Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/802/18282
Them & Us
The idle rich used to go on big game safaris. Now it seems that 'poverty safaris' are all the rage. Privately schooled, Oxford graduate and former editor of the world's poshest magazine, the Lady, Rachel Johnson (sister of Boris Johnson, Tory mayor of London) had a chastening experience by spending time with a low-income family in south London.
Afterwards she thinks her chums are envious of her: "Bizarrely, I think there's a lot of envy. 'Lucky old Rachel, she went on a poverty safari'."
Where's my elephant gun!
At least ten people wealthy enough to make the Sunday Times rich list are coining in money from housing benefit (HB) claimants.
The Mirror reports that GMB union has researched this question and the Duke of Westminster, Britain's eighth richest man, possessor of a £7.8 billion personal fortune, gets paid £243,000 a year by councils paying out HB.
There may be more than eight of these rich individuals increasing their fortunes by dipping into the tiny benefits of the low-paid.
In 60% of cases, HB is paid directly to tenants so researchers cannot identify who the landlord who receives this benefit is.
But the media will probably still run programmes like Benefits Street while ignoring the blatant Benefits Castle.
In 2013 Barclays and Lloyds banks made more new millionaires than lottery organisers Camelot. 335 punters shared £682 million from the lottery.
But Barclays laughed off declining profits, the Libor rate-rigging scandal, and threats of job losses for thousands of Barclays workers and gave £1 million plus bonuses to 481 senior staff. More modestly Lloyds gave 27 top staff almost £1 million each.
Eight Barclays fat cat bankers got £5 million while 54 got £2.5 million to £5 million. 74,600 workers at Barclays, about half the total staff, live on £25,000 or less a year.
A flagship Free School run by a for-profit Swedish company is being put into special measures after being branded by Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, as 'a failure'.
The IES Breckland school in Suffolk has suffered mass resignations of staff, the standard of student work has declined since pupils started attending, and it doesn't meet requirements to keep children safe.
Free Schools are the bright idea of education wrecker Michael Gove and are an extension of the Academies Schools programme launched under Labour.
Independent of local authorities, and with little or no public accountability, companies and education trusts can set the curriculum and determine the (usually worse) pay and conditions of staff.
Privatising giant Capita (often called Crapita for some reason) has, shall we say, a patchy record on competence in their businesses.
But Capita now has a new cunning plan designed to remove all doubts. It's a VRA lie detector analysing voice patterns, which is supposed to deter 'benefit fraudsters'.
The government's benefits-bashing plans tend to encourage crackpot schemes and some councils have already used VRA techniques.
But does the VRA machine prove anything at all? One expert said the whole idea was "closer to astrology than to science." Profitable for Capita, maybe, but very dangerous for benefit claimants.
In The Socialist 13 March 2014:
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