Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/716/14460
Them & Us
How the other half lives
Chancellor George Gideon Osborne assured us recently that he's not quite wealthy enough to be eligible for the 50p top rate of tax which he just scrapped, so wouldn't personally benefit.
But he's not quite one of us either. Osborne's father, Peter, made his fortune co-founding a posh textile and wallpaper company (about £100 a roll if you're interested).
In a recent interview with the Financial Times magazine, Superior Interiors, Peter gave us a glimpse of life for the Osbornes - he was recently lent a villa in Mustique (a private island in the West Indies); the most common staples in his fridge are Manchego cheese and sweet-cured bacon; he gave two £200 bottles of wine as a thank you gift and enjoys £35-a-bottle bath oils.
How our half eats
The number of people in the UK needing to use food bank services has more than doubled in the last year. 128,697 families were given emergency food supplies by the charity organisations last year.
There are now more than 200 food banks across the country, with more opening every week. With food prices soaring, jobs being cut and wages and benefits attacked, more and more people find themselves having to choose between eating and heating or between feeding themselves and feeding their children. And that's with 90% of the cuts still to come.
Poor & Overworked
Many people were rightly disgusted recently when it was announced that the minimum wage will be increased by a pitiful 11p this October and remain frozen at less than £5 for under-21s.
But it seems even the current rates are too much for some companies - P&O Ferries pays some of its staff a basic salary of only 75p an hour! Even working the eleven hours a day, seven days a week that they do, it only amounts to £250 a month.
To add insult to injury the company is now threatening to withhold customer tips that staff rely on, unless performance targets are hit. Carnival Corporation, P&O's parent company made £1.9 billion profit in 2011.
Six lucky areas of London are getting their very own...land to air missile. The chosen sites include two residential buildings.
Apparently this is necessary to protect us all from the threat of airborne terrorist attacks during the Olympics this summer.
Perhaps that has something to do with the spiralling cost of security for the Games. The main security contractor, G4S's costs for 'programme management' has risen from £7 million to £60 million and 'operating expenses' from £3 million to £65 million.
'Beds in sheds' taskforce
The government is setting up a special taskforce to deal with the rapidly rising numbers of people sleeping in sheds - many being charged outrageous rents by greedy landlords, despite slum conditions.
But the very fact that the government has been forced to take action shows that it's a different type of taskforce that's really needed - one of construction workers to embark on a mass building programme of good quality, affordable housing.
In The Socialist 2 May 2012:
Fighting the government attacks
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Environment and socialism