Paying for services twice

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I AM nearly 78 years old and I am angry.

People who have given nothing for free to society but grabbed official titles (which we used to hold with pride at no gain) for the money they can accumulate are lecturing me about the Big Society.

I was a child of the war years who developed a huge admiration for the adults guiding me and others.

My father (who was in charge of all head injuries south of the Thames) operated at blitz sites in a converted lorry to save lives.

At Roehampton hospital, I regularly saw young men who had been burnt as pilots and military personnel who had lost limbs recover their sense of fun and race and play games like netball in their wheelchairs.

I was an adult of the ’50s and in the ’60s my husband and I acted in local authorities voluntarily – we were never paid.

During those years, we all recovered from shortage of food (I have eaten both horse and whale meat – one only had about 15oz of meat a week so one was hungry) and we certainly couldn’t get new fashion clothes for each season.

We paid purchase tax of 125 per cent on luxury items (if you were very lucky, you got a second-hand engagement ring (no tax). We paid income tax and rates.

There were good services to care for the elderly. I could never have let my mother live her life to the end in London without the back-up of social services and district nurses so she could be close to her friends.

Despite lack of great luxuries, people saved and then those who had a little money to give themselves a good old-age are now left unaided and their money is stolen by an envious society who resent looking after them.

Yet the present 40 and 50-year-olds are the only ones who had a free university education. They have never been hungry or only had new clothes on coupons so even a new frock was only had once in a year or two.

The present people in power say we must all suffer together.

I have lived through and helped Britain over three messes of government, which were mostly Labour-generated.

The ’30s saw a collapse in the financial market and we rapidly went into the Second World War.

After 1945, Labour caused little in the way of recovery, anything made in Britain was for export and rationing continued into the ’50s.

Then the Tories won the election through a back seat taken by the Liberals in many areas to enable that gain which happened on a promise to end rationing. But it took to the ’60s for a return to affluence.

Then from 1964 to 1970 and ’70 to ’79, we again saw an accumulation of government debt build-up from Labour mishandling.

Fortunately, the banking sector and manufacturing held up, so the ’80s brought things up again.

But envy and greed set in to reduce the provision for the elderly and a view in the late ’90s started this phase of making people pay for services for which they were already paying taxes.

In all this time, Labour and then some other politically-minded people started lining their own pockets.

After the 1981 election, councillors wanted to be paid and people no longer gave voluntarily of their time. Their expression, if one asked people to help, was: “The Government should do it.”

Not only did elected pay happen, but administrators expected rises and now one learns that department officers are getting £45,000 to £55,000 per annum and a couple years ago, I learnt that Alnwick would have to advertise for a chief officer at £200,000 per annum (eat your heart out Alf Groom).

On top of this, people converted bonuses, which used to be for work done over and above duty, into salary and expected to get them even when they failed to do the job they had been employed for.

Meanwhile, the other morning on Radio Four, I heard a chap say if people want a school crossing patrol man they should pay for it. What the hell do those elected people think we are paying taxes and VAT and rates for?

My taxes now seem to work out at £40 per week for rates plus about the same or even more per week in income tax and then there is VAT.

I get the bin cleared and they have suggested we pay more for that and I drive on unsalted roads full of potholes, some even a foot deep.

Next year, our rates will rise to inflation but the services are to be reduced and soon I can see that my and your money, dear reader, will be going to the administrators only.

We need the regathering of the Northumberland Rate Payers Association we formed in the ’60s to correct what was happening then.

Also, it may be necessary for everyone to copy the Egyptians and demonstrate that enough is enough.

Anne Wrangham,

Harehope Hillend, Alnwick