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Them & Us
Lawrence lawyers to close
Tooks Chambers, the civil rights barristers' group set up in 1984 during the miner's strike which has represented Stephen Lawrence's family, is set to close due to the Con-Dems' legal aid cuts. The chambers is 90% publicly funded.
Tooks first acted for miners wrongly accused of riot and affray, and is currently representing the Duggan family at the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan.
Energy bills up 10%
British Gas is planning to increase gas and electricity bills by up to 10% - four times inflation.
This would take an average 'dual fuel' bill to £1,474 a year. That's 13% of your take home pay if you work a 38-hour week on minimum wage (and far more of your income if you're unemployed or underemployed). On cold winter days, the cost could be £20 a day.
Of course, say privatised energy market promoters, you could switch supplier. But other energy comes are predicted to follow suit.
70% of households say they went without heating at some point last winter to reduce bill costs. At the same time British Gas, SSE, EDF, E.ON, Scottish Power and npower have all seen their profit margins almost double. British Gas owner Centrica made £1.58 billion in just six months.
Water bills are also on the up. Thames Water are sticking a £29 water surcharge on bills to pay for the building of a 'super-sewer'. Privatisation of water boards was supposed to make it easier to raise money for these sorts of 'clean up' projects. (A similar argument's being used for the sell-off of the Royal Mail).
Instead, most water companies, including Thames Water, are owned by debt-ridden private equity gangsters. Since the Kemble Water consortium took over, Thames Water's debts have tripled.
Grimsby or Cyprus?
Another costly privatised service is rail. Tickets prices are due to rise 4.1% in January. But don't worry, the price of a return ticket is going to be capped - at £500! As the Independent pointed out, that's over twice the price of a trip on the Orient Express, and more than a week's holiday in Cyprus.
Last year £2.7 billion was given in government subsidies to private train companies.
The government's own Major Projects Authority has predicted that up to £200 million will be wasted on failed IT for Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit 'reform' (ie cut) in benefits.
That's the sort of thing that happens when contracts worth £23 million get signed off without the 'proper authority' due to the pressure to keep the project on time.
But better to waste money on private computer firms than on people's needs, IDS would probably say.
Tax avoiders' harmony
'Give us yer money' multi-millionaire Bono has again defended U2's accounting- putting money in the Dutch Antilles islands to minimise the amount of tax paid.
Interviewed in the Observer, he attacked the "cranky left" for criticising him. "Tax competitiveness is why Ireland has stayed afloat. When the Germans tried to impose a different tax regime on the country in exchange for a bailout, the Taoiseach said they would rather not have the bailout. So U2 is in total harmony with our government's philosophy."
The harmony of low taxes for big business and the rich, big cuts in public services and welfare and a €60 charge to visit a doctor. Maybe the 13% of workers unemployed, or those who have left Ireland to find work elsewhere, don't feel very afloat, Bono.
Read 'The Frontman - Bono (In the Name of Power)' book review in Socialism Today
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