Them & Us

Belt tightening

Farewell Woolworths, so long HMV, sayanara Peacocks. We’ve said goodbye to a whole host of high street chains over the last five years as shoppers have had to tighten their belts. But not all companies are affected equally.

Designer fashion company Yves Saint Laurent saw a 59% increase in sales last year. PPR, the luxury group that owns YSL, Bottega Veneta and Gucci, made €1.8 billion profit.

So who is it who’s not having to belt-tighten? A clue lies in the fact that the most expensive handbag available from Peacocks costs £16, while at Bottega Veneta it’s £3,165.


It’s not just clothes where this divide is obvious either. January saw a 2.6% fall in year-on-year food sales.

It’s unsurprising to find people are cutting back on food when we remember that 83% of teachers say they see children come to school hungry in the mornings.

And yet figures reveal that Britain is set to be the biggest importer of champagne by 2016. It’s expected that 126 million bottles will be drunk in that year. Obviously some people are still able to celebrate in style.

Where’s the cash?

According to the Economist, the world has:

  • 50-60 tax havens which offer light regulation, low/no taxation and secrecy
  • 2m companies use them
  • 1000s of banks, funds and insurers do too
  • $20 trillion or more is stashed there

Poverty gap

A Save the Children report has shown a growing poverty gap in education. 60% of the children interviewed said they were prevented from joining in some educational activities because of money.

By GCSE level, there is a 34% gap between attainment of children from low income backgrounds compared to better off classmates.

Unpaid carers

More than one in ten people provide unpaid care for disabled or elderly family members, friends or neighbours.

As local government and health budgets are attacked, people have no choice but to pick up the slack. The figure doesn’t even include unpaid care for young children.

The largest increase from 2011 to 2012 was in people providing more than 50 hours of unpaid care a week.

Snow money

Retail sales in January fell sharply after the Christmas rush. We were told it’s all the fault of the snow – people just couldn’t venture out to the sales they’d otherwise be spending hundreds of pounds each at.

But a poll on the Guardian website shows 93% of people actually didn’t shop because they had no money, regardless of the weather!

Becci Heagney

Tweets this week

Nancy Taaffe

BBC News – Decision on NHS North West London A&E closures due #Unison and other unions should call a London #strike

Tony Saunois

#r4today Horsemeat scandal now affecting 12 countries. Multinational market out of control. Another market failure.

Helen Ridett

More workers shot in a South African platinum mine. Why? The bosses are under threat from a growing mass movement #solidarity #DSM


The Mirror’s reporting Manchester as the place worst hit by #bedroomtax. Could be £529 extra a year for one spare room


£13billion paid out in city bonuses in 2011-12 would of been enough to stop all the council cuts twice over that year ;( #TUSC #Eastleigh