Broadband ISP and media giant BT appears to have successfully lifted a stay against a decade old restitution suit in the UK High Court for Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds, which originally claimed that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) owed them £91.8 million plus interest in overpaid tax.
The situation began in early 2009 after BT wrote to HMRC making a claim for hitherto unclaimed VAT on “bad debt relief” for the period 1st January 1978 to 31st March 1989, which arose because BT had accounted for the standard rate of VAT on its supplies to customers but, in some cases, those customers had failed to pay the operator (either in part or at all) for its supplies.
Amidst the whirlwind scenario of the COVID-19 epidemic, the UK Government has finalized its yearly budget for 2020-2021, outlining the capital allocated to each area of the public sector. For Local government, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced an increase in core spending power for Local authorities of 4.4% in real terms, reaching a total of £49.2 billion.
The increase is higher than previous years (i.e. 2.8% from 2018-2019) and comes at a challenging time for the UK Public Sector, who will need to balance expenditures moving forward and put in place several policies during the COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee British citizens with housing, minimum income in case of job cuts, and normal functioning of local boroughs with possibly reduced staff due to quarantines. With the new circumstances, extra grants for most of the areas within the public sector may be introduced by central government to mitigate the crisis.
The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said that specialist teams across the government have been deployed for taking on false and misleading narratives regarding the prevailing novel coronavirus outbreak.
The teams are said to be working at pace to make sure that the public has the right information about the pandemic to guard themselves and save lives, said the department.
According to the DCMS, the Rapid Response Unit, which is operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is handling a variety of harmful narratives online. The harmful narratives range from self-claimed ‘experts’ giving dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters who have been running phishing scams.
New IP sounds good in some ways, but might help authoritarian crackdowns.
China, Huawei and Chinese carriers want to redesign a key aspect of the internet — and while there may be some upsides, their ideas have raised some alarm bells. The Financial Times understands that the group has proposed a new internet protocol at the ITU, New IP, that theoretically offers more efficient addressing and network management than the existing TCP/IP standard but also appears to have hooks that allow authoritarian regimes to censor and surveil their residents. Most notably, there would be a “shut up command” that would let a central part of the network cut off data going to or from an address. As you might guess, that could be handy if China wanted to silence an activist without resorting to extra tools.
Many people will be turning to consumer applications right now in order to continue their working lives. Although there are some fantastic, and free, tools out there for people to use there are many dangers businesses need to be aware of in the long term. We asked our vendor audience what those dangers are.
AI will become the intelligent classmate we knew at school.
The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the modern enterprise has dominated many boardroom conversations, with many companies now implementing, or considering implementing, the technology in some form or another. But to be truly future-ready, companies must understand that AI will be pervasive across all business functions.
The benefits of the technology is clear to see – with recent research finding that AI can help companies grow their annual profits 80 per cent faster. What’s more, companies using AI have found that errors have been reduced by more than a third (37 per cent), on average, and almost three quarters (72 per cent) of businesses that use AI better understand overall business performance.
Most of the major UK broadband ISPs and mobile network operators have today agreed a set of “important commitments” with Ofcom and Government (DCMS) help to support and protect “vulnerable consumers,” as well as those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
At present vulnerable customers (e.g. elderly people, those with disabilities or sickness and others on benefits etc.) who are self-isolating could be more negatively impacted by the current situation than others, particularly if they start struggling to pay their bills.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the recently announced budget promises to increase funding for UK police forces. As one of the government’s core promises to the public, plans are in motion to bring in an additional 20,000 police officers over the next few years, the only question was how the funds would be phased in. In the most recent budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined plans to invest an additional £750m in the police budget, beginning the first round of recruitment, however these plans were already announced in the previous spending review in 2019.
The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed that nearly half of businesses, at 46%, in the country had faced cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.
Move will “enable CCS resource to be diverted to procuring urgent requirements”
The Crown Commercial Service this week said it would extend a major IT contract for 12 months without planned re-procurement, citing the pandemic.
The £125 million, government-wide framework (for hardware, software, applications and ongoing management of printing services) was due to tender this year.
The pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic meant attention was better focussed on urgent procurement to tackle the outbreak of the virus, it said, in a decision that may augur further government IT contract extensions.