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Thursday, 14 October 2010

British old people, cold and a prime target !

The British Government (Tories and their Lib Dem toadies) are floating all sorts of betrayals and wizard wheezes ahead of the October 20 spending review, it appears that they are contemplating nothing less than the entire, if piecemeal, abolition of universality in benefits and the wholesale dismantling of the welfare state.

And some of the betrayals that they are casually introducing into the cuts dialogue are so bare-faced and aggressive they almost take the breath away.

Vince Cable has already reneged in public on the Lib Dem signed pledge by all MPs at their recent conference to oppose any increase in fees.

Instead, the coalition is preparing changes to university funding that will lead to massive increases in the cost of gaining a degree. And that's just one straw in the wind. There's much, much more.

Let's cast our mind back to those days before the election. At that time - in fact, on May 4 - now Prime Minister David Cameron said unequivocally: "Let me say very clearly to pensioners if you have a Conservative government your winter fuel allowance, your bus pass, your pension credit, your free TV licence, all these things are safe. You can read my lips, that is a promise from my heart."

We will see, Mr Cameron. We will see. But the signs don't look good. Already, there are rumours that the winter fuel payment could be cut from those over 60 and not paid until age 66.

There are also signs that the universality of the benefit could be challenged by the coalition, despite the fact that a recent Age UK poll showed 73 per cent of the public opposes means testing.

Also, the emergency payments made when the average temperature in a specific area falls to freezing or below for seven consecutive days are threatened.

Gordon Brown raised those payments from a miserable £8.50 a day to a more reasonable £25.

But, on Wednesday, the coalition sneaked through a statutory instrument which had the effect of cancelling the £25 rate and reverting the payments to the £8.50 of three years ago.

So much for reading the Cameron lips.

It is unfortunate for demolition man Cameron that, at the same time as his vicious government is contemplating a reversion to barbarism and leaving the old to die of cold, figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show the number of households living in fuel poverty has risen yet again.

They rose by half a million to 4.5 million in 2008, the last date for which definitive figures are available, although recent newspaper estimates put the current figure at around 6.6 million in 2010.

The figures showed that "vulnerable" households - around three-quarters of homes - were being hit by fuel price rises and the number of homes with elderly people, children or someone who has long-term illness or disability suffering from fuel poverty rose by half a million in 2008 to 3.75 million.

Those figures are horrifying and it becomes even worse when you look back just a month or two and remember that the coalition shelved plans for an independent inquiry into the £25 billion-a-year energy industry amid accusations of profiteering.

And this is despite profits by the energy companies soaring. A good example is British Gas, whose residential supply forms the main part of its business.

It reported operating profits in the first half of 2010 of £585million, up 98 per cent.

But in spite of loud pre-election threats of reference to the Competition Commission by both Lib Dems and Tories, the DECC, run by Lib Dem Chris Huhne, has confirmed: "No referral to the CC at present."

We read your lips, Mr Cameron, but all the exercise confirmed is that you are as big a liar as all your Tory and Lib Dem mates in this rancid, dishonest, class-war coalition you have the cheek to call a government.

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