Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/707/14056
Them & Us
Sometimes it seems strange that the government continues to railroad its most unpopular policies - like the move towards NHS privatisation - through. Why can't they see things like we do? Well, because their interests, quite literally, don't lie with the rest of us. For most of us, for example, privatisation of our health service means closures of wards, cuts to staff numbers, pay and conditions and price over quality. But for many Lords, it means more zeros on the end of their annual income. 40 peers have a direct vested interest in private healthcare. This includes Virginia Bottomley, director of Bupa. So we don't have much faith in the Lords to stop the Health and Social Care Bill - trade unionists and activists will have to do that ourselves.
Value for money?
- Welfare: £5 billion over seven years
- Schools: £7.2 billion
- Health: £24.2 billion
- Prisons: £4 billion
- Higher education: £33 million
This is how much each of these vital public services is worth to the private sector. Yet again, money from our pockets to theirs. And the government wonders why they can't "get people investing". Why would big business invest the £130 billion sitting in British banks if they get handed this from the government?
Barclays must be a little red in the face after being asked to re-pay £500 million for tax that the company avoided through a loophole that has now been closed. This is just one small part of the estimated £120 billion that is avoided, evaded and uncollected every year. But we'll be glad to get it back. And we're looking forward to hearing what it will be spent on. The PCS union points out that £500 million could fund jobs for all 34,000 young people who have been placed on the government's slave labour Work Experience scheme and pay more than the £8 an hour living wage. Surely the government will listen - if they really want jobs for young people and have now found some extra money 'down the back of the sofa' - problem solved... unless it's not about finding jobs for young people after all...
Something for nothing
The government promises that it is taking steps towards Youth Fight for Jobs' demand for job creation. But handing money to big business with no questions asked about where it goes isn't quite what the campaign had in mind. An investigation by the Sunday Mirror has revealed that McDonald's has been given £10 million by the Skills Funding Agency. This money was supposedly earmarked for apprenticeships to help get the one million unemployed young people back to work. But McDonald's hasn't created a single job with the money!
And it's not alone. £20 million has been given to the biggest ten companies involved and only 2,559 jobs have been created. McDonald's aren't doing too badly - this £10 million is on top of their profits of billions every year and of course the cash they scrimp on by using free labour in the government's workfare schemes.
Policy Exchange, a conservative think tank, has recommended that schools be run as 'social enterprises'. Under the plans private companies would set up schools and teachers would be given shares. The profits would be divided 50/50 between being re-invested and going to shareholders (the biggest of which would be the private company, of course). This is good for teachers, we're told, as they can make extra money and good for schools because teachers will work harder when they have a stake in results.
But the only way to make a profit would be to cut corners in services and resources and to lower staff wages. Plus, taxpayers' money (including that of teachers) will be siphoned straight into the pockets of big business. Not such a good deal after all then.
All you keen equestrians out there, listen up, we've found a great deal for you. Turns out, you can borrow a horse from the Metropolitan Police. Or at least, you can if you know the right people - like Rebecca Brooks for example. The former chief executive of News International, who was forced to resign over the company's dodgy dealings in the phone hacking scandal, was loaned a horse by the Met in 2008. Apparently this is common practice for horses nearing the end of their working life.
But seeing as we've never heard anything about this before, it's a bit of a coincidence that the person concerned is Rebecca Brooks, whose dealings with the Met get more and more intricate by the day. 'It's who you know, not what you know' springs to mind.
In The Socialist 29 February 2012:
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