Our line

Time to bail out the rest of us

meNews Editor: Neil Roberts

Anyone familiar with the East and South East of London can’t fail to notice the extreme inequality around us. On East London Lines this week we read about record unemployment amongst young people, inequalities that mean people in Lewisham die 7 years younger than average, and destitute refugees forced to live on £5 a day.

Our political leaders tell us we need to cut back on public spending. That means less money for the health, benefits and welfare services which our poorest and most vulnerable citizens rely on. Spending cuts also mean job cuts for the thousands of low paid public sector workers who serve our communities.

Whilst politicians will say that the country cannot afford to support those being battered by the recession, there is an elephant in the room.

The bankers and financial fat cats who caused the economic crisis are looking forward to record bonuses this Christmas whilst taxpayers continue to fund them.

The rich look down from their offices in the City and Docklands onto the communities suffering from unemployment and poverty below. They may claim that all of London benefits from their business but most people see nothing of the vast wealth that looms over our communities. In fact Lord Turner, the head of the Financial Services Authority said recently that most banking services are “socially useless.”

The closest many of us will get to the bankers’ boardroom will be cleaning it for the minimum wage.

Last week the government announced another bank bail-out. They are giving £25.5 billion of public sector money to bankers and yet cutting spending on welfare. We are all in this together, we are told. But how much further can we tighten our belts whilst others continue to gorge themselves?

Tower Hamlets residents pull together to straighten out estate

Editor: Megan Clarke

It’s great to see residents in Tower Hamlets taking the initiative when it comes to helping people in their communities into regular employment.

The community run Annissy Hairdressing salon on the Isle of Dogs has now been awarded an £8,000 community grant. The salon was set up by a local community group which has a history of community self-organisation, taking over an abandoned building and working to make the community a better place for all.

In a week when we read about unemployment reaching record highs, schemes like Annissy are just what the doctor ordered. Projects like this help to re-engage disillusioned unemployed young people and bring a bit of colour to the neighbourhood.

Places like Annissy demonstrate that ordinary people are often much better at organising their own communities and workplaces than the leaders who so often let us down.

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