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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 October 2012

Them ... & Us

Housing nightmare...

1.6 million 20 to 40 year olds are living with their parents because they can't afford their own home. 41% of parents believe their children will never be able to get on the housing ladder.

And it's not like renting is an affordable alternative either. With rocketing rents, the cut to the small amount of help available to the low paid through council tax benefit will have a huge effect.

For many it will simply be impossible to pay. The House of Lords seem to have recognised this and is challenging the plans.

Councils were already budgeting for half of low-paid residents to refuse to pay the increased amount.

Former work and pensions minister Baroness Hollis even warned of a "poll tax mark two"!

...but not for MPs

Remember when the rules on MPs' expenses were tightened up? They were all very sorry and were never going to abuse their positions again...or so they said.

But 27 MPs have been caught renting out homes they own in London and claiming rent on another property - pocketing the profits.

Four are even renting from other MPs! This is all perfectly allowed through a 'loophole' in the expenses rules. No such loopholes for us!

First class snobbery

How many of us have chanced our luck on a busy train and sat in first class with a standard ticket? Probably quite a few.

But how many of us have, when caught, insisted that we can't possibly move to standard class but neither can we pay the 160 upgrade fee? That's exactly what chancellor George Osborne, or an aide of his at least, did on a Virgin train recently.

Too good to mix with the plebs George? If you could see to it that all train carriages are comfortable, spacious and not overcrowded and outrageously expensive, there wouldn't be a problem.

Not for sale?

The few people in Lincolnshire interested in the Police and Crime Commissioner election had been wondering how 'independent' candidate Mervyn Barrett had financed his campaign - thought to have cost up to 50,000.

Barrett was being driven around in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes and had a full team of paid staff. It has now emerged that he has been bankrolled by a right-wing US think tank which champions privatisation of public services.

Barrett's entire campaign staff resigned after the revelations. He issued a statement assuring us all: "I am not for sale, I never have been for sale and I never will be for sale." Hmmm.

Working poor

Yet again a record number of people are using food banks. The Trussell Trust, the biggest food bank organisation in Britain, fed 110,000 people in the last six months - almost as many as in the year previous to that.

What's more, far from being for the unemployed alone, an increasing number of working people are turning to food banks.

That's hardly surprising given the impact of low pay. A recent study showed that one in five people working in London is being paid 'poverty wages'.

The charity Trust for London says that the government could save 1 billion from extra taxes and reduced welfare benefits if the living wage was enforced in London.

Anyone would think government decisions are based on saving money for big business rather than what's best for their 'precious' public purse.

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In The Socialist 24 October 2012:


 

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