PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Whyperion » 15 Feb 2014, 16:49

I suppose the environment agency borrowing an RAF Sentinel wont come cheap. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26187301 . Apparently these planes, equipment and operators were in the budget cuts from the MOD from next year ( quite how the MOD could think that low and high level intelligence gathering by similar means would not be useful to retain for the future is a little puzzingly)

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 13 Mar 2014, 08:09

The public service pay rises are expected today and the average is to be no more than 1%. This means that some, particularly in health, will get less. Leaving aside the disparity between inflation in essentials and the official rate, this means that take home pay will continue to fall in real terms.
Great..... MPs as well?
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 22 Mar 2014, 05:50

Do you remember the case in the Appeal Courts last November when the court ruled that the government plan to axe the Disability Living Fund was illegal? Huge sighs of relief from some of the most severely disabled people who had been helped by the £320million fund to get support to stay in their own homes instead of going into residential care.
Disabilities Minister Mike Penning has quietly announced that the government have 're-assessed their duties' and they are shutting down the fund anyway even though it will mean 18,000 people facing a substantial cut in benefit. The fund is to be devolved to local authorities already hard hit by funding cuts. This despite the report from the Centre for Welfare Reform, 'Counting the Cuts' which showed that austerity was costing the disabled four times as much as average families. Penning says that the economies will 'ensure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential'. Really?
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 12 Jul 2014, 06:40

It's a while since I commented on the effects of the cuts, such a depressing subject! However their are signs that they are starting to bite in some quite important areas. The overall trend is to cut expenditure in all areas with no thought of the effect on the people affected. Apart from the major areas of spending on support for mental health in the community (have you noticed the attacks on staff?) the provision of mobility aids is under severe attack, conditions for qualifying are getting much more stringent. My daughter tells me that the same thing is happening to the provision of hearing aids on the NHS.
I noticed something else this morning. On my early dog walk I used to see a van at the public toilets in the Pioneer car park every morning. I noticed this morning that a lady was doing the cleaning and no van in evidence. Perhaps David can tell us who is responsible for this now. I know that Pendle have been getting flak for closing such facilities.
The Coalition is chiselling away at public support services and it ain't over yet. More cuts are planned whoever wins the 2015 election. We shall pay a price for this, are the cuts really cost-effective in the long run?
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by David Whipp » 12 Jul 2014, 07:22

Pendle Council has ceased to provide public toilets since the beginning of April; all part of the cuts which Stanley mentions.

Although public conveniences in other parts of Pendle have been shut down over the last few years, in West Craven we fought to keep them open. Last year, over half of the remaining toilets provided by Pendle were in our area (Barnoldswick, Earby, Sough and Salterforth).

In Barlick and Earby the town councils agreed to take over running the toilets (this was one of the extra items in the town council budgets which led to an increase in the council tax for Barnoldswick and Earby).

The town council is now looking after the town centre toilets and those at Victory and Letcliffe Parks.

At the end of March, the town council extended the contract with the existing company to continue to clean the toilets for 3 months whilst prices were sought from a wider range of possible contractors.

At the beginning of July the contract was taken over by a local woman who has set up a business to do the work. (She is actually on holiday at the moment, and it's a temporary cleaner who's doing the work at the moment.)

At the changeover, the toilets were deep cleaned, rooflights were cleaned off and gutters cleared out etc.

The town council is hoping that the new arrangements will lead to a higher standard of public toilets and that we can keep them open as long as they are needed. (This will obviously depend on Barlick voters continuing to support people who want to see good quality facilities and services provided and are prepared to raise the funds to do so.)

Whether for young families or folk on water tablets, readily accessible and good quality public toilets are a must.

In Earby, the town council there is intending to replace the bus station toilets with a new facility in the complex of council buildings which have been passed over from Pendle. Salterforth and Kelbrook & Sough Parish Councils didn't want to run their toilets and the ones at Sough and Salterforth have closed.

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The town centre toilets (before roof and gutter clearing and cleaning).

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by David Whipp » 12 Jul 2014, 07:39

The issue of the toilets neatly illustrates an issue about those who say they 'will not vote for an increase in council tax'.

At Pendle, having 'no increase in council tax' was in part achieved by getting town and parish councils to take on services and facilities (eg toilets, the Civic Hall, Christmas lights - and more to come).

Town and parish councils had to increase their council tax to pay for the stuff being taken over from Pendle.

So voting for the Pendle budget was a vote to put council tax up where services were being transferred.

And then the Tories have the gall to point the finger at bodies like Barlick Town Council... for putting up the council tax!

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jul 2014, 04:43

Thanks for that David, I thought that might be the case. I agree with everything you have done. In the US they have a local sales tax for expenditures like these, I have always thought that this was a good idea and a very progressive tax. In an ideal world, businesses that take profit in the town and export it should be making a substantial contribution.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 15 Jul 2014, 06:16

I'm not sure whether the following comes under this topic of politics. See THIS for a Guardian article about the latest report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. They have been looking at incomes and the main conclusion is that the pensioners are the only group in the lower 50 percentile who have seen an improvement in income. Whilst this is true, it doesn't take account of the fact that rising prices of essentials have negated much of this fortunate position.
The group that have lost out most are the young. In an age when they are on the whole the best educated generation ever, they have seen a scarcity of jobs and low or zero wages in the ones that are available. In part, this acceptance of lower paid jobs has benefited the employment figures but as I have pointed out before, we have no data for how many of these jobs pay a living wage. It is estimated that 50% of the population regarded as being 'in poverty' are employed and getting government assistance. Rowntree noted this same syndrome in the 1930s and it seems that some things never change. One consequence of this is that anyone in poverty at the moment has very little chance of climbing out of the hole and many will descend to absolute penury unless things improve rapidly. No sign of this and the best estimates are that interest rates will start to rise in the last quarter of the year. A bleak prospect.....
This LINK on inequality of reward in the workplace is worth looking at. Piketty's hand grenade into economic thinking is producing results as some businesses and commentators come round to the realisation that inequality, while it may be good for short-term profits is bad for long term business prospects. The people who also need to take this message on board are the top 10% of capital holders. In terms of capital appreciation they are on a roll as long as their rents and returns exceed growth but in the long term it is the greatest danger to their quality of life. In an ideal world they would volunteer for more progressive taxation that returns money to the lower 90 percentile. Big question is will they volunteer or have to be pushed by social protest.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 17 Jul 2014, 06:39

Clegg has changed tack and says that the bedroom tax isn't working and must be changed.... (LINK) Funny thing is that many commentators pointed out the flaws when it was first brought in...
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 23 Aug 2014, 06:57

In 1845 Disraeli wrote 'Sybil. Or the Two nations' a novel that drew attention to the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. At almost the same time Engels published 'The Condition of the Working Classes'. Seebohm Rowntree started his work of documenting poverty and since then there is a huge body of literature on the problem. Have a look at THIS for one of the numerous reports into the effects of austerity on the very poor. Food bank reliance is rising, the police warn that people are shoplifting to live and public health bodies report an increase in malnutrition. One aspect of this mentioned on Woman's Hour yesterday is the fact that the low price offers in supermarkets are mainly on the worst kind of processed foods stuffed with fat, salt and carbohydrates. The consequences are clear but if you have any doubt have a look back in history.
At the end of the 19th century there was a great debate on 'physical efficiency' triggered by the large amount of recruits for the Boer War that had to be rejected as too badly undernourished and stunted to make decent soldiers. This was a shock in what was the most advanced industrial country in the world. It triggered the public parks movement and eventually the advent of social security. Throughout the 20th century there were improvements in the distribution of wealth culminating in the high water mark for the workers between 1950 and 1980 after which the improving curve reversed and we started the present plunge into inequality. It is no accident that 1980 was the year when economic policies changed, tax on high incomes was lowered, capital transfers were freed up and regulation of financial institutions was relaxed. I think we all know now what the price was, the failure of the credit system in 2008 followed by the disastrous decision to bail out banks which were 'too big to fail'.
Fast forward to the election biased pronouncements we get today from our local MP and the Coalition government. They are 'optimistic' and tell us that the recession is officially over. At the same time wages fail to keep up with inflation, benefits are restricted or cut and more and more people find themselves unable to provide for themselves and their families. It gets worse because for election purposes many cuts have been put on hold and even Osborn admits that there has to be a further £60billion of cuts in 2015-2018. There is no prospect, under any government, for any improvement in the domestic wage for at least ten years, many economists argue that it is longer than that.
So, look at the reports I flagged up at the top of the page, recognise the deterioration of the second half of the 19th century and ask yourself what the likely outcome of this disaster is going to be in years to come. What is the probable cost of this. Is there really an 'economic miracle'?
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 27 Aug 2014, 06:50

What will the effect of Public Service Cuts, particularly Local Authority funding, have on investigations like Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, Telford etc.? Is this one of the 'unintended consequences'?
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 04 Sep 2014, 05:19

See THIS for an account of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary reporting that some minor crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised because forces do not investigate them. They cite car crime, minor burglaries and criminal damage as three most at risk. Some forces are encouraging victims to investigate their own cases. This is all put down to the reduction in police funding and fewer officers. Another example of how public service cuts corrode the fabric of society. These are not unintended consequences, they are a coldly calculated strategy of eroding our attitudes to small scale crime. Someone has made the calculation that it is worth it for the savings.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Big Kev » 04 Sep 2014, 07:08

Stanley wrote:Some forces are encouraging victims to investigate their own cases.
I reckon they wouldn't be so keen when people start dishing out their own punishment...
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 04 Sep 2014, 07:43

Quite Kev. It strikes at the root of law enforcement. A crime is a crime and any bobby will tell you that if someone gets away with a small matter they will graduate to more serious crime, no deterrent.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Tizer » 04 Sep 2014, 09:21

Stanley wrote:...A crime is a crime and any bobby will tell you that if someone gets away with a small matter they will graduate to more serious crime, no deterrent.
Here's another pertinent point...new 20mph speed limits are being set up in various places but the police say they don't have enough manpower and will not ("at least in the first instance") check that the limits are observed. They are leaving it to locals to watch what's happening...so, another DIY police activity and another example of being able to get away with breaking the law.

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by PanBiker » 04 Sep 2014, 13:08

20mph limit down Long Ing in Barlick doesn't seem to have made one jot of difference. Nearly got taken out the other day by an idiot doing the best part of 60 on the bend mostly on my side of the road the other day when leaving work. Didn't get his number, too busy trying to avoid.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 05 Sep 2014, 05:05

With the present unrest, questions are being asked about the effects of cuts on the armed forces and the progress of the flawed plan to increase the number of reservists. See this BBC REPORT for doubts expressed by the NAO and MPs about the MOD reports that recruitment is on track.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 28 Sep 2014, 07:00

See THIS for George Osborne's election pledge to make further cuts in the benefits system if they are re-elected. Labour are saying much the same thing. This means what I have always predicted, cuts and penury for the poorest in society and extending far into the future. What is the hidden cost of all this in stress, family break up, increased crime and deprivation?
We live in a wealthy country but you would think we were a banana republic. We have possibly the most equitable health and social care system in the world and this bunch of shysters is dismantling it in the name of 'economic progress'. I include Labour in this because Blair was no better, he out-thatchered Thatcher in some ways. Real wages fall month by month, the stock markets boom as the markets maximise returns and take every advantage they can. Under the 'free market' obscene wages are paid to those lucky enough to have the ear of the remuneration committee. The banks are virtually untouched by the minor changes in regulation and as far as the city is concerned, all is well. This translates into more cash available for lobbying and seconding 'advisers' to government and when a minister has done his stint for the lads the revolving door wafts him or her to a lucrative post in the City, very often in the field where they were working in government.
All this is being done in plain view and I have yet to see any of the main parties stand fast and bow the whistle.
The bottom line in the long term is that the only way out of this mess is a Global Wealth Tax to bleed off the excess returns being sucked out of the economy by the top 10% of capital holders. Have you heard anyone mention this? Is there any chance of it happening in my lifetime? This is the worst position I have seen in all my long life and I include WW2. Yes, you're right, I am enraged.....
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Tizer » 28 Sep 2014, 15:56

Stanley wrote:I include Labour in this because Blair was no better, he out-thatchered Thatcher in some ways.
I'm glad to hear you saying that, rather than letting party politics get in the way of critical thinking as so often happens elsewhere. To my mind, party politics is like religion, a lot of people reinforcing their group beliefs, whether the beliefs are correct or not. I wish we could do away with it and just get on with selecting the best people to run the country. I hate party conference time!

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 29 Sep 2014, 03:44

Tiz, you are right about the tribal nature of party politics. This can be a great strength when managed properly and is essential to maintaining the core of any organisation. The trouble comes when devious politicians use it to the wrong ends by harnessing its power to unprincipled policies. All Tories aren't bad but imbued as they are by the false values of the old school tie and mistaken loyalties, they need re-educating! The classic case at the moment is the way the capital owning class is attacking the very basis of the society they rely on by using their wealth as a lever to manage policy and further increase their power to suck blood out of the lower 90% of the population. In this respect they are true parasites. Funny thing is that many of them are 'middle class' and many of them are being hit just as hard as the poor!
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Tizer » 29 Sep 2014, 16:05

But Labour, since it became New Labour, seems to have gone the same way as the Tories. Now we find UKIP being a bit of both!

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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 30 Sep 2014, 05:08

True, everyone is obsessed with money. It's a bit like when I was fighting for funding for Ellenroad. My iron rule was that you should never tailor aspirations to the money available but think of what the task needed, double it and go out and justify that level of funding. It's a similar situation, the money is there but is being spent on the wrong priorities. Made worse of course by the fact that 'principle' is very thin on the ground.
Wee Georgie spelt it out yesterday, he confirmed what I have been saying for months. The bottom 50% in society face at least another ten years of the wasteland of Austerity. His basic thinking is rooted in the old concept of the 'undeserving poor'. Difference is he thinks they are all undeserving. Morally and ethically bankrupt. The Tory aim is to compound the error by lowering the top tax rate to 40% again. Good to tell where the priorities are.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 18 Dec 2014, 06:38

See THIS for the latest assessment of local council funding cuts in 2015/2016. This is an optimistic figure as it assumes a state of the economy which at the moment looks very precarious in view of tax take reductions due to the fall in oil price and the dire state of the Euro zone. This is bad news for the councils and will only become clear after May.
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Stanley » 07 Jan 2015, 08:59

Anyone who is watching the ongoing NHS argument with anything close to objectivity will realise that one of the main factors at play is elderly patients taking up hospital beds because their local authority hasn't got the money to fund social services properly. See THIS for the latest news item I can find on the widespread underpayment of carers by contractors. In principle they are paid at least the minimum wage but in effect, because of unpaid travel time and other ploys they are not getting this. I heard a report this morning criticising HMRC for not pursuing these rogue companies even though they have the power to do so. No big surprise here because if they did it would expose the root cause, the inability of local councils to pay a proper market rate for the services. So the contractors cut corners by in effect underpaying the carers. This makes carers harder to find, drives down qualification levels, cuts the time available for each client and influences the councils when they do their initial assessments to decide eligibility for care. This underfunding of a vital service means that more elderly people experience acute episodes which call for emergency treatment in hospitals. This ties up beds and resources and leads to the present situation we see now of an overstretched system with ambulances queuing up outside A&E waiting for reception and triage and of course in political terms this signals 'a crisis in A&E'.
It's much more complicated and the roots go back eventually to Public Service Cuts and the underfunding of councils who were given the responsibility but not the funding to manage the problem.
It gets worse, we are already promised another batch of cuts in the next parliament and this was decided before the present plunge in oil revenues and taxes and the looming crisis in the EU. This number will rise under the Tory policies.
It's a mess and we haven't looked at the effect on other services including the police. We are getting warnings every day of further cuts damaging the fabric of society. It's a gloomy picture and I don't see any prospect of it getting better. Sorry, but that's how it looks to me....
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Re: PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS

Post by Tizer » 07 Jan 2015, 09:54

With three parents in care we get plenty of experience of the carer situation these days. The companies employing them are finding increasing difficulty in finding suitable people. No doubt some of this is due to low pay but it's also a dearth of potential candidates with the appropriate skills and empathy to do the job - and it's a hard, stressful job to do well. We're seeing professional, experienced carers becoming ill from stress. Then there are rules and controls about who can be employed in such jobs. In some parts of the country they are very dependent on staff from abroad. At the nursing home where Mrs Tiz's parents reside in Buckinghamshire a change in rules has meant they have had to `let go' non-EU staff and try to find EU workers to replace them. Other factors affect the caring profession. My dad's carers have had to change their procedures because insurance companies have changed their attitude to carers who use their cars to carry care home residents and have put the premiums up so much that that only a few staff can use their car for work duties. Which means they probably have to rely more on hospital-provided transport to get residents to appointments. (I'd be interested to know how it affects those carers who attend people in their own homes!) I don't believe `knocking the Tories' will help - it's not down to just one political party, they're all failing to address the main problem: we're not putting enough money into the system and not training enough staff. No political party will bite the bullet and raise more money from the UK population who, after all, are the ones for whom the NHS is intended.

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