Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Parliament, Government & The Way We Live
At the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 3rd November, there was an interesting conjunction of events. Outside there was a group of Sex Workers, possibly GMB members, demonstrating over the recent tragic Ipswich cases and demanding more police protection and support where necessary in a trade that has it dangers.
Inside, in Committee Room 10 there was a meeting between Carlex, the Campaign Against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation, and Parliamentarians to discuss the serious problems arising in that field for the aged and vulnerable currently being ripped off by an oligopoly of major property and financial speculators supported by the nationalised RBS. Like everything else in life on earth it is possible to find the links. Follow either the money or the food chain.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries much was made by social reformers and others with ethical and moral interests of the fact that the major property owners were to be found prominent amongst the owners of the worst slums, and premises used for people and sex trafficking of every kind. In London, they were reckoned to be the chief purveyors, indirectly and without quite realising it, of some of the nastiest practices in personal and money terms. Also, they were often aristocrats of high standing with a major influence in the House of Lords and in government and the Church Commissioners of the Church of England
This same elite, largely The London Mediocracy and political class of its day also was amongst those most responsible for the workhouses filling with the infirm and aged; establishments which did not hesitate to exploit their labour. In the early years of 21st Century, thanks to New Labour, large areas of central urban communities are becoming new slums, in which social housing is farmed out to a range of managers and financial entities. The waves of migration have brought the return of slavery, some of it for the sex trades, to function with other sex workers, largely working out of leasehold rented properties.
With this comes burgeoning crime and violence, and the pauperisation of the lower classes to the benefit of a small group of speculators, financiers, large estate owners, some still in aristocratic hands, and inevitably, the Church Commissioners. We have a number of new Lords, ironically named Life Peers, who have done very well in property, through their personal contacts, who are party to the whole sorry business, mimicking the rapacity of the old landlords of an earlier generation.
If you follow the money and the food chain, you will find that the same oligopoly of property people have also taken control of Retirement Leasehold housing, with a wonderful armoury of means of extracting the savings and income of the very aged and vulnerable at their disposal, all legal thanks to our new Lords and masters who have been so helpful to them. There is an effective monopoly in leasehold property management services. They also own the freeholds on which rents and charges are increasing exponentially.
They own the insurers which leaseholders are compelled to use, competition laws do not apply here, (they do not actually pay out on claims, moreover by dint of financial cut and shuffle they seem to reinsure their own liabilities, which is unusual, but that is another story). They own the in house security and communications service for which leaseholders pay rather more than market price, again stuff any notions of competitive tendering, as with repairs and maintenance.
They have set income stream targets for their property management service companies which seem to have been benchmarked from their most profitable end of the commercial market, notably high turnover retailers, high density social housing, and developments which yield high returns from sex workers. There is something very New Labour and Cool Britannia about all of this typified by pictures of fat ministers mauling their female underlings. One fat minister has done well in property.
For those with a spooky turn of mind the owners of the Freeholds of the Leaseholder Retirement Developments have taken on large debts on the basis of securitised assets and income streams. According the a Channel 4 news report, which had been thoroughly gone over by their lawyers, one income stream relates to charges on the sale and transfer of properties, and in the conditions for the securitised debt, figures were given for the estimated mortality rate in Leasehold Retirement developments.
The figures, I think, based on historical calculations of expectation of life, have turned out to be too “optimistic” or “pessimistic”, depending on whether you are the one whose mortality is in question or the financier borrowing the money who has failed to meet the mortality target. Few developments are reaching their mortality targets.
So in some cases when an emergency occurs out of the development’s manager’s hours, and paramedics, ambulances, sometimes police arrive, the security and communications service, for which the leaseholders paid handsomely, flatly refused to let them in unless they had the code. They did not have the code because the service kept changing it, but did not tell the police and ambulance authorities. When asked to the service also refused to contact the ambulance and police Control Rooms to verify status.
Remember, we are dealing with the very aged, a number with serious medical issues or terminal conditions, who are not in a position to take part in the debate. When someone admits the medic’s they are then threatened that they are in breach of their leaseholds. This is not accurate, of course, anymore than many of their charges or accounts are accurate, but this is the way things are done now, again with the full support and blessing of the government.
Perhaps the sex workers and the old needing care and support should join forces, after all, they are fighting the same people who are exploiting them for the same reasons, and who do not care whether they live or die.