Great Ways To Survive Being On Hold With The DVLA

Being on hold has to be one of the few unifying human experiences.

Our first love, holding the tiny hands of our children, crying at the beauty of your first peanut butter and jam sandwich, and knowing what it’s like to suffer through being on hold to a government agency are all things we can share, that cross cultural barriers, genders, races and even time itself, proving that, at our core, we’re all human. And as human, in unity, we can all agree that being on hold, and being on hold with the DVLA contact line in particular, is terrible.

You can’t leave the phone, or do anything that will distract you or prevent you from hearing the phone – after all, the customer service team at the other end could pick it up any second. On the other hand, there is nothing happening besides the same repeated snatches of hold music, if you’re lucky, and constant repetitions of how important your call is, if you are not lucky. You’re forced to stay in a condition of enforced bored, at attention, with nothing to pay attention to.

So what can you do?

We’ll assume you’re on hold with the DVLA because you’re in need of some important information or you’re registering for something important. Usually, you’ll call because of something like:

  • Arranging taxation of a vehicle.
  • Applying for a provisional licence.
  • Looking for assistance with getting a blue badge.
  • Booking your practical or theory driving test.
  • Arranging driving lessons.
  • Seeking advice and information on driving if you are disabled.
  • Register a new car of which you are the proud owner, like a momma hen with a shiny twin-turbo chick.
  • For help with a medical issue which affects your ability to drive.

These things are all important, and most of them require either some important details to hand, like a driving licence number and details, or a notebook so you can record all the information you receive, or both. In addition, the fact that they’re important and require attention to be paid to a phone means you’re unlikely to be able to video game, play contact sports, call a loved one or do a disgraceful amount of daytime drinking to kill time on hold. You can, however, use that bit of paper and the pen to your advantage.

Doodle your heart out

While listening to the soothing tones of the DVLA’s hold music, you can use the margins of your paper to unleash your most primal creative side. Draw curling vines. Draw stickman duels to the death. Draw that weird “S” thing we all used to draw at school that no-one really knew the origin of.

weird S
You know the one.

The important thing is just to draw whatever will entertain you enough to keep you sane, while keeping an ear out for a human voice on the other end of the phone.

Attempt unambitious yoga poses

It’s really surprising how much you can move with a phone held to your ear, even more so if that phone is cordless. If you’ve got a rudimentary knowledge of yoga, you can turn the boring experience of being on hold to the DVLA into a relaxing workout that will increase your flexibility, tone your muscles, boost your cardiovascular health and help you find inner peace. That way, when the person on the other end finally picks up the phone, they will be greeted with an enlightened, spiritual master who is ready to discuss registering a new car or arranging a driving test with calm, Zen confidence. Perfect. Just don’t do any poses that need two hands, so you can keep that phone in your ear.

Write a blog post about being on hold, telling others how to amuse themselves while on hold

If you’ve exhausted the other two options and you’re still on hold, you can turn to option number three: the big hitter. Writing a blog post on ways to entertain yourself while on hold. Doing this can help make you feel as though you’re doing an altruistic good deed, helping people you’ve never met, and will certainly keep you engaged, although you will have to type awkwardly with one hand like a magpie awkwardly pecking at the keyboard, or grab your phone between your ear and shoulder and consequently type away like a blogging Quasimodo.

However, the results are outstanding. Looking at your finished blog post, ready to hit “publish”, the fact that you’ve been on the phone for half an hour listening to nothing in particular doesn’t seem to matter any more. And in the midst of trying to sort out your car tax, that’s a rare and brilliant feeling.

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The VAT Fraudsters of the Online World

money from companies that committed VAT fraud

There have been a few recent news reports about people effectively stealing large amounts of money from the government by committing VAT fraud. Value Added Tax is a tax that is added to a company or business when they have an income of over £81 000. A VAT return from must be completed every three months to show an exact record of the sales of your business, as well as purchases and VAT that is owed, and submitted to HMRC. Over the years, more and more products have become exempt from VAT charges, the biggest and most controversial probably being the removal of the VAT charge on women’s sanitary protection, many arguing that it should have been done a long time ago. In March 2016 ex-Prime minister David Cameron announced the end to the nicknamed ‘Tampon Tax’ calling them ‘unflexible’ and that they will no longer be deemed a luxury item. Whilst this VAT charge was overturned, there seems to be many a business that resent paying their extra Value Added Tax, despite being at a liberty to earn the money back on the products they are selling. As a result, there are more and more sellers discovering sneaky ways around the compulsory VAT in this country, making VAT fraud more and more of an issue for the country.

Earlier in the year, eBay and Amazon both came under fire for VAT fraud due to overseas sellers that utilised their site. Their VAT avoiding ways were costing the country thousands in lost tax receipts and eBay and Amazon were warned that they would be held responsible for their overseas seller’s lack of tax payments if VAT was not produced within 30 days. The overseas companies had a way of under-declaring the value of items they were shipping, to avoid paying any VAT on the packages. This also made them cheaper for eBay users to order over to the UK, meaning the popularity of such goods was high. Even when consumers had paid a high amount for the product, they were still going through customs with a lower value. In order to offer a cheap and fast shipping process on their items, Chinese run factories were popping up in UK cities. When asked for a VAT number by a customer, they were told that it wasn’t available as no VAT is added or were just given an invalid VAT tax number, despite there being clear VAT guidelines on eBay itself. In order to save the country’s money, something needed to be done.

More recently it has been announced that any sellers still trading illegally on the sites would have to produce VAT numbers by the end of June if they wanted to continue to do so. These companies are unsurprisingly still in the bestseller ranges on Amazon as the goods they are offering are cheap, and despite this being a huge issue for HMRC and the government, major companies, such as Amazon, seem at no hurry to do anything about it, insisting in many cases that the concern does not belong to them. They have simply stated that they do not have the authority to review a seller’s actions in such a way, as they are independent businesses. whilst the packages do pass through customs, it is becoming difficult for officials to scrutinise the value of each package, when they have to prioritise safety, searching for drugs and terrorist threats.

Not only is the country being affected due to a lack of tax being paid, there is also the issue of other UK sellers being affected who can’t compete with the low prices that come with VAT avoidance. Slowly but surely, steps are being taken to reduce the issue, such as HMRC raids on Chinese run factories, seizing a large amount of goods and having meetings with the big bosses at places such as eBay and Amazon. However, for the moment, this still remains one of the largest tax avoidance issues in the UK.



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How The Government Can Tackle The Obesity Crisis


Tackling the issue of obesity has become one of the main public health concerns of recent years. It’s estimated that in the UK, 38% of men and women will be obese by 2025. One of the primary ways that the Government is planning to address the issue is by placing a tax on soft drinks.
Some critics are saying that there is no evidence a soft drinks tax would work, as similar taxes in other countries have had little effect. Mexico introduced a soft drinks tax in 2014 and it led to less consumption- 6 calories less per day, per person- but the following year, the sales were up again.
In the UK, the proposal to tax soft drinks was based on data from 2012, so it doesn’t take into account the moves that companies have been making to reduce the levels of sugar in their products over the last few years. The Government’s plan, known as the Childhood Obesity Strategy, has been delayed over the summer whilst they make further decisions, taking another look at the evidence and investigating how they can change behaviour.
Levels of sugar consumption in the UK are falling, but obesity is still rising. Countries in Europe that have the lowest levels of obesity-5%- actually consume more sugar per head than the UK. The Defra Family Food Survey showed that regular consumption of soft drinks was down in the UK, as purchases fell by 32% over the course of 2010-2014. Low-calorie drinks accounted for a third of these purchases. Experts are now saying that the Government must look closer at what causes obesity and understand behaviour patterns.

Scientists from Cambridge University stated last month that leading sedentary lifestyles was as dangerous to public health as smoking, with this type of lifestyle causing more deaths than obesity alone.

According to public health experts, the soft drinks industry has made a shift towards changing in recent years by beginning to regulate itself. In the recent 2016 Annual Report, the British Soft Drinks Association said that almost 60% of soft drinks sold in the UK are low or no calories. The industry is also increasing the availability of smaller packs, removing sugar and increasing promotion of low-calorie alternatives- this combination has reduced consumers sugar intake by over 16% since 2012, even though sales have risen over 2%. Out of all the unhealthy food, the soft drinks industry is the only product type to set themselves a target to reduce calorie intake by 20% by the year 2020.

Back in 2012, soft drinks made up 10.3% of sugar intake and that figure has fallen to 8.3%. Studies from across the world have shown that smaller portion sizes and reformulating sugar would have a bigger effect on obesity levels than taxing soft drinks. The Government also expect that the soft drinks tax would be passed on entirely to consumers, with an estimation of an extra 48p per two-litre bottles of soft drink- this is particularly risky for small businesses, especially in a time where the economy is so uncertain following Brexit.
The Department of Health estimates that 70% of the budget for the NHS is spent on long-term health conditions, but only 4% of it is spent on prevention of such conditions. Recent studies by McKinsey show that taking personal responsibility and education are a critical part of attempting to reduce accountability.


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