Them and us fishes, image Suzanne Beishon

Them and us fishes, image Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Unaffordable housing

The government’s revamped Right to Buy housing scheme is essentially a massive subsidy to private landlords. A report from Inside Housing reveals that in 91 councils in England, which responded to a freedom of information request, nearly 40% of council houses sold under the heavily discounted scheme (up to £100,000 in London) have ended up in the hands of private landlords – who then charge up to seven times the average social rent. In one local authority, Milton Keynes, 70% of ex-council properties are now being sublet.

With the government set to extend the right to buy scheme to Housing Association properties it’s clear that ‘affordable housing’ is something of the distant past – unless we fight back!


The average price of student accommodation now consumes 95% of the maximum student loan.

Top dogs whining

“Surprise drop in top dog pay” barked the headline of City AM, a big business free sheet. They were annoyed at a High Pay Centre (HPC) report showing that chief executives (CEOs) of firms in the FTSE top 100 only ‘earned’ on average £4.96 million last year. The median annual pay for these firms’ full time employees was £27,195.

The restrained HPC report said that this 183:1 differential was “far beyond what is sensible to inspire top executives”, having increased from an already massive 160:1 figure in 2010. But City AM protested: “Adjusted for inflation, the average CEO would have collected £5.04 million the year before”. The poor top dogs are losing out!

City AM may favour caviar banks for CEOs such as Sir Martin Sorrell (£43 million last year), we prefer solutions based on nationalisation of the top companies under democratic workers’ control.


The total expenses claimed by members of the House of Lords who didn’t bother to vote in the last parliamentary session. Between 2010 and 2015, £360,000 in total was claimed by 62 peers who didn’t vote.

Unfair fares

Rail fares charged by the highly profitable and government subsidised private train operating companies (TOCs), have soared by 25% since 2010, while average pay has gone up by 9% – according to a study backed by the TUC and rail unions.

The government has bragged that regulated rail fares, which include season tickets and day returns, have been capped to inflation-only increases. However, the TOCs get round this by ramping up unregulated fares ie long distance routes, off peak leisure and advance purchase tickets etc. Some of these fares have gone up by as much as 200% in the last decade. No wonder the demand for rail nationalisation is very popular among the travelling public.