in Hertfordshire, 37,000 in Lincolnshire and 26,000 in Cambridgeshire.

By 2020, it is being seen that most of the population growth would occur in the rural England and the Midlands with Boston, Corby and Northampton set to grow by 17 to 19 percent till such time.

The Prime Minister David Cameron had too said last week that he wanted to see chain of garden cities along with increased airport capacity. He had stated that there was an urgent need to find places where significant new development could be taken up.

With more voices raising concern that the HS2 was a project for supporting development by concretizing countryside Mr Cameron tried to assuage the planning row by saying that countryside was in his blood that his ministers were in the process of strengthening the legal protection of school playing fields which were being sold for housing housing over the past decade.

He said the laws would see that no developments would be allowed in the playing fields unless the development provided an alternative sports and recreation.

Russian businessman who was living in UK on business visa and shortly applying for asylum was shot by his rivals

March 26th, 2012

 

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A Russian businessman who was gunned down in London was preparing to claim political asylum in Britain for himself and his family as his business visa was due to expire next year..

German Gorbuntsov was living legally in the UK since 2008.

The 45 year old businessman who was in the business of finance was in fact living in hiding in London because he was afraid that once his visa expired and he was forced to go back to his country he would be exposed to his enemies.

He had revealed his fear of being killed by his enemies if he returned to Russia. He was in a hospital after being hit up six times. He was under armed guard protection at the hospital.

The authorities were now worried that Mr Gorbuntsov’s wife and son could become the target of the, would be assassin, who was still at large.

Mrs Larisa Gorbuntsov flew to London to be with her husband at the hospital and the 25 year old son Vladislav is seeking visa to visit his father at the hospital.

The attack is being seen as the deed of Gorbuntsov’s ex business partner Alexander Antonov who was shot in Moscow in 2009.

But Mr Antonov said that he was not behind the attack even though there were issues of debts between the partners amounting to £60million.

The shooting incident happened when Mr Gorbuntsov had got down from a taxi at his apartment block next to Canary Wharf on Tuesday evening after having attended a business meeting in Bishopgate.

Scotland Yard was seeking the help of the taxi driver who had dropped Mr Gorbuntsov at his apartments the police think he may be a witness to the attack.

The hooded attacker was described as white, 6ft tall and slim who fled on foot.

Inquiry by groups of MPs into run away children from care homes to find a lasting solution to their problems

March 22nd, 2012

 

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Two influential groups of parliamentarians have together taken the cause of child care and support of thousands of children who run away or go missing from care every year.

An inquiry is due into the care and support provided to these children. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG on Looked After Children and Care Leavers have joined forces and working into finding a clearer picture by taking the views of local and national looked after children.

The Children’s Society has revealed that quarter of the 100,000 children who went missing or ran away from their care homes were the victims of substantial harm or abuse.

The Society opined that children in care were three times likely to run away than other children. There fore it was important to improve understanding with this group of population it said.

The inquiry is to seek data and share information, police responses and the role of inspection and assessment in regard to the looked after children who are placed away from their home local authority. It will also have separate sessions in looking to safeguard trafficked children who have gone missing from care.

The APPGs are keen to hear from interested parties, in particular from children and young people with experiences of being looked after and running away or going missing.

After the inquiry a clear set of recommendations which can be implemented will be created for the policy makers to improve support to children locally and nationally.

The respective groups have welcomed the timely initiative to improve the wellbeing of the children who run away or go missing from their care.

Legal aid reforms and its effects

March 22nd, 2012

The Coalition’s plan for austerity by cutting 2.1 billion pound legal aid scheme specifically in areas relating to immigration, housing and family law had seen some anger among the law fraternity who argue that pro-bono work would not be able to meet the demand of some half a million people who risk losing access to justice.

The cuts which were announced in November last had Justice Secretary Ken Clarke proposing the harshest of reforms in the legal aid scheme since it was established in 1949, to save 350 million pounds by 2014-15 because the current legal aid bill is the most expensive in the world with the costs running in to some 2 billion pounds a year.

Though the Justice Secretary had said that legal aid in criminal cases were not going to be affected the areas which would be seeing reforms taking its toll are housing, medical malpractices, employment, family law, immigration, debt and welfare benefits, with exceptions being when a person’s life was endangered or if they were at a risk of losing their home or their freedom. Private family law cases were kept out of legal aid ambit unless domestic violence was an issue.

Family cases other than domestic violence which would still be eligible for legal aid are forced marriages, or issues of children being taken into care. Bereaved families including those of service personnel would be still eligible for assistance at inquests.

According to the Law Centers Federation, Voluntary advice institutions, law centers and Citizens Advice Bureaux were to lose 77 per cent of their legal aid income.

The new system means all those with assets of 1,000 pounds or more would have to pay a minimum of 100 pounds towards their legal costs in the event of successful outcome of their cases. To make court cases more affordable, lawyers’ fees will be reduced by 10 percent.

UK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the cuts to the 2.1-billion-pound legal aid scheme was to stop costly and often unnecessary litigation at taxpayers’ expense, saying the system was one of the most expensive in the world.

The government’s suggestion that pro bono work could help cover shortfalls created by the cuts, by reducing legal aid costs by 350 million pounds in four years had not many takers in the lawyers community who say pro bono work would not have the expertise to represent legal aid clients alone.

Anomaly in cutting child benefits for single earning parent cannot be eliminated as it would incur huge administrative costs

March 22nd, 2012

 

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The Budget has seen a partial reversal of cuts in child benefits with parents earning between £42,745 and £60,000 allowed keeping some or all of their child benefit but still some 840,000 families will be on the losing end.

The Government originally planned to save £2.5billion a year, from next financial year, by starting to means test child benefit, which was being paid to all families regardless of income.

The benefit presently is worth £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 each for all others.

The Chancellor said that families with an income of up to £50,000 were not going to lose their child benefits but those in between £50,000 and up to £60,000 bracket are going to see their benefits withdrawn gradually.

The new formula is seen by the critics as not eliminating the glitch which would affect a one earner family harder. The inconsistency is evident in as much as that a family where one parent is earning £60,000 will lose the benefits but a family where both the parents earn £50,000 each, can keep all of the child benefits.

Officials said that the anomaly was difficult to eliminate as assessment of family income than an individuals income would have meant more people being brought into the tax credit system which would see prohibitive administrative costs.

Mr Osborne had resisted making any amendments to the policy, arguing it would be complicated and difficult to administer. He told the Commons that the decision to remove child benefit from wealthier families was ‘difficult’.

The new system requires many more families to fill a self assessment tax form. The HM Revenue & Customs is estimating that some 500,000 people will have to go through the self assessment drill for the first time if they were to seek eligiblity for child benefit.

HMRC will write to households asking if there is a higher rate taxpayer in the family, and inviting them to have child benefit payments stopped if so. Alternatively, the benefit will continue to be paid and the appropriate sum will be clawed back through the tax system.

The gradual withdrawal of benefits is to prevent the ‘cliff-edge’ effect created by the original plan, unveiled at the Conservative conference in 2010.

Only parents earning £60,000 or more will lose all of their child benefit.

The changes the Chancellor announced will cost the Treasury around £500million a year.