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cost of living

Happy New Year?

Living in the UK we have been blessed recently (well, last May), with a coalition Government between the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, and the Liberal Democrats, led by Nicholas Clegg.  This coalition came about because no party gained enough votes to hold an overall majority. I read this as meaning that the public who voted were not enamoured enough of the policies of any party to declare an outright winner. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it this way and have taken their ‘election’ (and I use this term in it’s loosest possible sense), as a direct mandate from the masses  – the 65% that turned out.

Since the coalition came in we have seen an assault on everyday working people and the country in general. How else could you explain the amazingly drastic cutbacks and changes that this government have so far implemented. Currently they are dismantling the National Health Service – despite the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, promising that there would be “ major top-down reorganisation of the NHS..”. They are expecting Doctors to manage the Health Service. Have they never heard of the ‘Peter Principle’?

I feel that people in the UK are not happy with what is happening at present. The cost of living is increasing dramatically, inflation is on the rise, fuel duties increase (fuel duty plus Value Added Tax means that 70% of every pound spent on fuel goes to the Treasury), squeezing the ‘middle earners’ and so on. Not to mention scrapping the Ark Royal and getting rid of all the Harriers (another issue).

Now they are talking about increasing interest rates to counter inflation. How does that work? I have already cut down on my heating (gas) and electricity usage. I buy less food – and that which I do buy tends to be own brand or cheaper. I have an allotment – so I grow some of my own food – as much as I can. I haven’t bought new clothes or furniture for many months, and don’t intend doing so. I don’t go out to pubs, clubs, theatre or cinema. I don’t drink that much at home. I eat a balanced, often vegetarian diet. I am selling my 2.0 litre car, and will not replace it. I bought a cheap bike from Tesco and will try to use that as much as possible. I have even cut my use of the washing machine down to once a week! Am I doing my bit?

Probably not – as part of the ‘Big Society’ looming on the horizon I will be expected to take a more active part in the community no doubt. Perhaps running a local play group, or the Library – if the Council hasn’t closed it down – as seems likely. May be sweeping the leaves from the pavements or providing grit in the next cold snap. Community policing maybe, or tending parks and gardens – all for no remuneration of course – except for the warm feeling that I am making the world a better place.

Makes me wonder if John Carpenter’s film ‘They Live!’ was a glimpse into the future. Pass me the sunglasses……….

Rising Fuel Costs

I’ve been trying really hard recently – making sure that things are turned off when not needed. I’ve even been scrabbling under my desk to make sure that my computer, and all the periphery around it, are turned off at the wall. In the UK – which is where I am, all the Power Companies are eager for you to switch to them. I did a while ago when British Gas increased prices once again. Now on a fixed price tariff which I manage online. I can even see graphs of my usage – and it was decreasing. Fine.

Yesterday – a letter arrives telling me that my direct debit payment is increasing by £31.00 per month! I remembered something about companies and cashflow – and I found this on the BBC News website.

I’m not happy about this – especially when the wholesale price of oil has dropped dramatically recently (and we were told that the former high price of crude was one of the reasons for increasing prices). I’m sure that I am not alone in thinking that someone somewhere is making a lot of money on this. I know it’s not me!