Should higher-rate tax pensioners be given winter fuel payments?

” … More than 12 million pensioners receive winter fuel payments each year, putting a £2.1billion dent in Treasury coffers.

About 43,000 are higher rate taxpayers, who currently have an annual income of more £43,001, receive the benefit of between £100 and £300 every year.

If each received the maximum £300 every year for five years, it will have cost the public a total of £64.5million.

… But just 518 [of all payees, whether paying higher rate tax not known] have refused to accept the payments since 2011, the Government admitted.”

Some older councillors who claim multiple allowances from districts and/or county (and maybe councillor Board members of our LEP whose allowances or expenses we are not allowed to know) are almost certainly in the higher rate tax group – as is every MP.

Owl wonders if they donate their winter fuel payments to charity – or if any of them are in the 518 people who refused the money?

“Severely unaffordable housing” in Devon

“… The United Kingdom has a seriously unaffordable major market Median Multiple ranking of 4.5 in 2016 and a severely unaffordable Median Multiple of 4.6 overall.

None of the United Kingdom’s 21 major housing markets are classed as affordable according to Demographia.

Six major markets in the UK are classed as severely unaffordable including; Bournemouth and Dorset,

Plymouth and Devon,

the London Exurbs (East and Southeast England, virtually all outside the London greenbelt), Bristol-Bath, Liverpool and Merseyside, and Warrington and Cheshire. “

“Devon County conservatives [including Paul Diviani] vote down chance of deferring hospital bed closures”

“Six conservative councillors voted down my proposal to defer a rushed decision to close the remaining half of community hospital beds in Eastern Devon.

The proposal was made at last Thursday’s (19 January) Devon County Council health and wellbeing scrutiny committee following a presentation from four members of NEW Devon clinical commissioning group (CCG), which revealed that many more than 3,000 responses were received to their consultation to close 72 beds.

The six conservatives include Cllr Paul Diviani, who is the councillor for Honiton, where the hospital beds are set to be lost as part of the decision.

Yet most of those same councillors voted IN FAVOUR of a motion calling for a pause to the controversial beds cuts and service centralisation document, the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) at the full council meeting in December.

And half of the scrutiny councillors also voted in favour of a raft of actions against the STP in the morning scrutiny session!

NEW Devon CCG is set to make its decision on closing 72 beds in Eastern Devon, on 2 March at its governing body meeting, yet it has received what is says are well over 3,000 technical and heartfelt responses.

Managers are ploughing their way through them, yet this many detailed responses will require a significant amount of work to read, digest and potentially respond to the issues and questions set out in them.

I said that there may need to be further discussions with communities about the issues raised. And according to a consultation response by Hospiscare that I have seen, there is a massive problem with regular breakdowns in social care packages for people who want to die at home.

Last year alone, Hospiscare reported 58 incidents to the CCG where the breakdown of social care packages for people at end of life had caused distress. This is completely appalling, and surely must be the tip of the iceberg.

Hospiscare specifically ask the CCG in their response for an assurance that in-patient care will still be available for dying patients who cannot be managed at home because of complexity or carer breakdown or because they choose not to die at home.

Will they get that assurance? I doubt it.

I also raised the issue of six incorrect postcodes that were published initially with the consultation. This meant that some hospitals were judged as being not as far away from other hospitals than they actually were. The postcodes issue was later rectified but that did not alter the fact that the bed closure recommendations had been based on the incorrect information.

I asked about a detailed impact analysis of the bed closures at Ottery, Axminster and Crediton Hospitals and the reply was that although one hadn’t been undertaken, there is a running analysis in terms of an in-house reporting system. I asked for a copy of this….

I made a proposal to defer the decision to shut the beds in Eastern Devon until the summer (after the elections as decisions cannot be made during purdah). The result was four votes to six against.

I am not quite sure why the six conservatives voted against my inoffensive proposal but given the seriousness of the plans and widespread and significant level of concern in communities… and the councillors’ voting record … I am really angry that they seem to be playing games with such a serious issue.

Councillors are elected to support local communities and act on issues of concern. If we aren’t doing that, what are we there for?”

Here’s the webcast. It is item 7 – Your Future Care:

Scotland plans to stop council CEOs from getting extra money as Electoral Officers

At present, council CEOs all receive extra payments for this task and are not subject to Freedom of Information laws about how they spend their money on it.

“Senior council executives in Scotland should lose their system of multi-thousand pound payments for acting as returning officers at elections and referendums, according to MSPs.

A report from the Scottish Parliament’s local government committee found that the payments regime for overseeing the conduct and counting of elections, a role usually taken on by council chief executives, was insufficiently transparent, inconsistent, and little understood by the general public.

Bob Doris, the committee convener, said: “We believe that all costs associated with elections should be processed around the principles of openness and transparency if the public are to have confidence in how our elections are run.

“There is a lack of transparency around the value of these payments and how they are allocated,” Doris said.

“We heard that payments can range from £2,500 in Orkney and Shetland to over £16,000 in Edinburgh and may reportedly be worth as much £1m in total.” …”