Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/769/16869
Them & Us
Many people are struggling in these recessionary times, but spare a thought for our hard-pressed MPs. Unable to survive on a paltry backbench salary of £66,396 a year plus tens of thousands of pounds in expenses, some of them have been reduced to asking parliamentary questions for cash!
Take for example Tory grandee Tim Yeo, the former minister, who has been paid over £400,000 by three 'green' companies since 2009. He also has shares and options worth about £583,000 in these firms, as well as being a paid director and shareholder of Eurotunnel.
Nonetheless, down-on-his-luck Tim had to ask undercover reporters posing as reps from a green energy company for £7,000 a day salary for his services.
Tim's cash for questions offer follows last month's exposure of fellow Conservative MP Patrick Mercer who took £4,000 from undercover reporters posing as lobbyists for Fiji's dictatorial regime.
Misery without end
Will there be any public services left after mad axeman chancellor George Osborne is finished chopping? According to a joint study by the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Osborne's latest tranche of spending cuts could last until 2020. Such is the Coalition's deft handling of economic crisis the study reckons that the government is no further forward in tackling the deficit than it was when elected in 2010.
Speaking of tackling government spending deficits, the International Monetary Fund (IMF chief Christine Lagarde was recently quizzed by French judges over a payout made to tycoon Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister under former President Sarkozy) says it got its sums wrong over the damaging effect its austerity bailouts had on the Greek economy. Such an admission will do nothing for the 27% of Greece's workforce who are officially unemployed, with eight out of ten young people jobless.
Struggling to pay bedroom tax, Council Tax and water charges? Turn yourself into a company and avoid paying any tax! It seems every large corporation is doing so.
The latest avoider is the UK's biggest water company, Thames Water. Despite making £549 million in pre-tax profits on revenues of £1.8 billion last year, as it raised customers' bills by nearly 7%, Thames paid no corporation tax. In fact it received £5 million credit from the Treasury.
That's enough to put a smile on Chief Executive Martin Baggs face, whose pay rose to £450,000 plus a handy bonus of £274,000. Mr 'money' Baggs is also expected to pocket a further £366,000 incentive payment next month.
If customers wish to register a complaint over Thames Water's insatiable greed, they should avoid using Vodafone. The communications company also paid zero corporation tax, for a second consecutive year, notwithstanding sales of £5 billion in Britain and an operating profit of £294 million.
Education secretary Michael Gove's flagship policy of 'free schools' has taken a hit after the largest private sector provider of free schools in Sweden went belly up.
JB Education will sell 19 of its high schools and close down the remaining four, affecting around 10,000 pupils, after its private equity parent company decided to cut its losses.
In Sweden, private companies can set up profit-making free schools paid for by the government but run independently. Although UK free schools are run along not-for-profit lines, undoubtedly Gove envisages moving quickly towards the Swedish model.
The housing crisis continues to deepen with the number of people forced to live in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation rocketing by 14% (4,500 households) in the last year, in England.
Over 53,500 households are now registered as homeless - a five year high. In addition, 9,000 households have been put into temporary accommodation in areas outside of their local authority.
Government policies of discouraging social housing, cutting housing benefit, imposing a bedroom tax, and relying on private landlords, has led to a chronic housing shortage.
In The Socialist 12 June 2013:
G8 Summit protest
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review