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Letters to the Fenland Citizen editor – February 10, 2021

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Even their own call them the nasty party

A non-binding Labour motion calling for the universal credit top-up to be kept in place beyond March 31 passed by 278 votes to none after a Commons debate. The Prime Minister said the Government had provided £280bn worth of support during the pandemic, but all measures would be kept under “constant review”. The motion, which will not automatically lead to a change in policy, was put forward by Labour to put additional pressure on the Government to continue the increase, worth £1,000 a year.

The former work and pensions secretary was among six Conservative MPs to rebel, telling the BBC that although there were “difficult pressures on the chancellor,” extending the increase for 12 months was “the right thing to do, and there were dozens of Conservative MPs who were “deeply uneasy” about ending the £20 weekly increase to universal credit.

It was also understood the cabinet minister with responsibility for benefits, was arguing that the uplift should not be dropped in April.

Campaigners are pleading with the Government to keep the support in place, describing it as a lifeline for more than 5.5 million families who receive the standard universal credit allowance.

A food poverty campaigner told the BBC that the £20 increase “has been a lifeline” for millions of people who have needed to top up their income or rely on universal credit payments to get by.

The increase was a vital safety net for those who had lost their jobs, seen their working hours slashed or who were not eligible for the government’s wage subsidy furlough scheme. Six Tory MPs defied party orders to abstain and voted with Labour, adding to the pressure on the PM on the issue. Boris Johnson must change the course and give families certainty today that their incomes will be protected. This is the same old conservatism policy, trample on the vulnerable, forget the consequences. Even their own are calling them “the nasty party”.

John White


This lovely picture of Coates drain was taken in October by Carl Lambert. (44187537)
This lovely picture of Coates drain was taken in October by Carl Lambert. (44187537)

Who is going to pay for the cost of COVID?

Ashley Smith (Readers’ View, January 20) is a little harsh in his attack on footballer Marcus Rashford for his campaign to stop children from going hungry.

Mr Smith moans about people in receipt of benefits having laptops, mobile phones, and broadband access.

Yet all are a vital necessity when it comes to claiming Universal Credit.

The UK has recorded the highest per capita death toll in the world.

Millions more have been thrust into poverty during the pandemic.

And what did the Tories do? Abstain in a vote that would have allowed the poorest to have just an extra £20 a week.

If you’re an MP on a salary of £81,932 then £20 is just small change.

But if you’ve lost your job or on poverty pay and claiming Universal Credit (UC), £20 can mean you don’t have to switch the heating off or go to the nearest food bank.

The Tories say £6billion is too much to make the ‘uplift’ in UC permanent. That’s after spending £280 billion so far on the pandemic.

Just a two-point increase in corporation tax, already the lowest of the G20 major countries, would more than pay for the increase.

The Tories are divided down the middle over the issue and, if enough pressure was brought by the trade union movement, could be forced into yet another climbdown.

But this time there is more at stake. It’s about who in the long term is going to pay the cost of COVID – the working class or the millionaires.

Mr Smith rather than attacking the poor should aim the ire of his attack on the real scroungers in society – the super-rich living on their luxury yachts in tax havens.

John Smithee


Why donate to NHS? We already fund it

Whilst it is fantastic that so many people have donated their hard earned money to causes such as the NHS Charities Together, myself included, have any of us tried to unravel where our donations go?

So many have donated on the back of the efforts by the likes of the late Captain Sir Thomas Moore, enabling him to raise over £33m for the trust and the centenarian then inspired so many others to raise many, many millions for the NHS.

But why have we been so glad to blindly give from our sparse wallets and purses, whilst not even giving a thought about where the dosh all goes?

It is almost impossible to find out how much the CEO of NHS Charities Together earns.

Surely, if Ellie Norton, the said CEO, wasn’t taking too much in salary, pensions, benefits and other perks, then her earnings would be disclosed?

But, they are not. I trawled and trawled the internet for hours to find the answer, but, as with so many that like to hide the facts because of the public anger that it would provoke, Ellie Orton’s salary, etc cannot be found.

This country needs to wake up to what being a charitable organisation means these days, and where their donations go.

On the front page of last week’s Fenland Citizen, a man from March was urging people to donate £3 to The NHS Charities Together umbrella.

I may be speaking alone here, but, we pay taxes, and we pay our National Insurance contributions to ensure that we get treatment when it is needed.

Ashley Smith


We still do need coal

I’m so pleased our government is considering opening up a new coal mine in the UK.

For years I have been frustrated with composite compressed hand grenade nuggets.

I’ve soaked them in paraffin and diesel etc so that I can get them to light. I’m really so frustrated in burning one packet of kindling just to get enough heat to singe the nuggets into action. I might as well burn wood instead.

All I want is a small sprinkle of coal to transfer the flaming kindling to the coal to heat up and set fire to the indestructible nuggets. Yes, using up coal dust and compressing into nuggets to avoid wastage is great for the environment but just imagine if we lost knowledge of the wheel. Do we really fancy a trip back to the Stone Age.

Mark Burton


UK and USA have a long way to go to be united

I have no real political inclinations so when I vote I back someone who has similar goals to myself.

In fact, I was so disgusted with British politics in 2020, where the majority who voted for Brexit were being sold down the river by all the major parties, that I voted for The Monster Raving Loony Party.

Democracy is a strange thing.

After the democratic referendum to leave Europe was agreed, a vast minority were trying to overturn the decision, not respecting the will of the majority.

Having personally spent a lot of time in the States, the long drawn out ‘democratic’ campaign for the presidential election took more of my attention than it normally would.

The divisive figure of Donald Trump made the process an even more spiteful affair.

To see a president still in office incite a riotous mob to storm the Government building was beyond belief. His less than gracious handing over of his opposition and refusal to accept defeat make me wonder whether his winning of the last election was rigged.

The recent inauguration in Washington DC turned out to be a great occasion, with president Joe Biden delivering an eloquent speech to try to unite a divided nation.

I wonder how many Republican supporters can still blindly support Trump.

He disregarded the severity of COVID, expected Mexico to pay for a border fence, walked away from hard-fought world agreemements, and fired up discrimination and white supremacy.

Both the UK and the US still have a long way to go before becoming united, prosperous, happy societies where people totally understand that having democracy means accepting the view of the majority and making the best of it.

Mr SJ Rogers


Cartoonist is brilliant

I would just like to say thanks who puts the brilliant cartoon in the paper.

With being locked in and feeling miserable sitting on my own, I laugh every week.

I don’t know how he thinks of them but please keep up the good work.

77-year-old resident


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