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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2020

Under the microscope - Coronavirus pandemic news in brief

Hancock's half-hour

"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.

Fees insult

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.

Holiday hunger

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.

Lockdown debts

photo Creative Commons Zero

photo Creative Commons Zero   (Click to enlarge)

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.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 9 June 2020:

Black Lives Matter

Fight racism and class inequality. "Seize the time!"

Black Lives Matter protests sweep country: How can the movement win?

Mass protests erupt

Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist

Capitalism = racism: "You fight capitalism with socialism"

"We're going to fight racism and capitalism with socialism"

France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes

Socialists call for trade unions to join the fight


Tories backtrack in England - Stand firm for school safety

Oppose the Welsh government's reckless return to school plan

Workplace news

Non-essential retail to open - Organise at work

Debenhams: Workers made to pay for Covid-19 crisis

Workers' union and campaign group fights Derby Rolls-Royce job cuts

Homerton Hospital - withdraw private contract


Test-and-trace fiasco - the ringing of the cash till

Coronavirus pandemic news in brief

BAME coronavirus deaths - an indictment of capitalist inequality

Lessons from history

Roosevelt's New Deal programme - reforms to save capitalism


Ken Douglas: A tireless and determined fighter for socialism

Campaigns and reports

Why we joined the Socialist Party

Donate so we can raise our socialist message

Domestic violence murder

Readers' opinion

As a health worker, I had to march against racism

Readers' opinion: Things will never be the same


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