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3 January 2018

The Socialist inbox

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Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, LondonE11 1YD, phone 020 8988 8771 or email editors@socialistparty.org.uk.

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Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.


Pension pittance

I have just received a letter from the pension company that my employer uses. It shows me how much I have got in my pension for nine months of work on an annual salary of just under 16,000.

I have earned 128.96 for my pension for nine months of work. I worked this out as being 171.95 for the year.

Just for fun, I worked out how much I would have for a pension if I worked until the age of 60, 65 or 70. I am currently 23. The amounts are 6,362.03, 7,221.76 and 8,081.49 respectively, if the amount paid in every year doesn't change.

How are us youth expected to live a decent retirement if we aren't even going to earn as much for our pension across our whole lives as we would make in a single year?

And this doesn't even take into account that a lot of youth, myself included at one stage, have to work part time, on zero-hour or temporary contracts which don't give us much if anything for our pensions.

The only solution for this is to take pensions away from these private companies who are using this to line their own pockets, and to take the wealth off the billionaires who now collectively own $6 trillion.

Aaron Bailey, Huddersfield

Benefits burglary

Two years ago at a demo outside Southampton Jobcentre I said benefits will be worth 50 a week before long. How right I was.

70 a week is now taxable. You are also liable for council tax. If you work a short contract and have to work a week in hand, most of that will be snatched from you - plus the first week's claim is not paid in benefit.

Is that enough? No: after three hours' phoning around I learn the rent support is to be separated from the service charge, so no doubt they can say they are paying the rent, and the service charge - with all the money you have left - can be paid by you, the claimant.

Mike, Southampton

Tory tears

A Tory MP, Heidi Allen, breaks down in tears in the House of Commons following Frank Field's account of the sufferings of some of his Birkenhead constituents. Does she not realise that there are literally hundreds of such cases throughout the country?

People in vulnerable circumstances continue to suffer from benefit cuts, low pay, rising costs for basics, and poor and expensive housing, while the minority rich exploit the taxation system and the housing market.

A young homeless man froze to death on the streets of Birmingham recently. He won't be the last.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that since 2012-13, almost 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are living in poverty.

And the government plans to stop women who are fleeing abusive relationships from using housing benefit to pay for their stay in refuges. Nearly 60% of the income for refuges comes from housing benefit.

Heidi Allen should take a hard look at her own government's brutal policies.

Ian Hunter, Ilkeston, Derbyshire

Quiet Resistance

Alice Merrill's 'Quiet Resistance' is a book to bring home to readers life as a disabled person in a Palestinian refugee camp.

It gives a vivid picture of an everyday life which will be familiar to the British reader and then it brings the reader up short with passages like this:

"We pass a children's playground where families are enjoying the feeling of freedom out in the open space. It is a landscaped area on a slope with swings and roundabouts for the children and grassy banks and flat terraces to play football or sit and have a barbecue.

"There are so few open spaces like this so it can get crowded and it is not always as peaceful as it is today as the soldiers have been known to tear gas it."

The almost casual cruelty of the occupation is portrayed in these pages as a part of everyday life. Any reader who is not burning with indignation and determined to help the Palestinian people after reading this has not been paying attention!

Yet, as the author says, "the world governments turn a blind eye. In what other country would this happen without condemnation?"

The story of survival in these conditions is a story of quiet heroism. Doubly so for someone with a disability.

In places this first-class book is not an easy read, but it is a weapon in the battle for Palestinian rights. It is a weapon of quiet resistance.

Derek McMillan, Worthing, Sussex



http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26648