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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Money, Money, Money....

A couple of grumbles here about the source of all mankind's woes (allegedly)

The Taxman giveth... The Taxman taketh away.

It's coming up to the start of the new financial year, and we all know what that means boys and girls... the Tax Office get the chance to implement new and exciting revenue-generating exercises. One of the latest ideas, is the removal of the so-called Travel Advantage scheme.

Basically, it works like this. My agency deducts the princely sum of £10 from my wages each week. In return for this, they declare a portion of my wages non-taxable. This includes a daily "Subsistence Allowance" (about £4 plus change if I work over 5 hours or a little under £10 if I work more than 10 hours) and a "Travel Allowance" based on distance as the crow flies between my postcode and work's postcode. In a typical week, this isn't very much. I am about £3 better off than if the whole whack had been taxed at normal rate. My agency are good enough not to deduct the tenner if I have taken a couple of days off and I would be worse off.
However, until Easter I shall be working full days on the weekend and covering someone else's shifts during the week as well as my own. My reward for working 13 hour days was going to be an extra £20-£30 in my pay packet from Travel Allowance.

Not any more. Tossers.

On a related note, I am finding it increasingly difficult to sympathise with one of our regular customers who has finally been tracked down by the Taxman and ordered to pay a lump sum for undeclared earnings. He freely admits that he hasn't paid a penny of tax since 1983. The sum that they have billed him with is about £1,000 less than someone on a Postdoc's salary pays in a single year. Awww Diddums.

The Postdocs are revolting.

Much has been made of the main academic unions' dismissal of a 6% pay offer (split over two years mind) and recent industrial action. Nowhere in the various news articles that I have read, has it been mentioned that many universities still haven't implemented the 2004 pay agreement yet!

My old university still hasn't moved staff over to the newly agreed national pay structure. I am awaiting this development with baited breath, since despite leaving at the end of July, I am still waiting for the backdated pay increase. Assuming the University follows the "Memorandum of Understanding" (The union's interpretation of what the new deal will mean), I am owed a whopping £1,100 after deductions. This coincidentally is almost exactly what I owe on my overdraft, which LLoyds-TSB has recently started charging interest on.

Were I still at the University, I would be owed an even more impressive £3,000 by now, a position that many former colleagues find themselves in. Assuming that the University stops dragging its heels and finally pays up (I'll bet they'll keep the interest though), look out for my former colleagues in car showrooms and travel agents up and down the country...



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