Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Media and the law

There are various key resources we will use for this:
Wikis on the Press Complaints Commission and libel/slander; the Press Complaints Commission's own website; Media Guardian articles on media law; my blog on Media Regulation.

Lets start by pinning down the difference between libel and slander:
"Defamation" is the general term used internationally, and is used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "slander" and "libel". Libel and slander both require publication. The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies solely in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander. [SOURCE]

Lets check out today's front pages: thepaperboy.com
Do you think these papers serve our democratic need to be well informed citizens? What sort of content is featured as headline 'news'?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Budget, Revenue and Spending

The money raised by the government through taxation, assets and borrowing is its revenue, whereas the money paid out is known as government spending. We are currently experiencing widespread government spending cuts. Your generation could grow up with austerity the defining approach to government finance.
Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, second only to the Prime Minister in terms of seniority and authority within the government (and many would argue that Gordon Brown was more powerful as Tony Blair's Chancellor than when he became PM himself), sets out the government spending plans, including any changes to revenue-raising (taxes etc), in the Budget.
The Budget is the single most important economic and financial statement made each year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Parliament and the nation. The Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011 require the Government to produce a Budget Report for each financial year. The Charter for Budget Responsibility sets out what the Budget Report must cover.  [source: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget.htm]
Here's a short history of the Budget:

Every budget has winners and losers. In theory at least, Labour governments (at least before Tony Blair) would set budgets that reduced tax on the poor whilst increasing spending on the poor, using increased corporation (business) and wealth (income) tax to pay for this, while the Tories would cut public spending overall, especially welfare payments to the poor, and focus on reducing tax on the rich and business. The  2012 budget was extremely controversial: the so-called pasty tax (here's the BBC's take) seemed to penalise the poor while the richest saw their income tax cut from 50% to 45%.
After every budget the media quickly calculates who they think will the winners and losers, as do think tanks such as the IFS. The Guardian analyse the 2012 winners and losers from the autumn 2012 statement, which was heavy on welfare cuts, here.

This is a very simple task that you can achieve by quickly browsing the relevant Wikis, hyperlinked above, and looking for the different forms of taxation they list. You should be able to find at least 9. They don't list Council Tax as they focus on national taxation. Write or type these 9, + Council Tax.
The Wiki on public finance is full of useful facts, including the range of taxes the government uses to raise revenue. There is also a separate Wiki on taxation.