Saturday, 27 December 2014

What are we doing to ourselves?

As we head into 2015 we, in the UK, are facing a General Election. I hate to say I am very fearful of what will happen. Faced with the rise of UKIP (UK Independence Party) all the other parties are focusing on the wrong issues as far as I can see. Immigration is NOT the biggest problem the UK is facing. The EU is NOT a threat to our way of life or the cause of masses of people coming in to the country. There are possibly more UK citizens living in other parts of the EU as there are immigrants coming into the UK. And we NEED these people. 300 Polish paramedics are needed by one health authority because they can’t recruit enough staff from home. Others have recruited nurses from Spain and Greece for the same reason.
   David Cameron keeps talking about British Values and Christian Values, without explaining what these are exactly. A vast number of people living in the UK, and I mean born and bred people, do not follow any particular religion to a strong degree. C of E might well be entered on any form that asks for a religion when really ‘none’ would be more appropriate. We are a secular society on the whole, and have always been accepting of people wishing to follow their own faiths. Sadly some of those people don’t appreciate this freedom, but that is another subject entirely.
So what are British Values? Looking after Number One would seem to be the principle of most politicians these days. Only those in work are of consequence, everyone else is a waster and a scrounger. Only home owners count, people who live in rented accommodation are the lowest of the low. They have no entitlement to a comfortable home, to spare rooms even if there is nothing else to rent.
   What no one seems to take into account is that not every graduate, every mortgage holder, every manager, has a safe and secure job. People who have done the same job for twenty years for the council, for instance, are now finding themselves on the scrap heap because cuts to budgets have meant it is cheaper to take on a younger workforce, even if that younger workforce has no idea what it is supposed to be doing.
   Under this last government the ‘jobless’ figures have been falling. But surprisingly tax revenue has not increased. One reason for this is that a large number of those taken out of the jobless figures are working in low paid jobs that are under the tax threshold. Such people have no chance of achieving that dream of owning their own home, if that is their dream.
   Another reason for the discrepancy between those taken off the jobless register and the lack of new tax revenue, could well be because many jobless are now denied benefit because they have failed in some way to meet the targets set for finding a job. Some of the criteria for continuing claiming benefit include: applying for a set number of jobs per week (I think that could be as high as 50, I’m not completely sure), providing proof that this has been done, providing CVs and postage yourself; using a computer to search for and find work whether you have access to one or not; getting a Yellow Pages or Thompson Local and writing to every company listed asking for work; completing a 38 hour week at a designated job if you fail to find something yourself, not matter how far away from your home said job is (up to 90 miles). If a claimant fails in any of these or is late on any number of days, they have their benefit suspended and they are taken off the jobless register.
   Not everyone who is claiming benefit WANTS to be jobless, however there are no jobs available. And if you have to send out applications and CVs how can you afford to pay for the postage and paper? If you have no access to the internet, and many jobcentres no longer provide this, how are you supposed to apply for jobs on-line.
   When David Cameron talks about British Values, is he referring to Victorian Values? That great time when the poor were forced into workhouses when they couldn’t pay their debts? Already homeless shelters are overcrowded and food banks are multiplying around the country. How many people will suffer more severe colds and flu this year because poor diet through the inability to buy decent food has left their bodies weakened?
   The trouble with this country is that those who 'have' don’t realise that the ‘have nots’ really exist. They are an unseen underclass who do not deserve to live. They are beggars, Big Issue sellers, they are not ordinary people trying to live a decent life. But beware. Circumstances can change and before you know it, your job could be gone, your house could be repossessed, or you could need help to pay your rent and wow! you have to pay for that spare bedroom you have been using as a study for the last ten years.      
   According to a newspaper report £3.1bn was spent on Boxing Day. Three point one BILLION pounds. I cannot begin to imagine what those people were lacking in their lives that they had to go out and spend so readily. Great for the traders, though. Bet most of the goods were imported so maybe not so good for the trade balance! Still the Chancellor should be happy, 20% of that will be VAT.

   And meanwhile those on benefit will have to decide whether to spend what they have left after the bedroom tax has been deducted on heating, food or printing more CVs. (Keeping in mind that printing ink is THE most expensive commodity on the planet!)