“Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment firm launches second Irish fund”

“A second investment fund has been set up in Ireland by the City firm co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg, after it warned earlier this year about the financial dangers of the sort of hard Brexit favoured by the Conservative MP.

The fund, which is backed by $50m (£38m) in seed money from the Swedish national pension plan, was created to meet demand from international investors, according to Somerset Capital Management (SCM).

Uncertainty over the UK’s stance on withdrawal from the EU and the potential impact on banking and related services has led asset managers based in London to establish new financial products in European financial hubs including Dublin and Frankfurt.

A spokesperson for SCM said that for many years it had plans to launch a dedicated strategy for UK and European investors, saying: “Our decision to choose Ireland as a domicile had absolutely nothing to do with Brexit. We have funds domiciled all over the world including in Europe, the US and Australasia, and we will continue to offer a global service to our client base.”

In March, SCM described Brexit as a risk in a prospectus to a new fund, which has been marketed to international investors who want to keep their money in the EU long-term.

The disclosures have been used by political opponents of Rees-Mogg, who has been working part-time at Somerset Capital in addition to his work as an MP and who has repeatedly dismissed the concerns of those worried about the financial risks of Brexit.

The MP has a stake of more than 15%, according to the register of MPs’ financial interests.

On Saturday, Rees-Mogg said Britain was heading for a no-deal exit from the EU but said falling back on World Trade Organization terms was “nothing to be frightened of”.

Rees-Mogg chairs the European Research Group, which continues to put pressure on the prime minister to adopt a more antagonistic stance towards Brussels as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU.”


We MUST stop embedding Local Enterprise Partnership growth figures into local strategies

Readers know Owl bangs on about our LEP promising to double growth in Devon and Somerset up to 2030. Their figures then go on to be embedded in many Devon and Somerset council growth strategies.

Now we read (Sunday Telegraph Business – paywall) that the Office of Budget Responsibility believes that “growth” will “flatline for [at least] a decade, reaching as little as 2% over that period.

Will the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (public consultation about which is being postponed until after 2019 local elections – a very ominous sign) use LEP figures or more pessimistic government forecasts?

And then there’s the effect of Brexit ……!

“Council pensions poured into Carillion” [just before the company crashed]

“A City fund is under fire for pouring tens of millions of pounds of councils’ pension money into projects run by the outsourcer Carillion weeks before it went bust.

Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP) invests the pensions of councils from Strathclyde to the West Midlands. It bought 10 infrastructure schemes from Standard Life Aberdeen for £400m in late November.

That deal included two Carillion hospital projects — the troubled Royal Liverpool and Southmead in Bristol.

PIP’s investors demanded an investigation after the fund was left nursing heavy losses in the wake of Carillion’s collapse into liquidation in January.

That internal review, which has been completed, recommended that PIP tighten its internal controls.”


Seaton fights for Axe Valley health care

Owl says: good to see the deprived eastern side of East Devon banding together to fight for its (similarly deprived) health services.

Priorities identified for Axe Valley healthcare provision

“A ten point plan to safeguard healthcare provision across the Axe Valley has been drawn up.

The list of priorities has been agreed following a series of meetings between representatives from statutory and voluntary health groups along with local councillors.

Following the workshops, organised by Seaton Area Health Matters group, 10 priorities have emerged:

* To take an area approach for the Axe Valley, not just Seaton.

* Improving communication and co-ordination between voluntary organisations.

* Maintaining and extending NHS services in GP practices and at Seaton Hospital.

* The challenges in older age groups (chronic diseases, loneliness and isolation).

* The challenges in younger age groups (drug and alcohol addiction, housing, poverty).

* Mental health support.

* Transport difficulties to access services.

* Promoting health and wellbeing

* Communication on what is available.

* Co-ordination and ownership to tackle the challenges.

To look at these challenges a steering group has been established under the chairmanship of Seaton town councillor Jack Rowland.

A Terms of Reference was agreed at the last meeting on July 12 and two initial working parties have been established to work on the priorities and report back on progress at the September 6 meeting of the steering group.

A website and Facebook page will also be set up to communicate what is happening and enable people to contribute their views and receive answers, where appropriate.

Explained Cllr Rowland: “The working parties will utilise the experience and knowledge of whoever they need to as part of producing recommendations for approval by the Seaton Area Health Matters Steering Group and then potential approval and support from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust (RDE).

The next meetings of the Seaton Area Health Matters group are:

Thursday, September 13, at


Thursday, December 13, at 2pm

both at the Marshlands Centre, Harbour Road, Seaton.

Anyone who has an interest in healthcare in the Axe Valley is welcome to attend.

Representatives from groups involved in health, care and wellbeing are actively invited to become members of Seaton Area Health Matters by attending the meetings.

Other members of the steering group are: Cllr Geoff Pook (vice chair), Cllr Marcus Hartnell, Victoria Parry (Healthy eating charity and Clinical Commissioning Group community representative), Cllr Martin Shaw, Roger Trapani (CCG community representative) Tina Trapani (Devon Senior Voice representative), Dr Mark Welland (Seaton GP and chairman of Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends).”


The Great Council House Funding Con!

Councils have warned that a £2bn funding pot finally made available to them will not be enough to deliver the new generation of council homes promised by Theresa May. Their message comes as the first ever social housing green paper by a Conservative government is expected to be published this week.

Local Government Association chair, Lord Porter, the Conservative leader of South Holland District Council, Lincolnshire, said he would not be able to build enough council homes to meet local demand because the government was only offering 166 councils extra borrowing capacity and additional funding for social housing.

“I’m building petty cash numbers. I need about 200 a year and I’m not even building 20. It means I’ve got a bunch of people sitting on a waiting list,” he said. “You have to be in the crappiest life circumstances in my area to access a council house. That should not be the case. If you don’t earn a lot of money, you shouldn’t have to rent in the private sector, where rents will be double what they are in the social sector.”

The green paper, still expected before parliament breaks for the summer this week, and May’s pledge at last year’s Conservative conference that she wanted to build a new generation of council homes, have raised hopes that government would free councils to build at scale again.

Streets in the sky … the Sheffield high-rises that were home sweet home
The latest figures show that social house building has hit a new low, with only 5,900 homes completed in 2017 – the lowest proportion of overall housing supply since records began. In 2011 nearly 40,000 socially rented homes were built in England.

Porter said the Treasury was unlikely to allow councils to borrow against existing housing, termed “sweating”. “We can’t borrow against our own stock, which is insane. We are sitting on hundreds of billions of pounds in assets that are un-sweated,” he said.

Councils have lost around 100,000 socially rented homes since 2012 through right-to-buy sales and conversions to much higher affordable rents, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Housing. …”


BoJo refuses to leave (free and almost tax free) Foreign Office luxury pad that should go to Jeremy Hunt

“Boris Johnson has refused to budge from his £20million taxpayer-funded mansion, as Downing Street admitted he could still be there for “weeks”.

There is growing anger as he remains at the luxury official residence, despite resigning as Foreign Secretary 12 days ago.

The Tory MP was today spotted sheepishly leaving the mansion, with two large suitcases packed in an awaiting car for him.

But wife Marina Wheeler was understood to still be in the home today.

A No10 spokeswoman said: “He’s leaving within the next few weeks.”

Mr Johnson refused to answer questions on his living situation when confronted by the Mirror at the property.

Two taxpayer-funded, unmarked police cars with four staff waited for two hours at One Carlton Gardens in Central London as the MP readied himself.

Mr Johnson was whisked away in a Jaguar, with the suitcases in a 4×4 BMW.

He has raked in thousands from renting out a home just four miles away in Islington, North London, while he lived rent-free in the mansion.

Grenfell Tower survivor Aalya Moses, 57, who spent months cooped up in a hotel room as she awaited a new home after the blaze, hit out at the former Cabinet minister.

She said: “If he’s still living in there I think it’s disgusting, it’s outrageous.

“A man like him will have earned plenty of money and he’s living for free in a second home he shouldn’t really be living in any more. And it’s at the taxpayers’ expense?

“What planet is he on? It’s diabolical.”

Labour MP David Lammy said it was proof of a “serious class problem” here.

Referring to the recent scandal over treatment of Windrush migrants, he added: “Those like Boris Johnson, who are drenched in privilege, feel entitled to claim far beyond what they are owed.

“Meanwhile, many of the poorest in our society often do not get even their most basic rights.

“As Boris luxuriates in Carlton Gardens at the taxpayers’ expense, despite resigning from his role, many from the Windrush generation remain homeless due to Government failures and its hostile environment.”

It also emerged Mr Johnson may have enjoyed the grace-and-favour property without paying tax.

Ministers are usually expected to declare such accommodation as a taxable benefit on the department’s annual report, according to the Treasury.

Mr Johnson, who has lived there since being made Foreign Secretary two years ago, has not.

The Treasury said: “Government ministers occupying official residences by virtue of their jobs meet the statutory conditions for an exemption from a tax charge on the property itself.

“However, tax is charged on associated services, such as heating, lighting, repairs…

“The charge of the benefit limited to 10% of the net earnings from the ministerial salary (not including their parliamentary salary).”

HMRC declined to comment on individual cases.

The Foreign Office failed to respond to the Mirror for comment, and to confirm whether Mr Johnson had vacated Carlton Gardens.

The Foreign Office leases the mansion from the Crown Estate, which looks after the Queen’s properties. Officials paid £482,341 a year in rent on it in 2015.

If this has not gone up since then the Foreign Office is paying £1,321.48 a day for the property.

That means as of yesterday, the taxpayer had paid £14,536 for it since Mr Johnson quit over Brexit on July 9.

The Georgian mansion is considered the most plush of all the ministers’ grace-and-favour pads. …”