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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 May 2014

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.


Government lies

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.


Unaffordable housing

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".


Social cleansing

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.

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In The Socialist 28 May 2014:


Socialist Party election analysis

Con-Dems get a kicking

2014: The 'rejection election'

Euro elections revolt against capitalist establishment

Local elections 2014: A good base for TUSC to build on

Election appeal - don't delay!


International socialist news and analysis

India: resistance will grow after Modi victory


Socialist Party news and analysis

Unemployment kills: Fight for jobs

Super-wealthy get richer

Privatisation threatens postal service

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference: Preparing for more battles

Care UK workers plan more action

NUT supports coordinated action on 10 July

Land Registry strike may just be the beginning

Wales TUC: If it wasn't for the socialists...

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Anti-cuts rally defies council ban and BNP

Nottingham: Fighting the Bedroom Tax

Bradford campaign for 10 an hour


The Socialist readers' comments

Why I didn't rejoin Labour

The Socialist postbag


 

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