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).