Letters: The war on wood-burners epitomises Britain’s illogical energy policy
SIR – Thanks to the ineptitude and green zealotry of our political masters, many people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately.
Now this situation is to be compounded by restrictions on the use of wood-burners (Leading Article, February 2), to which many have turned as a way of supplementing their central heating.
Once the grid is reliable and heating affordable, such measures might be reasonable in certain areas. But until that time they will condemn even more people to living in cold and therefore unhealthy houses.
SIR – The state’s apparent hatred of wood-burners only makes me want to get one.
SIR – France’s government appears to have more sense than ours: it has been encouraging people to get wood-burners. In the past few months a friend of mine has had half the cost of hers covered, plus the installation paid for in full.
SIR – I own a multi-fuel stove that allows me to burn wood or solid fuel (or both together).
However, I have recently found the perfect solution in eco-coal. This relatively new, smokeless fuel is half coal, half crushed olive stones.
The world produces millions of tons of olives each year, so this is a very environmentally friendly way of using what would normally be a waste product.
East Malling, Kent
SIR – I have received my monthly energy bill, which starts at £280.
With the cap, this falls to £153. Next I get a direct debit discount payment of £67, resulting in a net cost of £86 – which is what I paid this time two years ago. My thanks to the Prime Minister and his Chancellor.
SIR – I recently attempted to travel from Suffolk to Northumberland and back in my electric vehicle (Comment, January 31). The experience was not one I would wish to repeat.
Finding chargers is hard when not on motorways. And even on motorways, there are problems: Tesla-only points, machines that are out of order or won’t read credit cards, and service areas without charging points. Off the motorway one must rely on supermarkets and coffee shops, and these don’t often have high-speed chargers. Shell and Starbucks seem to be leading the way.
If the Government is serious about phasing out petrol, it needs to show some initiative and provide infrastructure that is ahead of the game, not lagging behind.
SIR – If King Charles does not want to appear weak, his rapprochement with the Duke of Sussex has to be a private matter (Letters, February 2).
It would therefore be inappropriate for the Sussexes to attend the Coronation, having so recently made commercial gain from trashing the Royal family, the institution of monarchy and, by extension, Britain. The Palace must move swiftly to clarify matters, and I hope the Prince of Wales’s more robust opinion prevails.
V C Cockburn
Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire
SIR – Allison Pearson (Comment, February 1) says that Prince Harry’s attendance at the Coronation would be inappropriate, but acknowledges that the ceremony is a sacred one. This is why the King, who has declared how important his faith is, should extend a warm invitation to the Sussexes.
Child benefit reform
SIR – Frank Young (Comment, telegraph.co.uk, January 31) highlights the High Income Child Benefit Charge imposed on a family with someone earning £50,000 per year or above, resulting in the partial or total loss of their child benefit.
The freezing of this earnings threshold since it was introduced in 2013 means increasing numbers of families are being penalised. So fewer households will receive what was once a universal benefit.
Mr Young then suggests “targeting” child benefit on the lowest-earning families only. But means testing would remove the benefit from many even further down the income scale than the current “bizarre rules” he criticises.
In effect, the High Income Child Benefit Charge imposes higher taxation on some families. But at any income level, those with children have higher costs than those without. The way to recognise this is via universal child benefit. If we think the better off should pay more tax, this should not involve picking on those with children.
SIR – Copper coins must not be abolished (Letters, February 2). How else will I make my tulips stand up and last for ages?
Charlton Down, Dorset
SIR – The problems raised by the RAF’s recruitment policy (report, February 2) encapsulate all that is wrong with the theory of “diversity”. If you have quotas for certain groups, you risk making people feel as if they are only there because of those quotas. You also risk missing out on the best recruits.
There should be only one goal – to recruit the most suitable person for the job irrespective of sex, race, religion or any other factor.
We need government and business to strive for excellence rather than token diversity, so we can arrest this country’s decline into mediocrity.
SIR – During my RAF career I was actively involved with recruiting and selection, and we always chose the best person for the role to be filled.
Achievements in earlier life were measured against the opportunities available to the applicant. Assessments were made as to the individual’s ability to cope with the training, as well as the mental and physical demands of the role. While most were rejected for not showing the necessary potential, some were rejected for being over-qualified – they were unlikely to achieve job satisfaction or “stickability”.
These criteria were applied to all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion, in order to select the best. This should still be the case. There are no prizes for coming second in a war.
Wing Commander Ivan Childs (retd)
Why fraud flourishes
SIR – You report (February 1) that only one in 1,000 fraud cases is investigated. This does not surprise me. During my eight years as Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, fraud was largely ignored by police forces. Ours was the only one to take on a major case – a banking fraud of nearly £1 billion.
The five guilty parties eventually went to prison for 49 years, but the case cost Thames Valley £7 million to investigate and take through the courts. The bank, which always denied that fraud had taken place, was fined £45 million by the Financial Conduct Authority. The money went to the Treasury, in spite of my asking that Thames Valley be reimbursed.
The lesson learnt by national police forces was that it was too expensive to prosecute major fraud. Until there is a proper system to investigate it, fraud will go unpunished and flourish. It is no good expecting the Serious Fraud Office or National Crime Agency to do this: they have neither the finances nor the expertise. A separate, properly funded agency should be set up.
Bye, bye, bye Delilah
SIR – The Welsh Rugby Union has banned choirs from performing Sir Tom Jones’s song Delilah (report, February 2) before international matches at the Principality Stadium.
It is feared that the anthem, sung by Welsh crowds since 1968 – partly as a tribute to Sir Tom, of whom we are very proud – and about a man stabbing his unfaithful lover, will incite members of the crowd, on returning home, to stick a knife into their loved ones, most of whom will have also been at the match.
This is a ridiculous decision by a national body whose reputation in its treatment of women in sport is known to be disgraceful. I suppose it will also soon be forbidden to see Bizet’s Carmen, as sung by the Welsh National Opera, after the match.
Stoke Fleming, Devon
How Venetians enhance their morning coffee
SIR – I find that if my espresso (Letters, February 2) is causing me to be too active, an accompanying shot of grappa resets the balance.
I recall being in a café in Venice at 6 am and watching businessmen on their way to their offices doing this. Some didn’t bother with the coffee.
SIR – Colin Bostock-Smith’s letter (February 2) about the man who ordered “just coffee” struck a chord. When one wants only a basic filter coffee, it is frustrating to be stuck for ages in a queue while all sorts of exotic variants are individually prepared for those in front.
SIR – I remember the time when one went out to shop and came home for coffee. Now it seems that you shop at home and go out for coffee.
A dose of realism in the dispute over pay rises
SIR – Employees whose salaries are funded by the public purse may well deserve higher pay rises than those currently on offer (Letters, February 2), but the simple reality is that they must wait until the country can afford to be more generous.
Once the war in Ukraine is over and our economy recovers, and with inflation under control, opportunities for improved pay and conditions will emerge. Life may be tough here for many, but is far preferable to the privations and horrors suffered by the people of Ukraine, whose fight against Russia is for our ultimate benefit, too.
SIR – I could scarcely believe the nerve of a striking teacher holding a placard proclaiming, “Our strike for your children”, pictured on your front page (February 2). It has been clear during the current dispute, as it was when teachers agreed to shut down schools during the pandemic, that the interests of children do not register at all on the teaching unions’ list of priorities.
Based on the comments I have heard and read by union leaders and their members, everything is about teachers, with no concern at all for children and parents.
SIR – With students paying thousands of pounds a year for university education, it is unacceptable that they are not receiving what they have paid for.
This is akin to paying for a meal at a restaurant but not being served anything. Strikes have become a regular occurrence in universities, with no mechanism in place for students to recover payment for the services not delivered.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
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