IoS letters, emails & online postings (6 May 2012)

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With regard to Emily Dugan's article "Union anger at low-risk rating for tough jobs" (29 April), readers must understand the deep frustration of many Health and Safety Executive inspectors. I work for the HSE: many of us feel under siege. In January, David Cameron declared "war" on what he described as "the excessive health and safety culture". I regularly deal with employees who have been affected by poor working standards resulting in death, injury or ill health. I have seen several major offices closed because of devastating financial cuts and the Government requiring that we abolish half of the regulations designed to protect employees and the public. Last year, 200,000 injuries were reported to the HSE and 171 workers were killed, resulting in 26.4 million working days lost, and costing society an estimated £14bn. Without the health and safety legislation in place this figure will increase.

Name and address supplied

via email

Your recent article "Why pay to have your council tax band checked? Do it for free" (Money, 22 April) suggested that the Government will be undertaking a council tax revaluation in 2015. This is not the case. This Government has actually stopped any revaluation in England taking place in this Parliament, since we believe it would be expensive and intrusive. In the controversial revaluation undertaken in Wales by the last government, four times as many homes moved up one or more bands as down. Rather than hiking council taxes, this Government wants to help people with the cost of living, which is why we have provided additional funding to councils to freeze council tax both last year and this year.

Bob Neill

Minister for Local Government

Department for Communities and Local Government, London SW1

Your prolonged bleating – this time in your leading article – about the "pasty tax" is ridiculous ("What a shambles", 29 April). This is simply creating a level playing field for all who sell hot food: VAT has been added to all hot food sold by fish and chip shops and other hot-food outlets since the 1980s. This measure will affect only hot pasties, not those sold cold.

Given that the EU has stipulated that a tax of not less than 5 per cent be added to hot food, the object of your scorn ought to be directed at the level of the tax – 20 per cent – rather than expending energy protecting bakers such as Greggs who have had the benefit for far too long of being able to charge less for their hot food, at the expense of small businesses.

Patricia Gerrard

via email

I was surprised to read in "The spy in the sky" (The New Review, 29 April) that Hitler's "doodlebug" was 'too fast to be intercepted, [and] arrived in England's Home Counties without warning". In fact, our radar stations were aware of them soon after they had taken off in France, and then gave fighters directions to intercept them. I was serving on a radar station at the time, and remember having a party when we had our 500th "kill".

Leslie Marr

via email

Where, in your article "Generation Less" (29 April), which took as a focus a young lady and her three-year-old daughter, was any reference to the child's father? Does he not bear some responsibility for his daughter's welfare? What financial provision does he make? What efforts has he made to ensure her welfare? It is too simplistic to blame the state for failings in this case. Young people should not start a family until they are able to look after their children without recourse to state intervention or charities.

Christopher A Farmer

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Whoa there! You can't get rid of our armchair lady (new ratings guide graphic, Critics, 29 April)! She is a little older, and inevitably has some wrinkles, but replacing her with so-called "modern" slick dashes is an act of barbarism. It is a clear case of sexism. My lawyers will be in touch.

Christopher Wren

Via email

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