Watford COR Newsletter

The original of this disappeared, so here’s a copy.

12 November 2011

Pensions and Benefits

Pension and Benefit payments are increased each April in line with inflation.  Previously, the Retail Price Index rate of inflation was used to ensure a realistic rate of increase. When this government came to power, The Chancellor – George Osborne, announced in future, the Consumer Price Index would be used.  This is a lower rate than the RPI and doesn’t include housing costs.  The rate, at which Pensions and Benefits rise each April, is based on the previous September’s inflation rate.  The CPI rate this September was 5.2% Pensions and Benefits should rise by this amount next April. Except the Treasury have indicated this will not necessarily be the case.  The Chancellor is looking at alternative methods of deciding the rate increase, or even freezing some payments all together.

We have rapidly increasing fuel and food bills, high inflation, a cap on housing benefits, and

now, we are threatened with below inflation rate, or even no, increases to pensions and benefits.  Meanwhile, the Bankers got their bonus, Directors pay went up by 49%, our MPs are still claiming huge expenses, corporation tax is going down, tax evasion continues, and the private health providers look forward to making huge profits out of our NHS.

Nor does it make economic sense in terms of reducing the deficit.  Less money in people’s pockets means less demand, more small businesses going bankrupt, more unemployment, leading to a higher overall benefits bill.  Which leads to less money in people’s pockets………….

Employment Rights

Protection from unfair dismissal currently covers all employees who have been employed by a company for a minimum of one year.  The Government are changing the minimum employment requirement, to two years as from April 6th 2012.  In addition, employees will have to pay a fee to take a case to a tribunal.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister – David Cameron, commissioned a report from the venture capitalist, Adrian Beecroft.  Among his recommendations, Mr Beecroft suggests we get rid of Unfair Dismissal claims entirely.  He acknowledges this would be politically difficult.  He suggests this is overcome by what he calls ‘Compensated no fault dismissal’.  He States “If discrimination was not involved, an employer could dismiss any employee at any time, without giving a reason, and pay the employee only for his or her contracted notice period.  Mr Beecroft also acknowledges this would be unfair on employees. He concedes that a “downside” under his new scheme is that employers could fire staff because they “did not like them”.

“While this is sad I believe it is a price worth paying for all the benefits that would result from the change”, he says.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary rejected the plans saying they were “unnecessary, based on no evidence and unlikely to improve labour market flexibility”.

Cold comfort when we all know the Lib dems frequently make statements, or even sign pledges, then vote for the exact opposite. The plans apparently have the approval of both David Cameron and George Osborne. A committee chaired by Jeremy Heywood, the Downing Street permanent secretary, has already met to discuss how to take the Beecroft report forward.

Richard Harrington MP Watford

At a public meeting for local residents on Thursday 27th October 2011 Richard Harrington expressed his concerns regarding the price of houses now days and the cost of

renting property.  He acknowledged this made things difficult for people, especially young people.  It is somewhat surprising then that Mr Harrington enjoys joint ownership of 5 buy to let rented properties. If there were more social housing, and less people buying properties to rent out, rents would be cheaper and people would be able to save the deposit necessary to buy their own property, should they choose.  Still, perhaps Mr Harrington doesn’t fully appreciate the difficulty.  After all, he does receive £1,666 per month from his directorship of Eden Group Ltd 155 Moorgate London EC2M 6XB in addition to his MP salary of £65,738 Not to mention presumably, a share of the rent from the aforementioned properties.

Prime Ministers Question Time

Each week during PMQ’s the Prime Minister – David Cameron, refuses to answer questions put to him by Ed Miliband. Instead he resorts to insults and jibes. Regardless of what anyone’s opinion of Mr Miliband might be, he is empowered by the electorate, as Leader of the Opposition, to ask pertinent questions of the Prime Minister of the day. If the PM refuses to answer and merely insults the questioner – isn’t by default, insulting the electorate?

Aren’t we, the electorate, entitled to expect the PM to answer questions put to him by the Leader of the Opposition? If the PM continues to behave this way at PMQs isn’t he simply laughing in the face of the electorate? Don’t we have a right to expect better than this?

At Watford Coalition of Resistance, we are following PMQ’s and will be reporting each month.  Here is a summary of Octobers PMQ’s;


Conference season – no PMQ’s


Q1)  The PM, said at PMQs last year that unemployment would fall this year. Shouldn’t the PM admit his plan is not working?

A1) The figures are disappointing

Q2) Why won’t the PM accept responsibility?

A2) Cameron replied he accepts responsibility for everything that happens in government.

Watford C of R comment – What responsibility did Cameron accept for hiring Andrew Coulson, despite being warned against doing so by various sources? What responsibility did Cameron accept for not having Coulson properly vetted? What responsibility has Cameron accepted for the actions of Liam Fox and Adam Werrity?

Q3) When did unemployment among women last reach the level it hit today?

A3) Miliband doesn’t have a plan

Q4) How many businesses have taken part in the scheme designed to help 400,000 businesses?

A4)  “7,000.”

Q5) Shouldn’t this tell the PM his policies aren’t working?

A5) . Digby Jones, the former trade minister, described Miliband’s conference speech as “divisive”

Q6) Instead of trying to save Liam Fox’s job shouldn’t he be worrying  about other people’s jobs?

A6) Miliband is Walter Mitty


Q1) The revelations about Liam Fox are “deeply worring”. Fox had an unofficial adviser with access to top officials, funded by donors. Yet Cameron claims he did not know about this. How did he allow this to happen?

A1) That’s why I commissioned a report. Fox resigned.

Q2) Can Cameron guarantee that no other minister has been engaging in these activities

A2) Miliband should have asked these questions last week. “If you want to jump on a bandwagon, make sure it’s still moving”

Q3) Cameron promised in his foreword to the ministerial code that his government would be different. But his former media chief has been arrested and a minister has resigned, What will Cameron do?

A3) Fox has resigned.

Watford C of R comment – Gus O’Donnell’s limited and somewhat white washed report on Liam Fox wasn’t issued until Tuesday 18th October.  If Miliband had raised questions about Fox at the previous PMQ’s, he would have been accused of conducting a witch hunt against Fox.

Q4) Inflation is at its highest level since the last Conservative government. Does Cameron still think his plan is working?

A4) Global forces are a factor. VAT made a difference too

Q5) How many businesses have had cash paid out under the regional growth fund.

A5)The regional growth fund is a good scheme.

Q6) Only two businesses have been helped over the last 16 months. During that time 16,000 firms have gone bust. Isn’t the PM “hopelessly out of touch”?

A6) You only want to “talk down the economy”.


Q1) Does the PM agree that today’s EU summit needs to find a way of making countries in the EU, including Britain, grow.

A1) A wider growth strategy was discussed at the summit on Sunday.

Q2) The PM has said he wants to repatriate some powers from the EU. Which powers? And when?

A2) “One serious question, then he’s on to the politics.”

Q3) Nick Clegg dismissed the feasibility of repatriating powers yesterday.

A3) Clegg said there was a good case for rebalancing the EU. Miliband is a “complete mug”.

Q4) Clegg said the government would not launch a “smash-and-grab” raid on Europe. Who speaks for the government? Does the government want to get out of the social chapter?

A5) The split is between Miliband and reality

Q6) Michael Gove said yesterday the government wanted to take back powers over employment laws. Clegg disagrees. Who’s right?

A6) . Labour want to leave the IMF. It is not France they want to be like; it’s Monaco.

Watford C of R comment – David Cameron’s answer to that last question makes no sense. 18 questions over 3 weeks and only one direct, factual answer.   We expect more answers and less school boy insults from someone who is meant to be our Prime Minister.

Happy Birthday.

Prime Minister’s Questions and Private Eye, both celebrated their 50th birthdays in October.  We’ve devoted space to PMQ’s elsewhere. Here is a copy of Private Eye’s October front cover.  Enjoy.

Thanks to Private Eye for this.

Diary Dates

Friday 11th November

Forum re launch – join us online at;


Saturday 19th November from midday

Watford Coalition of Resistance Stall

Charter Place


Thurday 24th Novemeber 7.30pm

Father Johnny Abu Khalil from St Justin Chruch, Rafidia, Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem, will discuss life as a Palestinian Christian parish priest at;

Watford Trade Union Hall

Woodford Road


WD17 1PB

A fish and chip supper can be reserved (cost £10) by emailing info@watfordfriendsofsalfeet.org.uk

Details of National events, available on request.

Forum re launch – join us online at;



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