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UKOK is one of the slogans of the better together campaign but irrespective of that is it really true of modern day Britain.


Here in Shetland at the beginning of December the issue of fuel poverty on the island was raised as a serious issue by Citizens Advice Scotland and the recent article on Shetnews and food parcel just the tip of the unspoken truth that Britain is no longer as Great as it once was. Politicians may wish to blame the current problems of the "worldwide" banking crash and that we are all in it together. However a little research and problems can be traced back to before that date and comparisons with other countries rule out the banking crash excuse.


The UK as we know is the larger producer of oil and gas in the European Market yet in terms of fuel poverty only one country in the European Union has a higher level of fuel poverty and that is Estonia.




Fuel poverty is over 20% for Senior Citizens across the UK one of the causes of this is that the state pension is amongst the lowest in Europe and compared to Germany about 1/3 in value and about half that in France when measured against average earnings. In absolute terms its worse. Over all Britian's pensioners are considered to be the 4th poorest in Europe.


Across society austerity has not been shared equally as the rich are increasing their wealth. The top 20% of the UK earners account for 60% of the national wealth and the poorest 20% just 0.6%. The top 1% alone account for 16% of the wealth.




According to the World Health Organisation the UK has some of the worst rates of child poverty in the world and changes to the welfare system are forecast to make this worse not better.


The provision of free or subsidised child care is poor compared to our European neighbours and the lack of this has been argued as a barrier to tackling poverety and a number of other issues in society.


In terms of the gender gap/balance inequality in pay is not anticipated to be eradicated until 2067 whilst at present UK is ranked 8th fom bottom in Europe.


All these figures put us at the bottom rather than the top were surely as a progressive, modern, enlighten, demecoracy the UK would wish to be. Unfortunately we cannot all be Norway that ranked the best place to be but surely those in charge in the Political Parties and Government are aware of these same facts. Surely our Government for the last 30 years have not seen these problems and just chose to ignore them. They need to admit there is a problem and work on producing real solutions now. I say real solutions as the answer to fuel poverty seems to be lower the threshold of energy consumption as a percentage of earnings and the free market solution for energy is currently not working in the consumers interest.


What are the constructive solutions to the poor state of the UK as I would conclude the UK is not OK.

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  • 2 months later...

Scotland's charities fighting poverty have setup their own website to highlight some of the issues raised above which is available at the following web address




The website includes a short video in the spoof of a weather forecast that briefly summarises the issues these leading charities that include Oxfam and Shelter points of concern.

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Scotland's charities fighting poverty have setup their own website to highlight some of the issues raised above which is available at the following web address


The website includes a short video in the spoof of a weather forecast that briefly summarises the issues these leading charities that include Oxfam and Shelter points of concern.

Lost interest as soon as I saw thier map at top and bottom of page did not include Shetland and the featured map also missed Orkney. I always wonder why the creators of Scottish wide sites like this feel it's ok to blatantly miss out part of the country on their maps. :-( don't we matter?


There's been plenty of evidence to state that there are lots of fuel poor in Shetland along with growing need for the salvation army's food bank

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Sadly the energy companies have not done much to create competition, from privatising to allowing companies to merge and be swallowed up by larger companies, the rot has set in. Alas, it is, in a way, free competion and capitalism working, but only for those who own the companies who can take advantage.


Utility companies should never have been handed over to the private sector.


If you ever try to "switch" companies, you are really no better off. Councils south have tried to create an environment to allow this on mass, however, only 6% took up the switch. Those with pre-payment metering were worse off and their bills would increase.


Add to tha mix the negative campaigning of those who are against sustainable energy, those who campaign to stop small businesses from reducing their bills and being able to supply their produce at a lower cost, or being able to employ more people. Not much can be done. We are all paying for this.


We are also far too dependant on electricity, and gas, and therefore are subject to it.

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  • 3 months later...

1million people living in poverty in Scotland is the unfortunate statistic of recent research the media have highlighted today as the UK austerity measures cost the poor £20 a week or £1,040 a year. The number of people falling in to poverty is still increasing.




This is the latest report to highlight austerity cuts have hit the poorest most so far and will continue to do so over the next few years.


Sheffield Hallam University calculated that the current Conservative / Liberal Democratic UK Government welfare policy proposals will take £1,600,000,000 annually out of the Scottish Economy from these cuts and for Shetland the figure is £4,000,000 out of people's pockets and the local economy.




Further independent research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has highlighted that recent tax changes has increased poverty further as changes to personal allowance thresholds have been more than offset by changes to tax credits. The poorest single parent family in receipt of tax credit has lost £4 for each £1 gained. Families with both parents working the comparable figure is £2 for £1. These Along with other changes is increasing the number of families in poverty.




These changes are in part due to the failures of economic planning to deliver the required changes to economic growth as current tax receipts are £30,000,000,000 below planned levels and this shortfall in the UK is being disproportionately being borne on the broad shoulders of poorest in society.




However the UK Public Account Committee continue to raise the issue of the UK Government ability to collect the tax due to the country. The last report this in December put this at £35,000,000,000.




Is the priority chosen that hits the poorest most whilst failing to collect taxes from the rich the correct and moral choice to make?


Fraud on the welfare budget at £1,200,000,000 accounts for just 0.7% of the total expenditure whilst the errors the Department of Works and Pensions make short change claimants by £1,400,000,000.




Fraud though whether it's tax evasion or bogus benefit claims are both equally morally and socially wrong and should never be condoned.


However solving tax evasion appears in monetary terms to have the bigger impact in addressing the financial gap that exists and providing revenue for essential public services likes schools and the NHS.

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I think that's a poor respond , I also think it will need many more millions pumping in to break even

Millions that would have helped poverty

Maybe use tax raising powers 3p in the pound would help 

Maybe use a rise in council tax  to help

Maybe reduce the r.e.t. to the isles

Maybe stop millionaires getting free prescriptions and university education

Maybe that whould have no one to blame  , wouldn't win votes 

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Depending upon views poverty is a multi factorial issue that The UK Government, Scottish Government, Local Authority and society in General all have a role tackling poverty.


Economic and social policies have a significant impact and recent independent research such as the Sheffield Hallam University Paper and the Joseph Rowantree Foundation present the case that the welfare reforms and tax policies of the UK Government is increasing poverty not curing it. These areas are reserved to Westminster. The UK government like the Scottish Government has a commitment, strategies and policies to tackle and reduce poverty.






However poverty is a structural economic issue for both the UK and Scotland. One of the growth areas in poverty is amongst those in work.




The Common Weal part of the Jimmy Reid Foundation produced a paper for discussion to tackle the structural reforms in the economy.




Key factor to their argument is that those in work should be able to achieve a living wage that does not depend upon welfare. Therefore they argue the living wage should be the minimum wage. The rate the minimum wage is set at is currently set by Westminster and no devolution proposals propose to allow this to be devolved to Scotland to set locally.


Having all the tools locally in Scotland to address the issues is view presented as being one strong reason for voting Yes in September. However that requires an election of a Government in 2016 committed to grasping the thistle and taking society with them to commit to eradicate poverty.




There are more views out there that should be listened to than just the 4 main political parties to tackle this issue at both the micro and macro level. Action groups and charities have proposed solutions to tackle the root problem and not limited to helping offsetting the symptomise through food banks to address hunger.




The Conservatives now accept the rise in food banks is a result of austerity measures the coalition government introduced.


However irrespective the outcome of the September vote all parties need to deliver on their stated shared aimed of solving poverty.

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The tackling poverty issue in relation to Prestwick Airport for only £1 is based upon the Scottish Government view that the airport is a strategic national asset that is currently under developed. In addition it protected 1,400 jobs directly at the airport and 3,200 jobs in the local community.




Prestwick of course was previously a public sector asset until privatised as part of BAA in 1987.


The development strategy for putting Prestwick back on a stable financial footing is not solely based upon duty free sales. It requires the expansion of both freight and passenger levels.


Locally Highland and Island Airports Ltd who manage and run Sumburgh Airport along with 10 other airports is a public corporation wholly owned by the Scottish Government and receives public subsidies.




Intervening to save key or strategic national assets or industries is a role Governments can make to save employment in well paid jobs from short-term issues as Grangemouth proved.




The free market does not always create the most efficient solution or the socially correct outcome. Regulation is required but needs societies democratic support.


Regarding the 3 pence tax option although the Holyrood Parliament theoretically had the ability to adjust up or down the basic rate of tax no work was done to allow this to happen in practice. This came to light when the SNP were discussing replacing the council tax with local income tax. As a result of changes brought in by the 2012 Scotland Act this will be possible shortly. No party currently plans to the basic rate of tax in a Scotland different from the rest of the UK in a devolved Parliament.


The 2016 election following a no vote will be the first time the opportunity of a real debate on income tax rates may form part of the debate for Holyrood.

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