Passport renewal saga – 7 (and last!)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Finally the new passport has arrived:

passport

While the news still publish horror stories of people facing all sort of troubles because of the inability to travel due to lack of passport, ours has arrived.
Although it took much longer (over 5 weeks with the online service) than last time we had to renew a passport (about 1 week with the Post Office check and send), as we didn’t need to travel abroad, the delay did not cause us any problems.
If you are interested, this is a chart of where the delays were:
passport_renewal_chart

So it took 10 days for the application form to actually be opened, and then another 25 days to process it (this was a straight forward application).

Well, it’s here now!


Passport Renewal Saga – 6

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

This morning on my way to work I got the following SMS (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!):

IMG_0820[1]

Passport Office SMS

I then logged onto the website, and found the following:

Passport status: Dispatched

Passport status: Dispatched


Passport Renewal Saga – 5

Monday, 7 July 2014

Still nothing, we now are at 4 weeks since the renewal application was sent off, and it has so far spent 17 days “being processed”.

I have to say I am glad we are not planning to travel anywhere abroad in the near future.


Passport Renewal Saga – 4

Friday, 20 June 2014

Today when I logged onto the passport office website to check the status of the application, I was pleasantly welcomed by a new status: “Declaration form received, being processed“.
So it’s taken 10 days (yes, I am counting the weekends as well, because I seem to remember from the news that staff is working at weekends to clear the backlog), for the passport renewal application to go from the office “inbox”, to being opened by somebody and the data being entered in a computer (at least the application number).

Considering that the backlog is estimated at 53,000 applications, I guess that’s not too bad, it really depends how much longer it will take for the rest of the process. However I am now feeling more optimistic that half way through the 3-week target, we could still hit it.


Passport Renewal Saga – 3

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Quick update: our passport renewal application has now been at the passport office for a week (see Passport Renewal Saga – 1), and it’s the day after the passport office chief was grilled by MPs and apologised for the delays. The status of our application (“Awaiting information from the applicant“), hasn’t changed yet, which points to the application not having been opened yet.

Enter the second week of our Passport Renewal Saga!


Passport Renewal Saga – 2

Friday, 13 June 2014

According to the Guardian (http://goo.gl/td4MAV), for passport renewal application from within the UK, they have only gotten as far as opening the ones from 21st May.
Given that ours was received by the passport office on 2nd June, it explains why the online status is still (as of this evening)”Awaiting information from the applicant”: they haven’t opened it yet, so they don’t know they already have it!
That’s about 3 weeks behind (assuming that applications normally are opened pretty much straight away when they are received), which is the quoted target time.
Not bad considering that only a few days ago the government was still denying the existence of a backlog.


Passport Renewal Saga – 1

Thursday, 12 June 2014

I recently went on to the passport office website to get information about renewing my daughter’s passport. I found out the new ‘beta’ service, and I thought I would give that a go.
After completing the online application, having the photos done, form and photo countersigned, all was sent off to the passport office in Liverpool, and the wait started.
Then the day after the application was sent off, the news headlines started talking about the huge backlog at the passport office, long delays for passport application processing, and government ministers reassurances that all is under control. Apparently the subject featured at PMQ too.
Although fortunately we have no travel plans in the near future, I still thought it might be interesting to document this renewal application. So here we are.
When I completed the online application, the status went to “Awaiting information from the applicant“.
I was expecting this to change, once my application was received, which happened on Tuesday:

Proof of delivery

Delivered on Tuesday

However nothing has changed yet as of writing this post on Thursday:

Application Status

Still unchanged 2 days after the application was delivered.

 

Check back soon for the next post in the Passport Renewal Saga.


Coup or not Coup?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

When is a coup a coup, and when isn’t?

In Egypt the military have recently taken over the government, and arrested the country’s president (not quite the democratic process prescribed by the country’s laws and constitution), however many people claim this is not a coup, but a step to get the country’s democracy back on track (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23242777).

In Italy, because the judiciary has determined to apply the law, and try and avoid breaching the statute of limitation term for proceedings against a defendant (as the law dictates), they are being accused of effectively staging a coup (http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2013/07/09/processo-mediaset-pdl-contro-cassazione-brunetta-colpo-di-stato/651026/). The reason for this is that the defendant happens to be a renowned politician (who although found guilty of criminal offences several times in the past, has benefited from statute of limitations terms, thanks to the peculiarities of the Italian justice system, see http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procedimenti_giudiziari_a_carico_di_Silvio_Berlusconi).

Now according to the Oxford Dictionary, a coup (French word for “blow”, used in the French expression “coup d’état”) as a “sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government”.

Let’s see how this applies.
In the Egyptian case, the existing government lost power, as it was seized by the army. It was sudden, as it happened in a matter of a few days. It was illegal, as it did not follow the procedures established by the laws and the constitution in force in the country, and there was violence as there were fatalities (although some argue less that there could have been).
In the Italian case, the government is still in power, so no power seizure happened, that straight away goes against the definition of coup. Furthermore there is no question of illegality, as the fact being condemned as a coup is in effect a consequence of applying the law (by definition applying the law cannot be illegal!).

So again, what is a coup and what isn’t? My opinion is here. What’s yours?


Tax avoidance

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The government these days (and politicians from all sides) are going after businesses and wealthy individuals who arrange their affairs in such a way to reduce their own tax bill. This is decried as immoral (as it is not illegal since the law allows it).
In the past week executives from companies like Google, Amazon, and Starbucks have been summoned by parliament to give account of their tax avoidance schemes, and been given a good thrashing by MPs.
And of course, with most people who are not in a position to do anything to reduce their tax bill, especially in times of austerity, pointing fingers at those who don’t pay their way (like we have to do), allows politicians to score serious points.

However, anser me this honestly: if you could cut in half your tax bill, in a legal way, without making it ineffective (i.e. without having to pay an accountant more than he could save you in taxes), and in a fairly simple and immediate way, wouldn’t you do it? Really?

Well, I would as well. And the reasons might be different for different people. I might just be selfish (while I might not be ready to admit it so bluntly), and want more of my hard earned money to spend for myself and my family. More importantly for me, I hate to see how lots of my tax money is spent by the government.

For example, the UK have spent billions in the past decades on a war in Iraq, and a war in Afghanistan (neither of which the electorate wanted, but the government didn’t listen!). Where did the money for that come from? Taxes (and borrowing, that needs to be repaid with tax money).

I have lost count in recent years of how many failed IT projects the government has paid for, and allowed to flounder through sheer incompetence. And how was all that paid for? Tax money.

And have we forgotten the MPs’ expenses scandal? Only in the last few days another former MP has been found guilty in the courts for fraudulent claiming money she wasn’t entitled to. And right now they are debating increasing MPs salaries again (why shouldn’t they be paid the average national salary, so they wouldn’t loose touch with most of their constituents?). How is that to be funded? You have guessed right: tax money.

This week we are going to vote for people to fill the newly created posts of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), which will cost an arm and a leg. Who asked for these positions to be created? I didn’t, and before these were announced, I never heard anybody asking for them.

One could come up with lots more examples of public money being squandered. Now the people who are responsible for spending our tax money so unwisely, are the same people who are complaining that they aren’t getting more from individuals and businesses who use legal loopholes to avoid giving it to them. What I would say is that if you don’t want people to engage in tax avoidance schemes, you should first be responsible with the money you are already getting, and not treat it as if if was yours to waste, because it isn’t. It is our money that you are so often flushing down the toilet.

So if tomorrow I were to win the lottery (in case I remembered to play it), I will go and talk to an accountant, and see how to set my affairs up to manage (legally of course), to have the least of it wasted through government negligence, incompetence, and bad choices I disagree with. And if the only way to do that is to reduce my tax bill, so be it. And I will probably find a different way to contribute to my the community where I live, there are lots of organisations (charities and businesses) who do amazing work, and don’t squander money (because they will go out of business if they do, unlike the government). And I won’t feel in the least guilty about it, with good peace of the Public Affairs Committee, and Margaret Hodge.


Schiavitù

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nel 1777 Vittorio Alfieri scriveva:
Tirannide indistintamente appellare si debbe ogni qualunque governo, in cui chi è preposto alla esecuzione delle leggi, può farle, distruggerle, infrangerle, interpretarle, impedirle, sospenderle; od anche soltanto deluderle, con sicurezza d’impunità. E quindi, o questo infrangi-legge sia ereditario, o sia elettivo; usurpatore, o legittimo; buono, o tristo; uno, o molti; a ogni modo, chiunque ha una forza effettiva, che basti a ciò fare, è tiranno; ogni società, che lo ammette, è tirannide; ogni popolo, che lo sopporta, è schiavo.” (Della Tirannide, libro 1, capitolo 2).

Mi sembra che rispecchi la situazione dell’Italia di oggi. Nel qual caso, gli italiano, secondo Alfieri, sono in una situazione di schiavitù.