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- Featured letter: NHS
Passport checks a backdoor to treatment charges
Overseas visitors' treatments account for about £1 in every £300 of the NHS budget. As Aislinn Macklin-Doherty rightly says in the last Socialist, after charging and collecting costs are included, less than 0.05% of the NHS budget (£1 in every £2,000) would be recovered.
Once the expensive charging machinery is introduced, it would soon be used for other charges too. Maybe starting with a charge for a missed out-patient appointment, then single rooms, 'hotel charges' for in-patients, queue-hopping investigations and eventually certain treatments.
The Tories hope public opposition would be reduced by this gradual approach, with overseas visitors a soft first step.
All this would be great for private companies (many US-based) who greedily eye the NHS's annual £120 billion, want to take a slice and then maximise their profits.
Jon Dale, Bolsover
White paper whitewash
'Councils will be ordered to build thousands more homes' is the message around the new housing white paper. I immediately thought I'd missed the election of a Corbyn-led government which was implementing a basic socialist policy.
No. It came from Sajid Javid, one of the more myopic ministers in a government whose eyes are fixed rigidly on the bottom line, and whose hostility to council housing is only exceeded by its hostility to trade unions.
I recall the denunciation of the Liverpool 47 Labour councillors in the 1980s: building council houses is 'irresponsible' screamed the media; 'impossibilism' thundered Neil Kinnock, as he grovelled before Murdoch and Maxwell.
These were just a couple of the epithets which were hurled at Liverpool's socialist council in response to our proud programme of, in our short period in office, building 5,000 houses and flats, plus converting a further 2,000 uninhabitable flats into beautiful apartments.
However, not surprisingly, there is no information on how cash-strapped councils would get the finance to translate Javid's fine words into reality. In short, it's yet another empty promise from a government committed to enriching its rich friends. If every council had emulated the example of the Liverpool 47, today's housing crisis would not exist.
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool
BBC blame game
So the BBC has released an article on how to become a homeowner by the age of 25. They had four examples of how scrimping and saving can mean you can save up enough for a deposit and be able to afford the mortgage. It assumes a few things:
1. You are in a heterosexual relationship.
2. You both have above-minimum wage jobs.
3. You don't have kids.
4. You can live rent-free at your parents' for a few years.
I consider myself well off: at 24 I have a partner, a decent job and live in a reasonably affordable area. And yet to fit into these narrow criteria I would have to leave my low-paid partner and share a room at my mum's with my 18-year-old little brother. Even then, I couldn't afford to live in my hometown.
Instead of putting the blame on individuals, why don't they look at low pay, lack of council housing and high rents?
Tanis Belsham-Wray, Leeds
On 14 January in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Robert Sutcliffe, in his Saturday column, treated us to a raving right rant about working people taking industrial action. In this case about safety on the railways. I nearly fell off my chair laughing!
Seriously, the fact that people's lives and safety are being put at risk by Southern Rail's actions to remove guards is ignored by Robert.
He followed up with puerile 1980s-style rubbish about printers holding the country to ransom. Many printers, who were skilled men and women, were sacked and ended up doing menial jobs. Tory heaven!
And what happened to Thatcher who helped this happen? She was crushed by a movement of 18 million people refusing to pay their poll tax, led by Militant, now the Socialist Party.
Cormac Kelly, Marsh
In The Socialist 15 February 2017:
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