“I don’t believe it!” – NHS Providers say we are short of at least 10,000 hospital beds and are treating our elderly shamefully!

“The NHS is more than 10,000 beds short of what it needs to look after older people properly, hospital leaders have said.

NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that it was impossible for waiting time targets to be met this year and warned that the government’s pretence that they would be met created a “toxic culture” similar to that which led to the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

This week Theresa May promised that a long-term plan for NHS budget rises would be agreed within months, and will be under pressure to agree increases of up to £20 billion over five years.

However, Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said that “a nod and wink from the prime minister” was not enough for patients.

The NHS has not hit any of its main targets for more than two years. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The levels of performance expected and the savings demanded for next year are beyond reach. While we strongly welcome the prime minister’s commitment to increase long-term funding for the NHS, it makes no immediate difference to the tough task facing trusts for next year.”

Mr Hopson’s report estimates that 3.6 million patients will not be treated within four hours at A&E over the next year and 560,000 will be denied routine surgery within 18 weeks. He said that hospitals could make £3.3 billion in savings next year but that ministers had demanded 20 per cent more than this.

“This creates a toxic culture, based on pretence, where trusts are pressurised to sign up to targets they know they can’t deliver and then miss those targets as the year progresses,” his report said.

The NHS is probably somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 beds short on a bed base of about 100,000.”

One hospital chief executive suggested that hospital overcrowding pointed to deep social problems. He said: “As a country we don’t look after old people well. We have too many people living by themselves in houses that are unsuitable . . . In the end they get really unwell and call 999.”

Source: The Times, pay wall

People power leads to shake up (down?) at East Budleigh with Bicton Parish Council

Owl says: what IS going on? First the sudden exodus of Tory grandees Moulding and Godbeer at the same time at Axminster Town Council and now the Chair of East Budleigh and Bicton departs extremely swiftly! All change? Hhhmmm … maybe …

“An overwhelming vote of no confidence in East Budleigh with Bicton Parish Council was made at a Parish meeting in the village on Sunday evening (March 25th)

The meeting had been called by a number of residents including the Friends of East Budleigh Recreation Ground after exhausting every other means of engaging with the Council. Over 100 residents were in attendance. Several East Devon District councillors and a Devon county councillor were also present.

Leading up to the vote of no-confidence, many issues and allegations were brought up by the residents as reasoning for their vote against the Council, principally a failure to observe their own codes of conduct.

Two days later at the Parish Council meeting it was announced that the chair of the Parish council had resigned. Amongst other items on the agenda the long running and emotive issue of restrictive use of dogs on the recreation ground was finally resolved through a vote by the councillors to shelve plans for any restrictions in favour of a voluntary community strategy to monitor and maintain the area.

A spokesman from the ‘Friends group’ said “The parish community has come together as a whole and made it very, very clear we’re unhappy with what’s currently going on.”

He also added ” I have to say, in all fairness, the remaining council members have responded swiftly and correctly. There was a much more inclusive atmosphere at the last Parish Council meeting. We feel that they now have a genuine will to see a positive way forwards and work with the village community.”

Council borrowing so high, government intervention may be needed

EDDC is borrowing to fund the building of its new HQ and to fund its “Growth Point” and is also considering going into the housing construction market.

“Local authorities could face further intervention by central government if new changes to investment and treasury codes fail to dampen council borrowing levels, according to a senior Whitehall official. …

[A conference speaker said] … “said: “When last year local authorities borrowed an additional £3.8bn, that was a £3.8bn increase in net debt. “That was £3.8bn less that the chancellor had available to distribute as funding across the board at the last budget. “So, local authority borrowing does have a real world impact in the overall quantum of funding that is available to government.”

In addition, he said that concerns have been raised that councils investing in particular asset classes can drive prices up, creating a bubble.

New principles on proportionality included in the code were triggered by some smaller authorities taking on huge sums of debt relative to their size, Caller [the speaker] added.

“We had concerns that those authorities who were doing that were effectively assuming that government stood behind their risk. “That is not the statutory position, and it is not a position we want to encourage. “What the legislation says is that effectively it is council tax payers that have to make good any deficit in those assumptions, not central government. We want people to remember that.” …

http://www.room151.co.uk/treasury/councils-could-face-additional-intervention-if-borrowing-rates-continue/

Health Cheque Up

£20bn for the NHS over 5 years!

Does that mean that the CCG will cease its destruction of Devon’s NHS services? Does it mean that current numbers are now meaningless?

Or does it mean that the cash will arrive too late to prevent this or not arrive at all?

Or does it mean that most of the cash will be directed to marginal Tory seats before a General Election?

Committee promises to double the number of unicorns in Devon and Somerset

How will we know that this committee can or will double productivity in 20 years? They will tell us in 20 years time! How will we know if they are correct? Answers on a postcard …

From the press release:

“Representatives from 23 organisations across Devon and Somerset today agreed steps to drive up productivity at the first meeting of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Joint Committee.

The inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee unanimously endorsed the Productivity Strategy that has been taking shape over the last two years and aims to double productivity over 20 years.

At the meeting in Plymouth City Council offices, the committee also voted unanimously to appoint Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, as the first Chair of the new committee and Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, as the Vice Chair. …

… The Productivity Strategy aims to double productivity in the area over 20 years, focussing on themes including promoting business leadership, housing, connectivity, infrastructure, skills and training. It looks at growth, capitalising on the area’s distinctive assets and maximising the potential of digital technology. … [just as a large part of digital technology has gone into freefall!]

Somerset County Council is acting as the host of the HotSW Joint Committee and meeting agendas and further information including the full Productivity Strategy can be found here:

http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=357

EDDC to borrow a minimum of £3.4 million and up to £8 million to “improve” Greater Exeter enterprise zone

Owl says: it seems western East Devon/Greater Exeter is to thrive at the expense of eastern East Devon; more of everything for Greater Exeter, less of everything for Lesser East Devon.

“Improved bus services, a new park-and-change car park, and improvements to Exeter Airport are all on the cards.

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve borrowing of nearly £3.5m to help accelerate the projects in the Enterprise Zone.

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone consists of the Exeter Science Park, the Skypark, the Exeter Airport Business Park and Cranbrook Town Centre.

A report to the cabinet is seeking approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The report, that goes to the Cabinet on Wednesday, April 4, written by Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager, says: “While not yet fully developed and appraised it is considered that these projects are also likely to make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the Enterprise Zone.

“The Enterprise Zone designation is a powerful means of accelerating the delivery of new commercial space and jobs in the four sites in the West End of the District.

“The more that can be done to accelerate the delivery of new commercial space the greater the impact there will be both in terms of business rate income and wider economic benefit. Work has focused on developing projects that help to overcome identified barriers to delivery and/or have a catalytic impact in terms of accelerating the pace of new commercial development.

“Approval is sought for the funding of an initial set of projects that are considered to contribute substantially to meeting the objectives for the EZ.”

The report seeks approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The four proposals that the council is being asked to invest in are:

1 – An enhanced frequency bus service (30 minute at peak) connecting Exeter to the Enterprise Zone area. This includes connections via the key transport nodes of Exeter St Davids and Exeter Airport. The service is due to commence at around 5am and run through to 11pm, with the intention that this fits with key shift patterns and flight times. Some of the services will also continue to Woodbury and Exmouth. The service builds on an existing service tendered by Devon County Council and the intention is to subsidise this for an initial period of 3 years starting from Summer 2018. The scheme would cost £536,250 and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

2 – A 309 space park-and-change car park located at the Exeter Science Park, alongside bike lockers and an e-bike docking station. The facility will both support the development of the Science Park and contribute to the wider transport strategy for the area. It is anticipated that the works will complete during summer 2019 and be delivered by Devon County Council, and would cost £2.4m

3 – An upgrade to the Exeter Airport Instrument Landing System. The current system installed in 1997 has now reached the point where there is no further operational tolerance to accommodate additional nearby development. Subsequently this is a significant barrier to development coming forward particularly at both Skypark and the Airport Business Park extension. The scheme would be delivered by Exeter Airport and cost £1.4m

4 – An upgrade to Long Lane, the road that runs immediately to the south of the airport. It is the principle means of access to the Airport Business Park extension and is sub-standard to the point where no further development can proceed until it is improved and is therefore a significant barrier to one of the four EZ sites coming forward. An initial sum of up to £100,000 is sought in order to complete the scheme design and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

The investment in the enhanced bus service and park and change facility would be in the form of a grant, and a forward funding mechanism is proposed to secure the timely upgrading of the Instrument Landing Systems at the Airport. The costs of this can then be recouped as development proceeds.

The report also request that the cabinet agrees the principle of borrowing up to £8m against ringfenced business rate income to fund the delivery of projects and makes this recommendation to Council

Further papers setting out specific investment proposals in relation Cranbrook town centre and Exeter Airport would come to the Cabinet at a later date.

Letwin explains rationing new builds to keep up prices with a new phrase “absorption rate”!

“A Government-commissioned report has blamed delays in the house-building process on builders concerns about future sale prices.

In the Autumn Budget the Chancellor set up an independent review to look at the delays between planning permission being granted, and houses being built. This review is being led by Sir Oliver Letwin.

The Treasury has now published the commission’s interim report alongside the Spring Statement:

Click to access Build_Out_Review_letter_to_Cx_and_Housing_SoS.pdf

These initial findings suggest that house-builders concerns about sale prices are a major factor in slow “build out” of homes on many of these larger developments.

Letwin says this review had initially focused on larger housing developments and major housebuilders. Further analysis may look at smaller scale models.

In a letter to the Chancellor and Sajid Javid – the secretary of state for housing communities and local government – Letwin says housebuilders have cited a number of “limitations”, including a shortage of available skilled labour, the availability of capital, provision of local transport infrastructure and the slow speed of installations by utility companies.

But in the interim report Letwin says: “I am not persuaded that these limitations are in fact the primary determinants of the speed of build out on large permitted sites at present.”

He goes on to say the fundamental driver of build out rates, once detailed planning permission is granted, appears to be the “absorption rate” – that is the rate at which newly constructed homes can be sold into the local market without materially disturbing the market price.

This rate, he says appears to be largely determined at present by the type of home being constructed and the pricing of the new homes built.

The interim report goes onto say this problem can be exacerbated by many larger development having a style of size of home that is fairly homogeneous.

The next stage of this review will look at whether build-out rates could be improved, either by reducing the reliance on large builders, or by encouraging them to offer more variety in terms of the type and price of property offered.

The report adds: “We have seen ample evidence from our site visits that the rate and completion of the ‘affordable ‘ and social rented’ homes is constrained by the requirement for cross-subsidy from the open market housing on the site.” This can delay the build out of these homes, the report adds.

Letwin says he plans to publish more detailed draft analysis by the end of June, which will contain a more detailed description of the problem and its causes.

The independent review will then seek comments from interested parties before a final analysis which will include a list of recommendations to improve the situation.”

https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/interim-report-planning-delays-published-alongside-spring-statement/

Insolvent Tory council to be run by Commissioners

“A ‘bankrupt’ Tory council will be TAKEN OVER by Commissioners in a drastic, rare step after completely running out of money.

Northamptonshire County Council will be stripped of the power to run its own affairs after a damning inspection into the financial crisis at the town hall.

Now it will be run by Commissioners following a decision by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Labour said they were vindicated as Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid announced the move in the House of Commons.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne blamed “eight years of intransigence and austerity” as “the council bragged about its pioneering approach to services, basically running them like a business.”

“The private sector cannot deliver adequate services when there is too little funding,” he said. …”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/bankrupt-tory-council-taken-over-12259651

Coastal towns top bankruptcy list

“Britain’s seaside towns are now hotspots for bankruptcy lawyers – with people in coastal resorts becoming insolvent far faster than anywhere else.

Seaside towns dominate a list of the top areas of the country for personal insolvencies, a new study shows. The Isle of Wight, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Whitby and Torquay were said to be struggling to recover from decades of decline in coastal industries and the growth of overseas holidays.

Research among almost 600 Parliamentary constituencies by accountancy firm Moore Stephens placed Plymouth Moor View at the top, with 47 insolvencies per 10,000 population, compared with a national average of around 20.

The report said seasonal tourism was being hit by increasingly cheaper flights and package holidays.

Jeremy Willmont of Moore Stephens said: “Personal debt in many British seaside towns shows no sign of improving. “Seaside areas now come with a handicap that they are struggling to shake off. People living in these towns continue to fall into insolvency as the coastal economy fails to keep up with the rest of the country. “At this point, debt in the UK’s coastal towns seems to have entered something of a downward cycle.

“As the economy along the coast declines, unemployment worsens. This may result in many more highly educated millennials relocating to larger cities, deterring new employers from relocating to the area.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/overdrawn-sea-towns-twice-many-12252381

Is NHS privatisation a good idea? “Carillion bosses displayed ‘greed on stilts’, MPs claim”

We are not allowed to see or scrutinise contracts placed by the NHS with private companies. Carillion (formerly Tarmac) had many service contracts with the government.

“… When considering clawbacks – an arrangement for retrieving executive rewards in the event of poor performance after a bonus has been paid – the board opted to rule out extending the use of the device beyond a handful of its most senior directors. The papers show the remuneration committee feared more conservative pay arrangements for particular contracts “would have a detrimental impact on performance”.

The trove of information from the select committees also shows that Carillion’s adviser, Deloitte, said in September that weak provisions didn’t allow any bonuses paid in cash to be clawed back at all.

The remuneration committee extended its clawback conditions to cover serious reputational damage and failures of risk management around that time, however, the MPs said they had seen no evidence to suggest any further attempts were made to return cash from bonuses to the business.

The latest swathe of evidence against the company comes amid the continuing fallout of Carillion’s collapse in January with debts to its 30,000 suppliers worth about £2bn. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/26/carillion-bosses-displayed-greed-on-stilts-mps-claim