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Plain English campaign news articles

Wells blasted by supporters of good spelling

Chrissie Maher OBE, founder of Plain English Campaign has come out with all guns blazing at the Spelling Society, following comments made by its president John Wells. On Tuesday he said that the ‘apostrophe is a waste of time’, and that there are more important things to do than worry about correct spelling.

Read more: Wells blasted by supporters of good spelling

Send us your small print

Plain English Campaign is supporting the Small Print Bill being processed through Parliament by Nick Palmer MP who is calling for 'a minimum font size in certain documents, including those relating to advertising and contracts; and for connected purposes'. Our exhibition will take place at the Jubilee Room at Westminster on 17 November between 2pm and 6pm and will be attended by MPs and invited industry leaders who have an interest in promoting clear communications.

Read more: Send us your small print

Plain English Campaign awards for MPs

We invite all MPs and their staff to send us their nominations for the best (clearest) and worst (most ridden with gobbledygook) documents that they have seen this year in Parliament. A shortlist of nominations will be announced on Monday 17 November, in the Jubilee Room, Westminster, and the authors of the winning documents will be presented with an award at the Plain English Awards on Tuesday 9 December.

Read more: Plain English Campaign awards for MPs

The Plain English Awards 2008

The Plain English Awards 2008 have now been announced. The press release showing the award winners is available as a PDF document (50 KB). You can also download a copy of the awards ceremony programme (PDF, 48KB).

Read more: The Plain English Awards 2008

The Independent calls for an end to gobbledygook language on food

Follow this link to see an article written by Brian Farmer in The Independent on 21 December 2008.

Plain English Campaign fully supports clear and honest communications because they help people to make informed decisions.
Plain English Campaign has been fighting for clearer communications in food labelling since 1999.

Read more: The Independent calls for an end to gobbledygook language on food

New Plain English Campaign Website

As you can see, we have recently moved to a new web page design. We apologise for any temporary errors that occur whilst we are updating, but hope that you will like the new design and improved features.

Read more: New Plain English Campaign Website

Barking mad? Marking mad!

Plain English Campaign has highlighted the poorly-marked Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) released by a Lancashire head teacher as an example of the plummeting literacy standards in schools. Janis Burden, of Moss Side Primary in Chorley, revealed that an essay littered with spelling and grammatical errors had received a higher mark than another, more literate one.

The campaign’s media advisor, Steve Jenner, said: “The marking of English SATs has been a standing joke in the teaching profession for years. Many teachers see the SATs, their administration, preparation and marking as a national scandal. They are often badly marked and returned late to schools. Teenagers who haven’t passed their A-levels have been employed to mark papers. This means that results are often called into question by the schools, and parents don’t have a reliable indication of how well their child has actually done.”

The SATs marking system has already run into serious problems, with MPs and senior teachers expressing concerns about the company appointed by the government to mark the tests. Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has refused to apologise for the debacle.

Steve Jenner added “We congratulate Janis Burden on taking a stand. To award higher marks to papers containing lots of mistakes is frankly ridiculous. It is time for ministers to take action to make sure this sort of thing stops. We need to have a real debate about the best way to teach our children how to read and write. And SAT markers should have the relevant subject knowledge and expertise.”

The 10p tax band explained

Here at Plain English Campaign we ponder over letters and their meaning and can usually make some sense of the most challenging jargon and gobbledygook.

But when it comes to numbers we have to hold our hands up in despair on occasion – for example if asked to explain the 10% (10p) tax band.

Fortunately, we have access to accounting expertise and we have set out below a clear explanation of the tax band change for people who are struggling to understand it. In 2007/2008 everyone who earned enough was entitled to the 10% tax band (on the first £2,230 of income above the personal allowance).

In 2008/2009 the loss of this tax band will cost extra tax on most salaries up to £16,499. Most people earning more than £16,500 will pay less tax.

From 6 April 2008 the amount you can earn before you start to pay tax has been raised from £5,225 a year to £5,435. At the same time the 10% tax rate has ended and the basic rate of tax has been lowered from 22% to 20%.

So, as an example, if your wage was £8,000 in tax year 2007/2008, after taking away your tax free allowance of £5,225 you would have paid tax on £2,775 (£8,000 minus £5,225).

The first £2,230 would have been taxed at 10% which equals £223.
The remaining £545 would have been taxed at 22% which equals £119.90
So you would have paid £342.90 tax on the £8,000 you earned in 2007/2008.

With the new tax rates, if your wage is still £8,000 in 2008/2009, after taking away your tax free allowance of £5,435 (raised from £5,225 in 2007/2008), you will pay tax on £2,565, at 20% which equals £513. So you will have £170.10 less this year than last (£513 - £342.90).
This is £14.17 less each month.

In 2008/2009, most people earning less than £16,500 will be worse off after tax than they were in 2007/2008 and those earning £16,500 and above could be better off.

Recent survey results from national media sources shows that in 2007 the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain had a total wealth of £412 billion (£412,000 million). That is four times more than they had in 1997.
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