Private water company bosses have pocketed £175 million in last 5 years

From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.

GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.

Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.

The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Theresa May Revives Grammar Schools Plan With £50m Boost

From HuffPost UK: Theresa May has prompted anger after reviving her flagship policy to expand grammar schools by handing them £50 million to increase places.

Lifting the ban on creating new grammar schools was a key part of last year’s Conservative manifesto – but the proposals were dropped in the wake of May’s election humiliation.

Under fresh plans by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, however, tens of millions of pounds are to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools.

The controversial move comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility said the cost for a planned 1% pay rise for teachers could only be met by heads “squeezing non-pay spending and by reducing the workforce”.

A poll by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in March also showed more than a third of school heads have already cut teachers or teaching hours due to the Tories’ funding squeeze.

School leaders, unions and the Labour Party have lined up to slam the decision to resurrect “the grammar school corpse” with “scarce” new money, claiming the model stoked inequality.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

Nicola Sturgeon replies to Scottish Tories’ condemnation of progressive tax changes in SNP’s budget

Shame, spin and no substance – visibly angry Corbyn fumes over Tory budget

From RT: Jeremy Corbyn poured his scorn on the May government over announcements that the Tories claim will pull Britons out of poverty and put the young on the property ladder.

Corbyn slammed the government, and mocked them for the policies that he agreed with, stating they had been “lifted” from his own manifesto. “It’s falling pay, slow growth and rising poverty,” he said.

“This is what the chancellor has the cheek to call a strong economy. The poorest tenth of households will lose 10 percent of income by 2022, while the richest will lose just 1 percent. So much for tackling burning injustice. This is a government tossing fuel on the fire,” added the Labour leader.

“8.3 million people are over indebted. If he wants to help people out of debt, back Labour policy for a real living wage of £10 per hour by 2020.” Read more

North of England hardest hit by Tory cuts

From BBC News: The north of England has seen the biggest cuts in Tory government spending over the past five years, official figures show.

Spending in the north has fallen by £696m in real terms since 2012, while the south of England has seen an increase of £7bn.

Labour have called on the government to end its austerity programme in the budget on Wednesday.

Government figures show that, when inflation is taken into account, every region in the north of England has seen a fall in spending on services since 2012, while every other English region has seen an increase.
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How tax cuts for the rich have cost the country dear

Dave Prentis writes in The New Statesman: Analysis carried out by UNISON shows that between 2013/14 and 2017/18 the income tax cuts for those earning over a million pounds a year alone have saved the nation’s super-wealthy on average £554,000 each. Those tax cuts have also cost the British taxpayer £8.6bn over those five years.

[Read article on New Statesman website…]

Kensington & Chelsea Council gave richest £100 tax rebate – but cut corners on tower block safety

From the Daily Express: In 2014, Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Council decided to hand back £100 to residents paying the top rate of council tax in an “overachieving efficiency drive”, while it had also stockpiled reserves of £274 million.

[Read full article on Daily Express website…]

Poorest face ‘double whammy’ if Tories ditch triple lock on pensions

From The Observer: Plans to ditch the triple lock on the basic state pension would represent a “double whammy” for the poorest pensioners, many of whom have already lost out under this month’s new flat-rate pension, according to a leading pension expert.

Pensioners who rely on the state pension for most of their income will be the biggest losers should the Tories drop the element of the triple lock that guarantees annual rises of at least 2.5%.

Chris Noon, a partner at leading pensions consultancy Hymans Robertson, said linking increases to earnings growth or inflation would, over time, erode the value of the pension and push larger numbers of people into poverty on reaching retirement age. He said: “The low paid were the community most negatively affected by the significant changes to the state pension introduced from April 2016. Removing the 2.5% minimum increase … is a double whammy that would again impact this community hardest over the medium to long term.”

The flat-rate state pension, worth £159.55 a week, combines the basic state pension with pension credit and the state second pension, which previously rewarded low-paid workers with generous top-up payments. Estimates put the savings at £8bn by the end of the parliament. Ending the triple lock would come on top of this cut.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Number of affordable homes built in England slumps to 24-year low

From The Guardian: Fewer affordable homes were built in the past year than any time in the past 24 years, while there was a 52% fall in the supply of new homes in just 12 months.

Builders put the finishing touches to 32,110 affordable homes in England in the year to the end of March 2016, compared with 66,600 over the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Of those, just 6,550 – about 20% – were for social rent, which critics say is the only truly affordable housing tenure, with the rest made available to rent or buy at “affordable” rates of up to 80% of market value.

Critics said the figures were disastrous, and called on the government to do more to encourage housebuilding. They come as the proportion of households that own a property is at a 30-year low and rising house prices have driven the cost of buying a home to more than 10 times the average salary in a third of England and Wales.

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