Socialist Worker

In brief: Cathy come home, again

Issue No. 1780

Families that become homeless could have their children taken away from them by councils trying to save money. Councils across Britain are exploiting a new legal loophole which says they only have to offer housing to homeless children, not families.

A council in Yorkshire has already removed four children from their parents and taken them into care.

Xmas sack from bosses

Dr Martens last week told all 265 workers at its shoe factory in Somerset that it was closing and they would lose their jobs. ITV Digital, the cable television channel, is also sacking 550 workers at its call centre in Plymouth.

British Aerospace threatened to sack 1,700 workers in Broughton, near Chester, and Filton, near Bristol, because of cuts at the European airline manufacturer Airbus.

Inflated price rise

Consumer watchdog Energywatch last week condemned British Gas's plans to increase household gas prices by 5.3 percent as 'outrageous'. The privatised gas company will introduce the price rise on 3 January, the middle of winter and when many ordinary people are in debt after Christmas. This is British Gas's second price rise in ten months, and is far higher than the inflation rate.

Anthrax is no mystery

The US army was forced to admit last week that it has secretly been making weapons-grade anthrax at a military facility in Utah for the last decade. Army chiefs had kept this quiet throughout the recent anthrax scare since the 11 September World Trade Centre attacks.

Relying on health fees

The NHS is depending more and more on cash from private patients. The NHS earned £340 million last year by renting out operating theatres and beds to private patients. This is up from £249 million in 1997.

More cash-strapped hospitals are looking to earn money by treating fee-paying patients. The Royal Marsden NHS hospital in London, the country's leading cancer hospital, earns £18.1 million, 23 percent of its income, from the treatment of private patients.

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Sat 22 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1780
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