8000 empty homes or a resolution to the police dispute?

Okay, the police want their modest pay increase backdated to September – as the independent pay body recommends. They will be balloted on whether or not to lobby parliament for the right to strike.

No money! cries the government.

Ah, but what’s this?

More than 8,200 homes rented by the Ministry of Defence for use by military families in England and Wales are unoccupied, the BBC has learned.

Figures show 20% of married quarters are empty, but cost taxpayers £28.78m a year in rent paid to a housing company.

The MoD rents another 1,884 properties from private landlords, at a further cost of £11m per year.

The Lib Dems said the figures were “incredible”; the MoD said it was trying to reduce the property surplus.

Some of the unoccupied homes have been judged to be in too poor a state to house tenants.

In 1996, the Conservative government sold 57,000 married quarters in England and Wales to Annington Homes Ltd.

The company now leases 41,000 back to the MoD, which then takes on any maintenance issues.

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Get rich, or more realistically, die trying

More glad tidings for our class:

Social mobility in the UK remains far lower than in other advanced nations in spite of the government’s professed determination to tackle inequality, according to research from the London School of Economics.

The potential for children born in 2000 to move to a higher income bracket than their parents is still as low as it was for children born in 1970, the report said.

LSE researchers found that children’s life chances were still firmly linked to parental background. For example, children from affluent backgrounds who did badly in test scores when aged three tended to overtake poorer but more gifted children by the age of seven.

The report, undertaken for the Sutton Trust, an education charity, casts doubt on the effectiveness of government reforms to tackle class inequality. Earlier this year Alan Johnson, then education secretary, said Labour policies since 1997 meant poor children were likely to have “a much better chance to escape the limitations of their background”.

The research continued work by the same authors who ranked the UK alongside the US for low social mobility, while Canada, Germany and the Scandinavian nations were significantly more mobile.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Shamefully, Britain remains stuck at the bottom of the international league tables when it comes to social mobility.

“It is appalling that young people’s life chances are still so tied to the fortunes of their parents, and that this situation has not improved over the last three decades.”