Tag Archives: Martin

If your energy bill direct debit has doubled or tripled, here’s Martin Lewis’s advice

Martin Lewis: the ‘Money Saving Expert’ has advice that could save you hundreds of pounds if your energy supplier is overcharging you.

It seems some energy firms are playing fast and loose with customers on direct debit, with price hikes of up to 250 per cent.

So take a hard look at what your energy firm is charging you.

It seems some of them are trying to boost their own bank balances in advance of another expected price hike in October – in effect, relieving their own cash flow problems by inflicting them on you.

But it could lead to a fine of up to one-tenth of a company’s turnover if it is caught.

‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis has given advice on this, warning that there are some circumstances in which higher bill increases may be allowed.

But if you are in credit and “on the price cap”, and seeing a bill increase of more than 54 per cent, then you should call up the companies – politely – and dispute the new bill by asking them to justify the hike.

This would not be a “negotiation” as there is a legal requirement for your direct debit to be fair.

If the firm refuses to reduce the bill, then you should announce that you will take the matter to the Ombudsman. This will cost the energy company money.

Source: Martin Lewis’ urgent advice to anyone who uses direct debit to pay for their energy bills

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Check your direct debits to energy companies, warns Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis: last time I used this image, a reader said he never attaches his image to advertising so the story must be fake news. Let’s not have any of that silliness this time, please!

Energy firms are increasing customers’ direct debits by more than the 54 per cent cap imposed by Ofgem, according to ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis.

He’s saying – well, see for yourself (this version of the clip by the Mirror):

There is no point having a price cap imposed by a regulator if the regulator won’t enforce it.

So, come on – check your direct debits and, if you’re being charged more than 54 per cent extra, contact Ofgem.

And come on, Ofgem.

Let’s see some hefty prosecutions.

Source: Martin Lewis urges MPs to crack down on worrying trick used by energy companies

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Money Saving Expert says: don’t let the Tories blame cost of living crisis on Ukraine war

Martin Lewis: “It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

The UK’s cost of living crisis started in the UK before the Russia-Ukraine war and should not be blamed on that conflict, ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis has said.

And he said direct political action to ease the pressure is required – in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring Budget on March 23 – because cutting household expenditure won’t be enough to save people from poverty.

He was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on March 10:

 

“Kwasi Kwarteng has said that many people are willing to make sacrifices because of Ukraine. I think he’s probably right but I am slightly worried that we are seeing what may be potentially a deliberate narrative shift that effectively says the entire cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine, and therefore we all need to make sacrifices/

“That is not correct. What has happened in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation.

“But the rises in energy, heating oil, water, council tax, broadband and mobiles, food, National Insurance, were all in place before Ukraine.

“When we have a Budget – or a Spring Statement – coming in a couple of weeks, we need to be careful not to allow that narrative to happen and to be used as an excuse that we all need to make sacrifices because of Ukraine, and that’s why we have to suck in the cost of living crisis.

“That is not a correct analysis. It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

Mr Lewis added: “We are going to see a real increase in genuine poverty in this country; millions of people being thrown into poverty.

“The only way we can stop that is not by being money saving and tightening our belts; it is by genuine political intervention.

“We have a Spring Statement coming and I would urge the Chancellor: let’s nip this in the bud. Let’s not have people starving or freezing.”

What if the Tories don’t nip it in the bud? What if they want to push this fake narrative? What if they’re trying to use it to avoid providing any meaningful help?

You see, the mass media tries to avoid suggesting it, but this is what we need to ask ourselves:

What if the Tories are actually steering most of us directly into poverty because that’s what they want for us? Are we really going to lie back and let it happen?

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Four Johnson advisors quit in disgust – and Tory MPs say he’s doing a great job! What?

Isolated: Boris Johnson has tried to show strong leadership by accepting resignations from top advisors who were going anyway. All he has done is show that he is isolated from anybody who could have helped him retain his position as prime minister.

After This Site (and many others) reported that Boris Johnson’s policy advisor Munira Mirza quit her role – after 14 years with him – in disgust at his attempt to shame Keir Starmer for failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile, a further three advisors have quit.

This is hardly a sign of good leadership.

But here are a couple of brainless Tory MP drones saying it’s a sign that Johnson is doing a brilliant job!

What gives?

I’ll tell you – but you won’t be happy with Boris Johnson when I’m done!

It seems the resignation of Munira Mirza actually rocked Johnson hard. She had been with him for 14 years and quitting in the way she did sent a very clear message that he should be ejected from office; no ifs, no buts.

It left him in a very difficult position, with his authority – and his ability to restore order to Downing Street – under serious question.

So he cast around for a way to at least appear to be exerting control – and his gaze fell on three other advisors:  director of communications Jack Doyle, principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and chief of staff Dan Rosenfield.

All have been implicated in the Partygate scandal.

It seems Johnson reasoned that, if he pushed them out, he would present an appearance of acting decisively to restore order to Downing Street after the parties in which they were all involved.

Doyle and Rosenfield are said to have taken part in a party on December 18, 2020, and Doyle is said to have participated in at least one other event. Reynolds allegedly invited around 100 Downing Street staff to a “bring your own booze” party in the garden of 10 Downing Street in May 2020 when the UK was under strict lockdown.

But…

Doyle is also known to have wanted to quit his job after two years in any event, and it is understood that Johnson had previously refused his resignation.

Accepting it now merely makes Johnson look like a scurrilous (as Ms Mirza put it) opportunist and that, rather than forcing anybody out, he is in fact finally letting them go – because it suits him, not them.

Similarly, Rosenfield and Reynolds may have resigned because they feel it is the honourable thing to do after the party revelations. That would lend credence to allegations that these events took place, of course, in contravention of lockdown rules.

So instead of forcing out people who broke the rules, in order to restore order at Number 10, it seems Johnson is instead trying to spin the loss of three top advisors to his advantage.

It won’t work – or shouldn’t, in spite of the best efforts of nobodies like Stuart (who?) Anderson and Chris (who?) Clarkson.

The reason is clear:

No matter why they went, the four resignations mean Johnson has removed the entire top layer of management at 10 Downing Street, isolating himself from his party and showing he lacks any management ability at all – when he should be trying to show strong leadership. And there are plenty of us who can see that.

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#Partygate: Downing Street won’t investigate MP #blackmail claims – but does it matter?

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson grinned inanely and bobbed about on his bench while MPs attacked his contempt for the rules and denials of guilt at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (January 19).

The prime minister’s office has said there will be no investigation of claims that Tory whips have blackmailed MPs to keep them from launching a leadership challenge against Boris Johnson.

But does it matter? It’s being claimed that the Sue Gray inquiry into parties at Downing Street has seen an email warning Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary, Martin Reynolds, against holding a lockdown-breaching party in May 2020.

The official who sent the email, who has so far gone unnamed, appears to have told ITV’s Robert Peston that he “probably” also personally warned Johnson against it “but I honestly can’t remember”.

This would corroborate a claim by Johnson’s former top advisor, Dominic Cummings, who said he had also personally warned the prime minister against the party.

That should be enough to sink Johnson, because it would indicate that he deliberately lied to Parliament when he said he attended it in the belief that it was a “work event”.

Still, the accusations are continuing to land. Today it is being claimed that, after Downing Street said it had seen no evidence to support an investigation into blackmail claims, a group of Tory MPs known insultingly as the “Pork Pie Plotters” (because one of them represents Melton Mowbray) are considering releasing evidence that they have faced such threats.

Apparently this includes text messages and a secretly-recorded, “heated”, exchange of words with Conservative Chief Whip Mark Spencer.

Whether this alleged information becomes public knowledge or not, it is being reported that Downing Street is extremely nervous about what Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry will reveal.

It’s being said that officials are now doubtful that it will clear Johnson – and it could be published as early as Monday.

This would make sense if she has seen the alleged email to Martin Reynolds, as it is understood that it would make the case against Johnson airtight.

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DWP is accused of misleading claimants – by TV’s Money Saving Expert

He should know: Martin Lewis has warned that messaging on DWP envelopes urging people to switch energy supplier is WRONG – and the government department couldn’t care less.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been misleading people who claim Winter Fuel Payments, according to ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis.

It seems the government department has been putting a message on the back of envelopes, asking recipients “What would you do with an extra £290?”

The message, that went out to people in September this year, went on to say that this was the amount the average consumer saved in 2020 by switching to the cheapest tariff and told recipients to contact Citizens Advice.

But 2020 is now a long time ago.

Wholesale gas prices have risen by 250 per cent since the start of 2021, households cannot save money by switching and in fact, they would lose money because there are no tariffs cheaper than the energy regulator Ofgem’s price cap.

So their best choice is to stick to their supplier’s standard tariff as they would then be protected by Ofgem’s cap until April 2022.

The sticking-point is that the DWP is still sending correspondence with this false information on its envelopes.

It says a batch of 10 million envelopes was created before the rise in energy prices and it would be “impractical, costly and wasteful” to replace them, adding that such a change could jeopardise the department’s ability to make Winter Fuel Payments at all. Oh, and the message is “only a suggestion”.

Strange that the government has huge amounts of cash to waste on any number of commissions from friends of the Conservative Party – no matter how wasteful – but none to spend helping hard-up pensioners save cash (which is exactly the point of the letters inside the envelopes).

And Mr Lewis wasn’t having it at all.

He pointed out that there’s nothing on the envelopes that means they could not be used in the future, when the situation they describe is resumed.

More details are here:

And here: Martin Lewis just called-out the DWP’s ‘dangerous’ actions – The Canary

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BoJob has shown us all the great weakness of democracy (Vox Political Scrapbook)

This is excellent from Martin Odoni at The Critique Archives:

Now of course we have the all-time nadir of Prime Ministers. Boris Johnson has hardly put a foot right since he at last reached 10 Downing Street in July 2019. His only purpose in being Prime Minister, on examination, just seems to be that he wants to be, and that he feels with his upper crust background that it is his natural right and place to be. A bit like so many of the worst monarchs of English and Scottish history (and there have been shockingly high numbers of bad ones in both countries); first-born Princes of the Realm brought up to be King would grow up much too used to no one daring to disagree with them, to nobody at all daring to blame them for anything, and to receiving the throne when their fathers died because it was simply their Divine Right. In a disturbingly similar manner, Johnson seems to think that it is simply his right to be Prime Minister because he went to Eton. Never mind that his school reports have become notorious for describing idleness, complacency and impunctual habits. Those basic personal inadequacies only underline how entitled he thinks he is.

Johnson is manufactured in the sense that he has a public persona that is somewhat fake. His bumbling, laddish, unkempt crudeness may be quite opposite to the very straight-laced, heavily-regimented appearance of New Labour, and it is not altogether unreal, but it is played up and exaggerated e.g. he famously chooses to mess up his own hair deliberately before being interviewed. The reason he does things like this is that he finds it wins him favour with the sorts of people who, were they properly informed, would know better than to vote for the Conservative Party ever – many working class voters seem to take it as a strange form of self-validation. If a racist, sexist, homophobic, messy, gaffe-prone, bumbling fool can be Prime Minister, obviously it ain’t that bad to be like me, seems to be the rather depressing and self-underestimating reasoning.

Because they get away with it at Elections, British politicians think they are allowed to lie to the people the rest of the time too.

What wins Elections, a lot of the time, boils down to being a good ‘cheerleader’. Johnson, it must be conceded, is very good at that. It is not a great skill, and requires little intelligence, but even so, it must be acknowledged that Johnson is one of the best cheerleaders in the House of Commons. He clearly wants to lead in the same way that Winston Churchill led the country during World War II. Hence Johnson’s silly, inappropriate, battle-crying rhetoric when talking about fighting the pandemic; he means ‘fighting’ it literally, as though every time the new vaccine has been adminstered, a bomb has been successfully dropped on ‘CoVid-19 Headquarters‘ (wherever that is). But this cheerleading quality hints at the ugliest aspects of Johnson’s nature. His love of fighting talk in part stems from a barely-hidden love of violence, leading to the disturbing and bullying impulses to which he is prone.

People forgive Johnson these things because they somehow think a man, who has never had to do a day’s real work in his life, who was born into wealth and privilege, who got a massive headstart up the greasy pole by virtue of the ultra-aristocratic school he went to, and who has seldom suffered any serious repercussions for his history of pathological lying, is somehow “one-of-the-people.” Just because he is clumsy, crass and has messy hair.

Source: Eighteen months of BoJob have showed up the big weakness of democracy | TheCritique Archives

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New three-tier alert system shuts down businesses – unless they’re run by Tories

Beer buddies: it seems pubs in Liverpool will be shut from Wednesday – apart from those owned by Tory donor Tim Martin.

Well, we learned a lot about the UK under the Tories in 2020, didn’t we? Most especially, we learned that they only look after their own.

So, according to the BBC, Liverpool is facing a new kind of lockdown as it stands in the highest tier of Boris Johnson’s new Covid-19 alert system:

The Liverpool City Region will be on the “very high” Covid alert level from Wednesday, Boris Johnson has announced.

Confirming new three-tier restrictions, the PM said pubs, bars and betting shops would close on Merseyside.

… with certain exceptions.

It seems the Wetherspoons chain of pubs is exempt from closure because the Tories have dreamed up the excuse that they are “food-based pubs”. Yes indeed, it’s nothing to do with them being run by a leading Tory donor, Tim Martin!

Or is it? On the social media, people have their own opinions:

Liverpool famously stopped buying The Sun after it ran a headline attacking football fans from the city after the Hillsborough disaster.

I’m wondering if this latest Tory abuse will prompt a similar response…

Meanwhile:

The PM said all retail outlets, schools and universities would remain open.

So his new rules won’t make a scrap of difference and Covid-19 infection rates will continue to rise.

Source: Covid: Boris Johnson confirms new three-tier alert system, with Liverpool ‘very high’ – BBC News

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Former Tory’s full-page rebuke ad fails to hit the mark

Not worried: This comedy double-act won't be worried about 'Martin' and his full-page advert attacking them in The Times - his criticisms are so wide of the mark that they make his look more stupid than they do.

Not worried: This comedy double-act won’t be worried about ‘Martin’ and his full-page advert attacking them in The Times – his criticism is so wide of the mark that it makes him look more stupid than them!

We need to have a few words about Martin.

It probably did us all a lot of good to learn that a disillusioned Conservative voter calling himself by that name has coughed up around £16,000 to publicise his opinion about David Cameron and George Osborne’s leadership of the UK.

He made his points in a full-page advert in The Times newspaper yesterday, taking the form of a letter to the comedy Tory double-act. It’s just a shame that most of it is an unrelenting flow of bilge.

But then, he is a Tory.

Most of his bile is reserved for the web of regulations which he seems to believe is stifling the economy, and the civil servants who run it. Health and Safety regulations, in particular, come in for a battering.

Martin wants the Coalition to eliminate “whole departments of government whose sole function seems to be to ensure that our children never learn that fires burn you and who, never having climbed a ladder for a living themselves, instruct everyone else on how to both place a ladder, operate a hand tool and wear a harness when cleaning windows. They do all this at great cost to the economy and for no real benefit.”

It’s very easy to mock Health and Safety regulations when it comes to the small stuff, but the simple fact is that ‘light touch’ enforcement of these rules has inflated the numbers of people on sickness, incapacity and disability benefits. Does Martin want his money to pay for his silly one-page ad campaign, or to pay for more of these people to sit at home, doing nothing, when they could be at work, helping to restore the economy?

His comments are so naive, one has to wonder if he has any experience in this field at all. I do – as has been chronicled many times in the past. Mrs Mike – my partner – used to work at a factory where Health and Safety monitoring was so lax as to be nonexistent – in fact, supervisors actively bullied workers into cutting corners. This regime was supported by Gordon Brown’s ‘light touch’ enforcement of regulations which meant the firm was always given prior notice of ‘surprise’ inspections, allowing time to put safety equipment in place before inspectors arrived.

Eventually – we believe – the repetitive nature of the work, in poor conditions that forced her to adopt an unhealthy posture, damaged my partner’s body. At first she tried to soldier through, but ended up taking so much time off work (in agony, I must add) that the company decided to sack her. She tried to get help from her union, but the shop steward seemed to be in cahoots with company bosses and failed to represent her in a reasonable way.

Now, thanks to the policies of the Coalition government for which Martin presumably voted, she is facing the possibility of having her Employment and Support Allowance cut off by officials who seem to think that her progressively-worsening condition is going to be cured by August, despite there being no evidence whatsoever to support the assumption.

Is this what Martin wants? The relaxation of what little Health and Safety regulation there is, creating a legion of people who are unable to work due to injury, and who are forced into poverty because government policy is determined to say that the damage is all in their mind, rather than admit the facts?

But then, he is a Tory.

Moving on, it becomes clear that Martin would fit in very well as part of Michael Gove’s Education Department, because what he really wants to do is destroy the Civil Service – the professional organisation that actually ensures government runs smoothly and prevents politicians from making fools of themselves on a daily basis. For every briefcase full of secrets that is left in a taxi, there are dozens of other cock-ups that are prevented by a paid officer’s quick thinking, I assure you!

He wants to “get rid of at least one in four of all the senior civil servants who earn more than two-to-three times the national average wage. The remainder can work harder for their lavish salaries and index-linked pensions or go also. And yes, by Civil Servants I mean everyone paid more than 50 per cent of their compensation – directly or indirectly – from the public purse.”

What a disaster that would be for the United Kingdom. Martin is calling for the elimination of the vast majority of the expertise that has been learned over years of service to the national interest (note that I say ‘national’ interest, rather than the interest of any particular political organisation). In one stroke, he would knock one of the most professional and experienced administrative systems in the world back to amateur status – much as Mr Gove is attempting in his own department, to the great despair of most of those working in it.

But then, he is a Tory.

His parting shot, at Cameron and Osborne’s counterparts in the Labour Party, is also wide of the mark. While his opinion that the two Eds could not do a better job is his own, his assertion that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown “got us into this mess by exploding government spending for little positive benefit” is utterly incorrect. For the vast majority of Labour’s 13 years, government spending was less, per year, than during the previous 17 years of Conservative rule. It was only after the banking crisis that government spending increased – due to necessity – and we’ve already discussed whether Martin would have been able to take out his expensive advert if he didn’t have a bank account. Conservatives have been trying to sneak falsehoods like this under our Radar for more than three years, now, and it is up to all of us to be vigilant against it and remind everyone of the facts.

But then, Martin is a Tory.

Some of his comments are right on the money, though. He starts: “I realise… you really cannot afford the time to actually think about us mere taxpayers and citizens.” Absolutely correct – they’re too busy thinking about important people like the bosses of the big firms they are helping to avoid paying UK tax.

On cutting the civil service, he writes, “that DOES NOT MEAN reclassify them as consultants at greater cost – it means TOTALLY eliminating their costs, direct or indirect, from the public purse”. It is true that – for the most part – employing consultants is a huge waste of time and money.

He wants the banking system sorted out (don’t we all?); he wants money spent on capital projects that benefit British firms, rather than “bolting together foreign-bought trains in a new UK factory”; and he rightly says, “let’s cut out this soundbite about the one million new jobs you have created. It is offensive to those desperately looking for employment. Unemployment is appalling, youth unemployment is worse, and your policies encouraging unpaid work experience smack of a clever form of slavery”.

Liam Byrne, please take note of the last comment, remember that it comes from a Conservative, clear your desk and quit as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

Disability hate crime hits record high

Nobody should be surprised by this.

The Guardian reported today (August 14) that hate crime against disabled people has hit its highest level since records began, totalling 1,942 recorded incidents in 2011, an increase of more than 25 per cent – that means it’s up by more than a quarter – on the total for 2010.

The Crown Prosecution Service managed only 523 convictions for disability hate crime during the same period – so only a little more than a quarter of the perpetrators were punished for their crime; the rest got away with it.

The number of recorded incidents has risen by 60 per cent since records began in 2009.

Just to give you an idea of what this means locally, in my own police area, Dyfed Powys, there were three recorded incidents of disability hate crime in 2009. In 2010 there were seven.

In 2011 there were twenty-seven.

This is what your votes condone.

It’s the logical result of the government’s effort to demonise disabled people and those who claim benefits on their behalf, and I think we know where government behaviour of this kind leads.

Picture the scene: A street in a typical British town, with two men walking down it. We’ll call them Iain and Chris.

Iain: It’s so much better here, now that we don’t have all those disabled people cluttering up the place!

Chris: Absolutely! With the crips gone, we’re not spending all our tax money paying for them. (Taxes haven’t gone down though)

Iain: And so much more peaceful, after we got rid of all the racial minorities.

Chris: Not half! We couldn’t keep them here – they were a threat to our peaceful British way of life.

Iain: And now that we’ve got rid of the trade unionists, we can all get on with our jobs in peace, too!

Chris: Totally! It’s so much better now that our bosses can pay us as little as they like to work in deplorable conditions.

Iain: So where are you going for your holidays this year – somewhere nice?

Chris: Actually, I’m saving up for a trip to the private healthcare specialist instead. I’ve been having trouble with my back ever since the health and safety laws were repealed and-

Iain: Police! Police! Come quick and take this man away! He’s a dangerous radical and probably a socialist! He dared to complain about our glorious New Britain!

A policeman appears. He’s wearing a jacket emblazoned with the letters ‘G4S’.

Do you really want to live in this kind of Britain?