Legal aid reform will hit most vulnerable

justice,jpgThe legal system of the United Kingdom has for years, been the envy of the world. The equality of law has been a benchmark for countries to aim towards that has entitled every man and woman in our borders to be bound by the same laws, equal representation under the law and the right to a fair trial. The clowns in Westminster have decided that this beacon of justice is not financially viable and in the alleged interest of the British taxpayer legislation will ensure that £350m will be cut from state sponsored legal aid.

We shouldn’t forget that it was Clement Atlee’s post-war government that introduced the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949, the feeling at the time being that the working-class had after years of poverty and exploitation finally earned the right to equality under the law. Continue reading

Keogh & Lewisham point up ugly face of NHS marketisation

By coincidence two quite different processes are dramatising simultaneously the market shocks now being applied relentlessly to the NHS. Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS clinical director, is demanding that hospital closures must be accepted in order to concentrate scarce specialist skills ‘for the good of the patient’. The buzzword for this latest upheaval is “reconfiguration”, and of course it is said that cuts have nothing to do with it.

Over the last weekend some big names in the medical profession were drummed up to explain to us peasants that the doctors, consultants and specialists recognised that there needed to be wholesale reshaping of the NHS estate and the politicians should keep out of this and leave it to the technocrats who know best. No mention of patients of course or of the general public who are the recipients of the service and ultimately pay for it. Continue reading

Cut Trident, not jobs, homes, and health

This afternoon, the House of Commons debates Britain’s nuclear deterrent: Jeremy Corbyn puts the case against the replacement of Trident in the context of austerity.

An incoming Labour government will be faced with massive expectations and demands of jobs for young people, increased health expenditure, huge demands on the benefits budget, student fees, and infrastructure costs.

The housing crisis, which means we’re building fewer than 100,000 new units per year when the number of new families per year is increasing by 200,000, means there will be a shortage of mega proportions of housing for rent, as well as to buy. Continue reading

How is this avalanche of cuts really hitting the poor?

My own constituency, Oldham West, is one of the poorest in the country. How are they being affected by the cascade of cuts? Housing benefit cuts in April will particularly impact on pensioners, families on low incomes, disabled people (many already traumatised by Atos assessments of their alleged capability for work), the long-term sick , and the jobless. The so-called bedroom tax will hit those classified as ‘over-occupying’ their property. People with 1 bedroom more than they are supposed to need will have their housing benefit cut by 14%, and with 2 bedrooms more than they need a cut of 25%. This will affect about 2,000 households in Oldham. Moving to a smaller property will be difficult because of the housing shortage (there are 8,500 on the waiting list in Oldham) and because of the priority given to homeless people. Continue reading

Benefits, an increasing deficit and the obsession with cuts

Pace Andrew Mitchell, Osborne’s proposed £10bn benefit cut for poor families looks set to become the litmus test for the party conference season.

It is almost incredible that Osborne should be demanding this when (i) £18bn is already being sliced from benefits, (ii) no increase in taxes at all is being proposed to fill the gap, (iii) the very rich have made virtually no contribution whatever to meeting the bail-out costs, and (iv) extracting another £10bn from taxpayers is the wrong policy anyway, wherever the money comes from, and will be counter-productive. Clegg is now trying to claw back, in vain one suspects, a bit of the credibility he has so recklessly squandered by demanding new taxes on the rich, in particular targeting the top 10%.

Continue reading