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Blog Posted in avatar   Kev Hedges's Blog

British Gas hikes prices up 7% - Unemployed treated like criminals and some wastrel buys a vase for $70m

By Kev Hedges
Posted Nov 12, 2010 in Politics
It really is too much to bear waking up this morning. In a week that has seen Works and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith along with his leaders David 'destroy the dole' Cameron and Nick 'turncoat' Clegg condemn the unemployed as if they were all scroungers and have chosen this lifestyle. But then those greedy energy suppliers British Gas hike their fees by 7%.
It was only announced on Tuesday this week the retail price index rose by 4.6% and let us not forget gas prices have plummeted last year and the energy companies did not drop their prices in line but now it has risen slightly British Gas has started a rush to hike prices.
It seems British Gas are ready and willing to act like a 'coiled spring' when wholesale gas prices rise, but are hesitant and hide its head in the sand when the wholesale price drops. When the wholesale price plummeted around 25% last year British Gas did drop its prices but nowhere near the 25%, in fact it was nearer 4%.
Last winter was the coldest winter in 30 years in Britain. Consumers were using gas in many cases 24/7 as even daytime temperatures over the new year period never rose above freezing point, even by day. British Gas made huge profits from that winter. In fact figures released in summer saw 98% hike in profits.
But British Gas still see fit to raise prices 7% from December 10 this year. Smack, bang at the beginning of the winter. How do they sleep at night?
Coalition Condems think the great unwashed are ALL scroungers
Now, the coalition government have announced another set of austerity measures against the long term unemployed. Not once in all its rhetoric about people out of work has it intimated that "people who genuinely look for work need not worry, we are after the workshy, the lifestyle dole scroungers".
Yes, out of Britain's 5 million unemployed there are some who don't look hard enough for work and chose a lifestyle of unemployment, benefits and watching Trish or Jeremy Kyle if they get up in time. But they are largely the minority - most are former hard working employed people who have been made redundant because eastern Europeans from Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania have swarmed over to the UK in their millions since 2004, when they were granted access to the EU and willingly performed these jobs for much less money. It's not just bar staff, cleaners and waiters that they taken on but carpenters, bricklayers, electricians and plumbers.
When you find yourself redundant and sign on you open a contract with the job centre, or more directly with the DWP [Department of Work and Pensions]. Most claimants sign on once per fortnight and have to produce documented evidence of at least three attempts at finding work every week. So every visit to the dole office must have evidence of six jobs that you have tried for. Failure to provide this and you are warned that your benefits will be cut or suspended.
So, IDS's threat to withdraw the dole for those refusing a job, or not attending an interview, are effectively already in place and have been for some time.
IDS says "There will be tougher penalties for people fit to work but unwilling to do so" But Mr Dunkin'-Rich what do you mean by that statement?
If an unemployed man, or woman, is fit to work but simply cannot find a job, does that mean he or she is 'unwilling' in the eyes of the job centre? Plus anybody out of work more than 12 months are to have 10% of their housing benefit slashed. For most that means finding another £10 a week to pay towards rent, and consider they are having to survive on £65.30 a week as it is.
The most damaging idea of all however is to force the unemployed to work for free. Sweeping leaves, picking up litter or cleaning graffiti off underpass walls. Will IDS also put these long term scroungers in Guantanamo Bay style orange jumpsuits, whilst they work for nothing? Community service is the reserve of criminals and thieves and those who can't be sent to prison because there is no room in her Majesty's jails. It is wrong to treat those that cannot find work in the same fashion as those who commit crime.
In all this depressive state of cutbacks, money saving and gas price hikes, I just couldn't believe what I heard that some one, some where has just purchased a 16 inch vase for £43m ($70m) at auction. The private buyer - who is thought to have come from the Chinese mainland - with an additional premium of £8.6m to go to the auctioneer. This story actually sickened me.

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