The View From A Council Estate: MPs Get Rich While Others Freeze

 


CONTENT WARNING: some people may find parts of this article upsetting

This article was updated at 1:30pm on Sunday 11 October to remove a section of it at an individual's request.

Welcome to The View From A Council Estate.

Every Sunday, I'll be breaking down the big news stories. And I'll also be sorting through other news. The stuff that maybe hasn't made the headlines. But I'll show you how it affects people on council estates like mine across the UK. 

Be warned: no filter, here. This is me, writing how I speak in everyday life. So expect a bit of swearing. There'll be a bit of a laugh (hopefully). But there'll also be plenty of takes that you won't find elsewhere.

Remember: this article is as much about you as it is me and my estate. So give me your views on social media. Use #TheViewFromACouncilEstate. Thank you to everyone who commented and got involved last week. Your feedback was kind and appreciated. 

This week is all about 'pay-rises'. MPs just got another one. While some NHS workers didn't. There's also an update on TJ.

Let's go.

How much???

You can't have missed the news on MPs getting a pay rise. It could take their wages up to around £85,000. Or if you haven't heard, the Metro said:

MPs are set to get a pay rise of £3,300 next year, despite coronavirus wreaking havoc on the UK economy. 

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) proposed their wages should continue to be linked to the public sector three-month annual growth figure of 4.1%, which is likely to exceed inflation.

In short, MPs don't decide their pay. The IPSA sets it. It already gave MPs an extra £2,464 a year in April. So, while millions of us are in the shit - MPs are raking it in. But that's not the main problem with the story. 

First up: do you know how much MPs' pay has gone up by in the past decade? 

Eye-watering figures

By this April, it had increased by £16,232 since 2010. That's a 24.7% increase in 10 years. Yet new:

  • Nurses' pay has gone up by 17.4% in the same time; 
  • Teachers' by 13%;
  • Police constables' by 3.8%. 

But unlike MPs, all these other jobs actually had their pay cut. This is due to inflation. That means that the price of stuff has gone up more than people's wages. MPs' pay, though, went up by more than inflation. 

Fair? Like fuck it is. Because MPs also get to claim expenses back.

The 'gravy train'

Overall, in 2018/19 MPs claimed £22,500,000 back in expenses. A lot of this was the cost of staff and offices. But take Labour's Birmingham Perry Barr MP, Khalid Mahmood. He has year in, year out, claimed back shit loads on expenses. In 2019/20 Mahmood clawed back £20k in "accommodation" and £10k in "travel costs". 

This is the same MP that in 2009 claimed back the cost of "living" at a 5 star hotel in London. Complete with jacuzzi and butler service. Because Mahmood clearly couldn't commute to and from 'Brum', or rent a studio flat. What a wasteman.

Could someone explain why fellow Birmingham MP Jack Dromey's housing costs are half that of Mahmood's? Or why other Birmingham MP Preet Gill's are £10k more? Yet Tory Brum MP Andrew Mitchell's are £15k less? 

Meanwhile, poverty in the city is through the roof.

Exploding poverty

In 2017/18, 41% of Birmingham's children lived [xls download] in poverty after taking off housing costs. That was 131,646 kids suffering extreme levels of poorness. And this was a 5% drop from 2016/17. 

In the city, the Bordesley Green area was the worst hit. A mind-blowing 61% of children were in poverty. This area's MP is Liam Byrne. He claimed back £34,000 in housing and travel expenses in 2019/20. Overall, his constituency Hodge Hill had 53.5% of its children living in poverty. 

Then, Byrne also gets some cash [pdf, p78] from renting out his London home. But he does it as any good MP would. That is, he makes sure it gets paid to his wife. Must keep those tax bills down, hey Liam? Another in a long list of wastemen. 

Scrounging MPs

Parliament should give MPs a fixed amount they can spend on housing. Because that's what people on Universal Credit get. Our social housing rent is set by government. And the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gives us that amount. If you privately rent and claim social security, the government sets that amount too.

So, why do the benefit scroungers in parliament spend what they want on housing, when us actual 'scroungers' don't have that same choice? Why are sick and disabled people living in poverty, when many of these cretins in parliament are living the life of luxury? And how the hell can MPs justify the public paying them £85k plus expenses? You know the answer to that. It's called 'classism'.

Classism

It's the same classism that means Universal Credit claimants lose £20 a week from next April. This was after the government gave it to them this April. And it's the same as the fact that ESA, JSA, PIP and Income Support claimants got no extra help during the pandemic. 

But really, as BLM summed up:

Or maybe we should all stop begging for a minimum wage. We could demand a maximum wage for MPs. People were talking about it this week. Get your butler to put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mahmood.

Anyway. All this is the same classism which has leave many people in a dire situation with their housing associations.

Gas problems

Put your hand up if you live in social housing. Then put both your hands up if your gas contractor is a nightmare. Keep those hands up if you've been left without heating and hot water for ages before.

Welcome to our estate - and many other people's.

Clarion tenants had the same gas people for years. They were called Swale. And anybody who's used them, knows they're a nightmare. We've been left days at a time without heating and hot water before. This was in the middle of winter. People on our estate also have had similar experiences with Swale.

But this year, Clarion changed contracts. We've now got another company doing gas and plumbing work. Chaos. Swale used to tell us our boiler was a combi one. And we wondered why we still had a massive immersion tank in our airing cupboard. But no. The new contractor says we haven't got a combi boiler. We've got a "system" boiler. So, we do need the immersion tank. Who knew? Peak clusterfucking, right there.

But this chaos is all sadly a bit familiar with Clarion. And sometimes it ends in a deadly way. 

Blood on Clarion's hands?

Inside Housing reported on the death of a Clarion tenant. Patricia died of cardiac arrest in December 2017. Clarion and its gas contractor had left her with no heating and hot water for two weeks prior to her death. Then, the contractor Morgan Sindall didn't turn up to fix the boiler when they promised to. Patricia died that same day. As Inside Housing said:

Medical experts concluded that the 'cold, stress and anger'... [she] experienced because of the failings were 'possible' but not 'probable' triggers for her heart attack, with severely clogged arteries meaning her condition was a 'ticking time bomb'.

The grandmother of 19 had been living with only a halogen heater since 8 December... her home’s temperature... [was] 9°C – while the Met Office had issued an amber weather warning for cold conditions.

Maybe Clarion didn't commit gross negligence or corporate manslaughter against Patricia. But they still left her to die cold, angry, distressed and alone. No one's passing should be like that. But Patricia's was. And that was due to Clarion and Morgan Sindall.

Neglect and negligence from Clarion is an everyday thing. But when it ends with someone's death? You know the system is broken.

An update on TJ

TJ's story shocked and upset a lot of you. It was in last week's column. You can read it here. I'm pleased to report that doctors are still looking after him in hospital. At first, he tried to discharge himself. But after we spoke with the lead doctor, this changed. 

He's eating and is waiting on a psych assessment. This is sadly because his wife and the doctors think he doesn't have the capacity to make decisions anymore. It would mean doctors would put a Deprivation of Liberty Authorisation on him. This is part of the Mental Capacity Act. It would mean TJ could no longer have free will to make decisions about his daily life. 

It's a sad place to be in. But due to TJ's Alzheimer's and other health issues he can no longer look after himself. And sometimes, doctors have to use the law to protect people. So, we're waiting to hear what happens next. Your thoughts and best wishes really moved his wife. So, she and we thank you. 

I ain't even got the time...

To talk about Stormzy and Chip:

Except to say: "stop making money off pretend beefs and your fans". 

Nor have I got the time to talk about the latest pap shots of Donald Trump's recovery from coronavirus:

And I certainly ain't got time to mention everyone's favourite far-right primary school child, Darren Grimes:

Shocked. Shocked I was that Grimes and his circle-jerking fanboys would say that letting a washed-up, shrivelled-dick racist to chat shrivelled-dick racism is 'freedom of speech'. Out-and-out racism has got nothing to do with freedom of speech. You cunt. 

I hope this week's The View From A Council Estate made you laugh/think/offended/sad.

Until next Sunday, take it easy.  

Oh, and if you want to support me writing this (I'm doing it for free) then you can donate via PayPal below. Much respect.


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