Good luck with that delivering of doubled growth, Local Enterprise Partnership!

And recall about EDDC and Exeter City Council wanting to make the Cranbrook “Growth Point” a digital miracle!

“Research has found that Exeter is the worst digitally connected city in the UK.

New data from GoCompare compares and contrasts 57 major business hubs across the country, taking into account an array of digital infrastructure such as WiFi availability, broadband speed and mobile/4G coverage.

Exeter ranked 57 out of the 57 cities with just 6.31 per cent 4G coverage, an average internet download speed of 26.84mbps and 1,166 people per public WiFi hotspot.

Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest cities in the UK ranked as the most connected including London, Manchester and Birmingham.”

Mrs Swire’s job …..

It appears that Hugo Swire has had his wife on his payroll for many years, currently at a salary of around £35,000 per year. He describes her as “Senior Researcher/Parliamentary Assistan”. However, in this interview it given in 2016, it seems to be described somewhat differently:

“It’s an irreconcilable job being a minister, because you’ve got your department’s responsibilities, you’ve got your parliamentary responsibilities, you’ve probably got travel on top of that, you’ve then got your parliamentary office saying ‘Am I ever going to see you? You’ve got three months of correspondence to catch up on.’ You’ve got then your constituency saying ‘We haven’t seen you for years’, and then you’ve got your family, if you have a family, saying ‘Hello, remember us? Where do we fit into all this?’ And so you’re doing this the entire time.

You’re quite tired and you’re dropping a ball somewhere – which is why you need this extraordinary support and infrastructure. So for instance the biggest demand, the biggest bug bear and the biggest challenge was the diary, which was planned way ahead.

I used to have my wife come in sometimes, Sue [House of Commons office] would come over, my diary secretary would be there and they’d literally be bidding for bits of me! [laughter] And it was a nightmare, because you were trying to keep everyone calm, because Sue would say ‘Well, it’s fine, I’ll just tell them you’re not going to see them for another six months’ and then my wife would say ‘That’s fine if you want to miss one of our daughters’ birthdays and you’re in Guatemala’ and then my diary secretary would say ‘Remember, you have promised you’re going here.’ So there were all these tensions. And I think unless you’re part of that it’s very difficult to understand the different demands! …”

Persimmon in another rip-off scandal

See what Guardian Money had to say in answer to this query – truly shocking:

“I am about to complete on the purchase of a house on a new Charles Church development in Northiam, East Sussex.

My solicitor has identified an issue which negatively affects the value of seven of the properties. Because a certain form was never submitted to the Land Registry by the developer, each one has an “overage” on its deeds in favour of Charles Church.

This grants the company a proportion of any profit if the property is sold on and will have a huge impact on the resale value. The owners of properties already sold are none the wiser as no other conveyancer had picked up on it.

Charles Church’s solicitor has agreed that, with this overage in place, there is no way I could purchase the property. Nevertheless, Charles Church has given me two days to exchange and complete, or else it will remarket the property.”

Shocking survey: Two-thirds of public finance officers have been pressurised to behave unethically

CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Its 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed.

This is their report on pressure on public finance officials being pressurised to behave unethically.

“Almost two thirds of finance professionals say they have come under pressure to act in an unethical way at some point in their careers, according to early findings from CIPFA’s ethics survey revealed today.

Of the 63% that said they had faced this kind of issue in the workplace, nearly half (47%) said it had happened once or twice, 29% between two and five times and 23% more than five times.

Pressure was exerted by line managers in 42% of cases, by chief executives or chief finance officers in 30% of cases, and board, cabinet or council in 15% of cases.

This was often done in the form of threats to bypass individuals for promotion and disciplinary action.

Respondents working in auditing firms were told that if they did not comply with a client’s wishes their bill might not be paid or they could lose out on future work.

Only 7% of respondents said they had carried out the unethical request and 29% said they had partially carried out the request. Almost two third (64%) said they had refused to act unethically or gave no answer.

Unethical experiences highlighted included excessive optimism in budgets and business cases, ‘getting around’ financial regulations, unreasonably downplaying risks and accounting for revenue as capital.

Among the comments submitted by respondents were that “ethics [is] seen as theoretical and discarded when convenient for senior management” and “commercialisation of local government is distorting the view of what ethical activity should be”.

The findings were based on 157 responses to the ethics survey as of 30 June. Eighty seven per cent of respondents were qualified accountants, while 73% were CIPFA qualified.

Four in ten respondents worked in local government, 20% in the NHS and the remainder from a variety of sectors including charities and audit firms.

Results were revealed by Rick Tazzini, a member of CIPFA’s ethics working group, at the CIPFA annual conference today. Tazzini said some of the issues were the “kind of things that got Carillion into trouble”.

The survey also revealed relatively low awareness of the code of ethics. Just 76% said they were aware of the code and less than half of these had read it recently.

Tazzini said he was expecting awareness of the code to have been higher.

“It’s a really important document for all of us as professionals,” he said.

Opening the session, Margaret Pratt said: “Every CIPFA colleague should be challenged to take their ethical temperature from time to time.”

She added that members needed to be equipped with “moral courage and resilience”.

Pressure on finance professionals was now greater than it ever has been, she said.

CIPFA’s ethics survey remains live and can be completed here. PF will be reporting on the full findings later in the year.”

Claire Wright concerned about unpaid carers – asks for them to contact her

Could you imagine Swire being concerned about this – concerned, not just anodyne words.

“Some of Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will visit Westbank League of Friends to hear from staff who support unpaid carers, later this month, following my proposal for a spotlight review into how unpaid carers who look after friends and family members are faring.

I have seen a confidential report of a focus group meeting that took place last year, which indicates that the 24 people in Devon who took part, are suffering from a lack of support, a lack of money and a lack of respite care….. many reported that their mental and physical health was suffering as a result.

I asked for the (anonymised) report to be published with the June health scrutiny papers, but this was refused as the focus group report was not ever intended to be made public and consent had not been given. Instead a rather more neutral version of the report was published, but as I told the committee, this did not reflect the original report and I don’t believe people’s voices have been heard.

The media reports today that unpaid carers save the economy a massive £60bn a year – – here’s the BBC story on the subject.

Anecdotally, my conversations with local people 100 per cent support the findings from Devon County Council’s focus group. Many unpaid carers are at their wits end.

I did propose a spotlight review into how unpaid carers are faring but this was not voted on unfortunately. There didn’t seem support from around the room. However, the issue will return to the agenda in September and I will pursue it then.

If you are an unpaid carer and wish to get in touch I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Email me at

Local government in crisis – chilling figures

“Hundreds of councillors and council leaders gathered in Birmingham last week to discuss the big issues facing local government. But while the sun was shining bright there was a destiny dark cloud over head.

We’ve become used to hearing of the dramatic and disproportionate cuts affecting local government. We’ve seen in every community — though some much more than others — the real impact as basic services have been reduced, facilities lost and a fire sale on land and property.

Income from the disposal of assets jumped from £1.2 billion in 2008/09 to £3.2 billion by 2016/17. In fact, almost as much was raised in the final quarter of that year than the whole of 2008.

Local government has also seen a staggering 811,000 jobs lost while at the same time central government has seen an increased workforce.

Whatever has gone might fill local government leaders with sadness, but what is coming down the line is enough to fill them, and all of us with any understanding of public services, with fear.

The Local Government Association issued a stark warning in its usually measured way, underpinned by facts and critical analysis. They highlight a breath-taking jump in the current funding gap of £2.6 billion to £7.8 billion by 2025.

This doesn’t include any rebuilding of frontline services lost as a result of the £16 billion cut in funding; that would be an eye-watering £23.8 billion — much more than the £20 billion announced to “save the NHS”.

Demand on children’s services has been hit hard with 500 child protection investigations every day. Although local government have much less to spend, overall children’s service spending has increased from £5.9 billion in 2008/09 to a forecast £15.4 billion by 2025, already running at £11.6 billion.

Adult social care spend, despite an estimated 1.5 million older people not receiving the care they would have previously been entitled to, has jumped from £14 billion a decade ago to a forecast £22.2 billion by 2025.

In the last six months alone over 8,000 people have been affected by carehome providers collapsing or withdrawing from contracts because of the squeeze.

That’s before the 77,000 families stuck in temporary accommodation including 120,000 children.

This paints a picture of a system ready to fall over. Not just individual councils failing to balance the books, but a whole system failure where a legal challenge to entitlement or new pressure such as the recent increase in National Minimum Wage and National Insurance will be the final straw.

At that point questions will be asked as to who was to blame? That is clear. Local government has done everything asked of it and more. It has taken on a disproportionate burden of cuts through austerity and every year it has highlighted the crisis coming down the line.

It has been central government with a string of toothless secretaries of state and a treasury indifferent to the human disaster developing where blame is due.

They ignore what could be a final warning at their peril.

Jim McMahon is shadow local government minister”

Source: The Red Box (podcast)