Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/505/3259
Any spare cash?
DISPOSABLE INCOME, the amount of money a household has available to spend after all the must-pay bills – taxes, utility bills, food, transport, clothing, communication, TV licence fees, insurance and housing – has reached its lowest level for a decade.
Price comparison website uSwitch.com says the growing cost of utility bills is a major reason – water and heating bills have risen on average by 33% and 46% respectively over the past decade.
Taxes, mainly indirect, and housing also hit finances. Housing costs still take the biggest chunk of household income after what some surveys say is a 231% average increase in house prices and a 44% average rise in rents over the past decade. Average household incomes have grown since 1997, but disposable income dropped 2% over the decade.
Retired and insolvent
THE NUMBER of insolvencies in Britain rose from 30,587 people who became bankrupt or took out an individual voluntary arrangement in 2002 to 113,445 in the year up to June 2007. Around 7% of these were retired people. One in five retired homeowners - 1.1 million people - are still paying off a mortgage as they enter retirement.
A confusing tax and pension credits system leaves many elderly people unaware of the benefits they are entitled to. Age Concern estimates that more than 50% of pensioners are not receiving all the benefits available to them. Some £4.2 billion of benefits are left unclaimed, £2.5 billion of it in pension credits that top up pensioners' incomes.
Child poverty growing
THE SAVE the Children charity says an extra £4 billion is needed from the government if its stated aim of halving child poverty by 2010 has any chance of being met. Otherwise the process would take at least until 2024.
At the same time, the Institute for Public Policy Research says that the number of children in working households in poverty has risen by 20,000 to 1.2 million since 1997. The incomes of the poorest 10% in society have fallen by 2.2% in the past year.
Tory bag £950
BUT OF course life's all right for some. A new fashion handbag is now one of the must-have accessories for the woman about town. The 'Nancy bag' costs up to £950. The bag, adored by Madonna and Halle Berry, was designed by Samantha Cameron, wife of 'caring, sharing' Tory leader Dave.
In The Socialist 11 October 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
What we think
War and terrorism
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis