Alistair Darling

What was that, Darling?

Always nice to reference Blackadder. So, Alistair Darling has sought to dig Labour from a hole of their own making by raising the personal tax-free allowance by £600. Not only does this allow stupid people to think 'Oh good, I'm £600 better off' (when they're not) he's paid for it by borrowing £2.7billion - i.e. the country is going further into debt to dig Labour from this hole - one that anyone with any sense saw coming a year ago.

He is also going to 'lower the level at which 40p tax is paid - so higher earners did not gain from the change.'

Yep, and some more of the middle classes get moved into the top tax bracket.

It's a threshold raise for one year only (they 'aim' to continue the support, but....)

Of course, this is nothing to do with the upcoming by-elections. Oh no. Just as certain tax breaks made as 'one offs' had nothing to do with the general election in 2005. 'A one-off council tax refund of £200 for every household with a member aged 65 or older. Annual winter fuel payment of £200 for over-65s and £300 for over-80s' (source)

On the other hand, it is better to have a government which realises they've cocked up and seeks to put it right - but they've put it 'right' by increasing national debt. They could have saved a lot of cash by removing the expensive and also pointlessly invasive ID card scheme. A scheme which has the appearance of increasing, but doesn't substantially increase actual security. Scrapping this illiberal scheme would have also righted another mistake.

Yes, it's a tax break today (or rather it's removing a tax increase) - but it'll have to be paid for tomorrow.

The fault of low level civil servants?

Regarding the recent data leak:

The Conservatives say the crisis is down to "systemic" errors at HMRC - but the government insists it was the fault of low level civil servants.'

Source

Rubbish - why was it possible for a low level civil servant to download the entire database in one go and burn it to CD? (i.e. the potential is there to steal it).

A low level civil servant should only be able to view a record at a time, and not export the records at all. This is trivial.

I still can't believe that they thought it'd be too expensive to drop sensitive fields.

Records on 25million families lost

This includes bank details for 7 million families, national insurance numbers and so on. The information was sent, by unrecorded delivery, through the post. This is information worth millions, if not billions, in the wrong hands.

Source

The records include parents' and children's names, addresses, dates of birth, child benefit and national insurance numbers and in some cases, bank or building society details.

And then they wonder why I don't trust this government, or any government, with all of my personal information on a centralised ID database?

On the bright side, the discs are 'password protected'. That's all right then, dictionary brute force attacks have almost never been shown to work....

In other news, last week the Information Commissioner’s Office asked the UK to criminalise severe data breaches. Good job for the powers that be that this hasn't happened yet!

Even if this was the mistake of some underling, the fact that the systems were so lapse that this information could be burned to CD is a massive problem.

Update: The banks are advising that people don't need to phone them and say 'give me a new bank account number'. They would say that, it's a lot of work - but on the precautionary principle, there is no reason not to do this. In fact, if my bank said there was no need, I would respond by saying 'if you won't give me a new account number, I'll move my account'.

Update 2: Don't accept 'ID card database would be safe as it's protected by biometrics' - this is so much tosh, the biometric info is just another record in the database.

Update 3: No2ID now has this story