Friday, 16 December 2011


This was recently sent to me and with Christmas coming up it is worth reading the contents because this scam can be used against any of us. 

I bought a bunch of stuff, over £150, & I glanced at my receipt as the cashier was handing me the bags. I saw a cash-back of £40. I told her I didn't request a cash back & to delete it. She said I'd have to take the £40 because she couldn't delete it. I told Her to call a supervisor. Supervisor came & said I'd have to take it.. I said NO! Taking the £40 would be a cash advance against my Credit card & I wasn't paying interest on a cash advance!!!!! If they couldn't delete it then they would have to delete the whole order. So the supervisor had the cashier delete the whole order & re-scan everything! The second time I looked at the electronic pad before I signed & a cash-back of £20 popped up. At that point I told the cashier & she deleted it. The total came out right. The cashier agreed that the Electronic Pad must be defective.
Obviously the cashier knew the electronic pad was defective because she NEVER offered me the £40 at the beginning. Can you imagine how many people went through before me & at the end of her shift how much money she pocketed?

Just to alert everyone. My co worker went to Milford , Sainsburys last week. She had her items rung up by the cashier. The cashier hurried her along and didn't give her a receipt. She asked the cashier for a receipt and the cashier was annoyed and gave it to her. My co worker didn't look at her receipt until later that night. The receipt showed that she asked for £20 cash back. SHE DID NOT ASK FOR CASH BACK!

 My co-worker called Sainsburys who investigated but could not see the cashier pocket the money. She then called her niece who works for the bank and her niece told her this. This is a new scam going on. The cashier will key in that you asked for cash back and then hand it to her friend who is the next person in the queue.

Please, please, please check your receipts right away when using credit or debit cards!
This is NOT limited to Sainsburys; they are one of the largest retailers so they have the most incidents.  I am adding to this. My husband and I were in Sainsburys and paying with credit card when my husband went to sign the credit card signer he just happen to notice there was a £20 cash back added. He told the cashier that he did not ask nor want cash back and she said this machine has been messing up and she canceled it. We really didn't think anything of it until we read this email.

 I wonder how many "seniors" have been, or will be, "stung" by this one????



Thursday, 3 November 2011


It may sound astonishing but the hard truth is that since October the Royal Navy has not had a single vessel defending the British Isles. Since the Strategic Defence Review of last year, Britain's fleet of frigates and destoyers was cut from 23 to 19 despite previous Conservative claims that we needed a navy of no less than 40 ships.Many believe that the defence cuts imposed by the former Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox went too far and this latest revellation will support this view.

The reason that there are no ships available to protect us is because ten warships had been deployed to the Mediterranean to support our involvement in Libya. It is small comfort to know that most of these are now on their way back, but while we were defending other people's causes the UK was not being adequately protected. It is shoddy of our Government to leave Britain so badly protected while money continues to be pumped into military activities in Libya and Afghanistan and when the foreign aid budget is being substantially increased and we are still paying vast sums to India, Pakistan and China. India will be receiving £1bn in aid over three years despite having a growing economy and a space and nuclear weapons programme. Although there is no immediate threat from any foreign country, an attack from a terrorist source continues to pose a real risk.Yet, the Government flaunts Britain to the World as a major power when in reality we have very little capability to defend our islands. Should the Falkland Islands, as an example, come under a renewed threat of invasion from Argentina, which is not beyond the realms of probability, Britain simply would not have the resources to defend it.

Cameron has to be asked why the interests of other countries continues to be considered as more important than the needs of our own citizens?  

Read STEPHEN GLOVER'S report in the Daily Mail


The Fair Fuel campaign succeeded in gathering more than 100,000 signatures to prompt the Government to debate the issues. This will be taking place on Tuesday 15 November.

Please lobby your MP to attend. 


Kirsty Walker has revealed in the Daily Mail today how the Speaker of the House, John Bercow has been blowing public money to pay for two suits. According to Ms Walker's report and information she has obtained under the FOI Act, Bercow spent £3,200 on a morning suit for ceremonial events, such as the royal wedding, and £485 on a white tie and tails to wear at state dinners. This raises the issue of why somebody earning £140,000 a year cannot be expected to buy his own suits more especially as the Prime Minister pays for his own suits. Bercow's expenses is a further example of politicians putting two fingers up to taxpayers and Cameron should demand that he pays this money back and be brought to task over his excessive spending.   

Bercow also spent £14,000 on chauffeur driven cars during his first six months in office and has spent £45,000 on refurbishments at his grace and favour apartment in Westminster Palace that he shares with his wife Sally, three children and nanny. This included a sofa costing £7,500.

Read the full story

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


If the sentence served by former Environment Minister Elliot Morley is anything to go by, it seems that crime can pay – at least when it is committed by someone who is privileged. The ex- Scunthorpe MP was sentenced to 16 months in jail last May after robbing taxpayers of £30,000 in bogus expenses claims. Now he is free after serving a mere fraction of his sentence.

He served his few months at HM Ford open prison in West Sussex – no doubt being given every privilege afforded under the system and safe from persecution by hardened criminals. Had he been an unemployed youth and stolen money from an individual in order to buy food it is likely that the punishment would have been more severe –and he would have been sentenced to serve his time in an ordinary prison. But the sentence given to Morley suggests that by defrauding the state when you are in a position of trust is less of a crime. The adopted son of Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour was handed the same length of sentence for rioting and tearing a union flag from the Cenotaph – not a commendable thing to do I grant you – but it will be interesting to see how long he spends behind bars. 

Morley was the first former minister to be sentenced after he had faked mortgage payments for his home in North Lincolnshire between 2004 and 2007. During his trial the judge – Mr Justice Saunders referred to Morley as being ‘blatantly dishonest’ yet this was not reflected in the lenient sentence handed down. It is a matter of conjecture whether the sentence would have been more severe had Morley been an ordinary person - not an MP - but his early release does not send out a very good message about the fairness of our legal system and this is bound to give rise to public anger.

After Margaret Moran’s sobbing appearance in court this week charged with 21 offences – even if she is found guilty it appears she will have little to fear by the time sentence is passed down.

How long did the guilty politicians serve. See the Telegraph

Friday, 2 September 2011


Most councils will not openly promote the fact that the law requires them to make their accounts  available for scrutiny.  But they are and many councils have subscribed to a scheme make them open to you online - but here's the catch - THEY ONLY HAVE TO MAKE THEM AVAILABLE FOR 20 DAYS A YEAR.
This seems to be nonsense to me. Why aren't ALL councils required to make them available online and permanently?

Nevertheless, it does give you the right to see where every penny of your council tax is being spent - not just amounts of £500 or more. Unless  you have an eye for accounts you may find it difficult to understand how the information has been compiled but you will probably still be able to uncover some interesting - and often seemingly unnecessary spending sprees. 

Many people do not realise that they have a right to know what councils are spending your money on. To assist you with finding out, an online search engine has been created to tell you when you have a right to inspect the information that should link directly to information provided by more than 280 local authorities. Despite the law stating that councils must provide this information, not all have signed up to be included on the search engine. Perhaps they should. 

If you want to find out when you can inspect your council's accounts online
I am grateful to the Tax Payers' Alliance for releasing this information.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


Additional material as recommended reading: 'The Moral Decay of our Society is as bad at the top as at the bottom' by Peter Oborne

The most poignant scene that came out of the dreadful violence of the last week has been the highly emotive and dignified speech made by Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon, one of the three men senselessly mowed down in Winson Green, who called for sanity and to urge people not to seek revenge for the tragic events that resulted in his son's death. We must all learn something from this. 

The rioting that occurred across our nation has been dreadful and can never be condoned in any way.  We must make every effort to ensure that the scenes we witnessed in Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Tottenham and many other parts of the country, including some that never made the headlines, will never be repeated. In view of the scope and extend of the violence it is a miracle that so few have been killed or seriously injured but hundreds have become the innocent victims of indiscriminate vandalism and arson that cannot be tolerated.
The debates will continue long into the future and differences of opinion will prevail over the causes of the shocking devastation and the ways that we should be dealing with mindless acts of violence. But the rioting that took place has long been expected and there have been plenty of warnings that civil unrest of this magnitude had been festering just beneath the surface for some considerable time. Community leaders from areas that are particularly vulnerable have been telling the authorities of this but as usual nobody was prepared to take any notice. 

Friday, 15 July 2011


Most of the price we pay for petrol or diesel is tax. FairFuelUK recently carried out research showing that motorists pay excess taxes of around £18 billion over and above the cost they would reasonably be expected to pay for things like road building. This is especially tough for families and businesses as it is now more expensive than ever to do the school run, go for the weekly shop, or for small business owners to go about their work. It also hurts the UK’s competitiveness: European rates of fuel duty are up to 24p per litre less than in the UK. There was a 1p per litre cut in fuel duty in the Budget four months ago but that was little more than a gesture to long-suffering motorists.

The campaign FairFuelUK has been set up to try and change this. Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, has also set up the FairFuelUK All Party Working Group in the House of Commons. On Wednesday, the group rolled a car down Whitehall to ‘push’ for lower pump prices and draw attention to the issue. The group then delivered a letter outlining their concerns to David Cameron at Number 10. We joined them to show our support for lower fuel taxes.

If you think that petrol and diesel prices are too high then add your voice to their campaign. They have a petition on their website which you can sign here. Additionally, you can write to your MP and ask if they are joining Mr Halfon’s FairFuelUK All Party Working Group.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


What is the Government now doing to carry out their plans to remove shirkers and fraudsters from the benefits system?

The entire system is bizarre. The most deserving cases - those that have worked most of their lives and have been made redundant - or those that ran their own businesses that have failed, get little or no help while the scoundrels and fraudsters that have always been intent on living off the state will continue to do so. The Government's promise of action to remove the long term unemployed and those claiming they cannot work because of incapacities is nothing more than a load of hot air. I notice that IDS, who initially had been very vocal about his plans, appears to have gone silent now that action to prevent fraudsters from claiming benefits has been overtaken by more newsworthy issues.

The Government appears to be missing a fundamental point.  The public understands but the Government fails to appreciate that nobody will be prepared to employ anyone who has been 'working the system' by claiming long term benefits and with no intention of ever taking a job. Most of these are unemployable, if not undesirable, so what jobs does the Government think they could do? 

Politicians must be realistic about this and face up to reality. If those who simply have no intention of finding work have their benefits stopped - where will they get the money to buy their cigarettes and booze? The only way will be for them to sponge off others or to commit crime - probably both.


It was announced yesterday that the number of unemployed has dropped yet those claiming Job Seekers' Allowance has increased. This sounds like a bit of a conundrum to me and suggests this is another attempt by the Government to cover up the truth. Do they really know how many people are now unemployed? I don't think so, and this is because thousands will either not be claiming Job Seekers' Allowance or, more to the point, they no longer qualify. This includes plenty of well qualified middle-aged men and women who are being ignored by employers yet are unable to claim Job Seekers' Allowance once they have been out-of-work for more than a year. 

I believe employers are largely to blame for the high number of professional people who cannot find work. Ageism, in spite of legislation devised to prevent it, is still rife and it easy to use any of many excuses to mask the real reason for dismissing a job application. The majority of unemployed senior people will concur with this view and will be familiar with 'too experienced', 'the standard of applicants was extremely high' or 'you do not quite match our requirements' as being tantamount to being 'too old'. But there is another issue. Experience usually comes with age and this means that thousands of extremely capable people are being by-passed by companies because of a fear factor. The chances are that when an experienced older person applies for a job his or her application will be scrutinised by somebody much younger. A more experienced applicant can present a challenge to  less experienced employers that could create a situation that undermine their authority. This may be intentional or psychological - but often those that short list job applicants feel it may be better to cast aside anyone that could pose such a threat. There is evidence of this all around. We only need look at just one aspect of business - that of customer service - to see how poor it has become in many organisations. It is my belief that this is because the leadership in many companies is appalling and that many of the people they employ lack the experience or training to do their jobs properly.


This important article is republished from the Consumer Action Group newsletter.

We are in the grips of the worst recession that we have ever seen. Many people have lost their jobs and many more jobs are under threat. The astonishing price of fuel  has meant that we are limiting the amount of driving that we do, food prices have once again increased this month and just last week, we heard that electricity prices will increase by 20% this winter. The High Streets are not immune. Woolworth’s were the first big name to go out of business at the start of the recession with well known names such as Moben Kitchens, Habitat etc closing down. Families are unable to afford a holiday and this is confirmed by the profit warning from Thomas Cook Travel. Families are really struggling financially and this is leading to many of them finding themselves in arrears with their council tax and small businesses that struggling to survive are finding themselves in the same position with non domestic rates (NNDR).

Friday, 24 June 2011


As we look forward to endless years of austerity that will be inflicted on us by the Government's severe public spending cuts, there is a growing consensus that believes the time has come for charity to begin at home. Our political leaders, while some still seem content to line their own pockets despite jail sentences handed to the few of their colleagues that were brought to task, the rest of us are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Contrary to what politicians tell us, we are certainly not all in this together. The divide between the highest and lowest paid continues to increase leaving the lowliest members of society to take the brunt of the suffering. 

But while the steady hike in the cost of living hits the majority, it is the elderly, the sick and the lowest paid who are punished. Residential care homes are closing through lack of funding, terminally ill patients are being refused life prolonging drugs on cost grounds, thousands are losing their jobs and too many also their homes. None of this accounts for the appalling treatment being dished out by several NHS hospitals and the worst care homes.  I could continue ranting about so much that is wrong with our country but this will be in the book I am writing. 

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011


Dr Edmund Chattoe-Brown is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester and teaches research methods on the MSc. His research deals with decision making, computer simulation, social networks and models of innovation and change. Dr Chattoe-Brown believes Britain is not broken bu the instructions may be missing.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


To think that I voted for Cameron. But I am now left doubting my sanity and it is starting to dawn on me that very few politicians have a clue about what they are doing. His threats of imposing a 'no fly zone' over Libya is starting to mirror what that former war-monger, Tony Blair did in Iraq. 

By making all of these devastating cuts to our military capabilities, how can Cameron continue with the belief that Britain is a major military power capable of enforcing our will over other nations? It is time that we kept our dirty noses out of other people's battles more especially as we no longer have the muscle to back up our threats. Perhaps Cameron is starting to believe that he has been rather hasty in cutting our military's strength and prowess?

I doubt if any of us are enjoying the events that are unwinding in Libya and Cameron was sabre rattling when he appeared on the BBC One Show  to tell the audience that "We have got to prepare for what we might have to do if he (Gaddafi) goes on brutalising his own people. I don't think we can stand aside and let that happen". Big words from a prime minister who has already committed to sacrificing our Armed Forces by sending out redundancy notices. It appears Cameron is attempting to rally other countries to his idea of preventing the bloodshed in Libya from continuing in much the same way as Blair had done over Iraq. We only need to look at that major blunder to see where this could all be heading. It is time that we started to mind our own business and stop committing what is left of our resources by poking our noses into the affairs of others. The main issue to consider here is that if Cameron enforces a no fly zone he will effectively be declaring war on Libya.  Maybe he should concentrate his mind on the growing problems of our own country instead of thinking about committing our depleted troops to yet another potential theatre of war that we simply cannot afford.

And, if we do commit, what is he going to send? We haven't got much of an Air Force left and we could have even less if Gaddafi was to shoot down some of our remaining aircraft. We have already seen one major cock-up after Hague sent in the SAS on a mission that nobody appears to have quite understood and he can count himself lucky that we got our men back after they had been captured. The last thing Britain needs is to become embroiled in another war.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


This kind of thing is happening far too often despite Home Office and Police authority guidelines to prevent innocent people facing 'apprehension' by security officers who think they are the law.

Original letter from Simon St Clare to the Milton Keynes Citizen

I am a keen photographer and I regularly travel to CMK to watch films in Cineworld in Xscape. In the afternoon on Monday 7 Feb prior to watching a film I was ‘arrested’ by two of the Xscape security staff for taking photos of the outside of the building. I had just spent a while taking photos of the derelict part of The Food Hall and then I strolled over to Xscape where I took a few photos of part of the Xscape building. I had only been there for two minutes when I was approached by a security guard. He questioned me on my actions and I think he asked me to leave the area. I refused to leave the area and said I had the right to take photos in a public place. I thought it was reasonable to assume I was in a public place and my normal rights still applied.

A second security guard approached us and he stood behind me – which I thought was strange. I was then told that Xscape was a privately-owned building and I needed special permission to photograph it. They said it was both illegal and against Xscape company policy for the building to be photographed without permission. They then threatened to call the police if I did not leave the area. I thought it was reasonable to assume I was outdoors in a public place and any specifics regarding a company policy did not apply – afterall it wasn’t as if I was inside the building or in a nightclub or restaurant. I invited the security to call the police as I suspected they were being over-zealous and I hoped the police would confirm this and put them in their place.

We stood there outside in the cold waiting for the police to come along to let us know who’s right or wrong. After a couple of minutes I wanted to walk away (my plan was to go to see a film in Cineworld) but both guards stepped forwards and placed their hands on my arms. They told me I couldn’t go until the police arrived. I asked them if they would restrain me if I tried to go and they said they would.

Just after that I noticed one of the guards was not wearing an SIA  (Security Industry Authority) badge – I thought a badge number was meant to be on display so that it was easier for them to be held accountable. I asked the guard if he had an SIA badge and he replied "Who are you to ask me that?". he then said something along the lines of 'A f***ing judge or a magistrate can ask me that but you can't.

I estimate it took the police ten to fifteen minutes to arrive. When they came they asked me some questions, took my details and then let me go. They were very polite and reasonable, they said I had done nothing wrong and that Xscape should have some signs on prominent display if they wanted to prevent photography outside the building. They recommended I complain to the Xscape management about the situation.

A few minutes after the police had left I spoke to the manager of the Xscape security to complain about the situation-specifically about the guard who swore at me and although he apologised, one of the things he said was to the extent of : some of their staff are direct in the way that they speak and deal with situations -they are, therefore, more suited to working later in the day when there are rowdy drunk people to be dealt with. On this occasion, he explained, one member of staff had ended up working earlier in the day than usual.

I’ve taken many photos in public places around MK and I never take photos that invade privacy. I have found that security guards often want photographers to go away – even if they have the right to take photos in a certain area. I accept that if I am approached and questioned by the police when I am near a shopping centre their intention is to protect the public. When I was approached by these guards I could not understand how what I was doing could be seen as wrong or illegal. From the moment they approached me I felt as though they were on the offensive, they were not polite and they treated me like a suspected criminal instead of treating me like a customer of the Xscape building.

Link to Report in Amateur Photographer (1)

Saturday, 19 February 2011


While most of us are having to commit to a belt tightening exercise that extends far beyond what a strictest diet might achieve for our waistlines, the fat cats, particularly those in the higher echelons of public service are not suffering one jot. To the contrary most are seeing their wage packets increase at the expense of the rest of us.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalists in collaboration with the BBC's Panorama programme has revealed that more than 38,000 government workers are being paid more than £100,000 and 9,187 of them earn more than the Prime Minister. Of these 6,500 NHS employees are paid more than David Cameron. Even the Government are said to have been shocked by this because they had estimated that the number earning in the £100,00 bracket to be half this. Of these only one in five is a woman which knocks any suggestion of pay equality at a senior level. The shocking truth is that in schools and universities there are six men for every woman in the £100,000 pay sector and only one in eight women earns £200,000 or more. The Judiciary is even worse where pay equality at the highest level reduces to one women in eighteen.

When Labour came to power the number of public sector workers amounted to around 5.2 million people but this rose to 6.1 million over the last 13 years. This increase has also witnessed a sharp increase in the Government's wage bill to £157.7 billion with the highest paid three per cent of public sector workers seeing a 64 per cent rise in salary. Britain's highest paid public servants are costing the taxpayer £5bn a year.

The highest paid public worker is Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC who earns £838,000, but many GPs are earning more than the best surgeons and medical specialists.  Ten general practitioners earn more than £300,000 with 1,145 of them earning more than Cameron. The highest paid of these works at Hillingdon and earns £475,500. The NHS is extremely protective about revealing the identities of their highest paid GPs but as they are paid for out of the public purse shouldn't we have a right to know? The Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust accounts for four of those in the top ten with a combined wage bill of £1.5 million.  

In education, 385 teachers are paid more than £100,000 a year, 17 of them more than the Prime Minister and one (not named) is paid £232,500 by Essex County Council.  With salaries such as these the National Secretary for Public Services at the GMB Union is fully justified in saying: "The fact that a head teacher could be paid so much while other staff in the school are paid so little is causing our members working in schools to feel this is outrageous."

In the nation's town halls 2,000 top paid executives earn a combined salary of a quarter of a billion pounds and 1,500 council chiefs earn more than David Cameron. Wandsworth, hardly an affluent area of London, spends almost £5 million on just 36 employees and their chief executive, Gerald Jones is said to be the country's highest paid local government worker with a salary of £299,925 including £54,000 in bonuses.  Is it really any wonder that the country is in a state?

What really puts the higher public sector salaries into perspective is that the average UK salary is  £22,405 but tens of thousands of employees earn far less than this especially those that work in menial jobs for local authorities.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


The way that our armed forces are treated when they return to civilian life after tours of duty in Afghanistan and formerly from Iraq is disgraceful.  Whether we agree whether the engagement in Afghanistan is necessary or not is not the issue and our military personnel cannot be blamed for doing what they agreed to do when they signed on. But, after putting their lives on the line every day and witnessing their friends dying, being maimed or losing limbs when they leave the services many are left to fend for themselves when they return home.  Successive governments are quick to commit our troops to danger but once they return to civilian life their needs are widely ignored leaving public supported charities to pick up the pieces.
In a hard hitting BBC Panorama programme (9 Feb 2011) Colonel Tim Collins exposed the traumas  returning soldiers were having to face.  Although not all will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many will be affected by other war-related conditions that has led to family splits, violence and serious drinking problems. A study of around 10,000 Armed Forces personnel found that almost one in five (19.7 per cent) reported signs of a common mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety or insomnia that is leaving many lives shattered. It did not believe that multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan had an effect on rates of PTSD, which was estimated to have affected between 3 and 4 per cent of British troops over the course of the study. The Combat Stress charity said there has been a 66 per cent rise in demand for its services in the past five years, with discharged veterans taking 14 years on average before seeking help. Military veterans are, in the main, extremely proud individuals who are reluctant to ask for help. Support services have been reported to be seeing about 4,000 new veterans each year, but this could rise to 9,000 a year within a decade, the charity added. Veterans with psychiatric problems are unlikely to receive the treatment they need from the NHS since mental health provisions were axed and this could cause massive problems within the community in years to come that are not being addressed.
Soldiers have also been abused, attacked and refused entry to pubs and nightclubs and the levels of protests against homecoming troops from Muslim reactionaries in Barking and Luton have been well documented.  Veterans are also finding difficulties finding work in a worsening job market while others have been forced to live rough on the streets when they have been unable to find affordable accommodation. A few have also ended up serving prison sentences. Had the appropriate level of State funded help been available most of these former soldiers could have been spared from the ruination of their lives. Instead, the role of helping these victims continues to fall on the charity sector such as Support Our Soldiers and the Royal British Legion. However, the Panorama programme revealed that the RBL (which has an income of £125m)could offer assistance to many more veterans if they knew who they were, but the Ministry of Defence has hidden behind the Data Protection Act and has failed to release information to identify those in need.
The former Army chief, Sir Richard Dannatt, has revealed that there are 2,000 armed services fund-raising charities with a joint income of £800m but with so many there is a lack of coordination and cooperation between these which leads to overlap and duplication. Dannatt has praised the public for their generosity in supporting its military but he didn't expect their generosity to last forever.  The chief executive for Veterans Aid Chris Simpkins said "Veterans are for life, not just for Christmas. So the real issue is about who's going to be here, can everyone sustain themselves for the long haul?"
The Independent on 15 November 2009 carried the headline 'Homecoming fit for heroes? The plight of Britain's veterans' . What followed was a hard hitting story that serves as a poignant reminder that not enough is being done. The responsibility for these veterans is really the responsibility of central government and it really isn't doing enough.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


 David Cameron is finally saying what sane minded people have been saying for a long time.

View the report here

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


The Legal Action Group has reported on their blog how the Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) that pays for nearly 500 debt advisors based at Citizens Advice Centres anf other non-profit help centres will end in March. The Fund was established by the Labour government in 2004 to provide £45m in funding to pay for face-to-face advice services that was used by around 100,000 people a year. This is a further example of how those that cannot afford to pay for legal advice, will be hit by cut backs.  The advisors funded under the scheme also face redundancy. Read the full story here

Monday, 31 January 2011


If the financier George Soros is right with his latest predictions the severe cuts being made by the Coalition will plunge Britain back into recession.  Soros is not often wrong and it was his betting against the pound that led to Britain's exit from the European exchange rate mechanism during the time David Cameron was advising Norman Lamont. 

This is not the kind of news that we want to hear, but it suggests how the financial situation might be continuing to spiral out of control. With Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor you expect him to  vehemently oppose George Osborne's economic policies. Labour has described the cuts as 'hurting not working' but Balls' own track record was counter-productive during the time he was advising  Gordon Brown's during the period that virtually bankrupted the country. But Balls does not agree that Labour's spending policies and promise to end 'boom and bust' created the mess we are in and prefers to blame Britain's deficit problems on the global banking crisis. This may be partly true, but Brown is responsible for failing to control the banks.
But with the Alliance saying one thing and Labour saying the opposite, it is no wonder the economy is in dire straits. It is strange how opposing parties always disagree on economic policies which leads one to doubt whether any of them has a clue about controlling the economy. Political debates mean little more than point scoring and since the MP's expenses scandal and Labour's spending spree  the public has every justification for not trusting them.

After the general election I was possibly misguided and believed the idea of a coalition could work by combining the best brains of both parties; now I'm less sure. Initially Vince Cable was extremely credible. After all, for a time he appeared to talk sense and many thought he had sound ideas that would steer the country back towards stability. That ended when he shot himself in the foot by making ridiculous remarks to undercover journalists about how he was going to declare war on Rupert Murdoch. Since his major faux pas Vince lost much of his popularity and now we hear little from him.  
Osborne remains tunnel-visioned over his policies while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) continues to rise, moving from 3.3% in November to 3.7% in December, and the VAT increase to 20% will make high street trading tougher causing retail sales to fall. Fuel prices have increased by their fastest yearly rate and food costs soared by their highest annual increase since May 2009. The Bank of England got it wrong too and has confirmed it expects the CPI to be higher than they had  estimated throughout 2011. While this is grim enough, the Retail Price Index (RPI) that accounts for housing expenses including mortgage repayments, council tax and insurance also increased by 1% to 4.8% - the highest rate in 8 months. None of this inspires confidence.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


This is the worst story I have seen this year. A helpless 92-year old was beaten on her own doorstep and the thug that did it stole £30. What has this country become? This is completely beyond contempt.


To the disabled people of Great Britain. Our individual voices are too quiet to be heard, but collectively we can shout loud enough to drown out this tide of abuse against us. Disability Hate Crime, lack of full legal protection, people in care homes costing too much to be let out and not one political party willing to fight for us. We must emulate other successful civil rights movements and with polite determination take our place as equal members of society.


Thousands of people over the age of  forty feel their lives have already come to an end as they collapse into deep poverty and build up massive debts caused by dramatic changes that are threatening their existence. Most face losing their homes and everything they have spent their lives working for. The rigid laws of the Welfare State completely fail to take into account the individual needs of those who may have lost a business they have slaved to build over many years or lost well-paid jobs; suffered from long term illness or become disabled. These life changing circumstances in the majority of cases have arisen through no fault of their own, yet a system they have contributed towards throughout their entire working lives are denied them when they unexpectedly need help and are at their most vulnerable. None of these people are spongers; indeed most are extremely embarrassed by their situation and will have delayed going cap-in-hand to the faceless Jobcentre Plus until their own money has run because they view seeking help to pay their household bills to be a totally alien and hostile experience.

While we are all familiar with the cases of fraudsters, benefits cheats and foreign nationals who have got away with millions of pounds in taxpayers' money, those that are genuinely poor and would give their right hand to find a job, are being left to sink deeper into the mire. Those who find themselves out of work for the first time in 30-45 years are forced to sell their cherished possessions and cash in their pensions in order to pay what still remains on their mortgages. But any money they may have managed to save rapidly disappears once their period of unemployment extends from weeks; to months; to years. The terrifying risk of losing the family home then kicks in as stress levels increase and couples start to get at each other's throats, often causing them to split up. For some the burden is simply too overwhelming and they contemplate the ultimate sacrifice; by committing suicide. Many see an early death as their only escape from their all-engulfing problems. Many honest, upright citizens who have worked and contributed towards the welfare system throughout their careers have considered suicide when they reach rock bottom and feel they have nothing left to live for, having been rejected for countless jobs and fearing what will arrive in the next post. The feeling of total hopelessness is very real more especially as the State has left them to rot.

Despite Iain Duncan Smith claiming that he will overhaul the entire benefits system by making it fairer, we are now nine months into this Government's tenancy and there is no evidence that the most needy are getting a fairer deal. Quite the contrary. The poor need money today, not in six months time and there is no time left to wait while bureaucracy considers their needs only to shatter their confidence by refusing any help. The Government has calculated that a couple should be able to live on a total income of just £202.40 a week yet, this figure takes no consideration of the outgoings they have to meet just to pay for housing, buy food, keep warm, have fresh water and to maintain even the most basic form of life. Once a 26-week period of unemployment is reached, Job Seeker's Allowance will end if a claimant's spouse works more than 24-hours a week. This is considered to be full time and any benefits will only be paid to make up the difference between  the partner's earnings and the £202.40 set by the Government. This is simply insufficient to live on by anyone's standards more especially as no consideration is given to inflation and the prices of basic essentials  that continue to rocket. How anyone with a mortgage is expected to continue paying for their home beggars belief and yet the Government will claim they are committed to defeating poverty and homelessness. Is it any wonder there is a widespread belief that some people are better off by not working?

But in reality nobody cares - certainly not politicians although they will say they do. Meanwhile Britain's so called under class is being over-populated by those that were once part of the working class.

Well worth reading:  Hard Work - Life in Low-Pay Britain by Polly Toynbee (published 2003).

Things have not changed; they have merely got worse as Britain declines into a 21st century version of something portrayed by Hogarth.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


It has been said by his supporters that Gordon Brown was an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although I am no economist, even I can appreciate that during his reign at 11 Downing Street he committed one of the most grotesque financial blunders of all time that cost the country around £2 billion at the time, but more than £12.5 billion when more recent gold prices are taken into consideration. By committing this single act, Brown blotted his copy book so badly that it greatly reduced his credibility in the eyes of the British public leaving many doubting his ability.

Brown’s cut price sale of 395 tonnes of gold, half the nation’s reserves, has to go down as one of the his most amazing gaffes and this happened before he went on to blow an unbelievable amount of taxpayers’ money. Britain had held 715 tons of gold since the 1970s and until Brown became Chancellor, no previous administration had ever considered parting with it. The crime of selling these precious reserves at the worst possible price might have been considered treasonable centuries ago, but an even bigger error in his judgement came when he announced his plans to the world prior to selling, thus causing a dramatic drop in the market price. Experts were stunned by Brown’s decision to sell it by auction instead of keeping his intention quiet and disposing of it gradually on the open market. When it was sold, the gold price was at a 20-year low and it fetched only an average price of $275 an ounce across seventeen auctions. In May 2007 gold prices had risen to $685 an ounce and by 11 January 2010 had reached $1152.70 and on 16 January 2011 it was at $1359.35 an ounce (according to Did Brown merely have a mad moment by making a gross error of judgement; or was this some way of preparing us for the destruction of our economy that was to follow once he became Prime Minster? We may never know because Gordon Brown is never likely to admit to anything nor is he ever likely to apologise to British taxpayers for the mess he got this country into by overspending. In any event the debacle will forever be known as ‘Browns Bottom’ and that is putting it politely.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


The latest book that I am writing was born because of my personal experiences and dismay of a country that has disproportionately declined during my lifetime; a view that I share with the majority of ordinary British people of my generation. In every household, workplace, bar and community, the conversation of those living out their autumn years is generally much the same. We talk of how we have become disillusioned by the way the country is being run; how greed has been allowed to permeate our society to replace care and a social conscience and how so little opportunity exists for young people leaving full time education and those that have worked all their lives who are merely trying to remain in paid employment. Inevitably this won’t be a happy read full of heart-lifting optimism with tales about a wonderful country that our grandchildren will be proud to inherit. Far from it; my text speaks volumes about the concerns shared by a myriad of quiet, normal, peace loving citizens that are not usually known for voicing their opinions. But the older you get the more you become aware that we are all speaking with a singular voice, especially about the horrors we share over the way the politicians have squandered our heritage and have removed our rights to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers had fought two world wars to preserve. My contemporaries speak vociferously about their deep concerns for the future of a Britain that has become so absorbed by personal wealth and a bureaucracy that by their very actions has demonstrated a thoroughly unhealthy desire to totally control our lives.

People are extremely angry and they are worried. They are worried for their own futures; they are worried for their children, their friends and for ordinary people who are ceasing to matter in a society that is running out of control. There is also particular concern about how we will be able to take care of ourselves and our loved ones as we grow too old, too frail or have less mental capacity and our value to the state as a taxpayer comes to an end and we become a burden. This fear grows on a daily basis with the realisation that old age and the potential decline in our physical and mental condition is getting ever closer. Added to this deep rooted fear is the all encapsulating knowledge that nobody is listening to ordinary people any more.