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Posts Tagged ‘Pensioners’

Labour’s ‘jobs guarantee’ for the unemployed: Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Tackling unemployment should be an issue for any Government. But Labour’s attempt at generating meaningful headlines with meaningless content will do little to reassure either business or the unemployed about what the post 2015 future may hold. It will also do little to enhance Labour’s kudos on matters of care for the elderly if they are planning even more ‘Brownite’ onslaughts upon the pension funds of those who are already working.

Subsidising low-paid jobs does little to incentivise those who have not already taken them, but does a great deal for companies who need and profit from a low-skilled workforce; staff who require minimum induction or ongoing training alongside next-to-no supervision; all packaged neatly within a low-risk environment.

People should not be fooled either by the idea that cash-strapped charities would immediately benefit from having unskilled staff delivering services which may currently be undertaken by experienced volunteers, when such staff themselves would in all likelihood require supervision at much greater cost.

Perhaps I will not be alone in seeing the irony that the only businesses which can therefore profitably gain from the implementation of these ideas are primarily the big retailers, who are already targeting such groups for their shop-floor staff pools and don’t actually need Government money to help them do so.

The retail fat-cats must surely be laughing themselves all the way to the bank as they thank the gods of democracy in anticipation of the delivery of such idiocy made manifest in political form.

Getting people of all ages into work isn’t just about job creation. It is about empowering business, education and developing skills based upon the strengths of the individual, rather than devaluing the future of a whole generation on the basis of the weaknesses of groups.

If Westminster politicians were to adopt a more reasoned and practical approach, they might conclude that tackling employment issues tomorrow might be better served by tackling the causes of unemployment today. They might also conclude that the unemployed and disenfranchised young people of today, may well become the long-term unemployed and unemployable of tomorrow. Can it really be that difficult to see how many of these issues actually roll into one when you think ahead?

As Education Secretary, Michael Gove has impressed many with his fervour to return a world-class British system of education for school-age children. But will that really go far enough if it actually happens?

Children are always different and will always react differently to education. Some work best with their heads, whilst some will always work better practically and ‘with their hands’. Any system of schooling which therefore doesn’t recognise that difference and more importantly cater for it, is going to fail many of those who might otherwise go on to succeed – especially when that difference may just have been a simple issue of age and time at individual level.

Returning to a fully parallel and universal system of academic and vocational education from the age of 14 would be akin to pushing the first domino in a whole run of social issues concerning us now and for the future – however ‘un-PC’ they may be.

Removing red tape and legislation that currently prevent businesses of all sizes from employing teenagers at realistic wages during realistic hours and within the real-world employment environment, could give non-academically inclined children the real hope of attaining like-for-like qualifications through the timed-served, rather than the academic route.

Creation of the ‘apprenticeship-degree’ would bolster the competitiveness of British Industry and business of all sizes which themselves would then be able to draw upon an affordable pool of trainees, making investment in their future entirely more feasible; whilst taking Young People off the streets, giving them value in themselves, money in their pockets and taking them away from crime which the Country can already ill-afford to tackle.

Savings to Government from no longer filling what are arguably wasted places in schools could be significant, even if some funds were then redirected to tertiary and higher education colleges which support the vocational route for many of what would be the mile-stoned route to that real and vocationally-based degree. And let’s face it, degrees need to regain the value that the one-size-fits-all mentality of the last Government did much to destroy, whilst giving all those who actually want to work the opportunity to do so.

Getting the unemployed who want to work into work will always be a job done better by employers. Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

Rail fare hikes and tough talk on welfare waste: Today’s problems will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

January 2, 2013 1 comment

With a 4.2% average rise in ticket prices hitting rail commuters today, just how long do politicians think that rises in the cost of essential services, utilities and products will remain ‘sustainable’?

Stories such as this one and also the attack on welfare payouts by Iain Duncan Smith in just the past two days alone demonstrate just how little emphasis there really is in dealing with the root causes of problems, which may be unpalatable to those in power, but are nonetheless very real indeed.

As a businessman with both conservative and capitalist principles, I have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to be both enterprising and entrepreneurial throughout my career. However, I also learned very early on that there are basic laws at work within business, one of which is that costs will generally be fixed, but profit will always be variable.

Where this goes wrong in the economy is in situations where those in control of businesses are able to fix minimum profit margins and then seek the cost of investment and renewal through price hikes which usually only affect people and other businesses who themselves have no ability to raise their own incomes or margins to cover those very same costs.

Those reading this who have experience of the commercial sector in its broadest sense will know that the circumstances which generally allow this darker side of capitalism to thrive, only exist within monopolies or within industries which provide services or products which people must have; many of which were once in public hands.

The history which has given privately owned businesses the ability to dictate the ‘breadline’ or to become able to ‘profit in misery’ is a long one. Profligate spending by idealistic politicians who believe in the principle of something for nothing, simply created a situation which left others with a more realistic understanding of the way that an economy really works with little choice in the way they had to respond.

The age of privatisation was soon born and responsibility for its evolution cannot be levelled at the door of any one Conservative, Labour or Coalition Government, as all have played their part since the 1960’s.

What can equally be said is that no one person who can ask for the votes of many thousands of people, can reasonably expect to retain any sense of respect as an MP if they have accepted that responsibility and then failed both to recognise and then to act upon the damage and pain that such levels of power are causing in the wrong hands.

Yes we need travel fares that make a job worth travelling for. Yes we need reform of welfare, benefits and taxation so that there is an incentive for all to work and stay in this Country. Yes we need managed investment in just about every area of life and infrastructure that we could conceivably imagine.

But we also need Government which is responsible, confident in taking risks and ready to deliver reforms which may well include legislative restructuring of businesses offering essential services in order to limit what they actually make.

The failure of Government to ensure and safeguard basic costs for independent living is a root cause of many of today’s problems and will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

Pensioners, Social Care and the Questions of inevitability, independence & incentives lost

Getting older is one of the few things left that we cannot actually control in our technical age. But how much thought do you give your ability to retain that independence which many of us today simply take for granted?

Just last week, whilst walking through the rain in the local Sainsburys Car Park, I found myself being beckoned by an old lady who literally called ‘will you come to my aid?’. A non-starting car, a phone-call to discover that her roadside assistance was 10 years out of date and then another to drag a Friday-afternoon-weary mechanic out across Town, all paled into insignificance when she excusingly announced that she was 92.

This terrific pensioner regrettably had nobody whom I could call on her behalf to prevent her just sitting there whilst the time passed to the completion of her rescue. But to be fair, I wouldn’t want to make a song and dance if I found myself in a similarly unwelcome situation and would be lying if I were to say anything other than how much I admired her stoic independence and indifference to such items as the seemingly unused mobile phone, still wrapped and jiffy-bagged in the door-well of her car.

Sadly, not many 92 year olds will be driving themselves to the supermarket before returning home alone today, and this is perhaps where many more of us should be casting our thoughts in terms of what support is put in place for older generations, how it is funded and perhaps most importantly how much of that bill we should seriously expect pensioners with varying levels of need to pay themselves.

The issue of Social Care is jumping in and out of the spotlight at the moment. But are MP’s really thinking about the wider issues involved in this nebulous policy area; about how pensioners really feel about having decisions made for them about everything they have worked for? After all, many who have worked hard and been regular taxpayers throughout their lives are potentially being left without the option to leave something for their families, or perhaps even to leave a legacy to a charity which somewhat ironically the Government might itself need to look to for help as part of its push towards ‘Big Society’.

Many are at a loss as to understand what the term ‘National Insurance’ actually means in all this. If any one person can contribute to the NI ‘pot’ on the understanding that they will be supported when they are in times of need, but find that when that need arrives, a judgement is then made on whether they can help themselves first to outwardly save the public purse, can we truly believe that we have a universally-applicable, balanced and fair welfare system?

Evidence would suggest that not only is the welfare system inherently unfair to those who through their actions choose to regularly pay tax, but that it is those who have always paid who will actually continue to keep on doing so. In a modern, civilised and free society it is little more than idealism that creates a situation where some can have all for the price of giving nothing, whilst others can end up with nothing for the price of being forced to give just about all that they have.

The elephant in this room is a difficult one to deal with and most of us appreciate that fact. But we are living in a society where success and simple hard work are now being penalised in every part of life right up until death, and where making little or no effort is now seen to be the ‘right thing’.

No considerate person would suggest that anybody in genuine need should not be given adequate and appropriate help when they need it. But have we really seen the dawn of times when those that work will pay for everything and everyone else throughout their lives and get virtually nothing back in return?

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