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Community 'gang-masters' heading your way

Even as local authorities were digesting the destructive impact of the Cameron-Clegg Coalition’s savage assault on their funding, it was revealed that the government is hard at work preparing plans to deal with a sharp downturn in 2011.

These plans will have been given added urgency by the latest uunemployment figures, showing the total without jobs in the UK rose by 35,000 to 2.5 million in the three months to October – the first increase since the spring.

In a surprise for the many economists deluded by self-created dreams of recovery, the private sector failed to create enough jobs to offset those that are starting to be lost in the public sector as the cuts begin to bite.

The jobless rate rose to 7.9 per cent of the workforce, up from 7.7 per cent in the three months to September and taking it close to the 8 per cent peak seen in the first quarter. Unemployment among 16-24 year-olds rose by 28,000 to 943,000, a rate of 19.8 per cent, one in five, and close to the record set last year.

As the latest round of cuts begin to take effect, threatening a further 100,000 jobs in the next few months, research by homeless charity Shelter shows that almost a million households are already in arrears with their rent or mortgage, twice as many as a year ago.

According to Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive:

Every two minutes someone faces the nightmare of losing their home and this research paints a disturbing picture of sharply rising numbers of people who face a daily struggle just to keep a roof over their head.

We know from the cases we see every day that just one single thing, like a bout of illness, rent increase or drop in income, is all that’s needed to push people into a spiral of debt and arrears that can lead to the loss of their home. With tough times ahead and homelessness already on the rise, we’re extremely concerned that this could be the beginning of a surge in the numbers of people losing their homes next year.

Publication of the Localism Bill provides a clearer view of the government’s direction as it cuts revenue for local authorities, abandons services like housing, education, libraries, social care, focuses on channeling declining tax revenues into restoring the profitability of the banking and finance sector.

Whilst community-run enterprises across the country are already filling some of the void left by Post Office and pub closures, the Bill suggests that this can be scaled up to take on libraries, schools and social care. But the reality is that surviving local services will increasingly be passed into the control of for-profit corporations, be staffed by unpaid volunteers or fall apart altogether.

What the Coalition is really envisaging was revealed in the startling results of a consultation with business leaders participating in the Prince of Wales Business in the Community charity. As well as urging the government to eliminate the checks that prevent unsuitable people volunteering, they asked the government to help them promote the idea of “brokers” on the ground in communities to establish connections between companies and voluntary organisations.

Pretty soon, if the Coalition’s friends and sponsors have their way, those in need will have to depend on profitable paid-for services like the already privatised home care. They’ll be staffed by low-paid workers managed by well-paid “brokers” or “connectors” employed by Sainsbury’s, Tesco or even the global financial conglomerate UBS.

It’ll be just a “community” version of the gang masters who organise people-trafficked cheap labour to pick and pack vegetables, but dressed up in the comforting Big Society newspeak.

The Localism Bill expects communities to pick up the pieces as the Coalition destroys the last vestiges of the welfare state to protect the capitalist economy. Expect no opposition from local councillors, especially those in Ed Miliband's party. They plan to make the cuts as instructed.

Communities should seize the initiative and form networks of Peoples’ Assemblies which can take over the resources owned by shareholders and run for profit and turn them into not-for-profit enterprises that will serve local people’s needs. The alternative is a bleak wasteland of broken services and mass unemployment.

Gerry Gold
Economic editor
17 December 2010

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Your Say


Tim says:

I agree with the analysis/prognosis but I'm not sure what you are proposing? Is it that we try to do what you propose as an alternative and outside of the legislative programme of the government's Big Society or within it? I think initially we should take the government at its word and use the Localism Act and others that will become law during this year to try to do achieve what the governemnt claims that the measures are designed for - empowerment of local communities [distinct that is from local government which suffers the same malaise as central government.] If it doesn't work then it exposes the Big Society as a sham. If its works then it is a good start.


Jonathan says:

Plan X

The likes of Tory MP Patrick Mercer’s training at Sandhurst (see his contribution to Newsnight 14 December) are now subject to review, as for the police. Not all this prepared them for the depth of the crisis in this concrete form.  By now, they will be working rather frantically at new lectures on Plan C or D; note GoD (Gus O’Donnell Plan X – see ‘When GOD spoke to Cameron and Clegg’) who will have studied this, and as to the draft: put this forward by now. Whatever their role comes under: boardrooms, tea parties, and regiments, Aid to the Civil Power whereby the police play a minor role indeed: AND a Think Tank on this very, and many other, subject in which we are the objects subject to. The picture the above draws and the urgency in the concreted minds of such as each scattered group or body, a 165,000 or more in hock to bloodsuckers who are loansharks. 

In addition, these figures on Loan Sharks (I would say the figure are much higher given the ‘apparent’ shame of the situation) show other hidden aspects of the Banking Crises, itself most often a symptom of the world economic crises. The caution today – R.T. com as to the immanent collapse of the dollar - is not a life worth living, except within the safety of Assemblies. The OFT (Office of Fair Trading) by its nature seems to me almost powerless within this state system against outright illegality and criminal parasites by any social measure. To direct those in ‘trouble’ to ‘its’ solution’ seems more than a trap. Even if the DPP were willing to prosecute this is only something that fighting would oppose by joint, united action. The DPP seems ready for prosecution; and the opening up of books. The two issues involved here are extremely important joined matters that show that this problem, or that problem, cannot be dealt with in a scattered fashion; solutions to deal with them aggressively not separately. Spiralling downwards communities need purpose, they need self-protection, they need to know that there is a solution to what looks like  separate issues. Communities must, as is said in the short reference above, regulate and vet themselves. In education, jobs, housing, debt, protection of the health service, all these and more can only be seen as a SINGLE ISSUE. The bringing them together under the form previously presented and most of us were born to was never enough and this is now not apparent to ‘a few’ who make the issue of political consciousness their life: it is the issue pushing itself into the lives of all. The above very important matter should be joined with the matter of this ‘cold snap’ where thousands in London, Paris, Berlin, and beyond are out in the open with little or nothing to even warm their stomachs. This is not a matter that can be dealt with involving donations to this or that charity, 9/10 of which reaches target and the problems such as Haiti multiplying the ‘conscience’ of even those that ‘think’ they can, or must, contribute. It ends up passing the hat round for ones own funeral.

Attempts to hive off individuals so they do not unite  leaves the ToryLibdem coalition and the Loan Sharks as ‘the only real show in town’ as the figures released yesterday show, Labour leader Millerband scored in the 20’s. Bank debt is no different in essence to Loan shark debt, it comes from the same system, and it relies on the same systemic problems. – I must say I have orders to add that the well-muscled debtor is also ‘encouraged’ to clear the debt by becoming the ‘collector’ to add to this spiral of relationships - This Global has a reflection itself in the minutiae of the local. Stop the cutbacks; stop the parasites. If the Government were interested in the debt of the classes below the one it represents and the opportunistic that would climb on its crisis – but it is not. Its concern reaches almost only so far as that; this form - the Loan shirkers - is from, shall I say, an upwardly mobile form of itself: rather hundreds of years out of date, leading nowhere but to hedonistic life style.

Houses must be occupied; families should not be ‘atomized’ and felt to be isolated, on any issue.

Any attempt to create Assemblies must involve a process of inclusion for bodies such as Shelter and a systematic defence against these loan sharks: no return to the 30’s. the only Vetting and so forth can only be done by communities, “Pretty soon, if the Coalition’s friends and sponsors have their way, those in need will have to depend on profitable paid-for services like the already privatised home care. They’ll be staffed by low-paid workers managed by well-paid “brokers” or “connectors” employed by Sainsbury’s, Tesco or even the global financial conglomerate UBS.” The smaller Homes edged out by cuts and centralized into greedy giants like Barchester paying less and less instigating a fear factor for workers doing long hours. Volunteers; a trap for the whole community getting less and less, while others are taking more and more, a system of resistance as well as plain ‘outlet’ that needs organizing.

That ‘one thing’ referred to by Shelter directly links the Loan Shark to losing a home, whatever, and therefore a further rundown in communities, or link to other communities. There is however many other matters to address that can only be achieved through collective working, one can forget most Councils. Except, in as much,  that these as structures express relationships and were built out of the pockets of those working in the communities not out of gift from on high; blood sweat and tears and that should be remembered when Plan X  pits the forces of the state against those trying to reoccupy them. This applies also to the case with Trade Union buildings, and all the other relationships expressed through all materiality that exits. In the Soviet Union, regardless of all the other ‘ideological’ matters, this was lost sight of; all the buildings, etc, built up over all those years belonged not to the Bureaucracy but to the members: it was stolen. I look at what the Assemblies ‘inherit’ like this, somewhere for an active force, a conscious force, an education force; and the classes that come into them are those left out of Plan X: a thousand pounds to set up a small business indeed!  This is just enough to tempt some Loan Shark to look at the pitiable and cold and rub their hands with anticipation.

Then the matter of Plan X arises because to enforce against resistance opens up a completely new world. The struggles world wide from the 1848’s through the Paris Commune to the Russian Revolution through to the Independence Struggle right up to the fall of the Soviet Union contain a rich and varied resource of learning’s as well as great advances now under threat. The forms of differing Assemblies preceded all of these struggles in session, then action. That is what I think.

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