Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1090/30881
Under the microscope - Coronavirus pandemic news in brief
"There is no privatisation of the NHS on my watch", said serial bullshitter health secretary Matt Hancock in January. But now the Department of Health and Social Care has admitted it handed a record total of £9.2 billion last year to private companies. This is significantly up on the £8.77 billion private vultures siphoned in 2017-18, and doesn't include the extra £1 billion-plus the Tory government has thrown at private companies in the current pandemic.
Lest anyone should forget, private companies' business models are not based on charity but on the pursuit of profit, principally to enrich their large shareholders and CEOs. Typically that means poor pay and conditions for their workforces and poor service delivery.
The government has blood on its hands after it failed to protect vulnerable care home residents from coronavirus.
To add insult to injury, the mainly privately run care homes are now demanding increases in residents' fees - over £100 a week in some instances - to cover the cost of providing PPE and agency staff.
Around 40% - over 6,000 mainly privately run care homes in England - have suffered coronavirus outbreaks due to the government emptying infected elderly patients from the NHS into care homes, combined with a lack of testing and PPE for staff, and an increasing use of agency workers to cover staff absences.
Care homes should be brought back in-house, and the billions in government cuts from the sector reinvested in full.
Jobs slashing tax dodgers
Almost one-third of big businesses who have received a total of over £5 billion from the government's coronavirus loans scheme are linked to tax havens, according to thinktank TaxWatch.
These include job-slashing British Airways, whose parent company is based in Jersey, and digger-maker JCB, whose parent company is located in the Netherlands.
While chancellor Rishi Sunak continues to bung bailout money to companies registered in tax havens, his generosity with our money doesn't extend to 1.3 million children in England who face summer holiday hunger.
The government has said it will axe the national voucher scheme worth £15 a week in July - introduced in March to help low income families with schools shut under lockdown.
According to the Food Foundation, some five million people in households with children have had difficulty feeding them during the coronavirus crisis.
As the Socialist has previously reported, the privately run scheme, administered by global company Edenred, has led to unacceptable delays in sending out the vouchers - which can't be used for online shopping. The government should fund a much more generous scheme run by local authorities.
The charity StepChange has estimated that 4.6 million UK households have accumulated an additional £6 billion of debts during the coronavirus lockdown, which began in late March.
This breaks down into £1,076 of arrears and £997 of debt on average for each adult, caused by job losses and reduced working hours and pay.
Some 1.2 million people were in arrears on utility bill payments, 820,000 people on council tax, and 590,000 on rent. Around 4.2 million people had used credit cards, overdrafts or high-cost payday loans to survive.
In The Socialist 9 June 2020:
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