My thanks to Mike Warner for his letter for raising his concerns about the rise in child poverty expected to follow the coming benefit cuts including, of course, the changes to council tax benefit.
Like him, I am exasperated by Mr Stephenson’s “good news” column which at times is so divorced from reality as to beggar belief.
I also remember the source of the funding from Lord Ashcroft and the way it was transferred to ensure legality.
I also take note of the current proceedings in the Public Accounts Committee, which is looking at how the major accountancy firms make a third of their global profits each year from cunning advice to companies on how to minimise their tax liabilities.
I also note how active these same firms are in lobbying on tax matters, political funding and supplying free “advisers” to politicians and ministers. This was ever the case, of course. Both Labour and Conservative governments have taken full advantage of these opportunities.
These same companies are major beneficiaries from government contracts and one could be forgiven for suspecting all these matters are inter-connected. If this is indeed the case, it raises the question of who exactly is controlling the formulation of government economic policy. Far too large a subject for this letter, but it would appear the PAC shares my misgivings.
Despite all the reassuring words we get from Mr Stephenson’s column each week, the disposable income of the lower 85% percentile of the electorate is falling. The economy shows no sign of growth, the deficit is rising and the rise in the numbers of people relying on food banks is alarming. Economists are beginning to investigate the strange statistic whereby the number of unemployed falls while the economy is stagnant. They suspect this means those in work are not as productive, and one cause of this could be the average wage is falling.
In other words, the jobs that are being created are not paying a living wage as companies cut back on investment and seek the cheapest workers. The consequence is a meaningless statistic but one that is quoted time and time again to “prove” that things are going well.
One last comment – remember the full effects of the public service cuts has not been felt yet and I am sad to say I see no prospect of real, as opposed to illusory, improvement. On June 12th, 2009 in this paper Mr Stephenson wrote: “If elected, I will act with honesty, integrity, openness and candour at all times.” Could we please see evidence of this in the form of some reality in his weekly column?
STANLEY CHALLENGER GRAHAM
East Hill Street,