Tag Archives: profit

Truss defends energy firms’ profits as millions prepare to go into debt to them

Clueless: Liz Truss.

Liz Truss has said the huge profits being taken by energy firms that are charging enormous – and soon-to-increase – prices for gas and electricity should not be considered “dirty and evil”.

Let’s have a think about that, shall we?

According to the BBC, Truss said

windfall taxes on profits – urged by some to fund help for households – were about “bashing business”.

She said cutting taxes was the best way to help with living costs over winter.

We know this is not true; the people facing the worst outcomes due to the higher cost of living caused by Tory policies are those who do not earn enough to pay taxes – who will not receive any benefit at all from her tax cuts.

Asked about public perceptions of record profits, she added: “I don’t think profit is a dirty word, and the fact it’s become a dirty word in our society is a massive problem.

“Now, of course, the energy giants, if they’re in an oligopoly, should be held to account, and I would make sure they’re rigorously held to account.

“But the way we bandy the word around ‘profit’ (as if) it’s something that’s dirty and evil, we shouldn’t be doing that as Conservatives.”

Certainly there are justifications for organisations making a profit – if it is used properly. So, for example, bonuses to workers improve productivity (but most people working for the energy firms are facing the same dilemma as the rest of us – whether to eat or heat this winter).

Also, profit allows investment in the business, to make it better. We see no such investment by the energy firms. Indeed, efforts by the government to secure such investment were dismissed by them until the Tories made it a condition by which they could avoid the current windfall tax.

Meanwhile, the people heading up these firms have imported huge amounts of cash into their personal bank accounts. According to information circulating on the social media,

John Pettigrew, boss of National Grid received £6.5m bonus on top of his salary
Chris O’Shea, chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica was paid almost £2m last year in salary and benefits
Centrica’s non-executive directors were paid almost £1m
Scottish Power’s CEO Keith Anderson is on £1.15m.
E.On boss Michael Lewis is on £1m
EDF’s Simone Rossi is also on £1mAnd their top execs enjoyed a share of £4.65m

At the same time, there are

People who haven’t had breakfast and/or lunch TODAY, because they can’t afford it.
People using food banks because food is becoming more of a luxury than a necessity.
Children celebrating a birthday without presents.
Parents worrying about new school uniforms – and some schools enforcing rules which are not cost-effective.
People who can’t get to work because they can’t afford to put petrol in their cars/pay for public transport anymore.
People who are working so much they’re making themselves ill, and they STILL CAN’T AFFORD to pay their bills.
People who have been given fines by these same energy/water companies because they couldn’t afford to pay their bills in the first place – increasing their debt.
Customers being told to do STAR JUMPS TO KEEP WARM for crying out loud!
Hose pipe bans when gallons of water leak away every day.
Elderly people NOT DRINKING because they’re worried about running out of water!

It isn’t profit that is the problem; it is obscene profiteering that drains money from the economy when it could be used to improve the lives of millions of people – who actually created the profit in the first place.

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Rishi Sunak wanted to Americanise the UK’s social care system

Sunak: he’d rather hand social care to profit-making American companies than invest in a UK-based service that might actually help people.

Here’s a good investigation from iNews: Rishi Sunak tried to get US-based social care companies to bring their businesses to the UK.

He tried to get social care firms Honor and Unite Us, healthcare data firm Komodo Health, health insurance firm Devoted Health, and cancer detection company Grail (whose parent Illumina is advised by former PM David Cameron) to profit from UK citizens’ care needs.

They all turned him down:

According to partially redacted Treasury minutes of the meeting… “US healthcare firms want to focus on their domestic market before contemplating expansion, because i) it’s so vast: population and spend per capita much higher than e.g. in the UK; ii) it’s complicated and idiosyncratic; it’s not a portable approach.

“UK healthcare has historically not been especially innovative, but some participants reported positive engagements where they’ve worked with the NHS recently.”

This is particularly telling:

A Government spokesperson said: “We have a strong track record of promoting overseas investment to the UK to boost our economy and level up the country.”

Is that because it’s easier than investing in doing it ourselves?

Trouble is, the profits go out of the country too – leaving the UK even more impoverished due to Tory policies.

We should be glad that Sunak failed.

Source: Rishi Sunak met private US social care firms to discuss ‘opportunities’ in the UK

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Dorries contradicts herself – badly – over sale of Channel 4

Not making sense: Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has been telling us that Channel 4 must be sold because it is not making enough in advertising revenue – but it is in fact making record profits. Confronted with that fact, she said that means now is a good time to sell it. So it IS all about making money, then!

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has come badly unstuck on her reasons for selling Channel 4.

Giving evidence to the Commons Culture Committee on Thursday (May 19), she said Channel 4 is dependent on just one stream of revenue – advertising – but income is falling as advertisers have more choice. She claimed Netflix would be a better option.

And the government cannot allow Channel 4 to borrow to invest, because the taxpayer would be liable for those debts, she said. This actually does make sense of one of the restrictions on the channel’s funding.

But later in the session, the SNP’s John Nicolson pointed out that Channel 4 is currently making record profits – belying what Dorries has been saying about advertising revenue.

Her response?

“That means it would be a good time to sell.”

This is a woman who – like the character Eccles in The Goon Show – refuses to be defeated by logic.

If someone tried to make her understand how gravity works, we may reasonably expect her to say – like Eccles did – that she stays on the ground because she lives there.

What a goon.

And her answer reveals that this sale is not about what’s best for Channel 4.

It’s about making fast money for a spendthrift government.

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Firm connected to Rishi Sunak’s wife is closing Russia office. Lucky escape, Chancellor!

Rishi Sunak: his government has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, but he had continued to benefit indirectly from his wife’s shares in Infosys, which has an office in Russia. Now that office is to close.

Technology firm Infosys, in which Rishi Sunak’s wife owns shares worth an alleged £400 million, is closing its office in Russia after the Tory Chancellor suffered sustained criticism.

Sunak had tried to claim that it was his wife Akshata Murthy who had been attacked for having a connection with the firm and compared himself to Hollywood actor Will Smith, who slapped comedian Chris Rock for a joke at his own wife’s expense during the Academy Awards ceremony a few days ago.

But it seems nobody was convinced. They were angry with Sunak because, as a member of a government that has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, he should not have anything to do with such firms.

Because his wife had shares in Infosys, Sunak was indirectly profiting from a connection he should not have.

His decision to hide behind Ms Murthy was disgraceful.

But now, after refusing to take any action to resolve the issue, it seems he has been saved by Infosys itself.

What a lucky escape for him.

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New MP scandal as they’re claiming rent on expenses while renting out dwellings

Extra cash for MPs who rent: it’s not exactly a backhander because it’s in line with Parliamentary rules – but the practice certainly shouldn’t be.

Do Tory MPs receive a manual on election, entitled Tories On The Take: How To Do It?

Here’s the latest:

In fairness, two of the MPs accused represent Labour – but commentators other than This Writer have called them Red Tories:

The Independent, which lists 16 of the accused MPs, states:

Over the past five years, 16 MPs have claimed over £1.3m in taxpayer-funded rent while collecting thousands rent letting out properties in the capital, according to submissions published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) and the register of members’ interests.

Claims for rent are permitted under Ipsa rules, which state that MPs can receive taxpayer funding for “rental payments and associated costs”. An Ipsa document in 2017 conceded that some arrangements could be controversial – but advised against any change to the rules.

“We recognise that there can be a perception of personal gain if an MP receives rental income from their own property while living in an Ipsa-funded flat,” it said. “However … We do not want to judge an MP’s private arrangements and whether or not they should live in a property they own.”

That may be about to change.

If a member of Parliament is able to carry out their work from their own home, but rent accommodation and charge it to the public purse while taking rent income from their own property – and the rental income means they profit from the arrangement, then they are running an expenses scam and it should stop.

That’s how members of the public are likely to see it.

They may have a good point, I think.

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Brexit ‘red tape’ slashes UK trading revenue with EU by £17 BILLION in just three months

Prophetic: I made this infographic in December 2020 – almost a year ago.

Remember when David Cameron – the architect of the EU membership referendum – said his Conservative-led government would ‘slash red tape’?

It’s almost funny, with hindsight.

Today we learned that the departure from the European Union that his referendum triggered has resulted in a loss of £17 billion in revenue to UK businesses, while they have been swamped in a quagmire of red tape that Brexit has created.

According to The London Economic:

Despite promises from the Leave campaign that red tape would fade after Britain quit the EU, UK companies have had to fill in an astonishing 48 million customs declarations and 140,000 export health certificates in the eight months since the UK quit the single market and customs union , according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO blamed Brexit for a sharp decline in trade between the UK and EU this year. “Total trade in goods between the UK and EU was 15 per cent (£17bn) less in Quarter 2 when compared with the equivalent quarter in 2018,” the watchdog’s report said.

An additional £600 million in costs has hit British importers since January according to HMRC data seen by The Guardian. The cause has been identified as Brexit, because the taxes were not required for EU imports when the Britain was in the single market.

But isn’t that the exact opposite of what Boris Johnson promised? Didn’t he say there would be no barriers to trade after Brexit?

Why, yes – yes he did:

In fairness, Cameron did cut a lot of “red tape”.

It turned out that these rules and regulations were necessary to keep us safe and secure in our workplaces and financial transactions. I’m sure you can think of your own examples.

Their loss has endangered us.

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Tory lord says foreign-owned firms perform better. But WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

Morrisons: the supermarket chain is currently subject of a bidding war between overseas investors. It doesn’t matter who wins; British shoppers will lose.

This Lord Grimstone is apparently a business minister, which explains why the UK’s economy is tanking after Brexit.

He reckons “overseas invested companies are more productive and produce more jobs”.

And he has pointed at the fact that foreign investors have spent more money acquiring UK-listed businesses in the last eight months than in the previous five years.

This Writer has just two points to make.

Firstly, are foreign investors perhaps bidding on UK firms because Brexit and Covid-19 have cut their value to a fraction of what they were?

These people are probably hoping to make a cheap investment that will turn into a massive profit when the economy starts opening up again. This leads me to the next point.

Secondly, if formerly UK-owned firms are bought up by foreign investors, won’t all the profits go abroad, rather than staying in the UK? Put simply, won’t they bleed us dry?

A good example of this is our privatised rail service, which is now largely owned by foreign government-owned rail firms, meaning the enormous prices we pay for our train tickets helps to subsidise cheap rail travel across continental Europe.

And millions believed the Tories when they said Brexit meant taking back control!

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Tories plan to hit people over 60 with prescription charges

Prescription: if you’re over 60 and you need one of these – especially if it’s on a regular basis – then the price is set to skyrocket under a new Tory plan to make money for private healthcare firms.

Is this some of the government policy Lord Bethell has been discussing on his private email account, to keep it away from pesky Freedom of Information requests?

The Conservatives are planning to raise the age at which people may receive free prescriptions in England from 60 to 66, in line with the state pension age.

That’s the wrong yardstick, of course.

Firstly, prescriptions should be free to everybody because we all pay into the National Health Service via our taxes. If you are in England and you pay for prescriptions, you are literally paying twice for your medicine.

Secondly, if free prescriptions must be rationed, then in a country where many people are extremely poor, it makes sense to provide them to those who are most likely to need them – meaning, if they must be pegged to age, that they should become available at the age when most people start to suffer the illnesses associated with age.

The problem is that this is not a matter of medical need; it is about giving more money to the private companies that the Tory government has allowed to flood into the health service in order to make a profit from your pain.

That’s around £300 million per year, according to Lord Bethell – around £46.75 for an average person without need for regular medication – or £130.90 for people who need more than 12 prescriptions a year. And that’s at current prices which are sure to increase.

It’s a typical Tory back-of-a-fag-packet idea, based on a desire to rake in cash for people who don’t need it, from people who desperately do – but aren’t being given a choice about whether to give it up.

In other words: extortion.

Ministers are consulting on raising the age when people become eligible for free prescriptions in England to 66-years-old – but pharmacists branded the plan ‘unacceptable’

Source: People over 60 could be hit by prescription charges under new Government plans – Mirror Online

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Serco profits have doubled – because the Tories PAID for its test-and-trace failure

The Tories have been pigging out on public money again: Serco is run by the brother of a former Tory MP who also happens to be the grandson of Winston Churchill.

Happy days are here again for government outsourcing firm Serco.

The company’s shareholders have enjoyed a £17 million dividend after the company doubled its profits in 2020.

What was the source of these profits? Government contracts to handle Covid-19, including huge amounts for ‘Test and Trace’.

And what did Serco provide in return for those contracts? Absolutely nothing, it seems. The National Audit Office said there was no evidence the £22bn programme had reduced rates of Covid-19 in England.

If that’s the case, then Serco failed to honour its contract, which was to deliver a system for tracking Covid-19 infections in order to isolate the people spreading the virus and stop it from progressing.

Why, then, did the government pay up?

Could it be because Serco is run by Rupert Soames, brother of former Tory MP Nicholas and grandson of legendary Tory PM Winston Churchill?

Could it be that Serco is yet another arm of the Tory ‘Chumocracy’?

If you’re in any doubt, remember this: Soames himself has pocketed a whopping £4.9 million for his contribution to the fiasco.

Source: Serco brazens out Covid calamity as the profits roll in | Serco | The Guardian

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Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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