So, to start the Bank of England is sounding gloomy about consumers getting loans as a survey shows more people are being refused credit. The Old Lady is predicting that an increased number of households will default on mortgage repayments in coming months.
This will mean more people will be cutting back on spending in an effort to keep up with the mortgage, hence the worries about the retail sector, with big names on the high-street issuing profit warnings and experiencing drops in share prices – with bad economic news from the US adding to the market’s unease.
Add to this the news that energy bills are to rise sharply, along with the cost of transport – rail in particular will become more expensive.
(Note that the recent travel chaos, blamed on Network Rail, was caused by underfunding and the unreliability of private contractors. Rail union RMT is again making the case for renationalisation: ‘The solution is simple. Rail operations, infrastructure and rolling stock should be re-united under a single, publicly owned body, answerable directly to the Department for Transport. The economy and the environment are crying out for an efficient and affordable railway, and every penny going into the industry should be spent on achieving that’.)
Average pay rises in the private sector are now running at 4%, and will challenge the government’s policy of imposing a 2% cap on public sector pay increases. If there was no “public sector alliance” this year, chances are the union bureaucrats will be forced to cobble something together next year as Brown stubbornly holds the line.
If anything is certain it is that prices will rise in 2008. And so it follows that industrial disputes will increase – but what of the representation of Labour?
Here’s some interesting news from Wales:
Plaid has welcomed an “historic” donation from the fire fighters’ union to three of its campaigning Assembly Members.
Plaid Cymru AMs Jocelyn Davies, Janet Ryder and Leanne Wood each received cheques from the Fire Brigades Union for their campaigning work. In a letter from the FBU, executive council member Mike Smith said: “Janet, Jocelyn and Leanne in various ways have, during the past four years of the Assembly, assisted us in our lobbying and campaigning on various fire service issues.”
Plaid’s North Wales AM Janet Ryder said: “Plaid has been a consistent supporter of fire fighters and other public sector workers over the years. We’ve seen them face attack after attack from the Labour government in London and the FBU has been at the forefront of attempts to maintain the fire service here in Wales.
“This donation from the FBU is very welcome and marks a historic decision for such a campaigning trade union. I hope more unions realise that Gordon Brown’s Labour government is cutting public services and doesn’t represent the interests of working people.
“Plaid has forged close links with many trade unions over the years and we look forward to strengthening those ties to continue our fight for all working people.”