While bank profits soar
Poverty-the issue they can't spin away
- Royal Bank of Scotland grabs 1.5 billion
- HSBC makes 3.5 billion in just six months
- 2.5 million pensioners below poverty line
BRITISH BANK bosses celebrated massively increased profits this week-the result of job cuts, branch closures, excessive charges and forcing debt payments from the Third World. But while the champagne flowed for the rich, two new reports underlined the crisis facing millions of old people and the extent of poverty behind all the talk about "economic success" from Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown.
A Commons Social Security Committee report published this week found shocking evidence of pensioner poverty. Even pensions minister Jeff Rooker admitted he could not live on 78.45 a week, Labour's "minimum income guarantee" for pensioners, let alone the 67.50 a week basic pension which is all that over 700,000 elderly people have. New Labour raised the basic pension by just 75p a week this year and ministers refuse to restore the link between pension increases and the rise in average earnings.
Another survey, by officials from the House of Commons library, found terrifying levels of poverty. Almost a third of children in north east England live in households where nobody has a job. Some 27 percent of children in London live in households where nobody has a job. New Labour says it wants people to concentrate on how it has improved Britain. These shameful figures are a testimony to its failure.