High school students in Baltimore, USA, have come up with an innovative idea. Carpentry students at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology are starring in their own TV show teaching viewers how to do basic DIY such as hanging a door and laying tiles. The programme is called ‘So easy a kid can do it’ and shows step by step projects, hosted by DIY guru Mike Davis along with the students. The programme gets shown across the county on their public scools tv channel and is proving very popular. You can read more a watch a film clip here.
We think this sounds like a great idea and wondered if any schools or colleges in the UK are doing anything similar?
The Federation of Master Builders is again asking the Government to reduce VAT on home improvements after a comment was published in the Telegraph by the HMRC Permanent Secretary. A cut in Vat from 20% to 5% would help protect homeowners and legitimate businesses by reducing the advantage that cowboy traders have when offering cash-in-hand deals.
Brian Berry from the FMB said “We are pleased HMRC is becoming more vocal about the damaging effect cash in hand payments have on individual businesses and the economy at large. Businesses that avoid paying VAT have a 20% head start, but all too often this cheap deal comes without a proper written contract or any kind of paperwork meaning the enforcement of consumer rights is almost impossible if something goes wrong.”
“The Government can reduce the competitive advantage of these rogue traders and help protect consumers by cutting VAT to 5% for all home repair, maintenance and improvement work. This simple, single action would help reduce the size of the ‘informal economy’ in the home improvement market, which is now estimated to be worth an astonishing £9.3 billion per year.”
“Over 5,000 construction businesses have gone into insolvency since 2010. At a time when the economy is on the brink of tipping back into recession, the Government should be doing everything it can to support legitimate businesses, not adding to the total number of unemployed. According to research by the analysts at Experian, last year’s rise in the standard rate of VAT to 20% resulted in nearly 4,000 job losses in the home improvement market in 2011 alone.”
Two of the biggest DIY retail chains have been accused of selling wood that may have come from endangered rainforests in Borneo, according to an article in the Daily Mail.
The accusation has been made of B&Q and Wickes, both who claim to source products from responsible sources. But the Daily Mail claims that an investigation has shown that a wholesaler from Malaysia called ‘Asia Plywood’ who supplies stores in the UK, has produced large quantities of plywood which originated from Borneo. The company was investigated and the company was ‘stripped of its right to ‘green credentials’ last month’. The UK’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) had also said that sale of goods provided by Asia Plywood was authorised until the day their certification was cancelled. But according to the Dail Mail ‘….the FSC was unable to explain why it gave this guidance when its investigation agency, Scientific Certification Systems, said no plywood produced since February last year should have been certified.’ But there does seem to be confusion over timber being sold by stores here and whether certification was granted after February 2011.
The Daily Mail also say that it is clear when you look at Asia Plywood’s website that the company is based in Sarawak, which is an area of Borneo that has been hugely affected by illegal deforestation.
The Olympic Village has had the hand-over so it can now be furnished and kitted out with everything the athletes who will be staying there will need in 6 months time.
The Village will be home to 16,000 athletes and officials during the London 2012 Olympic Games, and includes 2,818 appartments, as well as shops, cafes, a cinema, and a temporary dining area seating 5,000 people.
The appartments are now being furnished with the 16,000 beds needed, along with the 64,000 bed sheets and 21,000 pillows. They need 11,000 sofas, 9,000 wardrobes with more than 170,000 coat hangers, 5,000 bins and 5,000 toilet brushes!
Seb Coe, chair of the LOCOG, said: “Athletes are at the heart of the London 2012 Games and our plans for the Olympic Village will provide them with a home-from-home as they prepare for one of the biggest sporting moments of their lives.
“With the Village now handed over we are starting the huge process to install essential facilities and services ready to welcome competitors from around the world in 6 months’ time.”
Yesterday, a decision by the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court ruling that the Government’s plans to cut Feed-in Tariffs for solar electricity were unlawful. Chris Huhn, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has written a ministerial statement as follows:
As the House will be aware, the Government’s proposed changes to the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme are the subject of a judicial review. Specifically, the Government has been challenged regarding its proposal to apply new tariffs for solar photovoltaics (PV) from 1 April 2012 to all new installations with an eligibility date on or after an earlier “reference date”, which we proposed should be 12 December 2011.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal handed down a negative judgment on the Government’s appeal against an earlier decision by the High Court. We respectfully disagree with the judgment and are seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. In the light of that, we cannot rule out the possibility that lower tariffs could be applied to installations which became eligible for FITs on or after the proposed reference date. It is important that consumers are aware of this.
The reason for appealing is that we want to maximise the number of installations that are possible within the available budget for FITs, rather than use available money to pay a higher tariff to half the number of installations. Solar PV can have strong and vibrant future in UK and we want a lasting FITs scheme to support that future and jobs in the industry.
We have already put before Parliament draft licence modifications that (subject to the Parliamentary process) would bring a 21p rate into effect from April for solar PV installations which become eligible for FITs on or after 3 March, to help reduce the pressure on the budget and provide as much certainty as we can for consumers and industry.
In the meantime, we want as far as possible to minimise the uncertainty for PV and other technologies eligible for support under FITs. We are therefore still intending to publish the phase 2 consultation by 9 February. This will include proposed tariffs for other FITs technologies and a set of reform proposals for the scheme. We are also intending to publish the Government’s response to the other aspects of the phase 1 consultation that are not affected by the Judicial Review (namely the proposals on energy efficiency and for multi-installation tariff rates).
Mr Huhne is now seeking permission to go to the Supreme Court to appeal.