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Some workers want this amount of money whilst others want more. But our needs are the same and government support is favoring some over others when we should all be getting exactly the same – not just in money but also support

April 12, 2020 1 comment

If you dare to look at the headlines or glance across the editorial of any of the national newspapers that might be worth reading, you will see today that there is talk within Government of there being Ministers who are doves and others that are hawks.

The growing argument between them is the subject of when the COVID-19 Lockdown should end. The so-called Hawks want the Lockdown to begin to end at the beginning of May, whilst the so-called doves want to wait until the Whitsun Bank Holiday at the end of May before even a loosening of the current restrictions can be allowed to begin.

When you have been writing about the massive holes and inadequacy of the financial support that the Government is providing since the Lockdown began like I have, as well as questioning the cost of the Lockdown vs. the benefit too, you might think it would be natural for me to be happy that at least some of our MPs are looking at all of this in the same way too.

I’m not. And the problem is that they are not even in the same room.

Whilst certain Ministers are clearly aware of some of the issues already being caused by the Lockdown – as they are being flagged by Civil Servants within their Ministries, they are not aware of others whilst many MPs are clearly unaware at any meaningful level of the real crisis that has been started by the Lockdown.

A personal and costly disaster is now starting to unfold in front of more and more of the people just like you and I and it is going to slowly but surely soon come into full view.

We have been conditioned to think and view certain behaviours as acceptable by the world around us. The behaviour of self-serving politicians, an Establishment that cares not for anyone other than its own, and a media that is so obsessed with the sound of its own voice have all contributed significantly to the selfish approach to life that we have which we don’t recognise as being wholly self serving – because right now its just the ways that life tells us things should be done.

As we look at the Locked-down COVID-19 UK, our thoughts will inevitably be about how the Lockdown is effecting us personally and the people around us, whether it is our jobs, source of income, the business we own and operate or any one of the large number of ways that each and every one of us has had our life affected or compromised in some way since life as we knew it changed in March and the Lockdown got under way.

No, it isn’t wrong to think about any of this chapter of our lives in this way. But as we fall over ourselves to shout about treating gig-economy workers the same as employees or to sign petitions to specifically tell the Government that we want directors of small limited companies to receive the same money as if they were an employee, we are collectively falling into the trap of thinking that different help and support for different people based purely on how differently they are employed will equate to the same thing. It won’t.

What we are overlooking is that all people share something very distinctive in common that makes us all the same. We all have regular bills that we need our incomes to pay and  the amount we pay is relative to what we normally earn.

It doesn’t matter what they are or how much those bills are for. Whether you are young, a Millennial, middle aged, retired or very old, there will be bills that you have to pay or have paid on your behalf.

Beyond the fact that we are human beings who live and die, what we all have in common is our shared reality that we always have to pay a bill each month and in some cases many of them. That’s how we are all the same.

If we were to genuinely be treated the same by the Government and a situation were to never to exist where any individual, social group of business sector were to fall through the gaps, the Government would by necessity be targeting the help they can give at us all in a way that was proportional to what we earn or the situation that we are in – but in a way that would actually treat us all fairly because it would support and help us in the very same way.

The very same rules apply for businesses and business owners whether they are limited companies or sole traders too.

For us all, the flow of money into and out of our bank accounts is what makes life turnover. And for business – who in this sense are exactly the same as people, cash flow is king – unless of course you are the bank or finance house which creates all the money and to where all the money we pay out in the form of each and every bill we pay will ultimately flow to and end up.

We pay our bills to a service provider or company that has provided us with goods or the finance to do it. It might be a mortgage, rent, for a car, our phone, TV, electricity and gas or many other things that we might either want or need.

The company, person or business to whom we pay that bill and the money we use to do it will be in exactly the same position as you and I are. What we pay them is their income, just like our job or business is ours. From all the combined income they receive, they too have to pay their bills.

In many cases, this payment of different bills and transfer of money happens over and over again at different levels in what might be a very long chain, until the flow of the money ends up in the same place: the banks and finance houses.

If the Government really desires to treat us ALL exactly the same as it should – that’s equitably and in a way that is completely fair – it would temporarily stop the need and requirement for that money to continue to flow where the chain is no longer complete or simply has no start, so that none of us have to earn anything at any level or any stage of that chain to keep paying bills to the people, businesses or companies that are in the next link of the chain above us.

With the need removed to pay our bills for items that we wouldn’t order or commit ourselves to having during a time that we couldn’t afford to or would be willing pay for because they are a luxury and not a necessity, the only problem for the Government would then be a question of how people pay for food and essential items that we simply need to meet our real everyday needs – not our ‘wants’.

If the Government did this, it would create a genuine level playing field in a time of National Crisis that would benefit us all.

Stopping the need for monetary flow would significantly reduce the chances that businesses will not reopen and that more and more people will lose their jobs and income permanently once the Lockdown actually comes to its end.

Be under no illusion. This action would prevent misery for many and save a significant number of lives.

Without a universal financial support solution of this depth and breadth in place to counter the effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown, the problems and very challenging life experiences that many people would not have been suffering before it began, are going to get much worse. The impact of what the Government hasn’t done will affect more and more of us as the length of the Lockdown rolls on.

The Government should End the Lockdown right now. But if it refuses to do so, it must at the very least change direction with the financial support that it is giving all of us and do it right away.

  • Job losses
  • Suicides
  • Hunger
  • Business Closures
  • Evictions from homes
  • Administrations
  • Domestic Violence
  • Abuse and safeguarding issues
  • Debt
  • Insolvencies
  • Repossessions
  • Loss of custom and business
  • Debt and borrowing
  • Bankruptcies
  • Mental Health issues
  • Depression

And the issues that are the cause of any or all of these horrific life experiences are already on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown.

No considerate and caring person would ever wish any of these experiences upon another human being. But the Government’s decision to implement the Lockdown, then failing to treat us all in the same way will ensure that a rise in these real-life horror stories is exactly what the UK is going to get.

No matter what the Media messages tell you or how unpopular TV presenters and Journalists may insist that the alternative to what the Government is doing will be, the Government MUST change direction and handle COVID-19 differently by bringing the Lockdown to a decisive end as soon as it possibly can.

If the Lockdown continues for any further time at all or not, the current system of financial support that the Government has issued doesn’t work as it should. It is creating many problems for individuals that not only include those mentioned or referred to above, but will in time be known to have caused many more whilst creating a national financial crisis and the accompanying personal hardship that none of us alive today will consciously remember having ever seen.

These wholly inadequate measures MUST be removed and replaced with a system that ends the requirement to pay bills for anything that has not been ordered or committed to during the Lockdown – with the exception of things like car insurance if you are continuing to use your car.

Despite the complication of doing so, the system should also be backdated to the start of the Lockdown (at least 23rd March 2020) and those who have been paid some or all of the £2500 per month average wage equivalent excluded from any weekly essential goods and food payment scheme until the equivalent of what they have already been paid through the current payments system from the start has been reached.

A £100 per week payment per person is enough for food and essential items for those who have lost all their income, have been furloughed or are not being paid during or as a direct result of the Lockdown.

Everyone who has been able to continue to work is doing a great thing to keep the Country moving when everyone else cannot. For them, having their bills stopped would be a payment holiday nonetheless. It would therefore be a financial bonus for doing their bit that would be fair and acceptable both to them and to all.

The damage that the Lockdown has already done to lives and businesses is already on target to be very severe indeed. But the cost of the Government failing to treat us all equally and in the same way will be catastrophic for us all.

Beyond a financial depression that is likely to be worse than the Great Depression of nearly a Century ago, the patience upon which civil order sits is already painfully thin, and the moves by the Police and even Supermarkets to behave like we have already become a police state does not bode well for the future of the UK if the Lockdown continues or continues without meaningful change to the system of financial support that is currently in place.

The lack of care and consideration for the impact of this Lockdown that has been driven by the advice of medical specialists, and measures to counter the impact that have simply not been thought through tell us that there is already a vacuum or absence of leadership at the top of the Government. This absence will help even less if that wafer thin patience is broken and the leadership void could easily be filled by alternative leaders who would happily expand and assert that police state deliberately.

Please don’t allow this to happen whilst we still have influence and a choice.

Let’s join together and tell the Government that the measures they have been taking aren’t helping us all in the same way that they would if they were fair.

Let’s also join together and tell the Government that its time to End the Lockdown now and treat everyone like we have the same value, whether or not we get talked about a lot on TV!

 

 

 

 

The Government is forcing us to fear life as if it were the same thing as death

March 21, 2020 1 comment

img_5361Friday was a very dark day for this Country.

Journalists, activists and supporters cheered on Boris Johnson as he effectively closed down life for any other purpose than to facilitate work that cannot be carried out from home, or for making what has become a futile attempt in recent days for many of us as we attempt to service basic human needs.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor succeeded in convincing the party faithful that a half-hearted attempt at addressing the financial problems people now face would be beneficial to everyone. In fact it prioritises only the needs of some without coming anywhere close to answering the real questions for them or anyone else.

Many others were simply bypassed by the big words of this written-on-a-fag-packet strategy altogether, when what could and more importantly should have been a working plan to treat everyone the same and as an equitable cause was simply not considered at all.

What many of us are missing as we watch the endless streams of news and what has quickly become the media-driven 24hr Coronavirus Show, is that these Politicians are not in charge of what they are doing, nor are they successfully meeting their real obligations to the people who elected them and put them in office in any thought-through way.

Whilst they would like us to believe otherwise, the Politicians making the decisions today are human beings who like most people outside of Westminster are actually very afraid.

The problem with this form of leadership is that fear is no leader when what is called for to genuinely help others is the ability for them to be strong.

Our leaders are not leading. They are being led by fear themselves, and that fear is leading them to make decisions that have already or soon will become an overkill that really hurts a lot more people across this Country than it could ever really help.

The Government and the people advising them are more afraid of getting a few very specific things with healthcare wrong, when they should be a lot more afraid of not getting everything else about this Crisis right.

There are some cold and harsh realities that we all must face about the Coronavirus itself and what the reaction of the Politicians, the State and the so-called specialists working alongside them is going to do.

None of them are particularly nice.

Key in peoples minds will be the tragedy unfolding in a very personal way for the people who have and will continue to die. It’s horrible, but the media focusing on individual cases non-stop as they are doing is making the whole experience for everyone else unnecessarily much worse.

Next will be the toll that dealing non-stop with Coronavirus in our hospitals will be and what the exposure to that will mean for the longer term mental health of those who were already working on or have volunteered to join the front line. This is the job that they have trained and committed to doing and keeping this in the forefront of wider perspective is what will keep the wheels turning.

However, the one reality that we should all wake up to, be most concerned with and understand today is the one that nobody is talking about. The one that unlike Coronavirus does not have the capacity to go away. The one where the Government is prioritising the fight to prevent the most vulnerable in society from possibly dying prematurely at what is the disproportionate cost of denying everyone else the ability to have and maintain any kind of normal life.

Yes, we are hearing horror stories from Italy and from other places around the World about infection rates and the related number of deaths.

But we have no guarantee that the potential for any of that to happen here will be mitigated by shutting down the country just to facilitate what could be a delay.

What none of the medical people, specialists and experts can tell or rather guarantee any of us, is how long Coronoavirus will be here and how long social distancing will remain their only solution in what will surely be an ongoing and what will soon feel like a permanent process of temporary delay after temporary delay.

Indeed, on the basis of what they are telling us, the duration of this social lockdown will actually need to go on for as long as it will take to exhaust the spread of the virus throughout the entire population, or alternatively to create a vaccine, test it, produce it and then vaccinate everyone, or which ever will be possible to achieve first place without any further or unseen delay.

None of this advice being given is based upon real numerical facts. Even if it was, that advice would be or is subjective, is based only on the management of critical health care and does not take into consideration any of the wide-ranging impacts, consequences and knock-on effects for people, businesses and society as a whole that an unmitigated focus on being able to provide ventilators at the time that everyone might need them has already began to cause.

We already know that our leaders are thinking the time their policy of social distancing will take to keep the need on any day for these resources, managed by the pathway of time, is likely to run into many months. As such, it could easily become a period of years.

Meanwhile, the Country is set to fall apart on nothing more the basis that because Coronavirus is new and has a name, it is somehow more important and therefore must be treated differently than the significant number of deaths we have in this country each and every day or every winter when the figures for deaths from existing conditions such as seasonal flu alone are typically already much worse.

The reality that we all must face once we have been conditioned to it and matured is that this life ends for every one of us in some way, some day.

This whole crisis and the decisions that Politicians, Advisors and government officers are taking right now are already affecting and are about to take over our lives both today and for the future.

They will do so based only on the premise that we should listen to somebody with a title without question, whilst they are themselves motivated by fear of something even they don’t fully understand, and are taking little more than a guess about how only the things they are responsible for in isolation might turn out.

What is more, the number of people that this unproven and best process of guesswork might save from an early death is likely to turn out significantly smaller than all the hype being peddled by our irresponsible media would suggest.

The consequences of shutting down this Country, the economy and all of our lives simply as a strategy so the NHS can cope will inadvertently kill, destroy lives and create a level of hardship for a number of people that will go way beyond – if not actually totally eclipse the number that this fear-driven escapade on the part of people driven by their fragile egos will ever save.

Yet the deaths, the suicides, the life-long mental health issues, poverty, hardship, the destruction of relationships, safeguarding issues and many other forms of malaise and negative knock on effects for individuals and families that the choices the Johnson Government is going to create by shutting down businesses, our lives, our incomes and our ability to pay the debts that they have done nothing to keep at bay, will never get mentioned or championed by these same Politicians in any way.

Yes, Coronavirus kills. But death is an inevitable end to this life and other diseases, conditions and factors will always kill more.

The fear of our Politicians and the stupidy and self-serving nature of the media that leads them has turned a drama into a crisis, simply because they have been able to give the fear that they thrive on a name and through their words and actions have given it the power of being like a flip side celebrity cause.

The misery that their ineptitude, ignorance and incompetence will cause to many more than will ever die from Coronavirus is an uncomfortable subject that the establishment will wilfully fail to recognise when any individual brings a story of real life misery to their door that might uncover the horrid truth about how those in power operate whilst exposing their many flaws.

The real fear for us should not be Coronavirus.

Our real fear should be our politicians and the people advising them because they are out of their depth.

Through the actions of shutting down our lives and making us dependent upon everything they say and do, we are together and collectively being coerced into behaving and therefore believing that it has become normal to fear living in the same way that we are conditioned to fear death.

Leaders who are afraid of their own shadow will not easily relinquish the control which their fears have motivated them to take at a time when they were trusted because they believe they will continue to keep them safe.

In the weeks to come and as the inequity and self-serving nature of their thinking becomes more apparent and as it becomes clear how their inept plans are going to turn out for everyone, people are going to realise just how over the top the dysfunction of this wholly avoidable shutdown of our lives really is.

As things like the parts run out to keep the lorries and ambulances running that they are telling us will keep us all safe whilst everyone is shut down, and the flawed concept of social distancing remains the only political parable that exists, people are going to realise just how draconian and out of touch with the hard-hitting realities of the wider and wholly avoidable Crisis they are creating alongside Coronavirus that our current Government and the thinking of the MPs around them really is.

None of us really wants anyone else to suffer.

We certainly don’t want anyone to prematurely lose their life.

But the reality is that we are all being forced to sacrifice our lives and peace of mind for little more than a cause that has value because it has been a name and therefore a face.

The response of the Government and the specialists to Coronavirus is going to damage and destroy much more for us, our Country and our future indirectly than it is ever directly going to save.

Payday Loans: Profit from misery and the throw back to the age of the Debtors Prison – but this time without brick walls

July 1, 2013 1 comment

payday-loansDesperation, the emotion it brings and the knee-jerk response to any opportunities that might even just temporarily stop the cause of that pain, can lead those of us experiencing it to do what others may consider to be some pretty illogical things.

The prospect of escape at any level can certainly lead to the failure to consider detail that any one of us would normally think about. And when events feel like they have brought our lives to the edge of a precipice and no other answers are coming, would we really care anyway?

The point is being tragically missed in Government that disposable income is falling fast for everyone who is unable to obtain anything beyond standard ‘cost of living’ pay rises; that  ‘standing still’ or ‘treading water’ financially has become all but impossible for a great many people, and that this downward slide is hitting those with the smallest incomes hardest of all.

In some cases, cutting back on luxury items simply isn’t enough to counter the escalation of monthly, weekly and even daily costs which must be met just to survive. Prices on items like fuel for travel, car parking, travel tickets, basic food, clothing, utilities and communication escalate with what feels like jaw-dropping regularity and very few of us other than those charging the fees actually believe that such inflation is genuinely sustainable.

Even those with comparatively good household incomes have cut back and whilst some would argue that reducing the regularity of nights out, buying new clothes or downgrading the annual holiday will hardly make a difference, many of these same people are now using savings or high street credit cards to balance their household books in the hope that things will soon change. But for some of those with less, hope of that kind simply isn’t an option.

Living hand to mouth is a phrase that many will consider an anachronism and borne of a different era. But for many on the lowest incomes, the reality that money is gone as soon as it comes into their hands is very real indeed, so the prospect of ‘a couple of hundred quid to keep things tied over til the end of the month’ coming at you from the TV screen can for many seem a very easy, perhaps timely and almost certainly an attractive way out. But a quick yes followed by the receipt of cash within minutes can easily overshadow the realities of what may be sold as a ‘Payday Loan‘.

With interest charged at a rate of let’s say 1000% calculated as an APR against a loan for a year (per annum or P.A.) of for example £100, the charge without any repayment over one calendar month would be a fee of £83.33. And when you take a quick visit to the internet and see that ‘Representative APR’ or interest rates go up to nearly 6000%, you can see how easy it is to make a difficult situation one which will quickly become completely horrific.

With perhaps as many as one million UK households using Payday Loans each month, you would hope that the Coalition would be doing much more to address the financial issues which everyday people are facing generally. At the very least it would be more than reasonable to expect them to take real action to address what some would argue as being a sanitised form of loan sharking by casting a legislative net across this very dark and murky pool.

But with a Government which has gravely missed the point that real savings in the long term requires the pain of real and meaningful reforms in the short, they also appear to have very little idea how passively influential they are being in guiding ever more people towards the first steps of the negative debt spiral, that in today’s economic climate seems all but impossible for many to then escape. Put simply, no action is action all the same and this action is helping nobody but the loan companies themselves.

There is no simple or isolated solution which will solve this growing problem and protect many more people from the virtual enslavement which is experienced through being the victim of what is arguably a legalised form of crime. However, Government could:

  • Regulate the Payday Loan ‘product’ and enforce a ceiling on interest rates to a manageable level. The fact is that a £25 charge for £100 over a month would still equate to an APR of around 300%. Even at half that if you give generous consideration for what are probably very small administrative costs via the Internet, that still leaves a profit of £125 on every £1000 lent every month or £1500 over the course of a year. Pretty good money even then!
  • Take greater control of the credit assessment processes run by the finance industry which have disqualified many Payday Loan users from gaining mainstream credit and effectively pushed them into the hands of the unscrupulous.
  • Push for mainstream lenders to begin offering the Payday Loan ‘product’. If necessary develop a method to provide a level of guarantee through direct access to the users source of income and Legislate accordingly.
  • Create a Government owned ‘Peoples Bank’, run as a not-for-profit on commercial lines, which has an appropriate level of altruism in its approach to support those who really need it, whether they are domestic users or even small businesses who need the financial leg-up that nobody else seems willing to provide.

There are many more ways that Politicians could help the people in need who Elected them to Office if they really wanted to try.

The biggest step they could take would be to acknowledge that the power of any Government extends way beyond the services that it pays for and then act, knowing that this influence should and must be used to its fullest when the behaviour of any person, group or business is having a negative or detrimental effect on any part of our wider community for no other purpose than making unreasonable levels of profit.

The reality is however that increasing numbers of Taxpayers are now paying for a system which is failing to support them when they need it most, and then paying way beyond the odds for an alternative form of support which isn’t actually supporting any one of them at all.

Without the Coalition even talking about the need for Britain’s lowest wage earners and genuinely-benefit-dependent to be able to maintain a basic standard of living between payments, it is not only finance companies who should be branded for irresponsible practice.

Failing to deal with just this one of so many different problems facing this Country is simply storing up more trouble for yet another day and in all likelihood another Government. And whilst the absence of an overall majority may suit Politicians who don’t have the heart to do their job, everyone else is still suffering.

If you have found and read this blog because you are experiencing financial hardship in any way and are looking for help, please know that there are real people out here who care; who want to help; and that some of them might even be Politicians!

There are some really helpful Charities and Debt Advice Organisations who will do everything that they can to support and guide you through the issues you are facing, or possibly help you to find even more people who can.

A couple worth trying are the Citizens Advice Bureau who may have an office you can visit near your home and the Step Change Debt Charity (Formally the Consumer Credit Counselling Service or CCCS) who can also be called on 0800 138 1111.

If things already feel like they have gone too far to try and make sense of, there are also the Samaritans. Contact any of these Organisations and you will speak to real people who are genuinely there to try to help and are not there to judge you in any way.

image thanks to http://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk 

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