Nearly 20% of Brits already living in poverty before cost-of-living crisis, report finds

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/nearly-20-of-brits-already-living-in-poverty-before-cost-of-living-crisis

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MILLIONS of people in Britain, including 3.9 million children and 1.7m pensioners, were in living in poverty even before the cost-of-living crisis hit, damning figures revealed today.

Around 20 per cent of the population, equating to 13.4m people, were living in poverty in 2020/21, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s annual poverty report found.

The report warned that there are elements in the benefits system that increase poverty, including the two-child limit, five-week wait for universal credit payments and unaffordable debt deductions.

About 7.2m people are skipping meals, showers and heating, it found.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/nearly-20-of-brits-already-living-in-poverty-before-cost-of-living-crisis

Continue ReadingNearly 20% of Brits already living in poverty before cost-of-living crisis, report finds

Ambulance workers stage another day of strike action as dispute over pay for overstretched staff shows no sign of ending

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/ambulance-staff-stage-another-day-strike-action-dispute-over-pay

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THOUSANDS of ambulance workers staged more strike action today as the bitter dispute over pay for overstretched NHS staff showed no sign of abating.

Nearly 2,000 paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff across north-west England downed tools for 12 hours from midday, their union GMB said.

The walkout, which followed industrial action by thousands of GMB, Unite and Unison ambulance employees on Monday, came ahead of what could be biggest-ever NHS strike on February 6, when all three unions are due to strike alongside nurses.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/ambulance-staff-stage-another-day-strike-action-dispute-over-pay

Continue ReadingAmbulance workers stage another day of strike action as dispute over pay for overstretched staff shows no sign of ending

Energy firms face Ofgem investigation over number of households forced onto pre-payment meters

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/energy-firms-face-ofgem-investigation-forced-prepayment-metres

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

ENERGY firms face an Ofgem investigation over a “concerning” rise in the number of struggling households being forced onto prepayment meters.

The regulator said yesterday that it would also consider taking legal action if firms are found not to have taken due care when moving customers onto the more costly meters.

Customers who fail to keep the devices topped up with money have their electricity and gas cut off.

In recent months, hundreds of thousands of households have been switched onto prepayment metres, often unwillingly, after falling behind on their bills.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/energy-firms-face-ofgem-investigation-forced-prepayment-metres

Continue ReadingEnergy firms face Ofgem investigation over number of households forced onto pre-payment meters

Zahawi’s tax evasions point to a more fundamental problem for the Tories

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/e/zahawis-tax-evasions-point-more-fundamental-problem-tories

TORY chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s tax problems are a bigger headache for the Prime Minister than he has yet acknowledged.

Zahawi pleads that it was mere carelessness that saw him forced to pay HMRC nearly £5 million in unpaid tax (inclusive of a penalty) while he was, er, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Financial sloppiness isn’t a great look for a chancellor, but in Zahawi’s defence he’s admitted to it before. It was after all a “genuine mistake” that saw him claim thousands in expenses to heat the stables for a horse-riding school on his Warwickshire estate.

Labour rails at Conservative “corruption and cronyism,” but the fundamental issue is more basic still. This is a government of the rich, for the rich, by the rich and it is making us poorer.

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Continue ReadingZahawi’s tax evasions point to a more fundamental problem for the Tories

‘When the NHS goes private, we’ll be paying for ambulances’

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/when-the-nhs-goes-private-we-be-paying-for-ambulances

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MORE than 25,000 ambulance workers walked out on strike today as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that it would be “lovely to wave a magic wand” and give them the pay rise they want and deserve.

His pathetic response to the mounting NHS crisis was in stark contrast to the determination and courage displayed by tens of thousands of health workers intent on winning pay justice and on defending the NHS from destruction at Tory hands.

On freezing picket lines across England and Wales, ambulance workers told their own stories of the life-saving jobs they do and the tragic, unnecessary deaths caused by the deliberate run-down of ambulance and health services in what is increasingly believed to be preparation for the Tories’ ultimate privatisation — the NHS.

Members of three unions — Unison, GMB and Unite — took strike action together.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/when-the-nhs-goes-private-we-be-paying-for-ambulances

Continue Reading‘When the NHS goes private, we’ll be paying for ambulances’

Anti-poverty campaigners call on government to ban forced prepayment meter instillations

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/anti-poverty-campaigners-call-on-government-to-ban-forced-prepayment-meter-instillations

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

FUEL poverty campaigners staged “warm up” demonstrations across Britain at the weekend, calling on the government to ban the forced instillation of prepayment meters.

The government has come under increasing pressure to outlaw the imposition of these meters since an investigation by the i newspaper revealed that energy companies have secured half a million court warrants to enter people’s homes and install them since July 2021.

Citizens Advice also reported that 3.2 million people were disconnected in 2022 over their inability to top up the meters, more than in the previous 10 years combined.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps promised today to “name and shame” energy suppliers that force such meters on their customers, revealing that he has written to companies to demand that they voluntarily end the practice.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/anti-poverty-campaigners-call-on-government-to-ban-forced-prepayment-meter-instillations

Continue ReadingAnti-poverty campaigners call on government to ban forced prepayment meter instillations

Ambulance performance times reach record new low

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/ambulance-performance-times-reach-record-new-low

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Union brands crisis a ‘national shame made in Downing Street’

AMBULANCE performance times are now the worst on record, the latest data revealed today, with unions branding it a “‎national disgrace made in 10 Downing Street.”

One in 10 people were left waiting for ambulances for more than three-and-a-half hours last month after falling seriously ill with the likes of hearts attacks, strokes and sepsis, according to NHS England.

Downing Street, which has refused to call the situation in the NHS a crisis, said the figures are “obviously unacceptable” and the government was “very focused” on improving NHS performance.

But Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the government “must carry the can” for excessive deaths caused by the problems highlighted in last month’s statistics.

She said: “The blame for this tragedy lies with years of underfunding and poor pay. It is a national disgrace delivered by Downing Street.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/ambulance-performance-times-reach-record-new-low

Continue ReadingAmbulance performance times reach record new low

Aslef set to reject same 8% pay offer rejected by RMT

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/aslef-set-to-reject-same-8-pay-offer-rejected-by-rmt

TORY ministers and rail industry bosses will be “incredibly disappointed” if they think the sector’s workforce will accept more real-terms pay cuts, train drivers’ union Aslef said today.

The warning came after reports in the Sun newspaper suggested that the union, which is holding another 24-hour strike across 15 train operating companies on Thursday, will soon be offered an 8 per cent deal, spread over two years.

The offer, amounting to 4 per cent in both 2023 and 2024, has already been rejected by fellow transport union RMT, which is launching its second 48-hour walkout this week at Network Rail and several train operators tomorrow.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told the Morning Star that if Tory Transport Secretary Mark Harper thinks, after “no pay rises since 2019, a further below-inflation deal will be backed by my members, he’ll be incredibly disappointed.

Continue ReadingAslef set to reject same 8% pay offer rejected by RMT

NHS needs practical and urgent action, not Sunak’s ‘false promises and hollow boasts,’ RCN warns

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/nhs-needs-practical-and-urgent-action-not-sunak-false-promises-and-hollow-boasts-rcn-warns

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RISHI SUNAK’S first speech of the year was more “false promises and hollow boasts” while the NHS needs practical and urgent action, a leading nurse warned today.

The Prime Minister said in his first public address of the new year that one of his five promises was to cut NHS waiting lists and ensure that people “get the care they need more quickly.”

His other promises were to “halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, and stop the [refugee] boats”.

The PM did not specify a timeframe for his pledges and spent most of his speech discussing tackling increasing strike actions, including by nurses and ambulance staff, and immigration levels.

In a letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, Royal College of Nursing chief executive Pat Cullen said the PM’s language “appeared detached from the reality of what is happening and why.”

Continue ReadingNHS needs practical and urgent action, not Sunak’s ‘false promises and hollow boasts,’ RCN warns

Tories’ ‘despicable attack’ on striking ambulance workers fails to dent national action

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/tories-despicable-attack-striking-ambulance-workers-fails-dent-national-action

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HEALTH Secretary Steve Barclay was accused of launching a despicable attack on striking ambulance workers today after he claimed that they have made a “conscious choice to inflict harm” on patients.

Mr Barclay’s inflammatory attack caused fury among union leaders, who accused ministers of causing a year-round mounting death toll of patients through NHS underfunding, understaffing and government failures.

Figures released today shows a 133 per cent increase this year in patients dying while waiting in ambulances to be transferred into hospital, with the reasons for the delays including overflowing A&E departments, lack of beds and staffing shortages.

The number of deaths increased from 40 to 93 and the number of patients who suffered “severe harm” due to delays tripled from 51 patients to 154 in a year.

The figures, obtained by the GMB union using freedom of Information regulations, compared the years 2020-21 with 2021-22 and added to the anger provoked by Mr Barclay’s accusation.

Continue ReadingTories’ ‘despicable attack’ on striking ambulance workers fails to dent national action