Rate cut won’t prevent homeowners becoming renters

So, this happens:

The Bank of England has cut UK interest rates to 5.5% from 5.75% amid signs that the economy is slowing.

Expectations of a rate cut had risen in recent days after figures indicated that economic conditions had deteriorated over the past few weeks.

But then this:

Homeowners may be forced to sell next year and join the ranks of renters when lenders tighten terms for borrowers with poor credit histories, the Council of Mortgage Lenders warned yesterday.

Michael Coogan, director-general, urged the government to pledge more money to help those in danger of falling off the housing ladder.

Mr Coogan said borrowers with poor credit histories would “find it very difficult and nigh impossible” to get a mortgage.

“Most customers have a stark choice if they don’t have a good credit history and can’t refinance – they either need to change their spending patterns and batten down the hatches or they take the view that they aren’t going to solve the problem and sell and become a tenant at the other extreme,” he said.

Mr Coogan said while the number of homeowners forced to sell might be small, he urged the government to help customers facing arrears by addressing shortfalls in state support for mortgage borrowers in difficulty.

There will be a concern in ruling circles that there will be further destablisation resulting from the spectacle of homeowners (in fact, people who are in the process of paying off a mortgage, so not actual owners) being forced back into renting.

Quoth Karl and Freddy:

You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.

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On the civil service strikes

No, the war against wage “restraint” (funny how the bosses have none of this!) is not over:

PCS members vow to continue fair pay fight
(Friday 07 December 2007)

CIVIL Service union PCS members vowed to fight pay cuts on the second day of their 48-hour strike on Friday.

Disruption at jobcentres, benefits offices, the Pension Service and the Child Support Agency continued as support for the strike grew, with members braving foul weather to mount picket lines across the country.

Some 540 staff at Swansea pensions centre, a massive 90 per cent of staff at the Glasgow benefit centre and 95 per cent at the Derby contact centre were out on strike on Friday.

Partick jobcentre was open but could offer no services to the public. People were also turned away at Elephant and Castle jobcentre in London. Jobcentres across the country could not even accept the mail.

Staff are taking action over the Department of Work and Pensions imposition of a below-inflation pay offer – a pay cut in real terms.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Imposing a pay cut in real terms on some of the lowest-paid is completely unacceptable and has only served to damage the morale of a workforce battered by job cuts.”

Mr Serwotka warned that the disruption of the last two days would be compounded by an overtime ban from next week, unless management enter negotiations over a pay rise.

(from The Morning Star)

A pay deal is for life, not just for Christmas!!
By Rachel Heemskerk, Chair of PCS DWP East of England personal capacity
Friday, 07 December 2007

Management in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are imposing a three year pay deal on staff in their November pay-cheque. This is because they believe that staff want money for Christmas, which is true, but we must not be fooled into thinking short-term. The pay deal is being hailed as a great offer by management who, in an unprecedented move, have been putting pressure on local managers to promote the deal and sell it to staff.

This is only helping to push members into voting yes for industrial action. Members working for the DWP in Jobcentres, Benefit Offices, the Pension Service and Child Support Agency (CSA) have already borne the brunt of the government decision to axe 80,000 jobs in the civil and public services. They are angry over the imposition of this three year pay offer, which sees cost of living increases for longer serving staff members of 2% this year, 0% next year and 1% in the final year. The pay offer averages just 1% a year over the three years and sees approximately 40% of staff getting 0% next year. This offer does nothing to improve the cost of living for some of the lowest paid workers in the civil service, who don’t even earn enough to meet the European Decency Threshold, which in 2006 was £7.40 per hour. Many members working in the DWP have to claim in-work benefits such as Tax Credits, which the government put in place to help remove the property gap in society.

The strike ballot within DWP comes as PCS nationally enters into ‘meaningful talks’ with the Cabinet Office in an effort to reach a negotiated agreement to a civil service-wide dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. These talks were only offered after 68% of members in the national consultative ballot voted for national strike action as part of the union’s campaign, which has already seen two strongly supported national one-day strikes this year.

The result is a clear demonstration of PCS members’ resolve to reach a fair settlement with senior civil service management and the government over jobs, pay and conditions. If these talks fail, then national strike action will take place.

(for Socialist Appeal)