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From: The Socialist issue 661, 9 March 2011: We can stop cuts!

Search site for keywords: Fire - Gaddafi - London - Benefits

Fast news

Benefit attacks

Average families living in three-bedroom homes in the south east will lose 2,500 a year as a result of the government capping benefit payments to a maximum 500 a week, according to a report by the homeless charity Shelter.

This swingeing attack on claimants' incomes will affect 50,000 households, involving 180,000 children. Shelter's survey shows that 47 central and south east England local authorities will dock 50 a week from unemployed families with three children, and another 90 authorities will cut 20 a week as a result of the government's benefits cap.

New housing benefit claimants will also be affected by a cap which limits the maximum payment for a three-bedroom home to 340 a week.

As reported previously in the Socialist, the likely consequence of a benefits cap is the social cleansing of poorer people in high rent areas of cities.

Fire alarm

AssetCo, the company which maintains London's fire engines under a private finance contract, is struggling to avoid being wound up as a result of tax debts. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in a letter to government minister Bob Neill, said: "This means that every single fire engine and fire appliance London owns could be forfeited as a result of the debts of AssetCo ... At the least, this will mean there will be no one to maintain London's fire engines."

During the FBU's fight last year against the imposition of unacceptable shift patterns by management, AssetCo was given 27 fire appliances by the London Fire Authority as part of an organised scabbing operation.

On yer bike

Last year, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was derided for telling the unemployed to get on a bus to find work. Getting on a bus to go to work for 200 workers at a rail ticketing call centre in Tyneside will be impossible if their employer, East Coast, transfers their jobs to Mumbai in India.

Outrageously, East Coast has told its Tyneside call centre workers they could retain their jobs if they moved!

Gaddafi's friends

Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics (LSE), has resigned after the college's lucrative financial ties with the Libyan dictator colonel Gaddafi were exposed by the media.

The furore of Gaddafi's 300,000 donation to the LSE raises a number of questions. Firstly, why haven't the other LSE board members resigned or been sacked? And, why haven't other public figures - including Labour and Tory MPs - who also cosied up to Gaddafi and his murderous regime resigned?

Finally, why did the LSE seek to court Gaddafi for his money in the first place? The college needed the cash because universities today cannot survive without a 'business plan' due to the commercialisation of higher education under successive Tory and Labour governments.

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