Archives For economic recovery

This Saturday will see a TUC demo in London calling for better pay and an economic recovery that works for everybody. Protestors will assemble at 11am at Victoria Embankment for a march to Hyde Park. Find out more by clicking here. Below is some info from the campaign:

JOIN US FOR A MARCH AND RALLY IN LONDON ON 18 OCTOBER 2014, TO HELP CALL FOR AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY THAT WORKS FOR ALL BRITONS, NOT JUST THOSE RIGHT AT THE TOP. BRITAIN NEEDS A PAYRISE!

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

Image: Britain Needs A Payrise

 

Advertisements

1) Britain’s slow recovery is historically unprecedented

We said before that this had been the slowest recovery for a hundred years, but it seems Osbourne is breaking records with this one, as it is in fact the slowest recovery in 314 years! (We are still using the word ‘recovery’ in a mocking way, bytheway). David Blanchflower, Independent Journalist, decided to dig a little deeper at the record of the coalition, and found that not only is this the slowest recovery in over three centuries but the Coalition did choke the recovery’s progress.

Image: the Telegraph

Image: the Telegraph

“First, all previous recessions’ lost output was restored in four years or less, in contrast with just over six years – in fact 76 months according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – for the current recession. Second, it is apparent that the steepness of the path of recovery in all previous recessions was approximately the same, that is to say, the slopes of all the upward lines pre-2008 is approximately the same. Third, the recovery under Labour between Q32009 and Q32010 also broadly followed that same path, as does the current recovery over the last year or so.

“Finally, what is unprecedented is the flatlining of the economy in the Great Recession under the Coalition, once the recovery was already underway, from around months 37 (February 2011) through month 59 (December 2012). In February 2011 GDP was 4.9 per cent below the starting level; it was 4.2 per cent below it in January 2012 and still 4.2 per cent below in December 2012. It had still only reached minus 3.1 per cent by May 2013, in month 64. The Coalition killed off recovery at birth.”

Read more about this story here.

2) Osbourne suggests welfare money should be redirected onto high-speed rail links for north

George Osbourne has suggested that welfare payments which provide no ‘real economic return’ should be redirected into creating high speed rail links and infrastructure for the north of country.

Osbourne suggested that welfare payments can indeed ‘trap people in poverty’ – this is true in some ways, but if we were to remove these welfare payments to build more trains, people would still be trapped in a state of poverty, whilst a train they cannot afford a ticket for is built outside their house.  We have a suggestion for what we could do with redirected welfare payments – start the Universal Basic income – an unconditional income of £7000 a year could be granted to every citizen if we removed the welfare system altogether. Stay tuned for our article explaining the UBI this week.

3) 300,000 people wait five weeks for benefit payments in UK

A report published on Thursday by the TUC revealed that the Universal Credit scheme hits 300,000 people a month with a five week wait as it assesses benefit payments. Previously, you had to wait two weeks for payment. image

The new waiting time could see people going into 2 months of rent arrears before receiving support. The report revealed that 39,000 newly unemployed people will be hit by the wait each month. The report also revealed that only 1 in seven people knew about the plans, with 70% saying they would be worried if they had to wait this long if they lost their job.

The TUC has now launched their new campaign, Save Our Safety Net, highlighting the holes in the welfare system, including the five week wait.

Read about this story here.

4) Iain Duncan Smith interview

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

IDS gave a interview to a BBC journalist which demonstrated that he is achieving exactly what he set out to.

“And what of those stories of people suffering hardship because of benefits being reduced or not paid. “These stories about people in difficulty didn’t start the day I walked through the door. But of course those stories are sad and I want to find out about them – the speed with which you pick those up is what you really test yourself on.

“The reality is that the change itself should help resolve that, if you don’t change it they’re still going to be screaming.”

“Speed” as demonstrated by the previous story, doesn’t seem to be the Minister’s strong point. 1 million people using a food bank should probably sound alarms for IDS, or perhaps the fact that the main reason given for needing a food bank is benefit delays, and yet an even longer wait has been installed in the new flagship welfare system Universal Credit. Although, yes, we should have known from the fact this MInister has remained in his place past the reshuffle, that he is wholly being rewarded for the work he has done. The work that is so good, that IDS wants to suppress the reports of failures and costs of implementation from the public. All at public expense of course.

Read the interview here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

So we’ve been offline for a little while for maintenance, hence a bumper edition of WWLLW, and a lot has been going….

1) Green Party proposes wealth tax

So let’s start this bumper edition with some news that makes sense and deals with the biggest problem of our times (and the most avoided by most of our politicians) – the wealth gap. The Green Party have proposed a wealth tax of around 2% on the assets of top earners. It would only affect the top 1% of the population (yeah, the 1% who currently have around a fifth of the wealth in the UK).

Presenting the radical new proposal, Natalie Bennett, the Green leader, said other political parties only offered minor tweaks to the UK’s failed economic system, instead of major changes to deal with inequality.

Although seen as a radical proposal, this is only seem through the prism of the last decade’s political discourse which has shied away from dealing with what is an extreme circumstance of widening inequality that systematically continues to funnel money from the poorest to the richest. Curbing the excesses of the rich has to play a part in any move towards a fairer society and we welcome this announcement.

IB43_700
2) Two MPs to sue government on DRIP bill
 
An ‘artificial emergency’ was created in parliament in order to rush through a bill that infringes on the public’s privacy and allows greater surveillance. The Bill was designed as a response to the European Court of Justice ruling in April that the current practices in the UK, under the Data Retention Regulations Act of 2009, were illegal. 
 
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill was agreed by all three major political parties and rushed through in a week. The urgency with which the bill was pushed through allowed no time for research, debate or opposition. 
 
Now, 2 MPs have begun an official fightback against the legality of the bill. 
 
Mr Davis and Mr Watson, backed by human rights charity Liberty, have written to the Home Office to give them seven days’ notice of their intention to apply for judicial review.

Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, said: “The three party leaders struck a private deal to railroad through a controversial bill in a week. You cannot make good laws behind closed doors.

“The new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act does not answer the concerns of many that the blanket retention of personal data is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Company pulls out of workfare scheme, days after George Osbourne visits to publicise scheme

Byteback IT Solutions received a visit from chancellor George Osbourne earlier this month in an attempt to publicise the Help To Work programme the company had signed up to.

Image: Bristol Post

Image: Bristol Post

 

However, following the visit, Byteback were sent messages online about the detrimental effects and infamy of the Help To Work programme which forced the long-term unemployed to work for the payment of their benefits. Shortly after, Byteback IT Solutions announced they would be backing out of the scheme as they were not previously aware of the effects.

They made the announcement via their Facebook page, insisting that they had taken part with “the best of intentions”, but had come to the conclusion that “we were wrong to get involved with workfare.”

A company director explained: “We are a small community-serving business that wanted to help the local unemployed in our community to find work by offering our time and expertise to give jobseekers valuable work experience.”

An embarrassing event for Osbourne and the government. The workfare scheme has no place here. Despite the greatest protestations and attempts by our government to retain the secrecy of workfare employer names, judges have repeatedly ruled that the government must name the providers (though of course, that doesn’t mean they will). Thankfully, the shame of taking part in this scheme is one even the government can’t deny.

Read more about this story here.

4) Did you hear? The economy has fully recovered! We are at the 2008 peak! (Dies laughing)

From russelljonespersonal.com

BtdGMg5CQAA44Vz BtdGMp_CMAAsr7N

5) Malnutrition soars by 70% as doctors report an increase in illnesses associated with the Third World

The drive of cuts and austerity is seeing a 70% rise in malnutrition and illnesses associated with Third World countries, says a new hospital admissions report.

“People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14.

“This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.

“Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.

“Scurvy – a disease associated with pirates stuck at sea for long periods – has increased by 31% in England since 2010.

“This is caused by a lack of vitamin C and can be caused by a diet without enough fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Thousands of people are unable to feed themselves, and a million are in need of a food bank and will have skipped meals and cut back before they have reached there. This is a form of violence and torture inflicted on people in a place with a wealth of resources and a wealth of wealth hoarded for the decadence of a few at the cost of malnutrition, poverty and destitution for others.

Read more about this story here.

6) 200 strangers stop eviction of cancer patient from home

Tom Crawford, 63, posted a plea on YouTube calling for help for his peaceful protest against his eviction from the home he has lived in for 25 years, over a disputed mortgage.

The father of 3, who also suffers from prostate cancer, said in the video;

“Please come and help us, there will be a lovely cup of tea waiting for you.

“But don’t use violence, they are the ones who use violence. This is a war, for the people. It may only be a small bungalow, but it is my bungalow, my land, my home.”

More than 200 strangers from across the country came to Tom’s home in Nottingham on the day of the eviction. Some came from Wales and Newcastle and others were neighbours. Bailiffs were unable to enter the home.

Hundreds stand outside Tom Crawford's property Image: Daily Mail

Hundreds stand outside Tom Crawford’s property Image: Daily Mail

Following the event, Tom said:

“I can’t believe that people have come from all over the country to support me. It’s really overwhelming and I really didn’t expect it.

“This is something I feel very passionate about – I’ve been here more than 25 years and have brought three children up here. I’ve worked hard all my life.”

A great show of solidarity and an example of how we can fight back.

Read more about this story here.

7) Victory against sell-off of student loans

1891204_735010283201867_9013850131012214320_n

Another fantastic victory won last week when Vince Cable, Business Secretary announced that plans to sell-off the student loan book have been stopped. This excellent triumph is in no small part down to the student movement that has fought heartily against it, despite the ignorance of media and politicians. This message was left on the Facebook Page:

“WE’VE WON!!! The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book in an announcement made by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills yesterday (July 21st).

“This government u-turn represents a major victory for the student movement. If the student loan book had have been sold off to private debt collectors there is no doubt that in a bid to maximise profits interest rates on repayments would have soared. To put it bluntly, privatising student loans would have been a retrospective hike in tuition fees.

“But students and graduates have shown that we won’t tolerate being burdened with even more debt without a fight.

“The Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) has been at the forefront of the campaign to #StopTheSellOff. Alongside hundreds of student activists across the country, we have organised national days and weeks of action involving more than 50 campuses which has resulted in over 76 MPs signing our Early Day Motion against the privatisation of student debt.

“With the General Election just around the corner and the student movement on the rise it is no surprise that the Lib Dems have decided to back off on their assault on students.

“Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part – all the banner drops, occupations, mass petitioning, stunts, protesting and lobbying together made a huge difference and proves once again that campaigning works!

“There are, however, many more fights ahead.

“There will be those who will want to revisit plans to privatise student loans in the future – we need to make sure they never succeed.

“As a result of the trebling of tuition fees, higher education in the UK is the most expensive in the whole of Europe and student debt is rocketing as a result. At the same time the slashing of EMA and savage cuts to education are hitting students hard.

“With a General Election just months away, now is the time for the student movement to step up our campaigning efforts and loudly raise our demands for free education – against all fees, cuts and debt. That is why The Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining a coalition of groups to organise a national student demonstration this autumn on Wednesday 19 November.

“Join the fight back – get active with the Student Assembly! If you would like to get involved in organising the national demonstration or would like to set up a Student Assembly on your campus get in touch with us today on info@thestudentassembly.org.uk”

Read more about this story here.

8) Wisborough Green fights off fracking

Even more to celebrate as a West Sussex town fights off the application of an energy company to explore for oil and gas near the village of Wisborough Green.

The proposals were met with over 2,500 objections with reasons such as the lead to controversial fracking in the area and noise pollution from lorries having to travel through the town 24 times a day.

Campaigners celebrate the decision to stop exploration for oil and gas Image: The Independent

Campaigners celebrate the decision to stop exploration for oil and gas Image: The Independent

The decision was announced on Monday 21st July.

“Andrew Jackson of Wisborough Green parish council said the villagers had felt that it was important to make a stand. “If this was to be allowed today, it sets a benchmark for all other villages like ourselves,” he said. It’s clear that earlier applications that have been approved have all had direct access to the major lorry routes. This one does not and it’s not an appropriate location.”

“Local landowners were so determined to stop the exploration that they launched a “legal blockade” against Celtique, informing it that it did not have permission to drill under their properties and that they would go to the courts if it proceeded as planned. A similar tactic was employed by campaigners in nearby Fernherst, which sits inside South Downs National Park.”

Read more about this story here.

Oh, and in other news Cameron did some reshuffle and let some women in as a desperate stab at portraying himself as some sort of feminist or lover of equality whilst overseeing (and completely congratulating via the allowance of IDS to remain in his post) welfare reforms that disproportionately affect women and particularly single mothers and also overseeing the widening of the pay gap which is now in some parts 13%.

———–

We also cannot ignore the odious war taking place right now. A war that has some innate commitment to the murder of children, which nothing can ever be worth. We are staring into the sickness of man, the amalgamation of fake moral justifications for selfishness, arms and suffering. The focus must be, as Jon Snow says, to resolve this, at any cost.

“Leaving Israel and beleaguered Gaza far below me, I lay back in my BA seat headed for London. I donned my headphones and listened to Bach’s heavenly violin concerto in E major, and wept, as I rarely have as an adult.

“I wept for two peoples with remarkable similarities. Two peoples of extraordinary gifts and ability. Two peoples living in an area far smaller than England, one of which besieges the other, both of which target each other’s civilians.

This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world. We fail as humankind if we do not devise a coming-together. Our leaders, as a vast priority, have to try and try again to use every mechanism in our rare animal capacity – our considerable intellects – to bring these peoples to resolution whatever the cost.”

Jon Snow, Channel 4

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1. 85 richest people own nearly half the world’s wealth, say Oxfam

According to new research by the Oxfam charity, the widening wealth gap means that the 85 richest people in the world own as much wealth as the 3.5bn poorest people – half the world’s population.

The report, “Working For The Few”, highlights the growing economic inequality and it’s effect on “human progress.”

The report said:

“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Read the report here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

2. HSBC forced to retreat on proof policy for customers making withdrawals

HSBC sparked controversy last week as thousands of customers were refused cash withdrawals, fuelling speculation that the bank is in trouble, and another crash may be imminent.

According to a report on the BBC programme Moneybox, customers wanting to withdraw cash sums of over £1,000 were refused or asked for reasons for their withdrawal. One customer, Stephen Cotton, told the programme:

“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”

Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “

He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.”

HSBC argue that they introduced this new policy for customer security, but the customer backlash has forced the bank to withdraw their policy in a statement released this morning:

“Following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals.” 

Still, speculation over the future of HSBC, which has also been exposed for laundering money, assisting terrorists and having an £80bn capitalisation black hole, remains doubtful, with some warning customers to get their money out now.

3. George Osbourne announces plans to raise the minimum wage

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to raise the minimum wage to £7 an hour for the over 21s, a rate suggested by the Low Pay Commission.
Osborne said the “economy can now afford” to raise the rate, following it’s continuous fall in real terms since 2008, as inflation continues to rise. 

The current minimum wage is set at £6.31 an hour for the over 21s. For 18-20 year olds it is £5.03 and £3.72 for the under 18’s.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

4. Employment figures celebrated by coalition at PMQ’s, but mask the continuing cost of living crisis

Ahead of PMQ’s last Wednesday, the employment figures gave the coalition something to boast about. Unemployment fell from 7.4% to 7.1% – the sharpest drop since 1997, and the lowest level since 2009.
The figures were certainly positive, but were used by the coalition to sound out the continuing problems of underemployment – where people do not have enough hours, and also the problem of low pay:
 
“Average earnings are up by just 0.9 per cent (as people price themselves into work), leaving them 1.1 per cent below inflation. Those Tories who proclaimed the end of the “cost-of-living crisis” when inflation fell to the Bank’s target rate of 2 per cent have been left looking predictably foolish. After five years of declining real wages, there is still no end in sight to the longest fall in living standards since 1870. So long as that remains the case, Cameron will still struggle to rebut Ed Miliband’s attack lines.”
by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) UN Special Rapporteur in housing calls for ‘bedroom tax’  spare room subsidy to be suspended in the name of human rights

Raquel Rolnik was invited here by government as part of their obligation with the UN, to investigate the availability of adequate housing, and its surrounding policies. Ahead of a report due to be released next year, Rolnik sent out a press release calling on the government to suspend the so-called ‘bedroom tax.’

What ensued was a harsh attack by Grant Shapps – the Conservative party chairman, attempting to denounce Rolnik’s findings as ‘biased.’Shapps called Rolnik a ‘woman from Brazil’ highlighting that the housing problems in Rolnik’s native land were far worse and therefore, she could not comment on housing in the UK. Shapps also wrote a strongly worded letter to the UN, claiming that Rolnik was not invited to the UK, and that her report should be investigated.

Image: Twitter.com

Image: Twitter.com

Rolnik hit back in an interview with Inside Housing, where she said that she not experienced such aggression from a government before, despite her previous missions including “Croatia, Algeria, Maldives, Argentina, United States, Israel, Rwanda, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.” Rolnik also highlighted that the spare room subsidy was merely a part of the investigation and elsewhere she had been very positive about UK housing.

Rolnik is continuing her investigation, and for many campaigners, she is providing some hope in rectifying the problems caused by the ‘bedroom tax.’

Read more about this story here.

2) Woman with cerebral palsy told by ATOS she may be fit to work in six months, and her disability ‘expected to improve’

Amy Jones, 24, was can now expect re-assessments every six months and a possible loss of her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) after a fit to work test suggested that her incurable and debilitating condition – cerebral palsy, could improve.

Image: The Huffington Post

Image: The Huffington Post

Amy said:

“It even says in black and white in my medical reports from the hospital that my CP is becoming increasingly disabling.

“There is nothing in my reports to suggest that my CP is improving or becoming less painful or anything like that.”

Amy requested a copy of the ATOS report after being told she would need to be re-assessed for Income Support. The DWP said they could not comment on individual cases.

Read more about this story here.

3) Liberal Democrats will push for minimum wage rise

Business Secretary Vince Cable will approach the Low Pay Commission and ask them to restore the minimum wage to its real value, which is thought to have fallen 10-12% since 2008.

The plans come amid concerns that the economic recovery is not raising living standards, and will demonstrate a government focus on dealing with this in the run up to the election.

In an interview with the Guardian, Vince Cable said:

“We cannot go on for ever in a low pay and low productivity world in which all we can say to workers is ‘you have got to take a wage cut to keep your job’.”

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit should read: Carl Court/PA Wire

Vince Cable Image: The Telegraph Photo credit: Carl Court/PA Wire

Read more about this story here.

4) Michael Gove insulted food bank users, say Labour

Labour MPs branded Michael Gove as “insulting” and “out of touch” following his comments on food bank users.

The Education Secretary said that food bank users often had themselves to blame as “they are not best able to manage their finances,” before promising better support to deal with the rising number of food bank users.

Labour MP, Steve McCabe said:

“Families forced to go to food banks should not be stigmatised by secretaries of state. The spiralling number of food banks across Britain should be a mark of shame for this government.”

 by Kam Sandhu @KamBass
Like us on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter