Them & Us

Cash cow

Asylum seeker deportee Jimmy Mubenga died in the custody of G4S security guards; armed forces personnel had to be drafted in to secure the London Olympic Games after G4S failed to provide enough stewards; money was paid to G4S and Serco companies for prisoners’ electronic tags who were no longer wearing them and in some cases were dead!

If social justice played any part following these crimes then G4S’s directors would be languishing in jail. Fortunately for them, the government is now considering lifting the bar on G4S bidding for new public service contracts.

Down and out

Almost four million families who rent or pay a mortgage have so little in savings that they are just one pay cheque away from eviction according to housing charity Shelter. Some 2.4 million of these have no savings at all.

Rich justice

Rail fares evasion can lead to hefty fines and a criminal record, even for a £1 ‘outstanding fare’. But the criminal justice system appears more lenient if you happen to be a City executive and dodge £42,550 in fares over a number of years. In this case the dodger simply paid the outstanding bill plus £450 costs and walked away, a free man.

Deeper in debt

Work hard in your studies, go to university and graduate with £67,000 of debt! That is increasingly the prospect for many students due to sky-high fees and no living maintenance grant.

The Sutton Trust estimates that graduates will end up repaying a total of £66,897 on average. In fact some will never clear their education debts after a lifetime of work. Moreover, the Con-Dems’ hike in university tuition fees to £9,000 a year has also increased the cost to the public purse due to unrepayable loans.

Buy to profit

Research by the GMB trade union and the Daily Mirror has revealed that one-third of all council housing sold under the Tories ‘right-to-buy’ legislation in the 1980s is now in the hands of private landlords.

In the south London borough of Kingston 46% of ex-council properties are now owned by private landlords, 40% in Nottingham and 37% in Leeds, despite tens of thousands of families languishing on council house waiting lists.

Super-rich investors own large portfolios of ex-council housing stock via offshore holding firms operating in tax havens such as the Channel Islands.

The son of Ian Gow, former Tory parliamentary aide to Margaret Thatcher who oversaw the sell-off legislation, now owns a swathe of such properties which generates a large rental income.

Perfect smog

A Public Health England report found that, 3,389 deaths in London and 4,034 in the South East, linked to air pollution in 2010 – mainly due to nitrogen dioxide emissions from road traffic and particulates in diesel fuel. 148 schools in London are situated within 150 metres of roads carrying 10,000 or more vehicles a day.

These alarming facts didn’t stop reactionary Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson enraging Londoners during the recent smog by blithely commenting that, as a “leading connoisseur” of air quality around the capital, he found it to be “perfectly fine”.