Of course, it includes Swire and Parish

“In the House of Commons on Tuesday, MPs defeated a Labour motion, moved by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, to block a planned government move that will take a free, hot school meal from the mouths of around one million children from low-income families.

Tory MPs have attempted to deflect blame for their callousness by selectively quoting a Channel 4 Fact Check article – which said it could not fault the Labour Party’s calculations – in order to claim they are actually giving free meals to an additional 50,000 children and not taking it away from the million.

But that pathetic deflection was laid to rest in the very first exchange of the debate around Labour’s motion:

Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con)

Does the hon. Lady agree with Channel 4’s FactCheck, which says:

“This is not a case of the government taking free school meals from a million children”.

These are children who are not currently receiving free school meals, and in fact the Government’s proposals ​would see 50,000 extra children receive free school meals. Perhaps the hon. Lady could stop giving inaccurate information to the House.

Angela Rayner

The hon. Gentleman should know that his Government have introduced transitional arrangements, and we are clear that under the transitional arrangements, those 1 million children would be entitled to free school meals. With the regulations, the Government are pulling the rug from under those hard-working families.

In my own boroughs of Oldham and Tameside, a total of 8,700 children growing up in poverty are set to miss out. In the Secretary of State’s own area, the total is 6,500. So much for the light at the end of the tunnel that the Chancellor mentioned over the weekend on “The Andrew Marr Show”!

The UK has one of the worst rates of child malnutrition and ‘food insecurity’ among rich nations – with one in five UK children suffering food insecurity.

In spite of this – and the callousness of depriving hungry schoolchildren of food, with the consequent impact on their health and education – the government defeated the motion.

Not a single Tory MP rebelled – and of the ten DUP MPs, ‘incentivised‘ by a Theresa May pledge to maintain the free school meals for Northern Irish children – only one declined to vote away the provision for children in Britain.

The full roll-call of shame of MPs who voted down Labour’s attempt to protect poor children from hunger is below [includes Swire and Parish]”


Homelessness minister doesn’t know why homelessness has risen!

“The UK’s new homelessness minister has told the Guardian she does not know why the number of rough sleepers has increased so significantly in recent years. Heather Wheeler said she did not accept the suggestion that welfare reforms and council cuts had contributed to the rise.” …


“Boris Johnson defends playing tennis match with wife of former Putin minister in exchange for £160,000 Tory donation”

… “Mr Johnson insisted not all Russians should be tarred with the same brush – and there was nothing wrong with accepting Russian cash if donors were not guilty of “gross corruption”. …”

Good use of the word “gross” there – minor or moderate us absolutely fine then?

He goes on:

“If there is evidence of gross corruption in the way that gentleman you mentioned obtained his wealth, then it is possible for our law enforcement agencies to deprive him of his wealth.

“That is a matter for the authorities, it is not a matter for me. …”

Again that clever and calculated use of the adjective!

“Mr Johnson admitted for the first time today that the tennis match happened.

Since then Ms Chernukhin’s total of cash donations to the Tories since 2012 has climbed to almost £500,000.”

Last month she bid £30,000 for a meal and private tour of Churchill’s War Rooms with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the Tories’ lavish Black and White Ball fundraiser. … “


“100,000 low-cost homes have had rents hiked since 2012”

“Labour has unveiled plans to stem the loss of low-cost homes as new analysis reveals more than 100,000 social homes have been converted into a more expensive type of property in the last six years alone.

The party said it would scrap a policy introduced by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government in 2012 that forces housing associations and local councils to raise rents by an average of 40 per cent by converting social homes into “affordable homes”.

The announcement is the second to come out of Labour’s review into the future of social housing, which is likely to report in the coming weeks.

It comes as analysis seen by The Independent revealed the huge loss of social homes largely as a result of a change made by the coalition. …

While social rents are generally around 40 per cent of market value, affordable homes can cost up to 80 per cent of market rents, prompting criticism that in many parts of country they are out of the reach of people on ordinary incomes. …

The coalition made the conversion of low-cost social homes into affordable homes a key plank of its housing policy.

An official document from 2011 explaining the Government’s approach said: “The conversion of existing stock to affordable rent is a crucial element in generating additional financial capacity and it is anticipated that it will be integral to the offer that providers bring forward as part of their proposals for funding new supply.”

The change was made despite the Government’s own impact assessment making it clear that forcing the conversion of social housing into affordable housing would result in “greater costs to Government through increases in housing benefit”, although this was forecast to be offset by cuts to housing spending. …

At the same time as the change was made, Government funding for new social housing was ended entirely and instead diverted to fund “affordable” homes.

As a result, the number of new, Government-funded social homes has plummeted by 97 per year since 2010, with just 1,102 new homes completed last year – funded via existing programmes set up before 2010. …

About 102,000 homes have been converted since 2012, while around 60,000 have been sold to tenants under Right to Buy.

Only around 50,000 new social homes have been built in that time – the vast majority funded by housing associations. …”


Seaton and Area Health Matters meeting, Friday 23 March 9 am1 pm – registration required

From the blog of DCC East Devon Alliance councillor Martin Shaw:

“A reminder to all involved in local community groups, especially those with an interest in health and wellbeing in the broadest senses, that Seaton and Area Health Matters will convene in the Town Hall on Friday 23rd March, 9 for 9.30 until 1 pm. There is still time to register!

Book here:


You are invited to participate in this community led event with key stakeholders around the future health and wellbeing of all the people in our communities, in response to the new landscape affecting Seaton and surrounding area as a result of NHS and Government policies advocating Place-Based Care in health provision and cross-sector collaborative working with community groups

The aim: To discuss what we know, where there are gaps/challenges and how, as a community we will address these to ensure collaborative approaches to co-design and co-produce local health services/activities that meet the needs of all the people in our communities.

Invitees: Management and senior level employees and volunteers / trustees from community, voluntary and social enterprise sector as well as public and private organisations.

Area to include: Seaton, Colyford & Colyton, Beer, Axmouth, Branscombe


Welcome: Mayor of Seaton – Cllr Jack Rowland

Community Context:
• Dr Mark Welland – Chairman of Seaton & District Hospital League of Friends
• Roger Trapani – Community Representative, Devon Health and Care Forum
• Charlotte Hanson – Chief Officer, Action East Devon

Strategic and Services Overview – Place Based Care:
• Em Wilkinson-Bryce – Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
• Chris Entwistle – Health and Social Care Community Services
• Dr Jennie Button – Social Prescribing Lead – Ways 2 Wellbeing project in Seaton

Workshop, Networking and Discussion will form the main part of this event:
• Workshop 1 – What is working well and what are the challenges for Seaton and surrounding area?
• Workshop 2 – Working together to improve health and wellbeing outcomes? What support do we need?”

Reminder – Seaton and Area Health Matters meeting in Seaton Town Hall on Friday 23rd from 9.

“Councils STILL unable to access billions of pounds for new houses”

“A £2bn fund to build a new generation of council homes is yet to be released despite the UK’s shortage of social housing.

Theresa May promised five months ago that the state would address the crisis.

But Paul Dennett, elected Labour mayor of Salford, said councils still cannot apply for the money.

In a letter to Sajid Javid, secretary of state for housing, he wrote: “We are concerned and frustrated that… 

“We are still being advised by Homes England and partner registered providers [housing associations] that the guidelines for the allocation of grants to build homes for social rent have not been published, and that no date has been set for when this funding will be made available.” …

Councils are currently prevented from using the proceeds of social housing sales to build replacement homes.

Instead regulations have required private developers to build or fund so-called affordable housing with rents at 20 per cent below the market average. …

Mr Javid has yet to reply to Mr Dennett’s letter asking for details about the £2bn fund.

The Ministry of Housing said: “We are delivering the homes our country needs and since 2010 we have built over 357,000 new affordable properties.

“But we are determined to do more and we are investing a further £9bn, including £2bn to help councils and housing associations build homes for social rent.” …


“Eight out of 10 academies in deficit, say accountants”

Academy budgets are in an even worse state than those of council-run schools with eight out of 10 in deficit, suggest figures from their accountants.

Two more years like this and the entire sector could face insolvency, says a report from the Kreston UK accountancy network which looked at 450 schools.
It follows data published on Friday which showed over a quarter of council-run secondary schools were in deficit.

The government disputes the findings of both reports.

The 450 schools analysed in the Kreston UK report are all audited by accountancy firms in the network and are a representative sample of academies in England, say the authors.

The figures, for the year ending 31 August 2017, show that of these academies:

55% were in deficit before the effect of depreciation of assets like buildings, equipment and furniture was taken into account

this rose to 80% when the accounts were adjusted to include depreciation.
The report, co-authored by accountants Duncan & Toplis, calls for more money to be put into schools to avoid staff cuts.

Staff make up 72% of costs in these academies, say the authors.

“This means that schools will have little choice other than to cut teacher numbers to reduce financial losses in future.”

The report warns that cutting staff numbers and finding enough money for redundancy payments could accelerate some schools towards insolvency.
Nick Cudmore, report author and director at Duncan & Toplis, said school senior management teams already faced tough decisions.

“Schools are doing everything they can to save as much money as possible; cutting back on staff, replacing experienced teachers with less qualified people and going cap-in-hand to parents, but it still isn’t enough to avoid overspending.”

He said the academies in the report were also delaying repairs and putting off replacing obsolete technology, which he warned could be more expensive in the long run.

“The whole sector will be on the verge of insolvency if they have just two more years like this one.

“Accountants can work with governors to help them save every last penny possibly, but without significant increases in public funding, this could become a full-blown crisis,” he said.

On Friday, research by independent think tank the Educational Policy Institute found the number of council-run secondary schools falling into deficit had trebled to 26.1% in the four years to 2017.”