I never thought I’d have to use a credit card to pay for my weekly shop, but that’s how things are now.
My wife and I are lucky I know there are people far worse off than us — but I feel like there are a lot of people in our boat. Both of us work, but still every month we drop into our overdraft about a week before payday.
It’s wrong: we’re working hard and yet we’re struggling to keep the lights and heating on.
Recently I came across an article in Leftfoot which in my opinion sums up some concerns which people should heed. See below:
The failures of Britain’s industrial policy record loom large in the collective memory and continue to be invoked by some at the merest suggestion that a more interventionist approach is now essential.
The creation of British Leyland was certainly a mistake: industrial policy should never mean favouring monopoly over competition.
But we have been too quick to forget the many productive government interventions which laid the groundwork for manufacturing success stories from which we continue to benefit as a nation to the present day.
It is time politicians and policymakers re-appraised the advantages of an activist industrial policy and woke up to the dangers of the laissez faire fundamentalism that has become the default setting in Whitehall.
In a new report for Civitas, I’ve described the various ways in which governments have successfully supported industry since 1945, but which are regarded by many today as old-fashioned and naïve.
Not only were these interventions successful, but we continue to reap the benefits. The aerospace and automobile industries, our two biggest surviving manufacturing sectors, supporting tens of thousands of jobs, would not be where they are today if it had not been for the active support of successive governments – both Labour and Conservative.
Without the direct public investment in commercial aircraft development after the Second World War, the aerospace hubs of Filton and Broughton would not be what they are today. Airbus would not even have a UK presence if Margaret Thatcher’s government did not subsidise the UK’s initial investment in the A320 aircraft in the 1980s.
Thatcher’s government would go on to provide total support for BAe’s Airbus programmes of £700 million. This is a trivial sum compared to Airbus’ annual revenue of £1 billion and the economic activity its UK presence now generates.
If government intervention helped Airbus UK, it has been essential for Rolls-Royce. Today the company is a massive global success, yet the firm was almost bankrupted when developing the RB211 engine which has been the foundation of its subsequent growth.
Edward Heath’s government nationalised R-R in 1971 after it went into administration. Nationalisation and government funding allowed Rolls-Royce to keep developing the RB211 engine. Thatcher’s government continued to support the firm in 1980s, providing £437 million worth of launch aid between 1979 and 1988.
By contrast, one of the first acts of the coalition was to withdraw a mere £80 million loan – money the government would have got back anyway – to the engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters.
Today, the coalition’s aerospace strategy does involve a range of useful policies from greater R&D funding from government to improve domestic supply chains; but there is no scope in the strategy for the direct investment in new technologies we had in the past and we so badly need now.
This, however, is exactly what countries like China, Japan, Brazil and Canada are doing.
The danger is that this state-backed overseas competition will lead to the further erosion of jobs and production in the UK which, once lost, are very difficult if not impossible to re-establish.
There is a similar lack of ambition in the coalition’s approach to the car industry which, despite its recent successes, suffers from a weak supply chain. More than a third of the value of UK automotive output is imported. Yet the government’s automotive sector strategy lacks any substantive measures to strengthen domestic suppliers, which is held back by a shortage of finance.
Ministers should consider introducing a nationwide public finance scheme designed specifically for automotive suppliers, modelled on the launch aid scheme that has been so successful for the aerospace sector.
The reason we are successful in aerospace and car manufacturing today is that previous governments proactively carved out a comparative advantage for British companies in these sectors.
What is required now is a similar ethos, not of ‘big’ or ‘all-knowing’ government, but of bold government, prepared to take the steps necessary today to ensure economic success tomorrow.
Until people learn to listen carefully with the hearts, as well as their minds, to recognise sincerity and integrity, and to value those qualities, to listen to the content of dialogue, instead of being distracted by a superficial notion of “style”, and to think critically, they will continue to be led by any old narcissistic, for-hire mouthpiece for the powerful. Choose your representatives with care. Learn that charisma has all of the depth of a cardboard cut-out, and will only serve to fulfil the one who has it, and never you
How many activists from all the three main political parties ever go door knocking and faced some challenging questions whilst they go out campaigning like:
“There is no difference between Conservatives and Labour”
“All the politicians are there to line their pockets”
“I don’t vote because politics is Haram”
“They tell you one thing and do the opposite and don’t see the point in voting”
“None of the political parties are for us poor people”
“There is no working class politicians they are all posh people who come from very rich families”
“I read the daily mail, and Express you know”
“All those foreigners are taking over the country and we can’t get any housing. I’ve been on the housing list…”
“The only time that we see politicians is during election times”
Any of the above rings or strike a core with you?
It is alleged Russell Brand is right in the bigger picture. What if you don’t like any of the candidates? None of them represent you at all and you don’t trust them because they come from a group of people who say one thing and do another? And at the top they just come across as narcissistic self-servitude double dealing fraudsters no matter the party they are from? Are you to just like that and lump it? Or are you to try and encourage them to change and provide real alternative? By saying nah at the moment none of you are worth my vote?
If politics does not change in this country at the moment you may as well be voting on X factor, oh he’s got a good face, she wears nice clothes. They’ve still all got the same boss Simon Cowell. And no matter who wins they are still going to release the same shit song at the end of the year, singing from the same script just with a slightly different tune. What we need is a revolution. The British revolution is long overdue.
There are many reason for their answers to the political parties which unfortunately they respond to quick enough to counter their argument and could it be some activists are quite happy with the status Que and are content being a foot solider and not getting back with the feedback to their elected members become so complacent or is it over their heads to comprehend.
There is a familiar ring to some of the answers when you go on the doorstep when some MPs and Councillors accompanied by activists does face some of the questions asked by the electrets whilst on the other hand some residences don’t see their elected representatives from dust to dawn.
Whilst this is taking place it suits the coalition to cause discontent and disarray to push their right-wing policies coupled by the right-wing press promoting the coalition agenda I kid you not some example the cost of living down, energy prices up, low wages, house prices, welfare reform, and blaming Labour.
It’s good to know that David Cameron is under pressure to do something about the big six energy suppliers. However it is not good enough for David Cameron to say that he wants a big 60 energy market with greater choice for consumers and healthy competition keeping prices down.
Its alleged ministers are set to meet firms to discuss claims some direct debit consumers have overpaying. Well I’ve got news for you Coalition this still not good enough as not many people can afford to go on direct debit to pay their bills as some are on very low wages which they have no choice but to pay their bills via token meters for their gas, and electric it’s about time the get off their high horse and start to smell the coffee and stop looking after their fatcats friends who continue to fund their political parties.
Yet it’s further alleged that three million elderly people fear they will not be able to stay warm in their own homes this winter, following the recent steep increases in the cost of heating, according to research published today.
The plight of many older householders emerged as the Government faced renewed calls to offer immediate help to lower-income families struggling to pay energy bills. Four of the “Big Six” energy companies have raised their prices before the winter surge in demand, with the average combined electricity and gas bill now standing at £1,267 per year.
Executives from the firms, which have been accused of acting as a cartel, will appear before MPs tomorrow to defend the sharp rises. Yesterday their trade organisation dismissed calls for a windfall tax on the Big Six, insisting their profits were not “particularly big”.
Over the weekend it also emerged that energy companies have been using tax loopholes. Although he declined to comment on individual companies, r, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said yesterday: “People are rightly livid about companies and individuals avoiding paying the proper amount of tax. I’m livid about that. It is something which is not acceptable at any time, but particularly at a time when we’re going through tough spending choices.”
He was speaking after The Independent on Sunday reported that three companies – Scotia Gas, UK Power Networks and Electricity Northwest – had saved £140m between them by using legal tax loopholes to minimise their liabilities. With gas and electricity prices continuing to dominate exchanges between political leaders, a survey for Age UK found that 28 per cent of pensioners said their main concern for the coming cold months was ensuring they could heat their homes. The charity said the figures suggested the problems could affect as many as three million older people across the UK.
Checkout this youtube and decide if its true or false:
Age UK also raised the alarm over the health dangers to the elderly people, warning that cold weather and poorly heated homes increased the risk not only of influenza but also of heart attack and stroke. There are about 24,000 excess deaths in a typical British winter, many of them preventable.
Age UK said more than 40 per cent were caused by heart attack or stroke. Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said: “It’s vital for older people to keep warm, both inside and outside their homes in the winter months. Being cold, even for just a short amount of time, can be very dangerous, as it increases the risk of associated health problems and preventable deaths during the winter.”
Senior executives from the Big Six will be challenged to justify the recent price hikes when they appear before the Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. Simon Hughes, the Deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said Chancellor George Osborne should use the Autumn Statement in December to announce emergency help for families struggling with bills.
“I would like people to have a rebate on energy bills that would help the poorest most and would mean that there would be immediate relief this year, not waiting for the post-election period,” he told BBC1’s Sunday Politics.
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has said an incoming Labour government would force energy firms to freeze their prices for 19 months, while the former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major has called for a levy on their profits.
But Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, which represents the companies, said their profits were not large enough to justify a windfall tax. “The profits here are, what, four to five per cent, four or five pence in the pound. That isn’t particularly big,” she said. She added that the companies were also making large investments in the UK and therefore had to have an “operating margin”.
The Government has invested an extra £500m in A&E services in a bid to avoid another winter crisis on emergency wards. A&E units have been under increased pressure for several months. MPs warned in the summer that the system may struggle to cope in the event of a major winter flu pandemic.
Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “In colder weather, keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic condition such as heart disease and asthma. There are a range of health problems associated with cold housing and winter weather, but, in particular, a cold indoor or outdoor environment can make heart and respiratory problems worse and can be fatal.”
PHE said living-room temperatures should ideally be kept at 70F (21C) and above, whereas bedroom temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 64F (18C).
Health leaders have also urged all at-risk groups – including the over-65s – to have a flu vaccination.
PHE will work with the Met Office between 1 November and 31 March 2014. Low temperatures of 2C or less or a spell of heavy snow will trigger cold weather alerts, which require hospitals, social care systems and GP surgeries to ensure they are prepared for spikes in demand.
THE WATCHDOG set up to oversee the energy market is paying its executives six-figure salaries and dishing out large bonuses even as household fuel bills soar.
Some top brass at Ofgem are being paid more than £200,000 a year with the senior board sharing out bonus payments of more than £70,000.
Ofgem’s bosses saw their combined pay and bonuses go up last year as hard-up families were left to cope with ever-increasing energy bills.
Alistair Buchanan, the former chief executive who stepped down in June after 10 years at the helm, was paid a total of £224,715. On quitting Ofgem Buchanan went back to the City, as a partner with auditors KPMG.
The quango’s outgoing 70-year-old chairman Lord Mogg received £210,000 for three and a half days a week as well as £6,000 in travel expenses.
Another six executives at the organisation were paid salaries that ranged from £105,000 to £185,000, with bonuses of between £10,000 and £20,000.
The executives run the Government’s regulatory body, which has seen average fuel bills go up from £913 in 2007 to last year’s record £1,336.
A further rise in prices will mean this year’s bills will be even higher with more hikes predicted in 2014.
Yet 448 staff at Ofgem shared £633,000 in bonus payments last year, the average being £1,413, enough to cover the cost of their own home energy bills.
Ofgem is now headed by interim chief executive Dr Andrew Wright who was paid £180,000 plus a £15,000 bonus last year while second in charge. He said he hoped to make life easier for customers by letting them move to a cheaper provider. He is expected to be given a pay rise if he is confirmed as the new CEO.
But critics say Ofgem has allowed the Big Six to dominate the market and raise prices with too little scrutiny.
Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, said: “Ofgem has serious questions to answer about why it is paying out so much in bonuses, while it let these energy companies get away with ripping people off.”
Jonathan Isaby at the TaxPayers’ Alliance agreed. He said: “It’s outrageous that Ofgem is splashing out on huge bonuses for staff, especially when people are facing massive fuel bills.”
An Ofgem spokesman said: “Senior management salaries are set in accordance with Cabinet guidance. This has included a three-year base pay freeze and the scope and level ofperformance related awards being reduced.”
Several of Ofgem’s senior executives have long earned big salaries on various quangos.Sarah Harrison, who used to help regulate premium rate phone lines, is a senior partner in charge of Ofgem’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. She received £135,000 plus a bonus of £15,000.
Meanwhile Ian Marlee, senior partner and director of communications, earned £130,000 plus £10,000 bonus, while senior partner Hannah Nixon, in charge of distribution networks, earned £130,000 plus a £15,000 bonus.
Robert Hull, the new managing director of Ofgem E-Serve received £130,000, while Stuart Cook, who he replaced, was on £155,000.
Well here is my two cents worth:
The CEOs of Europe’s 10 largest energy companies met earlier this year at the Brussels museum of Rene Magritte to lobby the European Union on energy matters.
Magritte was, of course, a surrealist well known for his paintings of umbrellas raining upon us.
Given the surreal policy objectives of the group, which wants to slash funding for renewables, the venue might seem appropriate.
Yet hardly a day goes by without an attack on renewable energy in the British media.
With electricity and gas bills climbing, the energy sector is keen to blame “green taxes” for rising energy bills, while suggesting that environmental energy will lead to the lights going out.
In Con-Dem Britain, where wages are often falling compared to inflation, most of us are having trouble paying the bills. Ed Miliband’s demand that energy bills be cut has, for once, wrong-footed his opponents, both Blairites in Labour and our present neoliberal government.
The energy companies deny that they are fat cats and some blame their 10 per cent energy bill increases on environmental costs.
UKIP and a variety of reactionaries claim that wind turbines are the most dangerous form of energy and that there must be a war against environmental charges.
The Conservative Environment Minister Owen Paterson – famous for claiming the badgers have moved the goal posts – is a climate sceptic who wants to smash environmental protection. He has argued that climate change may bring benefits and is said to have a phobia of wind turbines.
So there are some powerful forces arrayed against renewable energy, but is the claim that it is pushing up bills correct?
There certainly are an array of complex charges that have environmental implications.
The objection of the energy corporations, especially the Magritte group, is that they will put prices down and cut their profits.
How can we be in a position where energy prices are rising but energy companies claim that their industry is uneconomic?
Adam Smith, despite being an advocate of the “free market,” cautioned in The Wealth Of Nations that businesspeople would always like to get together to work out how they could rig markets for their own benefit.
He noted: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
European energy corporations have invested heavily in fossil fuel-based energy plants. But subsidies for renewable energy have pushed down wholesale prices and they are suffering. The more that energy policies work to promote renewables the less profit they will make and the harder they will find it to remain in business.
Increased wind energy generated by community groups and solar from individuals’ roof tops have the potential to put their business model under threat.
The array of supposed “green taxes” have had a modest effect on bills in the short term, but in the long term, as even the Daily Mail has admitted, will cut bills and thus cut company profits.
A good example is the “smart meter,” which all homes will be required to have by 2020.
This will add a shocking £3 to the average bill but will make it much easier to see where we use electricity and so allow us to cut our bills.
Likewise subsidies for insulation and solar power are problematic for energy companies.
If you install a solar panel and get a grant for insulation, this cuts your bill. Over the long term all these measures will lead to significant cuts rather than rises in your bills.
Many sources of renewable energy have large fixed costs for installation but once set up can run virtually for free.
A solar panel gets the sun for free, a gas-powered station requires a constant supply of costly gas.
There is some truth nonetheless in criticism of green charges. In the short term they raise bills and could be funded in other ways.
The religion of the market means that we have to pay for ecological and other reforms.
Why not fund energy policy out of general taxation and raise corporation tax or the top rate of income tax?
A long-term shift from tax on corporations to taxes on individuals shifts the burden on to the poorest.
This clearly is unacceptable. And why even make power generation a source of corporate profits?
The new power station at Hinkley will see the French and Chinese state-backed companies that will build and run it guaranteed a price for their electricity which is above the market rate for decades into the future.
The mania for privatisation has meant that a number of textbook examples of natural monopolies, where competition doesn’t work, have been sold off to fat cats.
Royal Mail, water, rail transport – all of these industries would be better nationalised.
All investment which is expensive in the short term will be ignored by private owners if they can, and issues of social justice and environmental quality will be ignored too.
While it is good that Miliband is challenging rising energy bills, he won’t dare call for nationalisation. Yet privately run energy just does not work.
We need and are on the road to a renewable energy future.
Fossil fuels are rising in price over the long term and are the cause of climate change.
We need a different kind of energy supply system. Private corporations won’t invest, but if the system was state-run and the richest started paying their fair share of tax it could easily be funded.
More and more energy will be produced by individuals and communities. In Scotland, for example, villagers in some projects collectively own wind turbines and feed into the grid.
The grid needs to be modernised. “Smart grids” work by balancing energy inputs over large areas.
Methods to store electricity need to be enhanced and funded.
State ownership and planning of larger power stations and the grid is necessary, but diverse local energy suppliers can feed in too.
The energy corporations are dinosaurs and sadly, rather than recognising that they need to be replaced with a system that works, Miliband merely wants to shave their profits a little.
A green solution involves evolving our energy system so that it is more sustainable. We musn’t be fooled by the climate sceptics who use populist rhetoric to fatten profits for corporations and ignore the needs of future generations.