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U: Unemployment and Under Siege

The word unprecedented is banned.

So, U is for U-Turn.

That is what I was going to write about, but I changed my mind. Several times.

But it is also for.. Unemployment.

Here’s the good news: Bailiffs have been on furlough since 23rd March. The bad news? They went back to work on 23rd August.

I’ll come back to them.

A headline in yesterday’s Daily Mail, said: ‘Sir Philip Green’s retail empire has been taking millions in government handouts while making staff redundant on the cheap using furlough scheme’.

Is it any surprise one of Britain’s most successful retailers should outfox the UK government’s one size fits all furlough scheme? Of course not. So far, Arcadia has made 300 staff redundant, but once furlough ends, that will increase. A lot.

Unemployment in the UK has reached 4.1% and 2.7 million are claiming benefits. 

4.1% is not drastic, but between 7.5 and 10 million people have been put on furlough since March. This scheme is due to end after October. That will lead to at least another million, or more likely, two million claiming the dole.  

We are facing the deepest recession of all time; starting in the final quarter of 2020.

Things, to put it mildly, have been sticky for the UK workforce. 

Big firms, like British Airways, Marks & Spencer and BP have cut thousands of jobs with further announcements expected in the coming months. 

Here is a brief roll call of jobs lost:

British Airways – 12,000 jobs

Virgin Atlantic –  3,000 

Easyjet  4,500 

Ryanair – 3,000 

Aer Lingus – 900 

Marks & Spencer – 7,950 jobs (50% of workforce)

Heathrow airport –  500

Centrica – 5,000

Ovo Energy – 2,600 

BP – 10,000 

Airbus – 1,700

Bombardier – 600 

Rolls-Royce – 9,000 

Aston Martin – 500 

Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100 

HSBC – 35,000 

TSB – 930 

The Restaurant Group – 1,500

Monsoon Accessorize – 545 

Clarks – 900 UK 

Oasis and Warehouse – 1,800

Mulberry – 470 

John Lewis – 1,300

Burger King – 1,600 

Travis Perkins – 2,500

Pizza Express – 1,100 

Dixons Carphone – 800 

Debenhams – 6,500

BBC – 970 

Guardian Media Group – 180

Pret A Manger – 1,000 

Natwest – 500

There is one person, however, who has not had to face an enforced period of unemployment; that’s Tony Abbott, the ex-Australian PM, universally described as a misogynist and homophobe, but, “also a good trade advisor”, by Matt Hancock, health secretary (I think he might also be culture secretary).

Jolly good. So we’re looking for a trade deal with Australia once we sign a no-deal agreement with our ‘European friends and neighbours.’

It’s not just that though.

Since 2017, Abbott has also been on the advisory board of the Initiative for Free Trade, a think-tank set up by former MEP, Daniel Hannan. 

In 2018, the Initiative for Free Trade, published an “Ideal US-UK Free trade Agreement”, with the far-right US think-tank, the Cato Institute. Its ‘deal’, “should open all government procurement markets to goods and services providers” from either country and said: “Health services are an area where both sides would benefit from openness to foreign competition. We recognise any changes to existing regulations will be extremely controversial”, and recommended a stealthy approach, whereby, “the the initial focus should be on other fields, such as education or legal services”, before health, “so negotiators can test the waters and see what is possible”.

We are going to eat chlorinated chicken and, in return, Tony Abbott will ensure the NHS is totally fair game for American business to plunder and tear apart.   

Under siege:

An Englishman’s home is his castle.

Not any more it isn’t.

It’s under siege.

Like I said, the bailiffs have been back at work for around a month now and because the majority of people are at home now, they represent easy pickings.

I had my first bailiff visit the other day, due to a sum of money owed by my landlord to an energy provider. Talking of whom; the moment he was legally allowed, he served a Section 21 on me, which basically gives me three months before I’m evicted (20 days now). 

Working/being stuck at home, makes you a sitting duck. That ring on the bell you think might be a neighbour, is possibly a bailiff.

I thought we were all in this together, but no. Landlords can remove you with impunity, especially if their business is failing or they want to sell up for ready cash.

My credit card company, Barclaycard, cut my credit from £2,000 to £200 and when I asked them why, they said that new legislation meant they had to be responsible lenders. After enquiring why they hadn’t been responsible before, they admitted any papers lodged with a court, for example,  a Section 21 were also taken into account.

I don’t remember credit ratings being so important, but now your credit history is crucial to everything, including renting somewhere. A rogue landlord (I am not in rent arrears and have not smashed up his property, although that is definitely on the cards), a mistaken energy company or credit card application can make your life a misery, particularly during a pandemic, when you are looking to rent somewhere else or borrow some money.

Getting to talk to my credit card company took over two hours, yet when I tentatively looked at the cost of a storage facility for three months, I was phoned up at 8.30pm, five minutes after I had received my online quote.

Fuck off. I didn’t ask you to call me, particularly not after working hours.

This is low level harassment, nothing too bad, but a constant hum of threat and big business opportunity. Cumulative pressure.

The big companies that survive this nonsense are going to be the ones that can offer jobs in the future, but forget that; I’d rather claim Universal Credit (it seems to be working rather well) and work on a building site for cash in hand.

Let’s face it, we’re all in the gig economy now, and it’s every man and woman for themselves.  

Stay Safe

 

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