Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Blue Monday

Depending on who you read, the most depressing day of the year is either Monday 17th or Monday 24th January. Quite how they work this out goodness knows! Suffice to say, I think for all of us it's a strange time of the year. It's the time of the year for resolutions, predictions and promises.

For this coalition Government it seems to be a time for broken promises. I don't know enough about it to list them all, but off the top of my head I can think of a handful: EMA, VAT, NHS, child benefit changes and student loans. To be fair, it was only the Lib-Dems who promised to do away with student loans. The coalition has put them up three times over!

The point I'm making is, as promises, they've all been broken.

The Education Maintenance Allowance
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that the Labour lot were scaremongering when they said that the Tories would scrap it. It gets voted on today, (19th January) but it is almost a certainty to go through and they'll be abolished come the summer. Do we not want our population to be educated?

Child Benefit
David Cameron said he was going to leave it alone. Still it's only those who have one parent earning £40k or more that will go without - a broken promise nonetheless.

The coalition said that there would be no top-down reorganisation yet even though medical bodies, the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association to name but two, are advising caution, Andrew Lansley the Health Minister, is boasting about the need for wholesale reorganisation and doing away with Primary Care Trusts at one fell swoop, another broken promise. The biggest shake up of the NHS in decades.

And then there's VAT
A month before the election, David Cameron said that his plans didn't involve an increase in VAT. Another broken promise. A two-and-a-half per cent increase in tax doesn't sound like very much (OK so the VAT doesn't go on food or children's clothes) but it's going to affect everything - all of the people, all over the country.

It is universally acknowledged that the cost of living is going up. I heard on the news one morning this week that Britain's rate of inflation is higher than that of Zimbabwe! The cost of food has risen, the cost of domestic fuel has risen and the cost of transport has risen. Both public transport and the cost of petrol/diesel.

But don't worry, you'll know just how unhappy you are
And this Government's latest wheeze to help us all to come to terms with this pain? David Cameron is going to spend £2 million and ask the Office of National Statistics to come up with a happiness index! I don't think any of us need £2 million to point out to Mr Cameron that if the cost of living is going up, we are all likely to be less happy.

Whatever next?
No-one seems to disagree that there are going to be huge job losses. Half a million in the public sector are to go in the next three or four years. The Government inadvertently owned up to this at the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010. They have not revised this prediction in the three months since. Local Government cuts will start to hit in April and that, presumably, is when job losses will begin to kick in.

It is widely predicted that alongside these public sector job losses there will be a further half a million jobs to go in the private sector over the same time period. I think we can all recognise that there is an interdependency that goes on between these two sectors. So I guess we can see unemployment figures rising but how far, who knows? For some of us, more blue Mondays are on the cards.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Waiting lists....

I have lived where I live now for five and a half years. Six weeks before that my local council placed me on the housing waiting list. Due to fact that I am a single man and have no children I qualified to be on the list, but was not deemed to "be in priority need".

I feel I clearly understand this. It's bloody obvious that a single man in his forties is not in as MUCH need of housing as say, a single woman in her twenties with a toddler. Don't get me wrong, housing is a basic human need, we all need a roof over our heads.

I found out the other day, courtesy of Ken Livingstone in the local press, that the number of people who are on my local authority housing waiting list number 15,500. Is it any wonder that in the five-and-a-half years that I've been on that infernal list I've not heard a dicky-bird from my local council?

In the 2001 census the population of my north London borough was put at 202,824. Local estimates and surveys place a higher figure on that now. A study by the local council estimated it to be 223,171 in 2007. So I console myself with the thought that there are plenty worse off than me on that waiting list of 15,500.
Have you had similar experiences? We would like to get a picture of what it is like to be on the housing waiting list. Please post your comments below.