/ Money

What should we campaign for in 2016?

2015 was a bumper year for us at Which? as we managed to persuade the government, regulators and private companies to help achieve a whole host of aims. But what does 2016 hold?

In 2014 we achieved a win a week for consumers, and were a little anxious about being able to keep that rate up – but we have and there are more people taking more action with us than ever before.

Which? now has a campaign supporter base of over 600,000 people, and together they’ve taken over one million actions since July alone. At the start of December we had our busiest week ever, with more than 108,000 actions taken in just seven days.

Our campaign wins

At the end of last year, thousands of our supporters wrote to their MPs asking them to pressure the Chancellor to stop sneaky mortgage fees and charges. During 2015 we’ve been working with the Council of Mortgage Lenders on how to make sure each fee is clear so you know what you’ll be charged. And this year we launched a new ‘tariff of mortgage charges’ which introduces a standard format for how lenders communicate their fees.

We also persuaded the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to say that insurers should print last year’s premium, convinced the Government to take action on mobile unlocking and made switching savings accounts easier.

The insights of supporters and community members helped us make sure that these campaigns kept the pressure on decision makers. As one MP remarked to me; ‘I can really tell when you are campaigning on an issue. It makes me take notice.’

Using powers that set us apart

One of the things (and there are quite a lot of them!) that makes Which? special is our super-complaint powers. These are conferred on just a few organisations and enable us to take action on behalf of all consumers to regulators about elements of the market we feel are harming consumers’ interests.

We don’t take filing a super-complaint lightly, but this year we decided to publish two. The first on supermarket pricing saw us ask the regulator to clamp down on misleading pricing tactics. The second, launched just last week, took issue with delayed train refunds.

We wanted to see how our supporters felt about these issues beforehand, to see if their concerns match the ones we have identified. This occasion was no different with thousands of supporters responding to our surveys.

Developing tools

We’ve begun to develop more tools to help people solve problems themselves, whether it’s helping you get compensation for flight delays or with returning faulty goods (particularly handy this time of year). You can also help us take action on nuisance calls by reporting the calls you receive with our free tool. I’ll give you a very large hint that we are looking at doing more of these in the new year.

Relaunching Which? Convo

It’s been a long time coming, but we were pleased to give you a brand spanking new site this year. The old one had become clunky, and after four and a half years it was time for a spring clean. Many of you were extremely generous in giving your time to test and refine the site and we still have some way to go. However, with more comments than ever and lots of new regulars, we’re pleased with the results so far.

Don’t stop us now

We may be on a roll with campaign victories, but we can always get better. The ongoing energy and banking inquiries from the CMA will continue to loom large in the campaigning activity we do and we will use milestones, like the first anniversary of pensions reforms, to reassess progress.

We’ll also be looking to see how we can better use the feedback we get from you on Which? Convo and our campaign supporters. Seeing the views that were left here get raised in Parliament to hold VW to account for rigging emissions was a personal highpoint of the year. That thread also showed the brilliant depth of knowledge that exists in people who use this site.

We’re committed to our work on the core issues that affect people – from the financial sector, energy market, supermarkets and telecoms providers – but we’re always open to new ideas. What campaigns would you like to see us work on in 2016?

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I am having trouble signing in “somebody trying to tell me something ” ? grayed screen comes up with details but when I click on it it reverts to =sign in .

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

I suspect that you can only login/join when they can check you are a subscriber and that is only when the office is manned. Many many people have told me of their efforts to try to join the Community Forum.

Regrettably many just give up. Apparently it was launched around the time of the AGM in November 2014 though nobody thought to mention it at that AGM or indeed in 2015 AGM. I was told it would be closed if there was insufficient activity in June 2014 when I met a Trustee and a Which Executive.

My feeling is that the Forum is being deliberately kept low-key as a forum where members start Conversations would compete with this Conversation forum where we get given topics. Or parts of topic.

“Conversations” is of course open to all even non-members so in theory has an huge potential base. Looking back some of the biggest Conversations were on winter tyres and medicine. The tyre matter I see has fallen of Which?s radar this year which is a great shame given the new all-season tyres that have been launched this year by the major manufacturers.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
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Hi Duncan, I think this was the cookies problem you rectified after this comment. The cookie allows the site to remember that you’ve signed in so you don’t need to keep doing it. If you haven’t been able to fix this, let me know by sending me an email: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/ Happy to help.

Dieseltaylor, we don’t need to be around for people to sign in – the system should recognise you all by itself. If you ever have problems, don’t hesitate to ask. And you know I love seeing you commenting on Which? Conversation and hope you’ll continue to do so.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Thank you for your reply Patrick , yes your right I have 3 separate cookie/ tracker/beacon blockers which together are quite effective but as observed it causes problems with some websites as I posted before -BT email website must allow cookies or you cant access it as well as Yahoo email service (US) so as I frequent Which ,and in all fairness , I have blocked the blockers for Which website .

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
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Great, glad you’ve managed to find a solution that means you can still block cookies elsewhere 🙂

Profile photo of FredRoberts
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Hi Patrick
Tried to sign in but said can’t find my account. Why

Fred Roberts

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello Fred, sorry to hear that. You’re definitely in the system – your username is FredRoberts as one word if that helps? Thanks

Member
Martin Scherer says:
31 December 2015

We pay for Council services. They are monopoly services so should gain greater scrutiny than non-monoply services. Councils services are poor, often incompetent, and the greatest blight on our lives. There is a bias in council services towards the rich. Those on low incomes suffer, especially in council’s neglect in low income area street maintenance and refuse collection. That leads to social degeneration and encourages social unrest. The campaign Which should launch in 2016 is GET THE BINS OFF THE STREETS. Some councils have done it. Most are incompetent and negligent.

Profile photo of brian@jodash.co.uk
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Well I’m one of the poor people and have no problems not sure about other local areas

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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I think it is very true that Councils are often inadequately policed by the electorate . You nedd only read Private Eye to find plenty of dubious or corrupt dealing by Councillors and Council officers. Tax Payers Alliance are hot on wasted money. The Planning Portal is useful for seeing planning applications being hauled up for errors.

In London the big boil is the Viridor waste facility that is being built in Sutton. Unfortunate smell of corruption and when you consider it will be blowing particulates over London a quite surprising result for the Liberals to vote for after being against.

Even small Councils can benefit from knowing that people care and write about matters. Think of it like a charity but one where you are forced to pay and get involved as like charities if you do not keep an eye on them things start to go expensive in salaries and projects.

Profile photo of saltydog
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It seems like charities are springing up at the rate of ten a day. its about time the tax exemtion status was removed from them as so many of them are now run as businesses but do not pay a penny in tax. it say something when they can also rip off the public with impunity like selling second hand shirts from a well know retailer at twice the price of new in the shop round the corner. They have got away with far too much for far too long and need bringing back down to the same level as normal businesses with business regulations and tax rates.

Profile photo of Antiwar
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Many issues that are Unjust because of government’s policies and interest in money-saving , Arms Trade, austerity, Poverty, people living on Food Banks, lack of Housing, cuts in Social Services, Privatisation of NHS, lack of kindness to Refugees after all they are result of wars, more wars, cut in benefits, corruption, no voice of citizens heard, lack of ‘democracy’, unfair treatment of poor class, workers, cut in wages, increase in crime, cut of Police forces are all issues ‘Which’ should discuss.
I experienced thuggery in Car Insurance when i renewed my cover via new offer. I have accumulated 9 yrs’ No Claims Discount. At the most previous companies deduct only One year’s Discount in case of a small accident. This company would take off 4 years’ NCD for any accident a Third Party reports! I was led to renew my Policy via http://www.confused.com who automatically offered this one! What fraud and lack of Government’s laws or protection from such policies !

Member
William Tasker says:
1 January 2016

Could not agree more ,i don’t know where you live but in Somerset we are stuck with the same old council which most councilor’s don’t live in the areas where the problems are ,We have blocked drains ,unswept roads ,road surfaces breaking up ,and the answer we get from the free spending council is do you want us to cut spending on child care ????? so we can do what we want a f—–g answer when they spend on non issues ,i have been to a council meeting and what a shower of wallies they are and we vote them in no wonder things don’t get done ,so i agree with you 100% Finaly i wish you a Happy New Year

Profile photo of bigbadbrightonbob
Member

stop voting tory get a decent councillor and doorstep every year it worked for red ken

Member
victor says:
31 December 2015

my disability and my rural location prevents me from going out a lot or attending events where standing or walking is an issue

Member
angela says:
31 December 2015

me to i hate being in all the time by my self waiting for any one to knock at the door this is my life

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Angela – I feel for you, this time of the year can be a lonely time for single people . Most people need people , I am a very self sufficient person and it took me a long time to understand that not everybody is like me. I learned that people need communication and emotional content in life so while out I recognise that in people and communicate with them and conversation does make people feel less lonely and lifts their spirits — Happy New Year Angela !

Member

Don’t sit in join a group doing anything it gets you out and even if you are confined to a wheelchair ,Join Street life its free to join if you have a computer of Face book ,there is lots out there to do and you may well find a friend to go out with ,i live on my own but i know loads of people and i am always out and about every day ,if you have a diamond card buss pass its free travel any where so you can get out ,i hope this helps ,Happy New Year to you Angela

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I would like to see Which? address important issues more thoroughly, and then present a balanced, factual and objective report so we can decide on our attitude towards the issue. Then, if needed, it can launch a campaign with us knowing all the essentials. In my view, some campaigns have lacked this in a way that made them biased and misleading. I do not want to be persuaded to a particular point of view by being given incomplete and partial information. 🙂

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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I agree malcolm I hate superficiality everything I do I do intensely and with great depth wanting to have an inner understanding of every situation just like a detective would.

Member
d essame says:
1 January 2016

Unbiased, factual and objective reporting is a rarity in the media. Even the BBC will pick up and run with newspaper reports without bothering to consider whether they are valid and accurate.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Just like American media d essame ,dont let the truth get in the way of a lie . I am glad at least one member of the UK public can see through to the truth. Its a shame about the BBC though once the upholder of truth and justice now the upholder of government policy.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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duncan, one of the BBC’s problems is that it has been perceived to be more on the side of Labour than the Conservatives. Hence the wrangle over its funding. Maybe when Labour was in power it was the other way round, I don’t know.

I read Private Eye for balance.

Pass the anti-depressants.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Malcolm I spend several hours a day on international news websites not affiliated to the US as well as many websites that arent liked by US/UK government . I get info from the Middle -East-Russia -China-India -Pakistan-Egypt-Iran and many more . What the BBC now comes out with in relation to action abroad is what it is told by the US ,even US citizens say their own government lies constantly ,its so bad they are blasé about it . You think well that abroad but think those statements cause large sums of tax payers money to be spent on things that should be spent on the NHS etc . The last time I read Private Eye was in the 70,s its satire in political terms ,good for a laugh ,but so is Dilbert.com . I deal in reality and action on the ground what is actually happening-NOT =unconfirmed sources – like Amnesty International tarnished itself by blaming Russia -on unconfirmed sources (not backed up by the UN etc or US spy satellites ) .While what it blamed Russia of doing the US has been doing for decades.

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duncan lucas says:
Its a shame about the BBC though once the upholder of truth and justice now the upholder of government policy.
—————–
It never was, and never will be.
At one very long stage MI5 et alia had their own office in the BBC and vetted all manner of programmes and people. Now they have their snitches all over the place.
Channel 4 will soon be sold off to some right wing magnate who will put their shoulder behind the Get Rid Of Corbyn, you’re only safe with swivel eyed right wingers campaign.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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d essame, I don’t know if you are suggesting this includes Which? Forgive me if I have misunderstood.

Which? is not the media; it is, or in my view should be, a serious investigative organisation supported and paid for by its subscribers to produce information to help consumers, not to set out to produce “newsworthy” stories.

Having said that, it does tend to behave like a tabloid on some occasions by generating “headline grabbing” statements that rely more on sensationalist wording than reality. I want Which? to get back to being an impartial and accurate reporter of matters that are relevant to its members – the consumers – who are able to digest facts and reach their own considered conclusions. They can also buy a newspaper if they want more entertaining reading.

Member
Geraldine Purvis says:
1 January 2016

in the survey there’s NO mention of bus users as method of transport

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Having spent a little more time I have gathered together four wishes i have made previously here:

Which?
A campaign to cap charity executive salaries at £200K [this includes any trading companies]

Which? to start issuing Shonky Awards

That all surveys that are used should be “banked” so that people can see if they were leading or very poorly constructed. A great boon to the average consumer as misleading surveys seem common.

At all times percentages should be accompanied by the base precise figures and vice versa. Claiming a 100% increase when something goes from 25 to 50 may be very important or could be completely irrelevant but the percentage by itself can fool.

AND A NEW ONE
campaign against flushables that are not degradeable in the normal sewerage system

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

You are never going to stop the last paragraph diesel it requires a complete re-education of the public and will never happen as it would be deemed sexist and un – PC (imagine the uproar ).

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

This is a reference to baby and face wipes which surely are not sexist items??

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Come on diesel , I have actually seen and spoken to London sewage works employees , went round their works do I have to spell out what was the biggest “item ” caught in the sewage traps or clogging up the system ?

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Well if you mean tampons and sanitary pads say so.! On that basis you may well argue that there is a problem but saying that means millions more should be allowed to add “unnecessary” extra unbiodegradables to the system does not follow.

There is however technology , and fashion, now available that may reduce the problems of tampons:
https://www.shethinx.com/pages/works2

I refer to tampons problems as obviously there is a cost element and of course cotton is a very water intensive crop. Cotton is also highly treated with chemicals and according to 2015 Argentine research most of the feminine products in intimate contact contain traces of the herbicide glysophate. This may or may not be a problem but the WHO thinks glysophate maybe is.

However I am no chemist/biologist so hold no view

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Didnt know you were allowed to mention tampons on Which but its an eccentual part of feminine hygiene and I doubt any female would be happy getting the product criticised . in any case if we are talking environmentalism then what about the proven hormone release in the water system of every country that uses them ? Aphrodite fish – male sperm decrease – sterility in men – men growing breasts etc -well documented by the WHO and include plastic bottles which leach the stuff . This once was a big issue until BB realised 1000,s of products contain estrogen and it would cost billions worldwide to make changes to the manufacturing processes now its hushed up and remember women suffer as well as their husbands low sperm counts and two-headed sperm etc and low or non-existant sperm movement unable to fertilise the egg . We all drink out of plastic bottles now .

Member
Nikki says:
7 January 2016

Duncan are you trying to blame women for the state of londons sewers? Check out Moon cups for a reuseable menstrual cup that collects your blood and can be re-used Great for the environment great on your pocket if you’re female but not so great for capitalism and it’s obsession with disposable items…

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Nikki-all I am doing is pointing out reality I am speaking the truth ,when that gets covered up by political correctness or told -its sexist then we are living in a world of non-reality. Why isnt it sexist when men are blamed for everything under the sun ? when its okay to make fools of men in the media-make them victims of assault(usually by women ) make them look like they have an IQ of 10 ,make laws that disadvantage men ,but thats okay ,no shouts of sexism . But dont dare blame women for anything , about 25 % of domestic abuse is done by women , women lash out physically a lot quicker than men , slapping men on the face, throwing stuff at then injuring them but that is not talked about in the media ,only “bad meeeen ” why ? .Surely if you want to portray a fair balance,evenhandedness , then you must tell the truth ,tell me where I lie ? There are just as many evil women in the world than men its just they are a bit more ,shall we say subtle, about it. I want a fair and free society not one where its “okay” to take men apart but dont dare say a word against women ,I see reality in life not programming as happens in countries run by dictatorships, I fully realise its the feminist aim to “brainwash ” males from infants upwards and “feminise ” them but for old guys like me , who missed this indoctrination, well I see the truth . I am a staunch upholder of equality between men and women ,IF they can do mens jobs equally ,in reality ,without asking for male help. I practised equality even long before feminism existed ,50 % house,s in my wife,s name(before it became law ) , was against men assaulting women , treat women nicely ,etc but I refuse to accept this new -women can do what they want but men cant attitude in this modern society I am for REAL equality not pseudo versions . I saw with my own eyes the sewers blocked with sanitary products that females used ,so I am condemned for saying that ? May I add if I hold doors open for women,give up my seat when used a bus ,helped women trying to park etc ,now when I lived in a large city, I get a mouthful of abuse , women are no angels some of the language I would never use ,but it pours out of some women , is that the society that suites you ?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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duncan. it’s time we had a campaign to abolish the nonsense that is “political correctness”. To have to think twice before you speak or write anything just because someone might interpret it in a way other than intended and seek to take offence is ludicrous. I see we now call all people “actors”. What happened to “actress”. I presume we might then offend a very very small minority who think they fit neither gender. Why does that matter – unless we decide we must make it so? I’m all for making life as easy as possible, tolerant, understanding but not looking to make problems for the sake of it.

I expect to be ostracised for making such a suggestion. But I do have metaphorical broad shoulders coupled with a sensitive nature .

Profile photo of DeeKay
Member

Yes, Malcolm. Fed up to the teeth with this manners stuff and its not really about manners it is often about a chip on a shoulder,
Bring back manners and lets call a spade a spade because it is not a shovel

Member
Carrie says:
6 February 2016

The language we use is important and I don’t think it requires great effort to hesitate and consider its effects. What do you believe the term ‘political correctness’ means exactly? I’ve often heard it used to justify prejudice and downright discrimination, or the most pathetic sexist ‘jokes’. I believe it’s a sly and convenient term that was coined to allow for these things.

Profile photo of DeeKay
Member

It’s not about woman but it does involve woman
Not so long ago I was watching something to do with water and a statement that came up was
If you cant eat it and haven’t eaten it it should not go down the loo
Today razors and those are mostly mens and many other little items get put down the loo
In the programme the water service pointed out that this word flushable that is on many items may in fact mean it is flushable but fact it it is not degradable and should not be flushed
Its about costs
It costs an arm and a leg to separate and dispose of products that should be in the bin not down the loo
In rural land far far away from most folks idea of reality we would not dare put razors, condoms, or ladies items down the loo
Reason being that rural land has septic tanks and septic tank like the sewage works cannot break down these items not mater how long we wait
Throw in a squirt of bleach and the whole process is b*****d up
Bleach should never be put in the loo. A loo should be washed properly not a squirt followed by another invention that doesnt work the toilet brush
I see plenty of nice clean WCs but with scale in the bottom of the bend
These toilets have not been cleaned properly
A toilet brush is no good for this job.
Get a scrubber, get on your knee’s and in less than one minute job done
It’s not alien. Its not un-natural. Its perfectly normal stuff that we all produce
Even if we get the water service out to empty but that term is wrong they only tank the bottom sludge part leaving anything that floats
If and people still do naively put little items down the loo into the tank the tank will build up until it no longer works and one of the worst is wipes. They are the greatest thing for blocking soakaways
The other part of this bit of engineering is something called a soakaway
The tank is meant to break down to poo’s etc and the soak away will for generation take “normal” spill as was designed but if the amount of unbreakable solids builds up they make their way into the soakaway and it blocks
In my lifetime I have seen several tanks and soakaways have to be dug up and disposed of at cost and replaced with newer and much more expensive equipment
I can assure you it is not difficult to put a little toilet roll around an item and put it in the bin where it belongs
The loo has become all too handy

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hi all, again I appreciate your comments, but this isn’t appropriate for this particular conversation. This is a post about what consumer issues we should be campaigning on. Your discussion about sewerage and the cause of blockages is fine.

For that reason, I have had to remove a few comments. Please do email me if you’d like to talk about this further: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

Profile photo of maggiepinfold
Member

I like the “A campaign to cap charity executive salaries at £200K” how about publishing all executive salaries, so people can decide whom they give to and allow the people who work for free for these same charities, decide whom they are raising money for
.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I also like this idea but I thought the ceiling was a bit too high. I know some charities are enormous organisations that take some managing but that is also a serious problem, in my opinion, as they lose focus, get out of touch with their supporters, and too easily get embroiled in government activities so lose their independence.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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Actually my preference is 7 times average earnings in the year previous using ONS statistics but that is not snappy enough : )

{£180,000] The good news is that relatively few charities exceed £200K . Unfortunately many things are charities which most people do not think are. Lloyds Foundation, Which? , owned by the charity the Consumers ‘ Association, Royal Opera House, Eton School, some medical charities etc.

However restricting the selection to general charities and not specialist ones makes it clearer. Another distinction is subscriprion based organisations which includes professional bodies like surveyors etc, and very general ones where anyone can join such as Consumers Assoc., [Which?] the National Trust here and the Scottish one, and the Royal Horticultural Society.

Regrettably IMO Which? is by far the most generous and this comes back to the Trustees – as it does in the other bodies who are in control. Of course Kidz Company showed this is not always the case.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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John-At the nearest large town to me 20 miles away the local Oxfam shop closed . AS someone who frequents those establishments I asked an employee in another shop why that was . She referred me to another staff member who worked there (at Oxfam ) she told me it wasnt making enough profit , I said -sad -thinking the public didnt support it but no that wasnt the case. A profit in Oxfam,s eyes is 90P in the £ thats right –90P went towards “administration ” no more frequenting Oxfam for me or supporting their petitions ,made me angry John !

Profile photo of John Ward
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Oxfam is operating on a global scale and there might be some justification for a higher administration percentage. I do not know whether 90% is the current level but, if it is, that is far too high. We gave up supporting Oxfam and several other big charities a long time ago – we prefer smaller, local charities whose work is more visible in the community. I know that information on charities’ income and expenditure is accessible, but like most people I don’t have the time to pursue it and I might not be able to interpret it correctly anyway. I wish there was an organisation that would provide a tabular summary of the key comparative statistics every year.

The fundamental characteristics of a charity are that it should exist to either provide education, or to propagate religion, or to relieve poverty [extended to include all forms of suffering]. I would not advocate any restriction in the comprehensiveness of those purposes, but one has to wonder how major corporations are entitled to have charitable status just because one small arm of the organisation does something useful for the community. Marks & Spencer, Tesco and the rest give money to good causes – they don’t have to, so does that make them charitable organisations? It’s all got very muddy.

Profile photo of DougHellyar
Member

I believe that we should put our interests in the population of this country first, ensuring all have a decent working wage, decent housing for all, decent public services especially in the welfare of children. As we have seen how some of them have been exploited in the past. Standing up for the little man in general in life, the banks should be better controlled, we do not want a repeat of 2008 in the banking industry.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Here- Here Doug !

Profile photo of Carolyn
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Who regulates the regulator s? My experience and that of my family is Care Quality Commission give care homes good reports after inspections when the care was totally inadequate. Letters of complaint achieved nothing.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Carolyn-CQC – Wow ! what will they get up to next . A mile of medical propaganda on their website which boils down to =they wont take action on an English Citizens complaint about the NHS or its affiliated bodies. “Non-Departmental body” of a Government service ?? what wil they think of next ? ==a type of NGO ?? — a Quango– blocks you from taking direct action against your own government by making “official ” statements as to THEIR “investigations into complaints so making it seem the “official body ” is right and YOU -Citizen are wrong . Seen it in the US where all this type of “service to the public ” organisations are just a way of keeping US health Care totally Private . England NHS is now around 33 % private not long now mates = blood pouring out -crawl into hospital – receptionist – first words -can you PAY ?? -as happens in the US – poor citizen – no sorry – well crawl down to that underfunded -lack of medical equipment hospital for poor people . Think not ?? my wife lived in Santa Monica – you had to have TWO medical insurances to cover 90 % of health care – biggest debt in the US ? NOT mortgage but Medical Expenses . No wonder people I know move to Scotland who are helping to fund the NHS and keep it from going private -Cameron,s dream -but he can afford it -millionaire !

Profile photo of John Ward
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The CQC is certainly not an NGO nor a QUANGO. It is a full-on government agency with a statutory foundation.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

And if you read its policy John it says it will not take up individual cases from the general public –thanks for the info but where does that leave – quote- a “Non -Departmental Body ?? to me its just another brick in the wall of open access to services we pay for in taxes. So can you define its actual legal force in the medical direction of England other than the “Front Troops ” in defending the government ?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Duncan, it was not established to take up individual user complaints or do casework. The CQC is the creation of government, an agent of government, and the servant of government. All NHS institutions have a complaints procedure and there is a health service ombudsman. Private establishments are different and may or may not have an equivalent system for dealing with complaints or malpractices. In my opinion, as stated numerous times on other directly relevant Conversations, the CQC is not very good at doing the job it has been given which is to inspect, monitor and report on the performance of all types of care establishment whether in the public or the private sector and to bring about improvements where and when required [my words, not theirs]. The term “Non Departmental Body” means it is not part of a government department but it is still an executive arm of government. Its functional deficiencies have been well documented. It has also employed a large number of personnel without the required competencies for their roles.

To answer Carolyn’s question – “who regulates the regulators?” – Parliament and the supervising government departments are responsible for doing that but are reactive rather than proactive, have a built-in delinquency that makes them reluctant to intervene, and can also lack the competence to perform their function.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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It appears you can report bad (or good) care directly to the CQC. This page on their website: cqc.org.uk/share-your-experience/guidance-sharing-your-experience-us

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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All is far from well looking at Wikipedia. It seems a far from competent ship with some fairly major problems with staffing and scandals.

“Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
In November 2009 Barbara Young, then the CQC chair, resigned from the commission when a report detailing poor standards at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was leaked to the media. The report found that “hundreds of people had died needlessly due to appalling standards of care.”[18] One month earlier the commission had rated the quality of care at the hospital as “good.”[19][20]
Grant Thornton report
Main article: Furness General Hospital scandal
In August 2012 chief executive David Behan commissioned a report by management consultants Grant Thornton.[21] The report examined the CQC’s response to complaints about baby and maternal deaths and injuries at Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and was instigated by a complaint from a member of the public and “an allegation of a “cover-up” submitted by a whistleblower at CQC.”[22][23] It was published on 19 June 2013.[24]
Among the findings, the CQC was “accused of quashing an internal review that uncovered weaknesses in its processes” and had allegedly “deleted the review of their failure to act on concerns about University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.” One CQC employee claimed that he was instructed by a senior manager “to destroy his review because it would expose the regulator to public criticism.”[24] The report concluded: “We think that the information contained in the [deleted] report was sufficiently important that the deliberate failure to provide it could properly be characterised as a ‘cover-up’.”[25] David Prior, who joined the commission as chairman in January 2013, responded that the organisation’s previous management had been “totally dysfunctional” and admitted that the organisation was “not fit for purpose.”[26]
On 20 June 2013, Behan and Prior agreed to release the names of previously redacted senior managers within the Grant Thornton report, who it is alleged had suppressed the internal CQC report. The people named were former CQC Chief Executive Cynthia Bower, deputy CEO Jill Finney and media manager Anna Jefferson. All were reportedly present at a meeting where deletion of a critical report was allegedly discussed. Bower and Jefferson immediately denied being involved in a cover-up.[27] The Guardian newspaper reported on 19 June 2013 that Tim Farron MP had written to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate the alleged cover-up.[28]
Finney subsequently started litigation seeking at least £1.3m libel damages from the CQC on the basis that the CQC’s current chair David Prior and chief executive David Behan abused their power and acted maliciously in publishing allegations that she ordered a “cover up” of its failings. The Grant Thornton report said it was “more likely than not” that Ms Finney had ordered the deletion of an internal report by Louise Dineley, the CQC’s head of regulatory risk. The CQC started litigation against Grant Thornton claiming a contribution towards any “damages, interests and/or costs” incurred in the case.[29]”

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Nest of vipers isn’t it? Meanwhile, the patient dies.

Hoodwinking the CQC is a cultural art form within some of the institutions regulated. Euphemism is the name of the game: “special measures” – sounds positive doesn’t it? Like calling a bankrupt “credit-worthy”. Some of the scandals are akin to the shocking mismanagement of certain Victorian asylums and workhouses.

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A problem identified with the way CQC operates is that when a care home company, with a bad past, changes its name but not its owners it starts with a clean sheet. It seems to me that the people who do not look into the history of a care home when assessing it are simply failing to carry out the duties we pay then for. Why are they not replaced with competent people? Or are there none of these about? I despair sometimes at the way our public services are operated, but more so at the “authorities” that seem unable or unwilling to recognise deficiencies and deal with them in a sensible way.

Then giving Birthday honours to failed executives – as in HMRC – seems like treating the public with contempt.

So a campaign to make the civil service and its sister organisations behave in an efficient, transparent, competent and business-like way with dismissal, no rewards, for those who are not up to the job would be popular with me.

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I endorse that Malcolm.

I think we need to put the Environment Agency on our watch list as well; I can already hear the excuses being prepared for the recent terrible and frequent once-in-a-hundred-years events. I am surprised the Prince of Wales isn’t writing lots of letters to Ministers the number of times he is having to go out and talk to the people affected. The sums being mentioned and the action described for providing proper flood relief are literally a spit in the ocean.

On honours, I am not sure why public officials still routinely get these awards as if they are part of their contract. They are both valueless and meaningless in the case of government employees so therefore they are unnecessary. According to today’s Daily Telegraph, the HMRC’s newly damed chief executive has a terrible record in several parts of her public service career. HMRC can’t even answer the phone.

Profile photo of Beryl
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I should add I was wholly successful in my negotiations with the CQC in bringing about the closure of a care home.

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That’s good, Beryl – well done.

I don’t think the CQC can actually ignore any reports on establishments but I presume they will not investigate personal cases [like deaths in hospitals or dental mistakes], just the overall standard and quality of care and the management of the establishment. Every adverse comment from a patient or member of the public potentially reflects on the competence and quality of the CQC’s own inspections and judgments – I am not sure there is sufficient scrutiny of their appreciation of that point and the way in which they react to or address such concerns.

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eileen_Chubb
– shows a remarkable women who has worked to improve matters

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Sad to say, Malcolm, I suspect it’s all about “The right chaps”. I concur, BTW, with your central point.

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A problem that arises Ian is where do we employ all the incompetent, workshy, or less than honest people? Or is it simply the environment within which they find themselves? I hope that by changing the environment many of these people find their true colours. it would be very depressing to think that so many were such a burden on the rest of us. I have a higher opinion of (most) people.

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Should I mention that the French Consumer group Que Choisir organised its membership to check out anonymously 3000 care homes …

From BUEC site
“Established in 1951, UFC-Que Choisir is a not-for-profit organisation with a nationwide network of 160 local organisations handling more than 100,000 consumer complaints a year. Through its monthly publication, UFC-Que Choisir carries out in-depth research and comparative testing for a range of goods and services. The three pillars of UFC-Que Choisir are independence, democracy and solidarity.
Success Stories
Having been very active in the 90s during the ‘mad cow disease’ crisis, UFC-Que Choisir asked for and achieved the traceability and labelling of beef.
In 2005 we initiated the prosecution with the Competition Authority of three mobile phone operators for price fixing. Referred to the Council in 2002 by UFC-Que Choisir, a then record fine of €534 million was ordered on 30th November, 2005.
Facts
Founded in 1951
A BEUC founding member
124 staff
Members in 2011: 155,000
388,740 subscribers to our magazine and 50,000 in free copies
Consumers advised last year: 200,000 by 160 local UFC-Que Choisir organisations and approximately 100,000 complaints tackled
http://www.quechoisir.org

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When will we stop poisoning the soil with pesticides and herbicides??
The moratorium on some neonics is over for the benefit of Monsanto and Bayer.
Now we know that Paraquat – another toxic agent used to kill all ‘weeds’ after cropplng- has been found in babies milk and cereals!
What is this doing to the health of the nation?
Is dementia only due to senility?

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I would like all petitions to have an opposing petition.

Most petitions I just ignore but this morning I got one I would like to oppose and unless I start a petition of my own my opinion will not count.

Take speed bumps. A few people in a road will petition for them and will likely get them when there is enough support as the local councillor jumps on the bandwagon for making a name for themselves. But what about all the people who oppose them?

I think all government websites and petition sites should have an opposing petition listed with the petition so everyone can have a say.

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Alfa =I take it you have figured out that when you go over one do it with BOTH wheels on either edge of them ,if they are narrow enough ,never do it with only one side of the cars wheels on them .

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Good advice, duncan except that many speed bumps disintegrate on the edges when they can scrub the inside of your tyres. They are a waste of space – can damage tyres, springs, nearby property. One of our villages has one at each end of the long road through it, so what is the point of these?

Potholes form natural hazards; I’d rather resources were put into dealing with these instead of creating unnatural ones.

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Duncan, I was just giving an example of how easily changes can come about by a minority when the majority might not agree with them.

Around our area many speed bumps are so high the only way to get past them is drive in the middle of the road or damage the underside of the car. Doesn’t make you very poplular with the cars behind although sometimes they must think it is a good idea and do the same.

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Alfa, yours are worse than mine obviously, like the ones you come across in industrial estates having shopping complexes . These are so high I have to do the same as you or Very slowly go over them with only one side of the car. I can see your point on the surveys .

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Apparently there are regulations on the size and shape of sleeping policeman however this appears to be unknown to many crews who make them.

The regulations on ones on private property are probably unregulated. However in both cases it would be very useful if tests could be made as I think that the effects on suspensions, tyres and subframes is probably not appreciated.

One thing is probable and that is the growth of the “4X4” market is fuelled by them despite the expressed desire to reduce global warming which is becoming a much more imminent problem.

Incidentally I have read, and I do not know if it is true, that straddling the edges of a sleeping policemen may affect the inside of the tyre and cause wear on a part not designed for it. I suspect there is an element of truth to this.

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I understand that there are “speed humps” and “speed cushions”; there are also “speed tables” that cover a much bigger area and are usually placed where safer crossing by pedestrians is required [e.g. outside schools or local shops] without the need for a zebra or signal-controlled crossing.

“Speed humps” were the first type to be introduced and were often quite severe and too close together. Some of these might remain but most should by now have been remodelled as a part of regular highway maintenance and periodic resurfacing [“What’s that?” I hear you ask]. Humps go across the width of the carriageway tapering off at the sides to leave the channel clear for drainage and to allow cyclists to pass [but often prevented by cars parked too close]. “Speed cushions” were introduced later to enable buses, ambulances and commercial vehicles with their wider track to pass without bouncing up and down every few hundred yards. Some motor cars with a wider wheelbase can negotiate these without pronounced elevation thus defeating the traffic-calming and speed-inhibiting purpose of the installations; unless their line of approach is affected by parked vehicles, smaller cars should be able to pass easily with their wheels just touching the edges of the cushions although the car will rise and fall over the cushion. I expect that so long as the car is driven at or below the designated speed limit [usually 20mph] this should not give rise to excessive tyre wear at the inside edges, but many speed cushions have not been maintained properly and where the edges have worn away could cause damage. Speed cushions seem to be the only effective form of speed restraint that can be introduced on existing roads. In the last ten years, when laying out new developments where space and density permit, the alignment of the road has been a much more successful way of achieving more responsible driving and conformity with the speed limit. Near us, a serious of reverse curves of comfortable radius on a wide road effectively keeps traffic speeds down to 20mph and the roadsides are attractively landscaped on the insides of the bends to improve the visibility of any oncoming traffic. There is a certain pleasure in driving along this horizontal switchback for over a mile – the bends are not hairpin sharp and the landscaping and clear visibility gives a pleasant road-cruising experience.

So far as I am aware, there are no specifications or regulations for speed control humps installed on private roads and in industrial estates, car parks, cemeteries, etc, and some of them are distinctly home-made with poor approach geometry, inadequate signage, and placed too close together; however, after encountering the first one, drivers certainly seem to keep their speed down for the rest of the obstacle course.

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I find it unfair that gift vouchers run out. I have recently found M&S gift cards which I had mislaid and they were all out of date. I know that legally they are right but they have had money in return for nothing effectively. These contracts in small print or even otherwise should be made illegal.

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Sabine,funnily enough I have a M+S card in front of me ,I was about to activate it on the web when intuition made me check the conditions of service . They send you emails ,they sent you letters , they use your data not only for their own use but sell it to third parties and a whole list of things you have to accept . I quickly hit the X at the top RHS of the webpage .

Member
John C says:
8 January 2016

One of the biggest and most shameful scams is unjust enrichment by retailers of the “no free plastic bags”. When bags are sold, how many retailers gave all the proceeds to charity? How much of the money they have saved by not providing plastic bags, goes to charity, and where does the rest go? I put the question to M&S a couple of years ago, and each time I got the same response to my e-mail – “Your question is not understood” At that tie they were saving an estimated £17m each year by not providing bags. Some more ethical UK shops are now providing paper bags, as many US and other supemarkets do. Some branches of Sainsbury’s have even taken to hiding “bags for life” under the counter!!! How disgraceful.

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Just take your own bags when you go shopping and you don’t need to get involved with this carry on.

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The Charity Industry is out of control, and needs to be properly regulated. The Charity Commission is not fit for purpose. We need to (a) stop charities preying on the vulnerable, (b) limit their expenses to 20%, (c) limit salaries to a maximum of £50,000 pa, (d) rationalise the number of charities in the UK (at present there are about half a million), (e) outlaw chuggers.

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Here ! here ! John .

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Here here from me also but I’d limit salary somewhat lower than 50k Look up the RNLI and see what a charity is…………..

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John, I agree in principle. I believe that a minimum percentage of a charities income should be used directly for the cause it represent – say 60% – to limit it’s ability to be profligate in salaries, overheads, and so on. A charity should be composed of people who genuinely want to promote a worthwhile cause, and not for people who choose it as a career for excessive personal gain, whether in salary or bonus.

I fail to see why, for example, public schools continue to benefit from charitable status when for the most part the cater for the wealthy.

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I totally agree, Malcolm. It is inexcusable to waste money, however worthwhile the aims of a charity are.

However, even small charities run entirely can spend money unwisely. I’m a member of a small charity that is trying to raise £250k to fund a project. I believe we that what we are spending on publicity (mainly leaflets) is not justified, but I acknowledge that this is very difficult to judge. Several years ago I felt we should be spending more.

I do feel that some charities are doing work that should be funded by the government through taxation. Having said that, public services can waste a lot of money.

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We should campaign against the government not giving the same rights to heterosexual couples who live together the same rights as gay couples, I call this discrimination.

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So do I Frini70 the governments excuse to knock back that High Court attempt by two intelligent people was pathetic/disgraceful . I hope the judge was just echoing what he was told by HMG Law Dept. as I see he has given a Right of Appeal. One Law for one part of society and another for another (minor ) part , thats not justice ,its discrimination and guess who shouted that loudly for the past several decades ?? and they won ,so why not the other 94 % of population .

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Rail fares: In my area we have to pay well over half the Return fare for a single fare ticket using local trains. As I often need only a one-way ticket, I am constantly having to pay over the odds. Why can’t the Single fare be half a Return fare? By having to buy two Single fares some days because of different routes I need to use, it can cost me roughly the same as an Advance Single fare ticket to London, 200 miles away. £10.25 last summer!!!!

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Nuisance Calls. These are the bain of our lives. Please campaign to make the selling and/or echange of private data (name, address, age gender, purhasing history or anyting else) ILLEGAL.
This would cut down on nuisance calls, texts and emails. This is OUR data, if anyone should make money out of it, it should only be the owner. Sorry fir the capitals, but I need to shout!

Member
Lestraites says:
31 January 2016

More help for the older generation, They had it tuff when young, and now when old still find it tuff and are blamed for the struggling NHS. More is given to Animal and Children charities

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we need to pressure the government to make sure that brown sites are built on first and put the extra runway at Newcastle or Manchester airport

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Mark you have hit on a major controversy ,from Land,s End to John,O Groats most people would agree about using Greenfield sites . But things could be changing ,now the Government ,led by economic planning and forecasts say that they are not enough and more land is needed . Even the Scottish government ,which is not so left -wing as people think have actually okay-ed a greenfield development in Clydebank causing so much unrest that they are having second thoughts and a government official is “investigating “-aka- we dont want to loose votes -do we ?

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“more land is needed”. According to PEYE the Local Government Association says that “developers are sitting on more than 475,000 plots with planning permission of which 111,008 are in London.” Presumably they are restricting development to keep prices high. Perhaps there should be some persuasion used to release these sites – compulsory purchase maybe and use them for sensibly-priced housing unless the developers take action themselves.

Local Authorities have responsibility for deciding where development can take place and what sort of housing should be built. Maybe they should also have powers to dictate the terms on which the housing is built on a proportion of the sites, including the pricing.

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One of the things that the house-building industry keeps saying is that the requirements to build a set of ‘affordable’ homes before starting on the ‘commercial’ properties is inhibiting the development of sites. I would like to see this issue examined objectively for they might actually be right – it is taken as common wisdom that there needs to be a mix of house types on every development leading to a range of prices and resulting in a mixed and balanced community. This is how local politicians justify their policies – and they might be right instead. What do people think?

Personally, I think it is time we stopped repeating the 1990’s dogma of ‘affordable’ homes and balanced communities and provide what the market is actually wanting to buy and pay for without manipulation and half-baked social engineering. This would avoid the disreputable practices of developers cosying up to local councils and horse-trading various elements in order to get their planning consents, and the unappetising behaviour of local councillors thinking themselves big if they have managed to squeeze some extra ‘planning gain’ from the developer. I happen to think that the market will supply the affordable and starter homes that the country needs in most areas if it’s allowed to operate freely without interference [but always subject to correct planning disciplines]: my reasoning is that, for the most part, the property market works in an upward manner [characterised by the ‘property ladder’ analogy] so that when people buy the houses on a new development they generally are moving up-market to a greater or lesser extent. This releases a cascade of properties down the line which, in the lower price brackets of the market, supplies the affordable homes. So they don’t have downstairs toilets and wheelchair-accessible front doors and the highest standards of insulation, but they can make good homes and as people become better off they can improve them. Artificially stifling the new homes market is impeding the release of this cascade of accommodation and at the same time causing dissatisfaction from those who do buy new homes because of the compromises that have had to be made within the development.

I said “in most areas” and therein lies an important qualification. There are a number of areas in certain parts of the country favoured by second-home owners and retirees, or with restrictive planning policies, that have a substantial shortfall in homes suitable for local people, effectively pricing them out of the market. This is the result of longevity and affluence which are good things so we need to look for other solutions. The Chancellor is imposing a three-percentage-points surcharge on Stamp Duty Land Tax for second-home and buy-to-let purchases in a bid to reverse this tendency but I think there is a case for additional measures which would probably involve housing associations and local authorities [including county councils where district councils are slow to respond] building new homes targetted at this market using shared ownership schemes that progressively transfer the ownership to the resident over time.

The proximity to work opportunities is another significant factor and much more needs to be done to disperse employment away from the conurbations and major cities. This would have a lot of downstream benefits that are outside the scope of this Conversation but have been cited in others.

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The Chancellor imposing a three-percentage-points surcharge on second homes and buy to let purchases is easily overcome by wealthy investors with cash at the ready, inasmuchas this enables them to go