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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 December 2013

Them & Us

Robbery not recovery

When government ministers trumpet an economic recovery they must be referring to the amassed fortunes of the super-rich rather than the other 99%.

Even the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think tank, set up by welfare slashing Iain Duncan Smith, warned that his flagship policies of the bedroom tax and universal credit (which the CSJ proposed) could plunge people into more debt.

The CSJ also pointed out that 5,000 people are made homeless each year - unable to pay their rent or mortgage, while average household debt now stands at a staggering 54,000 - double that of a decade ago.

Deeper in debt

It's not just Nigella Lawson's former personal assistants who have been hammering the credit card; unsecured consumer debt has virtually tripled over the last 20 years to 160 billion - the equivalent of 94% of the UK's economic output. Only the Republic of Ireland has a higher ratio of personal debt to GDP within Europe.

Bored MPs

If you thought that fiddling expenses by establishment party MPs was down to good old fashioned greed, then think again. Commons' speaker John Bercow reckons that MPs fiddled their expenses as a "displacement activity" because Parliament had become irrelevant and ineffective ie because MPs are bored!

Only the uncaring would suggest that said MPs become permanently displaced!

Payday misery

Needless to say it's the poorest that are bearing the brunt of the government's austerity measures. Essential household bills have rocketed by 27% since 2007, with one in six payday loans now being used to cover them. This has generated an annual 4.8 billion market for rip-off payday lenders.

Going hungry

An estimated 500,000 plus households have been forced to rely on food banks to survive. Charities estimate that one in five of the population have gone hungry this year because they can't afford to buy a meal.

Worst pension

The UK's state pension is one of the worst in the developed world according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Out of the 34 countries in the OECD bloc, only Mexico's state pension fares worse than the UK's.

Here, a worker on average pay can expect a pension worth only 32.6% of final pay when they retire, compared to an OECD average of 54.4%. "With the legislated increases in retirement age to 67 for both men and women, expenditure is only expected to increase by 0.5% over the next 40 years to 8.2% of GDP, well below the OECD average of 11.7%", according to the OECD.

Council tax liabilities

Since 1 April 2013, along with the Con-Dems' hated 'bedroom tax', many low income households have been hit hard by the government's council tax benefit cuts. Previously, low income households could obtain full council tax benefit but after the government cut funding by 10% many local authorities, often Labour controlled, have simply imposed this reduction on its poorest residents.

According to a report by False Economy, who surveyed 200 councils, more than 25 people a day, unable to pay council tax bills, were issued with court liability orders between April and September - a 30% increase. Hundreds of thousands of people have been fined and are now threatened with bailiffs as a result.

What we read

American dream?

"The top 1% of incomes are close to full recovery (after the financial crisis) while the bottom 99% have hardly started to recover", says Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley.

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In The Socialist 4 December 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Corporate Killers!

Boris - it's the system, stupid

SNP's white paper will not deliver decisive change

We need mass house building

Build action to save our NHS!

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

The fight against low pay in the United States

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Kent: Unions and parents unite against all the cuts

Fracking comes North...

Council uses court against Bedroom Tax victims

Support the fightback in Con-Dems' Dickensian Britain

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

London TUSC groups plan for 2014 elections

Socialist Party workplace news

Save our fire service!

Npower job cuts must be fought!

Universities: second coordinated strike over pay

London University: strike by support staff

Support striking St Mungos workers

Civil service union calls for an end to violence in Jobcentres

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Is workfare coming to Morrisons?

Film review: Catching Fire

Why I believe in socialism


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