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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Overpaid public sector workers?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s statements about overpaid public sector workers may well be fading into the middle distance but they are true reflection of what the Tories really think. Not just do they deploy their age old tactic of divide and rule seeking to set private sector workers against public sector workers and young against old, they warn that doing anything other than following their dogma driven policies will lead to disaster.

It is useful to remember what Hammond said in a response to a question from Andrew Marr, which was: "When you take into account the very generous contributions that public sector employers have to pay in to their very generous pensions it is a simple fact: relative to private sector workers, they are paid a 10% premium."

The average pension of public sector workers is no more than £6,500 per annum. Many workers in the public sector are on poverty pay. The vast majority currently working along with those who have already retired will never receive the 'New State Pension' or anything close to it as the legislation debars those people who contracted out of SERPS.

Latterly millions of workers in their 30s and 40s in both public and private sectors have been told they will have to wait a year longer and lose up to £10,000 of whatever State Pension they will receive. Again we are told that to do anything else would lead to disaster. Little wonder in responding to the announcement that Labours Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams accused the Government of forcing "millions of people to work longer to pay for their failing austerity plans".

It is not just that Hammond is a hypocrite with a £9 million fortune and a Chancellor's pensionable salary of £134,000 a year. It is the fact that he is just plain wrong.

Many members of the public have written to try and correct Hammond’s misguided assertions and you can see some of the comments at this link.

It will be interesting to know what your thoughts are on this issue? You can join this debate and share any comments you have on this posting by clicking on the link to "comments" below.

Eddie Spence

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Elder abuse is a hate crime

Figures released on UN World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 14 June showed that just 0.7% of all crimes against older people in the UK end in a conviction. The charity, Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) said the figures pointed to clear institutional ageism, with too many crimes being seen as a social problem instead of a criminal one. Gary Fitzgerald, AEA Director said: "Commit a crime against someone because of their age and you will probably get little more than a slap on the wrist. This needs to change and the impact of the crime can in some instances lead to admission into care or even death. This needs to be recognised in law as a hate crime," he added.

BBC research has also shown that more than 23,000 allegations of abuse have been made against carers working in people's homes across the UK in the last two years. Official figures recently revealed that up to 11,000 care home residents were not being properly fed, or left without food and drink. Older people are also often actively harmed, often by those who are meant to be caring for them or are increasingly targeted by those who are behind financial scams. For every instance of financial abuse that comes to light, 24 cases are thought to go unreported. Visit the Elder Abuse website here.

Info from the NPC's July Bulletin - borrowed with thanks.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Myth of 'something for nothing' pensioners

Pensioners are reported to be paying almost a third of their income in tax, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics. The bill is made up of direct taxes which includes income tax and council tax, costing an average £3,050, and indirect taxes which include VAT, insurance premium tax and vehicle excise duty which cost an average of £4,360.

Dot Gibson, Deputy General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) said: "All pensioners pay indirect taxes and around half still pay income tax, so when some in the media argue that older people are somehow getting something for nothing - it’s complete nonsense." 

As well as paying tax, the older generation also contributes in excess of £40bn every year more than the cost of pensions and benefits through volunteering and unpaid caring.

Info from the NPC's July Bulletin - borrowed with thanks.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

STOP the new plans to dismantle our NHS

This post gives important information about these plans, info that the government is not keen to publicise. If you oppose them please sign this petition - here.

The Naylor Review, published in March 2017, laid out a new NHS Estates strategy to get rid of "surplus" NHS property. It is a con trick designed to turn public property into private wealth. Not content to just 'sell' the land and buildings, which might mean they go to Co-operatives or other socally aware groups or developers, Project Phoenix proposes a 'fire sale' via Public Private Partnerships.

Six regional Public Private Partnerships will be created to sell off “ surplus” NHS assets. Tenders for the partnerships are expected to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union this summer and the Public Private Partnerships will probably go live later in 2017. "Surplus" NHS land and buildings could be sold to developers wanting to build homes, or to the private sector to be improved and then leased to local health services.The profit from sales will probably be shared between the NHS and the private partners.

Channelling public money into Public Private Partnerships comes at a big cost. It means the state doesn't have to finance and pay capital costs upfront - but we know from the disastrous Private Finance Initiative history that these projects end up costing much much more than publicly financed projects, because of ruinous interest and facilities management costs. We also know that they compromise safety and usability standards during the construction stage, because profit is put ahead of everything else.

Government decided to cut public spending, but Hospital Trusts need money to implement the STP changes. A report to NHS England’s 15.12.16 board meeting said:
"Capital is very tight over the next few years; STPs' requests exceed what is available."
The report also said NHS England and NHS Improvement would review all STP capital requests and that funding would be available for:
"strategic schemes that are essential for unlocking local improvements and efficiencies".
A BMA report confirmed that 36 of the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans between them required £9.5bn of capital funding but there is nothing like that money available. The 44 STP footprints between them need to 'save' £22 billion by 2020. Less than a quarter of local politicians believe that major NHS plans to reshape local health and care services will succeed, So why, we ask are they not challenging the proposals through the Joint Scrutiny Committees?

Please help us stop the STPs. Share the petition with friends or family or share on Facebook or twitter. The petition's website address is:

For more information about the land sale, click here.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Tory Government continues to use Social Care as a political football

Apparently having learned nothing from their car crash of an Election Manifesto the Tories now have a new plan to improve social care.

After reducing funding on social care by £4.6 Billion since 2010 particularly through the cuts in Local Authority Budgets, the new plan is to get the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to inspect the failing and underfunded social care system. If the arrangements are found to be unsatisfactory the Government can impose a financial penalty on the relevant Local Authority rather than allow it to access funding from the Governments ‘Better Care Fund’ into which they have invested £2billion – just £2.6Billion short of the money they have taken out of social care funding.

This approach is being championed by none other than NHS saviour Jeremy Hunt. ‘Simples’ the answer was staring us in the face all along? Even Tory cheerleader the Daily Telegraph is struggling to get its head around this latest panic measure - read more here.

Eddie Spence

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Government policy on housing disastrous

'Tory Housing policy disastrous' says the National Housing Federation along with their backdoor bedroom tax on pensioners reported in a recent issue of the ARMs Newsletter 'Up in ARMs'. The Independent recently reported that:
"From April 2019, housing benefit in all social housing will be capped at the level of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), used in the private rented sector.
"Crucially, the LHA is calculated – like the removal of the 'spare-room subsidy' – on the basis of household size, rather than the size of the property.
"That means a single person, or a couple, living in a two-bedroom home will have their housing benefit capped at the one-bedroom LHA rate.
"The impact will be severe across the Midlands and the North, where lower private rents will mean a lower one-bedroom LHA rate, threatening tenants with huge benefit cuts."
Full article here.

Housing Associations are reluctant to commission the building of new houses because their income from rent is under threat. The consequence of a doctrinaire decision by the Tories, little noticed at the time, will almost certainly deepen the social housing crisis even further.