Friday, 21 August 2015


A selection of headlines from this week's newspapers must make us wonder what kind of country we live in, what kind of nation are we?

In a letter to the Chancellor, the five biggest providers of care homes (Four Seasons Health Care: BUPA; HC-One; Care UK and Barchester) claim that the National Living Wage could result in a catastrophic collapse in the number of care homes.  The companies said that they supported the National Living Wage (put that to music) but efforts would be needed to rescue the care system.  The UK Homecare Association made a similar warning last month, saying services to care for people in their own homes would become 'unviable'.  The Government said, (don't hold your breath) social care 'would be considered' as part of the spending review later this year.  Clearly, the care and dignity of our fellow citizens who are elderly or disabled is valued at no more than the minimum wage that we can get away with.  Shame on us!
The business pages report as 'good news' that the Rank Group has cashed in with a 19% rise in pre-tax profit to £74.1 million in the year to June.
There has been concern for some time over the growth of betting shops in our high streets and the powerlessness of local authorities to do anything about it.  However, in the figures issued by Rank, revenue in betting shops grew by only 2% compared with 21% in digital.  Chief Executive Henry Birch said, "We are particularly pleased that the strong digital growth continues."  Maybe in our concern for the proliferation of betting shops we have had our focus in the wrong place.  At least in betting shops there is company and, hopefully, some responsible staff who might encourage the over-hyped punter to 'go canny'.  But what curbs exist for the person alone in the bedroom at the computer with 24 hour betting available at the click of a mouse?  Heavens above, 'thanks' to in-play betting, at five past three on a Saturday afternoon I could place a bet on who is going to score the next goal for Partick there's a route to throwing your money away!  But I shouldn't joke, the income generated by the gambling industry dwarfs the expenditure on the care of the elderly.  That is wrong.  That is a sin.  Shame on us all!
Speaking of sin, what about the revelations this week that the DWP have been inventing people in an attempt to continue the delusion that the welfare changes are reasonable, fair and welcome.  Far from apologising, the department has come out with some guff about the need to positively promote the worth of the sanctions regime.  To you, me and most folk, they are claiming that its OK for them to lie.  Were a claimant at the Jobcentre found to be giving false information, it would immediately be identified as lying and the claimant sanctioned.  Can the man at the top, the wicked and/or hapless Iain Duncan Smith not be sanctioned?  A withdrawal of his ministerial salary might be a start.

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