‘Bolder action is needed:’ Anti-poverty campaigners issue home truths for the Chancellor ahead of Spring Budget

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https://leftfootforward.org/2024/02/bolder-action-is-needed-anti-poverty-campaigners-issue-home-truths-for-the-chancellor-ahead-of-spring-budget/

‘Cost of living support may be receding but the tide of people not being able to afford life’s essentials is not. It is time we moved from stop-gaps to sustainable solutions.’

February 22, 2024, marked the last of the cost of living payments being sent out. The cash top-ups had been awarded to people receiving means-tested benefits, disability benefits, and pension credits, at regular intervals over the course of the cost of living crisis. They have been a lifeline for around eight million low-income families.

But with rising living costs driving disadvantaged households further into poverty, with prices still rising despite inflation easing, and food and energy remaining at extortionate levels, charities and experts have warned that the payments are not enough. They have expressed fears about what may happen if the government does not announce additional payments.

The final cost of living payment has renewed calls for the introduction of a system that is there whenever anyone falls on hard times, rather than being just a ‘stop gap’ solution.

Ahead of the Spring Budget on March 6, anti-poverty charities and campaigners are calling on the Chancellor for bolder action to tackle poverty during the cost of living crisis.

https://leftfootforward.org/2024/02/bolder-action-is-needed-anti-poverty-campaigners-issue-home-truths-for-the-chancellor-ahead-of-spring-budget/

Continue Reading‘Bolder action is needed:’ Anti-poverty campaigners issue home truths for the Chancellor ahead of Spring Budget

Cost-of-living crisis still hammering households as recession predicted

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/cost-living-crisis-still-hammering-households-recession-predicted

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

THE cost-of-living crisis is still hammering households in every corner of the country, the TUC warned today, as inflation figures remained unchanged and Britain is believed to have slipped into recession.

The union body called for ministers to extend cost-of-living payments which are set to end by March after figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation remained at 4 per cent in January.

Food prices fell for the first time by 0.4 per cent since September 2021, with the cost of bread and cereals, cream crackers and chocolate biscuits falling, the ONS said.

The costs are still 7 per cent higher than a year ago.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insisted that the economy has “turned the corner” following the data.

But the ONS is due to publish gross domestic product (GDP) figures for December on Thursday and is predicted by experts to reveal that Britain’s economy contracted for the second quarter in a row in the final three months of 2023.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/cost-living-crisis-still-hammering-households-recession-predicted

Continue ReadingCost-of-living crisis still hammering households as recession predicted

Schools crippled by soaring PFI bills

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/schools-crippled-soaring-pfi-bills

School children in a classroom, November 27, 2019

UNIONS and campaigners slammed private firms today for imposing crippling maintenance bills on schools locked into Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts.

PFI schools are bound by 25 to 30-year contracts with private firms, who own and maintain the schools until taxpayers’ money repays the debt.

Over 900 schools have been built through PFI contracts since the 1990s. The initiative was eventually scrapped in 2018.

The BBC spoke to one head teacher in Liverpool who said that nearly 20 per cent of the school’s entire budget is being squandered on contracts.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/schools-crippled-soaring-pfi-bills

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Tory MP blasted for claiming UK’s benefits system is ‘very generous’

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https://leftfootforward.org/2024/01/tory-mp-blasted-for-claiming-uks-benefits-system-is-very-generous/

The UK has the worst safety net for the unemployed in north-west Europe

Viewers have taken issue with a statement by Tory MP Chris Philp who claimed that the UK’s benefits system is ‘very generous’, in an interview this morning.

Speaking to Sky News on the steep rise of shoplifting, the Policing Minister was asked if he had any sympathy for people stealing for food. He argued that there was “no excuse” because the UK’s benefits system is “very generous”.  

Philp said: “We have a very generous benefits system, we’re spending well over £100 billion on working-age benefits, they went up by 10% in April this year they’ll go up by another 6 or 7%. National Minimum Wage has just gone up by around 10%. There is no excuse at all for any criminal activity, including shoplifting.”

However, people were not impressed at being told by a politician, who’s current net worth is around £3 million, that the benefits system is ‘very generous’.
One X user responded: “Here is a challenge for Chris Philp – try living on ‘generous’ UK benefits for a month and then report back.”

Another wrote: “Clearly living in his own bubble. How disconnected from reality. The rental prices, bills have risen to unmanageable levels, the benefit system is completely inadequate.”

https://leftfootforward.org/2024/01/tory-mp-blasted-for-claiming-uks-benefits-system-is-very-generous/

Continue ReadingTory MP blasted for claiming UK’s benefits system is ‘very generous’

First-time buyers fall to ‘lowest level in a decade’

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https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/first-time-buyers-fall-lowest-level-decade

Woman looking at advertisements in an estate agents window, July 20, 2023

CAMPAIGNERS have blasted a lack of regulation in the housing market that leaves people trapped with no choice but to hand over their wages to landlords.

Today’s condemnation came as new figures revealed that the number of first-time buyers had plunged to its lowest level in a decade.

Figures issued by the Yorkshire Building Society showed that the number of first-time buyers in the mortgage market in 2023 stood at 290,000, shrinking by a fifth compared with 2022.

The decrease in first-time buyers followed a string of now-paused interest hikes first made by the Bank of England in December 2021, which pushed up borrowing costs, including mortgages.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/first-time-buyers-fall-lowest-level-decade

Continue ReadingFirst-time buyers fall to ‘lowest level in a decade’

Energy price cap rise will ‘hammer households even harder’ this year, union body warns

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https://leftfootforward.org/2024/01/energy-price-cap-rise-will-hammer-households-even-harder-this-year-union-body-warns/

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

The leading trade union body has slammed government policy for benefiting corporate profiteering at the expense of household bills, leading renewed calls to nationalise the energy sector after the 5% energy price cap rise.

Households will be ‘hammered even harder’ in 2024 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has said, as the Ofgem price cap rise came into effect from January 1, which will see households across the country face a 5% increase in their energy bill.

It has led to further warnings from charities about struggling households facing another cold start to the year and renewed calls for government support to help households struggling with their energy bills.

“No one should struggle to get by in one of the richest countries in the world,” said TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak.

“But 13 years of wage stagnation and cuts to social security have left millions badly exposed to sky-high bills this winter.”

With energy bills already 50% higher than two years ago, Nowak said the price cap rise will only “hammer households even harder in the coming year”.

Warm This Winter, a coalition of 50 leading UK charities, warned of the effects the government’s inaction at tackling the energy crisis will have across services.  

“Failure to avert this cold homes crisis will lead to pressure on the NHS, a mental health catastrophe and additional winter deaths caused by living in cold damp homes,” said Fiona Waters, Warm This Winter spokesperson.

https://leftfootforward.org/2024/01/energy-price-cap-rise-will-hammer-households-even-harder-this-year-union-body-warns/

Continue ReadingEnergy price cap rise will ‘hammer households even harder’ this year, union body warns

Unions call for end of ‘rampant profiteering’ as pre-Christmas food inflation remains at 9.2%

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https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/unions-call-for-end-of-rampant-profiteering-as-pre-christmas-food-inflation-remains-at-9

Shoppers in a supermarket, October 15, 2021

UNIONS called for an end to “rampant profiteering” as official figures showed food inflation remains at a painfully high 9.2 per cent in the run-up to Christmas.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said yesterday’s larger-than-expected drop in overall inflation would not offset the real-terms fall in wages this Christmas.

She said: “Headline inflation might be slowing, but workers know their wages aren’t going as far as they did two years ago.

“Even the competition regulator now admits what Unite has said all along: that firms have been exploiting the cost-of-living crisis to raise prices excessively.

“It’s time the government and Bank of England tackled the rampant profiteering in our economy to get inflation under control.”

Responding to the figures showing CPI inflation slowing to 3.9 per cent and RPI inflation to 5.3 per cent, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak added: “Today’s inflation figures will provide scant relief for hard-pressed families. Prices are still going up — just a bit more slowly.

“Household budgets remain under immense pressure. And many families will struggle with the cost of Christmas, with food and energy bills sky high.”

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/unions-call-for-end-of-rampant-profiteering-as-pre-christmas-food-inflation-remains-at-9

Continue ReadingUnions call for end of ‘rampant profiteering’ as pre-Christmas food inflation remains at 9.2%

Homeless people urinated on and attacked with bricks, shocking survey shows

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https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/homeless-people-urinated-and-attacked-bricks-shocking-survey-shows

Person sleeping rough in a doorway, February 7, 2017

SHOCKING levels of violence and abuse are being faced by homeless people, a new survey finds.

Rough sleepers are frequently attacked, urinated on, verbally abused and have bricks and beer cans thrown at them, according to homelessness charity Crisis.

The charity spoke to 156 people in late summer who had rough sleeping experience within the last two years.

It found that 90 per cent of them had experienced some form of violence or abuse and 51 per cent had been physically attacked.

Three-quarters cruelly had items stolen, while 72 per cent had suffered verbal abuse or harassment.

More than half (53 per cent) had something thrown at them, examples given included bricks and beer cans.

More than a quarter had been racially abused, harassed or attacked (27 per cent), while almost a fifth (18 per cent) had been urinated on.

Nine of those who responded said they had been sexually assaulted.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/homeless-people-urinated-and-attacked-bricks-shocking-survey-shows

Continue ReadingHomeless people urinated on and attacked with bricks, shocking survey shows

Revealed: Where up to a quarter of your water bill is really going

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Image of a burst water main.
Image of a burst water main.

https://leftfootforward.org/2023/12/revealed-where-up-to-a-quarter-of-your-water-bill-is-really-going/

It’s been branded ‘daylight robbery’

An investigation by the Guardian published today has revealed that staggering proportions of the public’s water bills are used to service private water firms’ debt. According to the paper’s analysis of financial data over a quarter of some water companies’ revenue goes on servicing debt.

The UK’s largest water firm, Thames Water, uses an astonishing 28 per cent of its revenue to service debt. Southern Water and South East Water both also use more than a quarter of their revenue for the same purpose.

Almost the entirety of water company revenue is made up of customer bills. As of March, the private water firms in England had racked up combined debts of more than £60 billion. Meanwhile, since privatisation of water in England in 1989, private water companies have paid out over £70 billion in dividends to shareholders.

The Guardian notes that Scottish Water, which remains publicly owned, spent just 10 per cent of its revenues financing its debt, less than all of the private water firms in England.

The revelations have led to a furious public backlash and renewed calls for England’s water to be taken back into public ownership.

Labour peer and Left Foot Forward columnist Prem Sikka branded the situation as ‘daylight robbery’, saying that money had been ‘borrowed to pay dividends, and that ‘companies want more from captive customers’.

https://leftfootforward.org/2023/12/revealed-where-up-to-a-quarter-of-your-water-bill-is-really-going/

dizzy: This ridiculous situation is on the Conservatives watch …

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Continue ReadingRevealed: Where up to a quarter of your water bill is really going

Starmer offers more austerity pain for Britain

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Keir Starmer sucking up to the rich and powerful at World Economic Forum, Davos.
Keir Starmer sucking up to the rich and powerful at World Economic Forum, Davos.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/starmer-offers-more-austerity-pain-for-britain

Labour ‘won’t turn on spending taps’ leader says in speech to woo big business 

AUSTERITY is Labour’s economic agenda, … Keir Starmer announced today in a further lurch to the right.

A Labour government will not “turn on the spending taps,” the Labour leader said in remarks aimed at appeasing the City and the Treasury.

He acknowledged that public services are “on their knees” but offered little prospect of getting them back on their feet again.

… Keir has prioritised bringing down debt and has vowed not to increase taxes on business or the wealthy, leaving himself no room to repair the damage wrought by 15 years of capitalist crisis.

This latest dilution of Labour’s plans for government came just a day after Sir Keir went out of his way to praise former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher for shaking Britain out of its “stupor.”

A Momentum spokesperson said today that “these are deeply worrying remarks from Keir Starmer.

“Instead of laying out a popular alternative based on public ownership and public investment, the Labour leadership is adopting the Tories’ failed economic approach.

“Starmer’s stance isn’t just out of touch with Labour members and voters — but with the public too.”

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/starmer-offers-more-austerity-pain-for-britain

Image of Keir Starmer and a poor child.
Zionist Keir ‘Kid Starver’ Starmer. Image thanks to The Skwawkbox.
Continue ReadingStarmer offers more austerity pain for Britain