Tagged: Childcare

Tory Cuts Could Push Tens Of Thousands Of Home Carers Onto the Dole

Tens of thousands of home carers who look after vulnerable elderly relatives could be pushed into unemployment, warns the Alzheimer’s Society.

Government cuts are leaving local authority social care budgets “at breaking point”, while struggling home carers are left juggling work and caring duties.

Within ten years, up to one million Alzheimers patients will be dependent upon the care they receive from relatives. This is estimated to save the economy around £11.6bn each year, which is greater than the £8.8bn spent on the NHS.

Head of policy at the Alzheimer’s Society, George McNamara, said:

 “Further government cuts to social care could lead to tens of thousands of working people forced to give up their jobs to look after elderly relatives over the next five years.”

“Workers can’t fit caring responsibilities into a lunch break.

“Looking after an elderly parent with dementia takes huge amounts of time, energy and emotional stress. Many carers will have no choice but to give up work unless they get better public services.”

Whilst the government has recognised how childcare can help to keep people in work, providing quality assistance to home carers has not been awarded the same level of importance or significance.

Mr McNamara said:

“The Government has recognised the need to improve parents’ access to childcare to maintain economic recovery. But sidelining social care for a rapidly growing population of vulnerable older people also poses serious risks to the economy.

“Local authority budgets are at breaking point, economic growth is slowing and a massive wave of cuts in public service is imminent.

“We want the Government to end the crisis in social care and provide a vital lifeline for working families caring for elderly relatives.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 17 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/tory-cuts-could-push-tens-of-thousands-of-home-carers-onto-the-dole-warns-charity/

What the Conservative win means for your money

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Article reposted from AOL Money UK

Good Morning my darlings. I’m feeling a little less emotional about the election result (still angry though) and so I decided to look into what’s to come …

​What the Conservative win means for your money© PA Wire

Few people predicted any one party could win outright but now the Conservatives have done just that.

Before today, the party manifestos were seen as starting points for coalition negotiations, but now that the Tories have won a small majority they will be able to implement their pledges.

So what were those pledges and how will they affect you? Let’s take a look…

Your taxes

The Tory manifesto was stuffed full of promises on tax, including raising the personal allowance to £12,500 and increasing the 40% tax threshold to £50,000. The threshold is currently £42,386, which means current higher-rate taxpayers could save a tidy sum.

A key Conservative pledge was on inheritance tax…

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The reality of zero hours contracts

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from TUC website

#DecentJobsWeek: I love being a home care worker, but I hate the insecurity

17 Dec 2014, by Helen in Working Life

Decent Jobs WeekOh joy! Today I received a letter from HMRC stating I have been overpaid tax credits in relation to my childcare costs. I will have to pay back any money owed and may face a penalty for failure to inform them of a change in my circumstances. I would never knowingly claim money fraudulently, and I’m really not sure how I will ever pay back the money they are asking for.

This is the reality of zero-hours contracts.

I agreed a contract for childcare which included costs that were passed to HMRC tax credits department. But my hours changed, as they do every week. One week I may have 60 hours work and childcare may be near £300, others my hours may drop to 13, and…

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‘Obscene’ – cash-strapped Hartlepool health trust spends £350k to relocate management offices

A cash-strapped health trust is spending what has been described as an “obscene” £350,000 to relocate offices of its management and other services.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says the cash for the “flashy” offices at the town’s hospital could have been better used keeping two hospital-based nurseries open for at least 18 months.

The repositioning of the rooms at the University Hospital of Hartlepool comes at a time when services are being stripped away and shifted to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

But bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation trust, which is £1.25m in deficit, say the move is part of centralising remaining services in the main tower block of the Holdforth Road site and will save £550,000 on running costs.

A disgruntled trust worker told the Mail that a number of offices, including a chief executive’s office with en-suite toilet, chairman’s office, a boardroom and administration offices, were being created at the town site on what was Ward 5, on the third floor.

It comes as a consultation is underway to close the day nurseries at the two hospitals, which have lost £764,000 in four years, with around 50 jobs at risk.

Union chiefs have slammed the move as “obscene”, especially in light of the proposed axing of the nurseries.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said:

“The idea that £350,000 is being spent, speaking as an accountant, I can’t see where the savings are going to be made.

“£350,000 could keep the nurseries at Hartlepool and North Tees open for another 18 months.

“You have got a spending priority at a time when the NHS is starved of funds, and it wouldn’t be flashy offices.”

The worker, who did not wish to be named, said the relocation work included the stripping out of oxygen tubes from the ward’s former use.

Work to fit carpets in the offices was carried out on a Bank Holiday, but the trust says this did not incur any extra costs.

The worker said:

“I can’t understand why Alan Foster is putting an office suite and other rooms in while they are talking about closing Hartlepool hospital.

“And he is trying to close the nurseries at the two hospitals, yet he has built these new offices.”

Unison area organiser Mark Edmundson said:

At a time when the trust is proposing to close two nurseries that provide essential childcare for trust staff and the local community and also make people redundant, the cost of these offices is simply obscene.

“Unison urges the trust to look again at the nursery closure; perhaps fewer new offices for the highest-paid executives at the trust would enable this lifeline for hard-working people to remain open.”

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, which includes North Tees, said:

“I am very surprised that the trust would spend such huge amounts of money on offices at a time when they are contemplating cuts to things like nursery provision.

“If they are able to make savings of half a million pounds as a result, that’s money that could be directly invested in the nursery provision, which could be expanded, if there is a will to do that.”

The trust’s associated director of estates and facilities Peter Mitchell said:

Work is continuing to ensure we make best use of the buildings and space at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

“The plan is to bring in as many services as possible into the main hospital building to improve security and quality.

“Services which have been occupied in the Hart Building including office space, meeting rooms, wheelchair services, ICT, the sewing room, medical records and domestic services are being moved into a space formerly used as wards in the main hospital building.

“The costs associated with the space utilisation work is £350,000. It is estimated that by moving these services and closing the Hart Building, the trust will save around £550,000 – money to be put back into patient care.”

The trust says the toilet associated with Mr Foster’s office was already there.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  07 Oct 2014

Families stage ‘messy march’ against Sure Start cuts in Newcastle

Families staged a ‘messy march’ in Newcastle against cuts that could see a £5m reduction in funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The figure amounts to about a 65% of the total budget for the service.

Protesters say if the proposal went through it could mean the city’s most vulnerable families would be left without childcare and vital support.

A series of themed protests – including a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’ – have been staged in recent weeks, and organiser Vanessa Cutter, 32, explained the thinking around Saturday’s event at Grey’s Monument.

The mum-of-three of Fenham, Newcastle, said:

A messy march is a child centred protest march where children do what they do best – make a mess and be noisy.

“It serves several purposes – we want to show the council that we are willing to take action, demonstrate and fight against their proposed 65% cuts to Sure Start services.

“We want to show them that if they close two thirds of centres then the city’s children will have nowhere to go.

“The council seems keen to invest lots of money in businesses and the city centre, but if that comes at the cost of children’s services then we will have to play in the areas they do invest in.”

All of Newcastle’s 20 Sure Start centres are now up for review as city councillors iron out their final budget proposals for the year 2014/2015.

Many councils across the North are struggling to make similar savings – or cuts – including Middlesbrough.

Mayor Ray Mallon announced in January £14.9m of cuts – in addition to more than £40m removed from the council’s budget over the last three years – will lead to the loss of around 300 jobs. Amongst departments are children’s services.

Sure Start was a Labour flagship policy from 1998, its aim was “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.

In Newcastle 50% of the services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council has estimated for the work it directly delivers, the cuts will equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts.

The protestors say the proposals, if carried out, will see the budget slashed by £5m by 2016. This would mean the closure of services, buildings, parents groups and activities for children aged under five across the city.

Mum-of-two Anna Snaith, 28, of Heaton said:

“I am very upset that two out of three options for the future of services in my area include completely closing down the Ouseburn Family Centre which I regularly attend.

“The team there are fantastic and offer so much support to parents as well as children in a wide range of areas. The centre, like all Sure Start centres, promote health and well being for all families which is vital for communities. These services are the future for our children therefore I cannot understand how closing down any of them can be an option at all for our council!”

A council spokesman said previously:

“The city council is facing a considerable financial challenge, to find £100m in savings between 2013 and 2016.

“We share people’s concerns about the future of our Sure Start centres – they provide an important and well-loved service to families across the city – but the severity of the cuts leaves us with no choice but to consider further reductions.

“Nothing has been decided yet and we will be asking people to have their say with a big public consultation in September.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 13 Sept 2014

Newcastle parents protest against cuts to the Sure Start budget which will affect vulnerable families

Battling parents staged a ‘Teddy Bears Protest’ outside Newcastle City Council against cuts that could see a £5m reduction in funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The figure amounts to about a 65% of the total budget for the service. Protesters say if the proposal went through it could mean the city’s most vulnerable families would be left without childcare and vital support.

Scores of mums and dads with their kids, along with Sure Start workers, converged on Newcastle Civic Centre for the colourful event, one of many that organisers ‘Parents Against Cuts’ have lined up in the run-in to the council’s budget implementation in October.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Cutter of Fenham, Newcastle, said: “We want to let the council know that they’re in for a fight.”

She said at a previous event earlier this month – a picnic in the Civic Centre grounds – Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes spoke to the protestors.

Vanessa said: “While he sympathised with us, he said there was nothing he can do as it was to do with Government cuts.

“But isn’t his role as leader of the council to fight for the people of Newcastle?

“We’re not putting ourselves above other services. We just think the cuts are too deep and the nearer the council can get to zero per cent cuts the better for us.”

All of Newcastle’s 20 Sure Start centres are now up for review as city councillors iron out their final budget proposals for the year 2014/2015.

A Labour flagship policy from 1998, its aim was “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.

In Newcastle 50% of the services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council has estimated for the work it directly delivers, the cuts will equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts.

The protestors say the proposals, if carried out, will see the budget slashed by £5m by 2016. This would mean the closure of services, buildings, parents groups and activities for children aged under five across the city.

They say it will make a deteriorating situation even worse on the back of cuts which have seen the axing of council play and youth services last year.

Yvonne Holliman, 33, of the Montagu Estate, Newcastle, said of Sure Start: “It was an absolute lifeline for me. When my son, Josh, was born I suffered from Post Natal Depression and had nowhere to go at first.

“I was referred to Sure Start by my Health Visitor as are others have been. If it had not been there I don’t know what I would have done, maybe lapsed into a deeper depression.

“I got a chance to go somewhere to meet other parents and my son had kids to play with in a safe environment.

“At the end of the day, if the cuts are carried out, it will be the kids who suffer.”

Dad Rob Forster, 28, from Byker said: “I’m here to show support for the programme which supported my family.

“I don’t care about the financial side of it, it’s the social aspect I’m concerned about and the impact it will have on families.”

Dad Richard Cutter, 40, husband of Vanessa, said: “If the council closes these down now it will create a whole lot of social problems further down the line.

“The North East is one of the most deprived areas in the country and Sure Start helps provide tremendous support for the less well off. People who need help with raising kids, it teaches them about society and the community and means we are less likely to hear about problems of crime with them.

“It’s not just about the impact now, it’s about the impact it will have on Newcastle in the future.”

A council spokesman said: “The city council is facing a considerable financial challenge, to find £100m in savings between 2013 and 2016. We share people’s concerns about the future of our Sure Start centres – they provide an important and well-loved service to families across the city – but the severity of the cuts leaves us with no choice but to consider further reductions. Nothing has been decided yet and we will be asking people to have their say with a big public consultation in September.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 July 2014

Work Programme ‘Failing Those Most In Need And Should Be Broken Up’

This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Sunday 15th June 2014

 The £1.2bn Work Programme, the government’s flagship welfare to work scheme, needs to be broken up in the face of figures showing that as little as 5% of unemployed people on the main disability benefit are finding a job through it, a thinktank will propose this week.

The proposal is one of a series from the Institute for Public Policy Research in its Condition of Britain report, to be published on Thursday, including a proposal for a “daddy month” – four weeks’ paternity leave on the minimum wage, a plan that would cost the taxpayer £150m. More than 400,000 working fathers a year would benefit.

The thinktank’s report, the product of two years’ research, is due to be launched by Ed Miliband. It will look at the social and economic problems facing the country and cover areas such as welfare, housing, childcare and improvements to social care, as well as handing more power to local councils.

The current legal entitlement for working fathers is paid at a flat rate of £138.18 a week – equivalent to just £3.45 an hour for a 40-hour working week, little more than half the minimum wage. The IPPR proposes that the statutory paternity leave entitlement should not only be extended but should be paid at least the national minimum wage, with employers also encouraged to bridge the gap between the statutory rate and the father’s actual pay.

Only 55% of fathers take the full two weeks off work when their child is born and a third do not take any of their statutory leave. Most say this is because they cannot afford to.

On the Work Programme, the report concludes that the scheme is especially failing mentally ill people, and the task of helping those on employment support allowance – the main disability benefit – to find work should be devolved to local authorities, with councils recouping some of the possible savings from the Department for Work and Pensions.

However, the report says private contractors should be left to find jobs for the mainstream long-term unemployed using a modified version of the current system of payments by results.

> So… get rid of the Work Programme, and replace it with something like the Work Programme ? And we all know how good private companies are at milking the system despite poor results… which brings us back to the Work Programme !

It says: “The Work Programme, while delivering acceptable results for the mainstream job seekers, is letting down those furthest from the labour market. Whilst one in five mainstream job seekers will find work through the Work Programme as few as one in 20 of those furthest from the labour market will.”

> 20% is delivering acceptable results  ?

It also says those in areas of highest unemployment are receiving the least effective help.

It adds the “DWP has carved up the country between providers without any accountability to citizens or regard to local labour market conditions. Therefore for those out of work the system represents a postcode lottery in which success is determined not by individual effort but by geography.”

The report also says the government should offer a guaranteed six month minimum job paid at the minimum wage or above to anyone who has been unemployed and claiming job seekers allowance for more than 12 consecutive months.

> Or another work scheme, in other words. And after 6 months ?

The report will also set out plans to freeze child benefit to help fund a new network of children’s centres and extra free childcare, although it is understood that Miliband will reject this proposal.

Source –  Welfare News Service,  15 June 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/work-programme-failing-need-broken/

Labour Policy Report Calls For Radical Reform Of Welfare State

This article was written by Toby Helm, political editor, for The Observer on Saturday 14th June 2014

 Plans for a radical overhaul of the welfare state, including a return to the principle that benefits should be linked more closely to contributions, will be part of a major policy report for the Labour party this week.

The Condition of Britain study by the IPPR thinktank, to be launched by Ed Miliband on Thursday, will also contain proposals to devolve large amounts of power and funding out of Whitehall, including the control of housing benefit to councils, in order to stimulate innovative housing policies and more housebuilding.

The project was set up in February 2013 as part of Labour’s policy review to consider how institutions and policies need to respond to today’s needs – including more childcare and better care for the elderly – within the confines of tight budgets and inevitable further cuts.

A key theme is expected to be that early intervention at every stage of life can prevent society having to continue “paying for the costs of failure”.

>  “early intervention at every stage of life” – now isn’t that an ominous phrase ?

The report will argue that a stronger society can be built on the three “pillars” of shared power, contribution (through changes to the national insurance system) and strong institutions. While some proposals, such as a plan to freeze child benefit to fund a network of children’s centres, are likely to be rejected by Miliband, many of its central ideas will be considered by the party’s national policy forum in July.

The report is expected to look at whether benefit payments can be linked more closely to levels of contributions through changes to the national insurance system.

Senior figures believe that Labour must counter the impression that it supports a “something for nothing” benefits system by looking at radical change.

> Oh great – so it’s all about image and trying to appeal to those sectors of the electorate who wouldn’t vote Labour anyway. And once again those at the bottom of the pile will get a kicking… just so Labour look tough, just like the Tories.

Not a single original thought among them, is there ?

Writing on theguardian.com, the chair of the policy review, Jon Cruddas, suggests that such ideas could form a major part of Labour’s manifesto at the 2015 general election.

Looking ahead to the report’s publication, Cruddas says: “It sets out three broad strategies for social renewal: spread power and responsibility to build democracy and strengthen society; foster contribution and reciprocity to re-establish a sense of fairness and justice; and strengthen our shared institutions to help tackle social problems for good. These establish the foundations on which we can build a competitive wealth-creating economy.”

The report will contain proposals for a one-off levy of £450m on Britain’s £180bn consumer credit industry which the IPPR says could create enough affordable lenders to take on Britain’s legal loan sharks.

It says that, as well as a new legal cap on the total cost of credit, Britain needs a new generation of not-for-profit lenders with enough capital to compete with firms like Wonga, Quick Quid and Payday Express.

The IPPR launch will be followed later in the summer by Andrew Adonis’s growth review, which will focus on developing the economic potential of cities. Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester city council, will then publish work by his local government innovation taskforce setting out plans to redistribute power across England and reform public services so that they can be tailored better to meet local needs.

Source –  Welfare News Service,  15 June 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/labour-policy-report-calls-radical-reform-welfare-state/

Unemployed Lone Parents Could Be Forced Into Unpaid Work Placements

Unemployed lone parents could to be forced into mandatory unpaid work placements as part of fresh changes to benefits coming into force from the 28th April 2014.

Lone parents in receipt of Income Support who have a child between the age of 3-4 will be required to undertake ‘mandatory work related activity’to better prepare them for the full work-related requirements they will face when their child turns 5”.

The changes will also apply to lone parents in the Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG) of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

 It does not apply to those in the ESA Support Group: which is for sick and disabled benefit claimants who the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) feel will not be able to begin looking for work in the foreseeable future.

Local authority childcare schemes will be made available to allow the changes to come into effect and help free up lone parents to partake in the new requirements. Up to fifteen hours of free childcare will be available for those affected.

Income Support claimants with a child between the age of 1-4 will also be required to take part in work focused interviews at their nearest Jobcentre. The time and duration ‘will be tailored to the needs of the lone parent’.

Failure to comply with the changes – without good cause – could result in lone parents having their benefits cut or stopped completely (sanctioned). The level of the cut will begin at 20% but could increase to 100% for ‘further failures’. However, only one Income Support cut will be permitted in a two-week period.

It has also been announced this week that jobseeker’s who have been out of work for over three years, and who have already taken part in the government’s controversial Work Programme, will be required to undertake community work placements for up to 30 hours per week. They will also be expected to spend 10 hours per week looking for work.

The DWP has given the example of “clearing up litter and graffiti in local areas” which has previously been reserved for community volunteers and criminal offenders.

> Which is a pretty good indication of how our betters regard the unemployed – criminals who need to be punished. For their own good, you understand…

My contention is that if you have to work for benefits, then they are no longer benefits – they’re wages, and wages below the National Minimum Wage at that.

In this instance, failure to comply will result in jobseeker’s having their benefits cut for four weeks which could extend to several months for repeat offenders.

New Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants will also have to wait 7 days before they become entitled for the unemployment benefit.

Update

We have been informed that once a lone parent with a child over the age of 3 ‘volunteers’ for participation in the government’s ‘Work Programme’, that participation then becomes ‘mandatory’.

Source – Welfare News Service,  02 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/unemployed-lone-parents-to-be-forced-into-unpaid-work-placements/

The Cost of Cameron

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reblogged from the Green Benches
 
The 100 worst failures of David Cameron’s Government from May 2010 to December 2013. (note all 100 points are evidenced. Click on the word “evidence” at the end of each point to reveal the proof of the claim made herein.
  
 

Poverty

 
1.      The number of UK people at risk of poverty or social exclusion has grown by 1,689,000 since 31 December 2009 says European Statistics Agency (evidence)
2.      ONS Show 6,442,000 workers earn below a Living Wage in Tory UK even though 2 Studies show a Living Wage would save taxpayers’ billions (evidence & evidence)
3.      Now 707 Food Banks operating in UK according to my own research (evidence)
4.      David Cameron turned down EU Cash for Foodbanks says the European Parliament (evidence)
5.      Child Poverty up 13% (after Labour had cut it by 50%) says ONS (

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