Tuesday, February 03, 2009

One rule for the rich, another for the poor.

Two things caught my eye today. In the first, Our Vince outlines the importance of closing tax loopholes which allow large corporations to avoid paying their rightful taxes.

Compare and contrast with, Tom Brake MP's observation that in London alone, 716000 applications for crisis loans were turned down by the Benefits Agency last year.

These emergency loans are there to help people on low incomes or benefits when they need help most. I have personally seen people in desperate circumstances be turned down for those loans for essential and unexpected costs. Sometimes people are forced to apply for them because of unacceptable delays in processing their applications for benefits. How would you like it if you had to survive on £60 a week Job Seekers' Allowance and your cooker breaks down, for example? Your bank will laugh at you if you ask for credit, that's even if you have an account. How do you fix or replace it?

To add insult to injury, the application process is not for the faint hearted. The number you have to dial is an 0800 number. It's free - or so you would think. Remember that the poorest don't often have landlines these days and it cost - sometimes signifcantly, to dial from a mobile. Often people can't get through for hours to a human being, which just adds to the stress of the situation.

On top of all that, the Government is thinking of charging commercial rates of interest on these loans.

So, the Government is doing nothing to stop wealthy big business avoid tax, but can't help out the most vulnerable in their time of need. How very new Labour.

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