Them & Us


Prime Minister David Cameron reckons he’s getting tough with employers who pay below the statutory minimum wage of £6.50 an hour to their workers.

Presumably he’s talking about the 37 companies who have just been collectively fined a paltry £51,000 (£1,400 each) for paying below the minimum wage. One, H&M, made more than £600 million in profit in three months alone.

Last year the National Audit Office reported that up to 220,000 care workers in England are illegally paid below the national minimum wage.

Of course £6.50 is not a living wage. But some Tories, like Lord Freud, think that disabled workers should only be paid £2 an hour.

£9.3 billion:

Housing benefit that private landlords pocketed from tenants in 2013-14.

Costly advice

Tony Blair (whose legacy as Labour prime minister includes wars and privatising our public services), hasn’t exactly struggled to make ends meet since leaving Number Ten in 2007. He is widely reported to have ‘earned’ £10 million since then.

However, according to press reports, accounts filed for Tony Blair Associates (TBA) show his consultancy business spending £57 million in salaries and expenses in four years – equivalent to £350,000 for each member of staff.

TBA is funded through a group of companies called Windrush Ventures which made £800,000 post-tax profits, having spent an unspecified £35 million on “administrative expenses”.

Keeping fit

It’s a tough ask representing the public. Presumably that’s why MPs have refurbished their Commons gym at a cost of £1 million, four times the original estimate, (although that sum does include upgrading the sauna). And having worked up a sweat, MPs spent £518,635 on hotels, airline upgrades and bar bills last year to help them relax.

Hospital sell-off

Chase Farm hospital in north London is evicting over 100 health workers from its staff accommodation to allow developers to build 500 homes on the land.

One doctor told the Evening Standard: “Staff are leaving for jobs in cheaper cities. They can’t afford London.”

Chase Farm’s Accident and Emergency department was closed in December 2013. Its maternity services have also been axed.

Monkey business

Forced to compete for funding health projects, senior managers at East Kent Hospitals Foundation Trust are having to don gladiator or witches costumes and appear before a ‘Dragons’ Den’ panel. One consultant said: “This is too ridiculous for words. We were told that there’s so little money for extra services and equipment that the trust thought this would help them decide. When I attended I was confronted by a very senior manager wearing a chimpanzee mask”!