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Them & Us
Out of sight
Earlier this year the charity Oxfam reported that a mere five billionaire families owned as much wealth as 20% of the population in Britain.
More recently, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has calculated that the country's richest 1% have amassed as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population.
But as shocking as this inequality is, critics have pointed out that the ONS calculations of the country's £9.5 trillion of property, pensions and financial assets, leaves out the trillions of pounds estimated to be salted away by the super-rich in offshore tax havens.
Profits before people
In the first quarter of 2014 energy giant E.ON made a £177 million profit - £36 million lower than in 2013. But despite still ringing up £2 million a day profit E.ON announced that it was scrapping its 25% saving scheme for the over 60s on pension credits.
From June, an estimated 30,000 customers will have to pay the higher rate standard tariff. One 84 year old dual-fuel customer will now have to find an extra £360 a year. Yet keeping the scheme would only have cost mega-profitable E.ON an estimated £900,000 a month.
The old adage of 'lies, damned lies, and government statistics' has been underlined by the Con-Dems' presentation of the unemployment figures. George Osborne falsely claims that Britain's economic recovery is reducing unemployment.
Of course what the Chancellor omits in his boasting is the huge rise in part-time working, zero-hour contracts and low-paid self-employment.
Another widely suspected method of reducing the number of jobseekers from official figures is the application of financial sanctions on benefit claimants. Used by previous Labour governments, under the Coalition government sanctions have soared to affect nearly 900,000 claimants a year.
According to a former Jobcentre Plus adviser's dossier of evidence to a House of Commons select committee, Department for Work and Pensions officials repeatedly told staff to find imaginative ways to impose sanctions on hapless jobseekers, thereby creating the illusion of falling unemployment.
34 first time buyers in Streatham, south London, were left stranded after their "affordable housing" was gazumped by their own social housing provider, Wandle.
After new valuations by Wandle, prices for one bedroom flats soared by an average £55,000 and two bedroom properties by £115,000.
A catering worker told the Evening Standard: "I got my mortgage approved and my bags have been packed ready to move in. I've been living out of boxes for months just waiting for the keys. It's devastating." Another scuppered buyer described Wandle as "behaving like mercenaries".
Despite an 8% rise in homelessness this year, Tory-run Westminster has withdrawn funding for two homeless hostels in the borough, forcing them to close. The charity Housing Justice, said services for the homeless in the West End were already stretched to "full capacity".
Westminster is one of ten London boroughs where the net value of properties outstrips the worth of all the properties in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland combined.
In The Socialist 28 May 2014:
Socialist Party election analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
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