Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/771/16990
Them & Us
Tax paid shock
On 23 June papers were littered with headlines revealing the news that Starbucks had paid UK corporation tax for the first time since 2009. £5 million was handed over - half of this year's tax bill for the coffee giant.
It says a lot that it's considered newsworthy that a company that makes sales of £400 million a year in the UK has paid tax. The joyful stories on each of us paying our council tax should follow shortly.
The number of business class flights claimed on expenses by MPs has nearly doubled in a year. In three years £500,000 of public money has been spent on business class fares.
Business class passengers enjoy extra leg room, higher quality food, and unlimited alcoholic drinks. Good to see those extra-stringent rules that were introduced to limit excesses on expenses working so well.
Recent figures have shown there was a 64% jump in bankers' bonuses in April. Conveniently enough this was just at the time that the government cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p.
Several companies even delayed payments that would usually have been made in March until after the change was introduced. The average weekly bonus in April was £143.
More expendable income, increased confidence to spend money, expensive shopping sprees pushing up prices. Sound familiar? No, didn't think so.
But apparently this is the reality for the super-rich. While the rest of us are struggling to put up with rising prices of the basic necessities, those who can afford luxury goods such as expensive cars and the best restaurants are spending more money than for years.
This is also accompanied by a 4.9% rise in price tags for these items in the twelve months to April.
The big squeeze
Despite yet more talk of green shoots in the economy, the majority of us are finding our finances more and more squeezed.
Disposable income fell to £157 a week in May while inflation climbed to 2.7%. Rising costs of basics like utility bills and food are adding pressure to already stretched household budgets, particularly with wages pretty much stagnant.
How the other half are born
Last week's Them & Us reported on the crisis of maternity care, with shortages of beds and midwives leaving thousands of women having to travel further than planned as wards are closed.
No such worries for Kate Middleton it seems. Rumour has it she'll be booking into the private delivery suite at St Mary's Hospital in London - costing £4,965 for an overnight stay and more than £12,000 for two nights and consultant's fees.
No hospital food for the princess - she'll have access to an extensive menu, cooked by a hotel kitchen. And of course an extensive wine list is available to toast the baby after it's born.
What we heard
On the second day of the One Housing Group strike, three young guys who had been working over the road came to see what the protest was about.
One proudly wore his new Unite membership card and was asking about the strike. His friends both took membership forms saying that they were apprentices and their colleague had been trying to get them to join Unite for weeks but that seeing the strike had been the last little push they needed to make them join.
As well as this, no postal deliveries or collections were made for three days to the offices as everyone who saw the strike wanted to support it.
In The Socialist 26 June 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
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