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The English summer of 2013


We had a cold spring this year, which added to our heating bills, but summer is more like summer now. In the heart of England, this now seems quite unusual. While I’m enjoying the better weather, I am worried about the water pressure. I think they’ve probably reduced it so people will use less water. My shower won’t work! There’s always a catch… We also have a Tory government…

Right wing policies are being enforced everywhere. In the National Health Service a 2 tier system is emerging with patients paying to get treatment sooner. The BBC reports a trust in Essex charging for imaging and chemotherapy. I think the NHS can charge for some services, but holding patients to ransom is unacceptable. I paid £2 just to park my car for 40 minutes at the hospital last week and I was lucky to be seen so quickly.

Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) lives in a 5 bedroom house rent free with a swimming pool, tennis courts and a rich wife thrown in. He keeps coming up with more right wing ideas that really belong in the Victorian era. The latest one is supported by many people which is a cap on the total amount of benefit people can get. The problem is housing costs in the south east and it’s getting worse around the country. Why not cap housing costs? A cap on social housing rents would bring down the housing benefit claims. This notion of ‘economic rents’ and local government empire building has sent housing benefit and council tax benefit claims spiralling. Who will they target next? They are talking about people with big families which in practice probably means many immigrant families. They keep saying pensions will be protected, but for how long? They say the state pension costs over 75 billion a year now. So they are putting up the pension age. That seems to be a hell of a lot doesn’t it?

While about a fifth of pensioners in the UK are said to live in poverty, probably because of rising fuel and housing costs, many are quite well off and paying tax. How many pensioners in the UK would you expect to have assets of over a million pounds? There are over a million pensioners in the UK that are millionaires! I admit being a millionaire isn’t what it used to be. Michael Winner once famously said that you need three million to be ‘comfortable’. Wealthy pensioners do pay tax though and many like retired judges and headmasters get very big private pensions. The number of pensioner millionaires has largely increased due to the property bubble, most of them being in the south east where the richest are millionaires and the poorest are on housing benefit. The number of pensioner millionaires is set to double in the next five years too. There are lots more millionaires between the ages of 60 and 65. People are living longer too.  There are a lot of people living very well. It’s little wonder that the tour companies target pensioners when advertising holidays and luxury cruises. However, we have to remember there are far more struggling to pay heating bills that sunning themselves on the decks of luxury liners.

What do you think of the gap between rich and poor? Should the rich consume a little less so the poor can afford to live, have healthy food and keep warm in winter? Have your say in the comments box. At least the sunshine’s free!

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