E-petition calling for withdrawal of landlord-bashing extra taxes receives 15,300 signatures in a week

first_imgA parliamentary e-petition has been started by a landlord calling for the government to withdraw both the 3% additional Stamp Duty for second home buyers, and the recently-introduced reductions in tax relief on mortgage interest payments.Mark Homer, who is both a landlord and a director of investment advice firm Progressive Property, says he launched the petition out of frustration with the havoc government policies are wreaking on the private rental market. It has already gathered over 15,300 signatures in a week.“These measures have already begun to push up rents in my home town of Peterborough where they have risen by £200 a month on average over the past couple of years,” he says.“There are many fewer landlords buying properties to rent here because of the recent  tax changes.“It’s having a major impact on tenants both in terms of how much rent they pay and how much choice they have.”Homer (pictured) says he doesn’t believe that the mortgage interest tax relief has taken effect in full yet because many landlords “haven’t sat down with their accountants to work out what it really means for them”.His petition has piqued ministers at the HM Treasury and the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government, who have already posted a response to the petition online.It argues that the government’s measures have balanced the tax advantages of property ownership for landlords versus those offered to first time buyers.“By restricting landlords’ finance cost relief to the basic rate of income tax we are helping to reduce the advantage landlords may have over homeowners in the property market,” it says.But Homer disagrees, pointing out that first time buyers don’t pay capital gains tax but can get help buying via the taxpayer through Help to Buy, and that the system is too heavily “weighted toward first time and second-time buyers now”, he says.Read the petition, which has until November 14 to run, here.Read more about buy-to-let taxes.mark homer mortgage interest relief parliament progressive property stamp duty e-petition June 7, 2018Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Housing Market » E-petition calling for withdrawal of landlord-bashing extra taxes receives 15,300 signatures in a week previous nextHousing MarketE-petition calling for withdrawal of landlord-bashing extra taxes receives 15,300 signatures in a weekLandlord and property investment expert Mark Homer says he is confident his petition will get the 100,000 votes needed to force a debate in parlliament.Nigel Lewis7th June 201803,310 Viewslast_img read more

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Study questions value of respirator-fit testing

first_imgNov 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A Canadian study raises questions about the value of formal “fit testing” for the respirators worn by healthcare workers to protect them from airborne pathogens, suggesting that it does little good for workers who don’t routinely wear the devices.In the study, 44% of a sample of healthcare workers (HCWs) who lacked experience with respirator-fit testing managed to don the respirators properly, so that they formed a tight seal around the face, before they received any specific instructions.After all the HCWs were trained in how to wear the equipment, testing showed that 74% of them had a good fit. But when the workers were asked to strap on respirators again 3 months later, only about 47% of them achieved a good fit—not significantly more than did so before they were trained.”The utility of fit testing among infrequent users of N95 respirators is questionable,” says the report, written by a team from the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan, with M.C. Lee, MD, as first author. It was published online recently by Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology and is scheduled for the December print edition.In October 2006 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued interim guidance saying that the use of N-95 respirators—designed to stop 95% of small airborne particles—is “prudent” for medical workers providing any direct care for patients ill with confirmed or suspected pandemic influenza and is recommended in caring for those with pneumonia. HHS also said respirator use is prudent for support workers in direct contact with patients. Respirator manufacturers recommend fit testing for the devices.However, Lee and colleagues write that respirator-fit testing is time-consuming and costly, and its long-term effectiveness in a healthcare setting has never been examined. They sought to determine whether an acceptable respirator seal could be achieved without training or fit testing, whether training and fit testing could ensure a good seal during later use, and whether HCWs who use respirators regularly can achieve a good seal more consistently.Success without trainingThe researchers recruited 58 HCWs who had no experience with fit testing. They were first asked to put on a 3M 8210 N-95 respirator without any instruction, after which they underwent a fit test. Of the 43 HCWs who completed the study, 19 (44.2%) passed the fit test. Counting those who later dropped out of the study, 28 of 58 (48%) passed the test.Next, all the volunteers received formal training in donning and adjusting the 8210 respirators, and then underwent another fit test. At that point another 13 workers passed the test, for a total of 32 of 43 (74.4%). Those who couldn’t get an effective seal with the 8210 model were successfully fitted with other 3M respirators—ten with the 8110 model and one with the 9210. After achieving a proper fit, the volunteers were advised to remember which model they used and to choose the same one in the future.The researchers invited the participants back 3 and 14 months after the initial testing and training and repeated the donning and testing steps. At 3 months, 20 of the 43 HCWs (46.5%) passed the test; this increased to 28 of 43 (65.1%) at 14 months. Neither rate was significantly better than the first pretraining rate. Further, neither passing the test the first time nor occasionally using a respirator afterward correlated with passing at 3 or 14 months.If a volunteer chose the wrong respirator at 3 or 14 months, this was recorded as a failed attempt, and he or she was reminded which model had worked for him or her previously. Many of the volunteers could not recall which respirator to use, and many did not seem to recognize that fit is specific to respirator type, the report says.Only a minority of the workers remembered and performed all five prescribed steps in donning a respirator, and fewer than 5% passed all the fit-test challenges, the article says. When the investigators assessed execution of the five steps individually in relation to the overall pass rate, they found evidence that two steps—”correct strapping” and “adjusting bridge of the nose correctly”—were important for achieving a good seal.To assess whether frequent respirator use led to a more consistent fit, the researchers recruited 11 nurses working in a tuberculosis unit, all of whom had been tested before and used respirators daily. The nurses were tested three times at 2-week intervals, with no instruction the first two times. The third time, they were reminded of the standard fit-checking steps.Four of the 11 nurses failed the first two tests; it was determined that all four were using the wrong model of respirator, despite previous fit testing. Two of them had lost significant weight since their earlier fit test. All four subsequently achieved a good fit with other respirator models.The investigators also found that HCWs’ confidence in their ability to pass a fit test did not correlate with actual test results. “HCWs cannot tell with any accuracy whether they have achieved an adequate facial seal after donning their respirator,” they write.Finding the right modelNoting that 48% of the untrained volunteers achieved a good fit with the 8210 respirator the first time, and that this increased to 74% after training, the authors write, “Our data suggest that fit testing may be most useful for the initial screening of people whose facial features preclude the use of the most common types of respirators (which, in our region, was the model 3M 8210 respirator).”They also say their findings “challenge the current strategy for fit testing, which, in our region, is mandated every two years for all HCWs with direct patient care responsibility. Our findings question the need for fit testing of HCWs who utilize respirators on a frequent (ie, daily) basis, because their success rates were very high.”But for workers who seldom use respirators, different strategies may be needed, such as different teaching techniques or reminder sessions two or three times a year, because pass rates of 50% to 75% are “suboptimal,” the article says.The authors say the limitations of their study include its small sample size and the use of qualitative rather than quantitative fit testing. Qualitative fit testing depends on the ability of the wearer to taste or smell a noxious agent and therefore is not foolproof, they note.An infection control expert’s viewEddie Hedrick, MT, emerging infections coordinator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the study seems to support doubts the infection control community has long had about the worth of fit testing.”I think the study was designed pretty well,” Hedrick said. “The biggest problem, as they say, is the small sample size. It’s hard to translate that and say it’s a definitive study. It creates more questions about the science behind the effectiveness of fit testing.”In the United States, hospitals are generally required to conduct annual respirator-fit testing for all employees who have exposure to airborne pathogens, which usually means anyone who has contact with patients, he said. Although a fit test itself takes only a few minutes, it probably takes a worker an hour or more to go get the test done and return to his or her work area, he added.Hedrick chaired a panel of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) back in 1990 when the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began moving toward requiring more sophisticated respiratory protection for HCWs. Until that time, workers had relied mostly on simple surgical masks, he said.The effectiveness of fit testing has been questioned for years, Hedrick said. “If I fit-test someone and they go to the floor and don’t use this [respirator] for a long time, and they suddenly get a TB patient and they put it on, if they don’t put it on properly or check it, or if their face is contorted because they’re laughing or smiling, then air goes around it. So the effectiveness has been questioned from day 1. One would think it might be worse sometimes than a surgical mask.”He said fit testing can mislead health workers about their safety. “A lot people when they put them on, they say, ‘Well, I fit-tested it last year, so I’m OK.’ So it’s a false sense of security, and I think this study showed that.”That’s why APIC emphasizes “fit checking,” Hedrick explained. “We’ve always said, make sure when you put it on that it’s molded to your face properly. That’s better than waiting till January and then testing it.”He said it’s important to make a good scientific case for fit testing, just as it is for other healthcare practices.”We like to justify the efficacy of whatever we’re asking people to do,” he said. “If you do that, it’s an easy sell. Just saying, ‘If you don’t do it, OSHA is going to get you,’ isn’t going to help.”Lee MC, Takaya S, Long R, et al. Respirator-fit testing: Does it ensure the protection of healthcare workers against respirable particles carrying pathogens? Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2008 Dec;29(12) (early online publication) [Abstract]See also: Nov 16, 2006, CIDRAP News story “Clinicians raise questions about respirator use in pandemic”Oct 18, 2006, CIDRAP News story “HHS backs respirator use in caring for pandemic flu patients”HHS’s “Interim Guidance on Planning for the Use of Surgical Masks and Respirators in Health Care Settings during an Influenza Pandemic”http://www.pandemicflu.gov/professional/hospital/maskguidancehc.htmllast_img read more

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Revised FTK will provide ‘clear rules’ on indexation, reduce contribution volatility

first_imgTo keep salary costs stable for employers, and maintain purchasing power of participants, the new FTK would provide for a steady cost-covering contribution, based on the 10-year average of interest rates, or on estimated returns, Klijnsma said.However, a pension fund which picked the latter option would be required to include the costs of indexation in their premiums.The new FTK will also include steering instruments to limit pension funds’ exposure to daily changing discount rates, said the state secretary. For example, schemes would be allowed to use 12-month average rate to calculate of their coverage ratio.In addition, the Cabinet would discuss with the pensions sector how defined contribution plans could also be enabled to share risks collectively, she made clear. Klijnsma added that that Cabinet would start a broad dialogue with society about the long-term future of the pensions system. As part of the process, the Social and Economic Council (SER) would be requested to advise on the future of additional pensions. The Pensions Federation welcomed the FTK proposals, as it would decrease volatility of funding and would allow to more evenly distribute the impact of market shocks on pension benefits.However, it voiced concerns about the way the FTK is to balance the approach across generations.The envisaged rules, based on macro calculations, could turn out to be unbalanced for individual pension funds, it argued, underlining that a balance between the generations must be based on an overall solution, rather than on a single element in a pension plan.In its opinion, individual pension funds should be allowed to take their own decisions, based on their specific characteristics.The Federation further called for solutions to limit the volatility of the current risk-free discount rate, a source of instability to the pension system over the course of the last few years.In a joint statement, supervisors DNB and AFM cited increased shock resistance, stability, transparency and balance of the pension system, as the most important improvements in the proposed new FTK rules.However, they expressed disappointment that the option of cushioning premium levels based on estimated returns remained. They noted the uncertainly of achieving expected returns and argued that this could affect pension benefits.In their opinion, the approach was at odds with the benefit-based contract of the defined benefit schemes that still dominated in the Netherlands.Both supervisors urged Klijnsma to focus on a quick introduction of the new FTK, and indicated that they were confident that pension funds would be able to cope with a short implementation period. The new rules are scheduled to come into force as on 1 January 2015.In a preliminary response, the €300bn civil service scheme ABP noted that the new FTK proposals hardly offered opportunities to achieve its indexation target. “The new contract looks like a stricter version of the current nominal one,” it said.Peter Borgdorff, director of the €137bn healthcare scheme PFZW added: “Compared with previous proposals, the current ones are an improvement, but they are not sufficient yet.”“For example, it is stil unclear whether we will be allowed to invest as we think is necessary for the pensions we want to provide,”  he said.Also in a joint statement, the lobbying organisations for the elderly associations (CSO) and pensioners’ associations (KNVG) said they were afraid that the new rules would limit indexation.They called for an additional pension contract, that would allow pension funds to invest actively in order to increase the chances of indexation, while offering less certainty for future pensions.CSO and KNVG also underlined the importance of the same discount rate being applied for both pension contributions and liabilities. The new Dutch financial assessment framework (FTK) is to provide “clear rules” for dividing up indexation of pensions between younger and older workers to prevent disproportionate redistribution between the generations, the Dutch ministry of Social Affairs has announced. As a consequence, any potential windfall would not be able to redistributed immediately, the ministry said in a clarification of the FTK proposals. The proposals have now been put to the Council of State (RvS) for a legal assessment, before being presented to Parliament and fully published.According to Jetta Klijnsma, the secretary of state for Social Affairs, financial shocks or rising life expectancy, must trigger immediate rights cuts, but these may be spread out over a 10-year period, to avoid sudden discounts.She said that under the new rules, pension funds must also clarify in advance any measures to be taken in case of a big funding drop.last_img read more

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