As if councils didn’t have enough to deal with!

“Councils are being warned to prepare for three months of disruption in a no deal Brexit , a leaked briefing has revealed.

Town hall chiefs have been told to plan for “reasonable worst case scenarios” including runs on food, petrol and the banks.

They should prepare to report to central government every eight hours – and could have to cancel leave over Easter, it says.

The shock briefing, circulated to council chiefs and leaked to the Municipal Journal, is made up of minutes from a recent Local Resilience Forum meeting.

Dozens of LRFs, which bring together councils, emergency services and the NHS, are aiding Whitehall’s No Deal plan Operation Yellowhammer – which is led by the same officials who would deal with a flu pandemic.

The minutes say councils should prepare for “reasonable, worst case scenarios” but “without setting panic”.

Public bodies should base their plans on “a 12 week disruption period” lasting until the end of May 2019, they add.

And some supplies of medicine may be increased by six weeks on top of the existing four to six weeks’ stock, the minutes suggest.

Local ‘Tactical Co-ordinating Groups’ would have to update Whitehall at “8 hourly intervals” and “a decision on leave arrangements may be needed” over Easter, the minutes add.

The UK is leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 and Easter is on 21 April.

A local government source said: “Councils are doing what they can with the limited information they are being given. We’re feeling really nervous and really impatient.”

Shadow Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne claimed the instructions were “too little too late”.

He added: “It’s frankly shocking that the local government sector has been starved of resilience support that they now so desperately need.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils, added: “We are working with Government and engaging with the expertise of local government to ensure we get these crucial negotiations right for local communities.”

A government spokeswoman said: “We remain confident that we will secure an agreement with the EU that works for the whole of the UK.

“Rightly, we are working with Local Resilience Forums across the country to ensure they are fully prepared.

“While it is the duty of responsible planners to consider the worst case scenarios, this is not a prediction of what is going to happen.”

Devon and Cornwall police force “on cliff edge”

“The Devon and Cornwall Police Federation has written to all MPs in the two counties saying the force is on “a cliff edge”.

Chair Andrew Berry said the problem was twofold.

He said: “The policing budget for our force has reduced by £15m in cash terms since 2010/11 and, during that time, we have lost 975 personnel, including 510 police officers – that is 15% less police officers.” ..”

Those “little extras” in the education budget …

“Parents Are Contributing Money, Pens, Even Loo Roll To Their Kids’ Hard Up Schools:

Parents are coughing up an average of £11 a month to their children’s schools to help meet education funding shortfalls, a survey has shown, and many are being asked to provide items as basic as stationery and loo roll.

The parents and education charity Parentkind commissioned a survey of 1,500 parents and found that two in five are asked to contribute to a general school fund, to be used in whatever way the school needs.

The average monthly voluntary donation by parents has increased by more than a quarter in a year, rising from a reported £8.90 in 2017 to £11.35 in 2018.

Jo Murricane, 39, from Leeds, who has a four and seven-year-old, told HuffPost UK that her child’s school often asks parents to make monetary contributions. “Basically, the contributions cover all the things the school can’t afford, but that will really benefit the pupils and their learning,” she says, citing bakes sales and school trips. “I don’t really mind, but it’s hard to see the school struggle to make ends meet in this way, due to underfunding.”

“How the actual magic money tree works”

“Shock data shows that most MPs do not know how money is created. Responding to a survey commissioned by Positive Money just before the June election, 85% were unaware that new money was created every time a commercial bank extended a loan, while 70% thought that only the government had the power to create new money.

The results are only a shock if you didn’t see the last poll of MPs on exactly this topic, in 2014, revealing broadly the same level of ignorance. Indeed, the real shock is that MPs still, without embarrassment, answer surveys.

Yet almost all our hot-button political issues, from social security to housing, relate back to the meaning and creation of money; so if the people making those choices don’t have a clue, that isn’t without consequence.

How is money created?

Some is created by the state, but usually in a financial emergency. For instance, the crash gave rise to quantitative easing – money pumped directly into the economy by the government. The vast majority of money (97%) comes into being when a commercial bank extends a loan. Meanwhile, 27% of bank lending goes to other financial corporations; 50% to mortgages (mainly on existing residential property); 8% to high-cost credit (including overdrafts and credit cards); and just 15% to non-financial corporates, that is, the productive economy.

What’s wrong with that?

On the corporate financial side, bank-lending inflates asset prices, which concentrates wealth in the hands of the wealthy. On the mortgage side, house prices rise to meet the amount the lender is prepared to lend, rather than being moored to wages. The lender benefits enormously from larger mortgages and longer periods of indebtedness; the homeowner benefits slightly from a bigger asset, but obviously spends longer in debt servitude; the renter loses out completely.

Is there a magic money tree?

All money comes from a magic tree, in the sense that money is spirited from thin air. There is no gold standard. Banks do not work to a money-multiplier model, where they extend loans as a multiple of the deposits they already hold. Money is created on faith alone, whether that is faith in ever-increasing housing prices or any other given investment. This does not mean that creation is risk-free: any government could create too much and spawn hyper-inflation.

Any commercial bank could create too much and generate over-indebtedness in the private economy, which is what has happened. But it does mean that money has no innate value, it is simply a marker of trust between a lender and a borrower. So it is the ultimate democratic resource. The argument marshalled against social investment such as education, welfare and public services, that it is unaffordable because there is no magic money tree, is nonsensical. It all comes from the tree; the real question is, who is in charge of the tree?

What could we do instead?

We could do QE for the people, overt monetary financing in which a government creates money for social benefit, such as green infrastructure or education. Or helicopter money, a central bank distributing it to everyone, either in a one-off citizen’s dividend or a regular citizen’s basic income. The nature of centrally created money should itself be opened up for debate, whose starting point is: if we agree that commercially created money is skewing the economy, can we then agree that it should be created by a public authority, even if we don’t yet know what that authority would look like.”

“More than 200 UK shopping centres ‘in crisis’ “

“More than 200 UK shopping centres are in danger of falling into administration, experts are warning.

Analyst Nelson Blackley said the demise of “major anchor stores” such as BHS and Toys R Us, and the rise of online retail, had caused a “downward spiral”.

Many of the at-risk centres are owned by US private equity firms under deals that will need refinancing.

“If centres close, particularly in small towns, it will be catastrophic,” Mr Blackley warned.

The Department for Communities said it was “committed to helping communities adapt”.

Mr Blackley, from the National Retail Research Knowledge Exchange Centre, said the UK had an excess of shopping centres with similar retail offerings.” …