Tagged: National Health Service

Greedy ‘Parasites’ And ‘Bullingdon Bullies’ Are Turning Britain Into A Downton Abbey Style Society

Disastrous economic policies are dividing Britain and destroying hopes of recovery, the leader of the country’s biggest union stated today (Monday 8 September 2014).

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, called for collective bargaining to be reintroduced to arrest the decades long fall in the value of wages, and give workers a fairer share of the wealth they create.

He warned that over the past 40 years collective bargaining has fallen from covering 80 per cent of the workforce to just 20 per cent today, leaving millions of workers at the mercy of employers who are only prepared to pay poverty wages.

Speaking in the debate on the new economy at the Trades Union Congress in Liverpool,  McCluskey said:

“It was a Tory – Benjamin Disraeli – who said that Britain was two nations. He would certainly feel right at home today.

“Workers in our country are today facing the longest drop in their living standards since the 1870s when Disraeli was prime minister. But to be fair to him – he saw the class divisions in Britain as a problem to be solved. His Conservative successor in Number 10 seems to rejoice in them.

“Because every measure David Cameron and George Osborne take is designed to increase the squeeze on workers’ living standards and widen the already scandalous inequality gap.

“David Cameron used to talk of the Big Society. The truth is he’s created Two Societies – a society of Bullingdon Bullies, country suppers with Rebekah Brooks, tax cuts for the rich, a society which is a happy home for the hedge fund managers who fund the Tory party.

“That’s not so much the Big Society, more like the Greedy Pig Society.

“On the other hand there’s a society of people in fear – fear of losing their jobs or their homes, fear of paying the heating bills, fear over the future of the National Health Service, where the government strips away any protection the poorest can still cling to.

“The Tories will tell you that it’s all going to come right – that after six lost years for the economy we will all feel the benefits soon. But the truth is that trickle down has dried up.

“For the first time in anyone’s memory we have an economy which is apparently growing – while living standards for ordinary people are still falling.

“To misquote another famous Tory: ‘Never, in the field of human economics, has so much been produced by so many to the benefit of so few’.

“We need a social rebalancing and only trade unions can deliver that – because all the power is on one side of the negotiating table.

“Most economists now recognise that this is the biggest structural obstacle to sustainable growth in a modern economy.

“Collective bargaining can ensure that workers get back more of the wealth they produce. Trade unions stand for the productive economy and the people who are the real wealth-creators. In Downing Street they represent only the parasites.”

 

Source: Unite Union Media Release  via Welfare News Service, 08 Sept 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/greedy-parasites-bullingdon-bullies-turning-britain-downton-abbey-style-economy/

Health Inequalities and the one per cent – Free talk will address inequalities

The issue of health inequality in an increasingly unequal UK is the topic of the Wolfson Annual Lecture at Durham University’s Stockton campus later this year.

The free public lecture entitled “Health Inequalities and the one per cent” will be given by Professor Danny Dorling, from the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University.

Prof Dorling, who is the author of  Bankrupt Britain: An Atlas Of Social Change, highlights the fact that health inequalities are growing in the UK as the super-rich get richer.

In Britain the best-off one per cent take a very high share of national income – much more, for instance, than the annual cost of running the National Health Service,” he said.

Before tax, they consume about 15 per cent of all income, or around 10 per cent after paying income tax.”

In no other Western European country does a small group of people take such a large share of the cake, he adds.

Even as the overall size of that cake shrank during the great recession, their share rose while that of the rest fell.”

Prof Dorling asks what are the implications for everyone else in British society and suggests that the effects of such a wealth gap are not beneficial.

“There are many possible reasons as to why living in a very economically unequal country might be bad for our health….it is difficult to ascertain which might matter most. It is easier to suggest ways of remedying the situation.”

Anyone is welcome to attend the November 19 2014 lecture, which begins with lunch at 12.45 and ends at 3pm, but places are limited and must be booked in advance by contacting Suzanne Boyd on 0191 3340013.

The venue is the Ebsworth Building, Durham University, Queen’s Campus, Stockton.

Source – northern Echo, 02 Sept 2014

Home Secretary to look at claims of hundreds were abused in North East children’s homes

An investigation into a huge child abuse scandal in the North could be re-opened after questions were raised in Parliament.

Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to look into allegations of “a whitewash” during the investigation into widespread abuse at children’s homes in the North.

Operation Rose involved hundreds of allegations dating back to the 1960s.

Northumbria Police carried out a three-year investigation into sexual and physical abuse at 61 children’s homes run by voluntary bodies and councils in Northumberland, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

But the £5m inquiry resulted in only six convictions, despite uncovering 530 allegations.

The investigation began in 1997 after a woman in her twenties told a social worker that she and a friend had been abused as children in care.

Officers embarked on a process of “trawling” for information by writing to 1,800 former residents explaining that they were looking into homes where they had once lived.

Police regarded 97 individuals as possible suspects, of whom 60 were arrested in connection with charges of child abuse.

Eventually, 32 people who were charged with a total of 142 offences, of which five were found guilty, one pleaded guilty, 12 were found not guilty, nine had cases withdrawn, four died before their cases were heard and one remained on file.

Court hearings continued until 2002.

But the investigation could be re-opened after a series of revelations, including the shocking truth about child abuse by Jimmy Savile, led to concern that abuse and exploitation was more widespread than previously believed.

Northumberland MP Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley, urged Mrs May to look into the affair as he said more alleged victims had come forward.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: “Will the Home Secretary look at Operation Rose in Northumberland, which took place a few years ago? It is becoming more apparent that it was a whitewash as more victims come forward each day and each month.”

Mrs May told him she would investigate.

She said: “It is precisely because I want to ensure that we cover all the cases that have come up that I think it is important that the terms of the inquiry panel are drawn quite widely. I will look into the matter that he raises.”

Mr Campbell has raised concerns about Operation Rose in the past. Last year he told the Commons that one constituent who was in care homes in the 1960s and 1970s had attempted to report abuse he had suffered but was told it was “just what happened in those days”.

But Operation Rose also led to complaints during the police inquiry that innocent teachers, social workers and care home staff were having their lives ruined because of the way police encouraged alleged victims to come forward.

The Government last week launched a wide-ranging investigation into the extent of historic child abuse in the country and whether police, courts, the National Health Service, schools and institutions such as the BBC let down victims.

An expert panel will also have the power to scrutinise the behaviour of political parties, the security services and private companies.

And Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last month urged anyone who was abused by Jimmy Savile at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary to come forward. An inquiry has found Savile made at last three visits to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle General Hospital, but found no evidence of abuse.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 July 2014

Queen’s Speech: David Cameron Has Failed Britain

By Jenny Howarth

Her Majesty the Queen has delivered the final speech at the opening of parliament before next year’s general election.   A speech that Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described as ‘bold’.

In a joint statement issued alongside the Queen’s speech, the prime minister and his deputy said: [The coalition was] “still taking bold steps” [to] “take Britain forward to a brighter future”, adding:

 “We may be two parties, with two different philosophies but we understand one thing, countries rise when their people rise. So this Queen’s Speech is unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration.”

Among the measures announced in the speech were:

  • A bill implementing reforms to annuities announced in March’s Budget. In future, people will not be required to buy an annuity with their pension savings and will be able to draw their retirement income in one go if they choose
  • A separate bill to allow employees to pay into collective pension funds shared with other workers, a move it is hoped will cut costs and encourage saving
  • A new state-funded childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 a year, replacing the existing employer-funded scheme
  • A Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism bill offering extra legal protection for people being sued for negligence or breach of duty if they acted heroically or in the public interest
  • Curbs on “excessive redundancy payments” for highly-paid public servants
  • Tougher penalties for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage and a crackdown on the abuse of zero hours contracts
  • Plans for a 5p charge for plastic bags in England as announced at last year’s Lib Dem conference
  • Reforms to speed up infrastructure projects, including new freedoms for the Highways Agency and allowing fracking firms to run shale gas pipelines on private land without getting prior permission
  • New criminal sentences for those assisting organised crime syndicates, tougher sentence for cyber criminals and tougher powers to seize the assets of crime bosses – and making the possession of written paedophilia a criminal offence
  • A modern-day slavery bill with tougher penalties for human trafficking
  • Help for pub landlords including a statutory code and a body to adjudicate disputes
  • Giving voters the power to trigger by-elections where MPs have committed serious wrong-doing

With polls showing a Labour Party average lead of 6.6%, the speech, written for the Queen by her government highlights how out of touch and removed from reality the coalition government is. With Labour sources for the BBC saying it was “staggering” that the NHS and immigration were not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech.

You would assume that David Cameron would have ensured that this final speech would have contained elements to woo voters. But sadly, it has failed, just as Cameron and his coalition government has failed the people of Britain and here is why:

National Health Service (NHS)

This week in a letter to The Guardian, top health officials including Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, and the chairs or chief executives of acute hospital trusts in London, Nottingham, Teeside, Kent, Sheffield, Oxford and elsewhere, warned that the NHS “is at the most challenged time of its existence.”

In a separate article, Rob Webster, speaking to The Telegraph, warned, that if “significant changes” were not made and the “decline” was to continue that:

  • Hospital patients would be forced to pay for their meals, bed and even for patient transport.
  • Swathes of the country would be left without a GP, because family doctors refuse to work in areas where they cannot keep up with demand.
  • Accident & Emergency departments would be increasingly shutting their doors without warning, because they are unable to cope.
  • Hospitals would go bust overnight because bills cannot be paid.
  • There would be Longer waits for surgery, and increasing numbers of cancelled operations.

With the NHS so critical, it is something that should have been addressed in today’s speech but it would appear that Cameron and his Health Secretary are more determined than ever to place the NHS in private hands.

Welfare

Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s (IDS) welfare reforms have been an unmitigated disaster.

His flagship Universal Credit Scheme has been beset with problems, with The Guardian reporting in May this year that The Major Projects Authority (MPA) – responsible for grading its implementation – has said that it has undergone so many fundamental changes that it is “reset” (gone back to drawing board).

In addition, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, also released in May showed that over half a million ESA claimants are still waiting for the results of their assessment.

Then there is the hated Spare-room subsidy (bedroom tax).   In a survey of 183 housing associations (HA), conducted by IPSOS Mori on behalf of the National Housing Federation in February this year, it was found that:

  • One in seven of those hit by the bedroom tax has now had a notice of seeking possession issued to them.
  • 66% of HA residents hit by the bedroom tax are in rent arrears
  • More than a third (38%) reported to be in debt because they were unable to pay the bedroom tax

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation said:

“If these notices of seeking possession turn into evictions it will be the direct responsibility of those who introduced a measure which is economically incoherent, socially divisive, disruptive of family life and causing real damage to real people. It really can’t be allowed to go on.”

The failure to address welfare reform in today’s speech would indicate that if the Conservatives were to win next year’s election then it is likely it will go on, inflicting more misery to more families.

 It is clear, that Cameron is not listening.   The recent local and European elections proved that the people of Britain are not happy.   Ed Miliband, picked up on this by saying ahead of today’s speech:

“The local and European elections show the depths of discontent with the direction of our country which people increasingly feel does not work for them.

“We need action, we need answers, we need a programme for government equal to the scale of the challenge our country faces.

“We would have a Queen’s Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain.

“A Queen’s Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same.”

So what would be in Labour’s first Queen’s speech if they were to win next year?

Mark Ferguson, writing for Labour List, has put together what he thinks would be in it, based on Labours plans so far:

Banking bill

A first year priority, that would mean breaking up banks to create competition in the banking sector – and reforms intended to boost lending and support small businesses.

Make Work Pay bill

Mark Ferguson acknowledges that this one still needs some detail adding to it, which he believes we should get in the months ahead. In short, this bill would see Labour legislating for a higher minimum wage (maybe even a statutory living wage?) and legislating on zero-hours contracts.

Housing bill

Currently Labour is talking about building 200,000 homes a year by 2020. For Mark Ferguson, that’s a little slow, believing that Labour should be aiming to build a million homes over the next parliament with the expectation for Miliband to upgrade Labour’s offer on housing before the election.

However, it is already pretty substantial, and this bill would act on land banks, legislate for new garden cities, crack down on fees for private sector tenants and provide more stable and secure long-term rents for those in the private rented sector.

Community bill

Nicknamed, the “taking back the high street” bill. This would give communities a say on payday lenders and betting shops on their high streets – thus reducing their volume and growth.

Immigration bill

Angela Eagle has stated that Labour would legislate on immigration. Such a bill would seek to stop workers being undercut and ban recruitment agencies from only recruiting from overseas.

A new Scotland bill 

This would  enshrine the recommendations of Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission, introducing a form of “Devo-Max” – obviously this is in the event of a No vote in this year’s referendum.

Consumers’ bill

Or perhaps more accurately, the energy prices bill. Labour’s big energy price freeze pledge would be enacted in the first Queen’s Speech

Outlawing discrimination against armed forces bill

This would put discrimination against members of the armed forces on the same footing as other forms of discrimination.

Mark Ferguson, goes onto state the other priorities for Labour in the first year of the next parliament that don’t necessarily need primary legislation, but which would be mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. These include:

  • The jobs guarantee,
  • The return of the 50p Tax rate
  • The abolition of the Bedroom Tax.

Unlike Cameron and his Conservative Party, it is evident, although some may disagree, that Ed Miliband has thought through what the people of Britain need.

> More likely the thinks its the sort of thing people might vote for at this moment in time. Unfortunately, an increasing number of people believe that should Labour win the next election, it’d actually just be a case of neo-liberal policies as usual.

And In case you’re wondering where the NHS fits in, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said today that it would be a “joyous moment, when next year, Her Majesty the Queen says: “My Government will repeal the Health & Social Care Act 2012″. Assuming of course that there will be a Labour victory.

With 336 days to go to the general election, the stakes have never been higher.   David Cameron has to start listening to the people of Britain, has to axe the bedroom tax, has to curb welfare reform and stop privatizing the NHS.   Failure to do so will mean he will be out of a job – not only as prime minister but also as leader of the Conservatives.

Source – Welfare News Service, 04 June 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-has-failed-britain/

 

Coalition drags out the pain with promise of many more cuts

Mike Sivier's blog

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The BBC has reported findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that the Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year (March 31).

The organisation said 60 per cent of the cuts were still to come.

This raises a few urgent questions. Firstly: This government was formed on the promise that it would balance the books by 2015, which presupposes that its entire plan for doing so would be in place long before then. We know that this ambitious claim was dismissed after years of failure, but part of the reason for this failure was that George Osborne stopped a recovery that was already taking place, and which would have led to economic growth of 20 per cent by now, if it had been allowed to continue (according to Michael Meacher MP). My question, therefore…

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Osborne’s bid to end democracy by the back door

Mike Sivier's blog

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The Coalition government has finally put its cards on the table, calling for the completion of a ‘free trade’ agreement with the United States of America that will end democracy as we know it today.

Do you think this statement is needlessly hyperbolic? In fact, it probably does not make the point strongly enough!

You will lose the ability to affect government policy – particularly on the National Health Service; after the Health and Social Care Act, the trade agreement would put every decision relating to its work on a commercial footing. The rights of transnational corporations would become the priority, health would become primarily a trade issue and your personal well-being would be of no consequence whatsoever.

Profit will rule.

Also threatened would be any other public service that has been privatised by this and previous governments, along with any that are privatised in the future; all would fall…

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The 12 Days Of Coalition Christmas

Something to sing in the dole queue…

The wonderful work of

DOC HACKENBUSH 

http://dochackenbush.tumblr.com