Thursday, 20 October 2011

Coalition has no answers on housing

Two weeks ago we had the CEO and leader of Mendip District Council come to the Town Council and I asked them about their housing policies, I suggested that their housing strategy was not robust enough; pointing out that they had achieved their desired 74 affordable units for the year and this was a "pin prick" on dealing with MDC housing list.

Most indignant were they? Oh yes, they have a waiting list of over 3,000 and so it will take 50yrs before they can house the people on it and this discounts the annual addition needs.

Then we have the hapless Shapps, a modern comic. When asked about the National Housing Federation and Shelter report he was asked whether the report’s findings kept him awake at night, he responded: “I’d rather be judged by what real people experience in the real world and as Housing Minister my job is to look after all housing, not just social homes, which tends to be the focus of the likes of Shelter, CIH and the NHF

So there we have it, slightly concerning the minister is unconcerned about the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing found he and the Coalition is falling short across a number of areas including ensuring sufficient housing supply, tackling homelessness and improving affordability in the private rented sector.

With unemployment rising and a need for growth a targeted home building scheme would help provide growth in the economy and tackle the areas of concern, the housing crisis should be treated as a top political priority to prevent an already desperate situation become even more grim for the millions of people in need of a home.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Inflating Osbourne

Today confirmed the misery that the majority of the people are facing.

Inflation is at 5.2% at the Consumer price index, the government chosen measure of inflation, with the retail price index moving up to 5.6%.

Last weeks news that the Bank of England will pump another £75 billion into the banks will generate even more inflation.

As a result of the higher inflation, government spending on pensions and other benefits will be £1.2 billion higher in 2012/13 than the Office Budget Responsibility thought.

It is now looking like the Conservatives actions are starting to come home to bite them, because of their cuts and loose economic language they have curtailed growth, they are a failed government that does not have a "coherent and credible" plan for growth.

So we are in a cycle of rising unemployment and higher benefits payments, low wage increases and lower spending with banks not lending meaning less investment in industry, we see a lost generation of 1million young unemployed.

With all this will the government actually cut the deficit at all, are we to see a lost decade of stagnant growth and high inflation.

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, responding to today's inflation figures, said "January’s mistaken VAT rise has fuelled inflation and should be temporarily reversed to ease the squeeze on families and kick-start the economy. This would give a couple with children an average boost of £450 a year and is part of Labour's five point plan for jobs and growth. The Government also needs to do much more to stem soaring energy bills, especially when families are already being hit by the VAT rise and pensioners will get a lower winter fuel allowance this year.

"We need an emergency budget for jobs and growth now because with every day that passes when Ministers just sit on their hands living standards are squeezed harder, more businesses go bust and hundreds more people join the dole queue."

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

When 2+2=4

Today's unemployment figures are genuinely "horrific", we cannot be surprised, for the previous twelve months I have been writing quoting many people whom as said the Conservative liberal government Plan A wasn't working.

Unemployment is now at a 17 year high, with a million young people unemployed and unemployment increasing for the previous seven months.

The 178,000 slump in employment in the quarter to August is the biggest fall in more than two years and the largest-ever cut in the number of part-time workers, down by 175,000.

Around 150,000 people were made redundant in the latest three months, an increase of 6,000 over the previous quarter.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "These are terrible figures. The Government's austerity measures have turned unemployment into a full-blown crisis - with job losses not seen since the darkest days of the recession."

"This shouldn't really come as a surprise – the economy is growing at half the pace it needs to in order to keep unemployment stable. That isn't going to change any time soon – in fact it is probably going to get worse," said Alan Clarke, of Scotia Capital.

James Carrick, of Legal and General Investment Management, said the Treasury's cuts were responsible for pushing the economy to the brink of recession. "Despite announcing the harshest austerity plan since the second world war, the government has been predicting a steady economic expansion," he said. "This implied the biggest private sector boom ever." Instead, said Carrick, businesses were cutting back; recession was now a serious risk.

George Osborne and his team believed in expansionary fiscal contractions which meant that cuts in public spending allow the private sector to blossom. There was no believable empirical evidence to support such a contention and it hasn't worked, in the current economic environment it has no chance.

How social democrates can stay with the liberals in the lib Dems is beyond me, the economically right wing government is returning Britain to a time of a divided rather unpleasant country where people are more insecure, more frightened and people turn in on themselves.

All progressive people should stand together, to tackle the great evils of our society; Far too much low paid work and people on benefits, A health service being destroyed by the same financial interests that caused the financial crisis, the need to develop education, expand child services to promote social and emotional intelligence and garner the talents of people , the need for an expansion in affordable housing and to develop an Industrial policy to create real jobs.

This is a choice of the sort of country we want to live, and this is the choice of a deeply divided country with a huge gulf between the "haves" and the "have nots" this is explained with George Osbournes expansionary fiscal contraction; savage cuts in public expenditure, lots of private borrowing and then the reward of tax cuts from a smaller less effective state.

We must reject this shallow, narrow view. We need a country where the five giant evils are tackled.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Democratic breakdown

Polly Toynbee is reporting that the NHS "health and social care bill" is being implemented before the House of Lords has scrutinise this piece of legislation.

The CONDEM government never sought a mandate for a top down reorganisation of the National Health Service, neither the Conservative nor the Liberal Democrats placed this proposal in their 2010 manifesto.

The House of Lords should be constitutionally affronted that this reorganisation is already imposed on the NHS without waiting for their consent. No one can remember a similar case of pre-legislative implementation, as if parliament were irrelevant.

Polly Toynbee is reporting the NHS is;

Without waiting for the legislation to be passed into an Act and seeking Royal Approval: 300 clinical commissioning groups are taking over, nominally run by GPs. Private sector involvement is already compulsory: by this month every commissioner must find at least three outside providers for diagnostic tests, audiology, primary care psychological therapies, treatment for back pain, feet and other services.

Department of Health website instructions say: "Commissioners cannot refuse to accept providers once they have qualified." That's what "any qualified provider means" and it's happening now – forget the law. McKinsey and other consultants are already being paid millions by commissioners to work out the payment system.

How do these new providers become "qualified"? They must register with the Care Quality Commission, the regulator whose severe stress was revealed over the Winterbourne View scandal. Created from merging three bodies, plus possibly the human fertilisation authority, this bill gives it the new HealthWatch too. Can they cope? CQC has 30% less cash than the bodies it replaced. Last year it cut inspections by 70%. It has just 900 inspectors to cover 18,000 care homes, 8,000 GP practices, 400 NHS hospital trusts, 9,000 dental practices and now every new "qualified" entrant. Will the Lords really think proliferating providers will be sufficiently inspected?

Why should the NHS be opened up to EU competition law? Other than private companies to cherry pick the NHS and Social Services.

I have tasted the new NHS, I had chronic pain in my ankle and needed to see a Podiatrist, my GP offered me a piece of paper with a private practice on it, as a footnote my treatment cost about £400 to put the ankle right, so future commissioning services will not be done in your GP surgery: the 300 CCGs will be cut back to many fewer, commissioning from afar and often outsourced to private companies.

The democratic deficit doesn't stop at the government, parliament with lose control and if the health and social care bill is enacted, it will be illegal for parliament to intervene in this newly formed Quango.

Power will pass to the Conservative friends that fund that Party, insurance groups and private health interests.

Where are the Liberal Democrats, Tessa Munt (my) MP Lib Dems for Wells has loyally supported the coalition government on this legislation (Vote Lib Dem get Tory), they have lost all credibility, they have lost their identity and hopefully Lib Dems will be wiped out after the next election.

The NHS has high satisfaction figures, it is efficient and effective at delivering health provision, but the cuts the coalition government is imposing £20 billion, we are seeing waiting lists growing.

The tragedy is the end of the NHS is near and the people are oblivious to the fact, like the banker with the five ace hand (or a shed load of cheap credit easing), the people cheated out of one of the greatest institutions.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

"Child like" government continues

Even Conservative ministers believe their own colleagues say child like things, especially concerning cats so it seems.

Then we have our Chancellor George Osbourne in January 2009: "Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed." October 2011: The Bank of England has said it will inject a further £75bn into the economy through quantitative easing.

So when Osbourne has a couple of minutes be could leave a comment on this blog to say which statement is correct.

I have read no justification of this new government policy, it was abundantly clear in late 2008 -09 there was a real need to inject liquidity into the economy.

In 2011 we must genuinely be fearful that this latest round of quantitative easing will lead to inflationary pressures, with the RPI now at 5% this additional money has to end up costing someone.

That someone will be people on low to medium incomes, Osbourne's policy seems to want to inflate our debt away without tackling the financial interests that caused the original financial crash.

Osbourne will offer some free money to banks and the rest of us will pay for it, sounds familiar doesn't it.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Paralysed by Dogma

So the Prime Minister believe that people are "paralysed by gloom and fear", I suspect Mr Cameron's speech writers would know why this is!

Mr Cameron and his friend Osbourne has misled the people on basic economic facts, deliberately confusing issues between what is "debt" and what is "deficit", clearly very clever politics talking up a none existing sovereign debt crisis, saying the UK was going bust, factually incorrect.

Then we have the Thatcherite economics of treating the economy as household accounts, this economically illiterate verbiage should be challenged, Cameron's call for credit cards to be paid off, was quickly denied, but it's the weakness of his governments thinking.

The thought anyone would buy a house on a credit card is mildly bonkers, so is cutting government spending too deep too fast, at the same time as consumer spending is in fragile state and then increasing VAT at the same as cutting corporation tax cuts for huge corporations, yet it is the small to medium businesses that need help are not getting it.

The country's biggest retailer Tesco, reported its first six-monthly decline in underlying UK sales for 20 years as Britons were forced it cut back not only on extras like clothing and household gadgets but their weekly grocery shop.

So today we have seen growth revised down to 0.1% leaving growth of 0% for the previous 9 months, we see no plan for growth and not a coherant plan, we need a more intelligent approach.

Cameron and Osbourne needs to end the dogma of Plan A, without some boosting of demand and investment in business, a double dip recession is looking likely, this without the Euro Zone developing crisis.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mr Cameron, another group who are holding the economy back, perhaps?

Following on from yesterday announcement that you can be sacked unfairly from your employer and have no rights to seek justice from an Employment Tribunal for the first two years of service, today I offer Mr Cameron another set of people to victimise.

Let me start by saying I will leave the latest notorious Bullingdon Club claims alone.

No, these people are those who's requires benefits and housing benefits are suffering from cuts presided over by the Conservative led government, these benefit changes has created real poverty, one example of this people who cannot afford to feed themselves.

According to the charity, FareShare, which redistributes surplus food from major manufacturers and supermarkets to social care charities, said its donations now go to 35,000 people a day, an increase from 29,000 last year.

The Charity are obviously in need of continual supplies and say "We're asking anyone who works in the food industry in any capacity to look at what is happening to their surplus food and to ask themselves a simple question: 'Could this food stop someone going hungry?"'

These people of course cannot say they'll leave the country if income tax stays at 50% or a transaction tax is implemented to pay for the utter negligent of leading bankers.

The poor are now paying the price for those people arrogant indifference to long term security of their financial businesses, for short term returns for themselves and shareholders who was more interested in high dividends.

This country has to accept that government has to be more interventionist, the last thirty years of liberal economics has rewarded those who has power, the consequence is the welfare state, the safety net we can rely on hard times, is shot full of holes.

The Beverage Report recommended that the government, a Labour government implemented it when the Country was virtually bankrupt, should find ways of fighting the five 'Giant Evils' of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.

This CONDEM government is prosiding over benefit cuts that require charity food parcels, the NHS waiting lists are increasing and proposing further rationalising through a "top down reorganisation", Children centres closing and academies again rationalising provision, a shortage of affordable housing and increasing evidence of poor housing as indentified by "Rogue Landlords" by Shelter and we see now over 20% of young people unemployed with the Labour government's Educational Maintenance Allowance, Jobs for a Future Scheme removed.

These are the challenges a government should be interested in, further liberalising of the economy will only lead to further queing for food parcels and the anger will grow, then watch out!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Cracks are showing

So another week and another series of poor stories for the government and it's handling of the economy.

So it is no surprise today that one of it's most influential backbenchers, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie has said the CONDEM government does not have a "coherent and credible" plan for growth.

He went on to say "A coherent and credible plan for the long-term economic growth rate of the UK economy is needed."

This echos the call by the Labour leader Ed Miliband at last weeks Labour conference.

The real problems of business of course is business confidence and their ability to raise capital to invest in developing their businesses in terms of development and job creation.

Will Hutton, who chairs the Big Innovation Centre, a partnership of 10 global companies including Google and GlaxoSmithKline, said the government needed to put more energy and long-term thought into making Britain a home for new sectors, for instance technology.

"It is this sense of lack of mobilisation, lack of sense of purpose that is dismaying everyone," he said.

So, instead of investing in Universities and financing a Green Investment bank & Innovation Banks to develop the "New Economy" we see a typical Tory response to a crisis caused by a banking crisis; to attack workers rights.

The latest wheeze from Osbourne is to attack workers rights, this workers with less than two years' service will be prevented from taking their employers to a tribunal for unfair dismissal.

This thinking comes from a belief it is workers that cause businesses to fail, but all the evidence points to small and medium sized businesses being starved of investment capital by Bankers.

These financiers of course fund the Tory Party, like hedge fund managers, who's role in life is to use peoples money to gamble on the future and make a profit, this sector gives £1.4million to the Tories.

Then we have the bankers, the same people who pay themselves huge bonuses for no real performance and starve business capital, they pay the Tories over £600,000 in the last year.

Then we have the insurance companies just about £180,000 a year to the Tories and for this curbs on Legal Aid Budget £350m and shift part of the costs of bringing no win, no fee cases from losing defendants to winning claimants. This reduces the liabilities of companies and their insurers if they unsuccessfully defend a claim, because it will force claimants to pay out of any awarded damages their lawyers' success fees and insurance policies that cover court costs.

With the five biggest building companies donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Tories in the last year, now we see the unfortunate Pickles saying he wants to "load the dice" in favour of developers.

So big businesses investment are baring their fruits in terms of government policies.

As the GMB union responded to the Conservative Party's proposals on employment rights, saying: "The Tory Party is increasingly being funded by the asset strippers and predators. That explains why the Tories want to reduce the employment rights of ordinary workers not to be sacked from their livelihoods unfairly. They are the same old nasty Tories now in the pockets of the predatory elite."