Hard luck if you bank with Barclays and there is no branch or ATM in your town: you can no longer use the Post Office for cash

“A decision by Barclays to pull out of an agreement allowing bank customers to withdraw cash from post offices for free has been criticised as “shocking”.

The bank is the only one to scrap over-the-counter cash withdrawals at Post Office branches, with 28 other UK banks signing up to a new deal that means millions of people can continue to benefit from free access to everyday banking services.

The move by Barclays prompted a wave of criticism, including from a regulatory body, and appears to be linked to a sizeable rise in the bank-funded fees paid to postmasters for providing these services. Barclays has separately announced its own proposals, which it said were designed to boost bank branch demand and improve access to cash. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/08/barclays-withdraw-cash-post-offices?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Green or Greed?

From a correspondent:

“Owl is not the only one to shine a light into the darkest corners of East Devon and keep an eye on local issues, with last night’s BBC Inside Out programme investigating the reality behind the ‘green’ credentials of local anaerobic digesters by focussing on the sizeable expansion of digester developments attached to Enfield Farm, Clyst St Mary and Menchine Farm, Nomansland, Tiverton.

Regrettably, the finest technological innovations that could benefit our local districts and, indeed, our entire planet can be corrupted for short term financial gain by the few! There is, no doubt, that environmentally-sound, sustainable waste to energy systems have the potential to be beneficial but such eco-friendly practices must be governed by the law and flouting local planning conditions specifically in place to protect the environment and local people is both intolerable and insupportable.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is a Parliamentary Law in place to regulate the development of land and is not to be manipulated, abused and interpreted by developers seeking to achieve huge profits under the guise of conforming to national and international renewable energy targets. Non-recognition of authority and controlling systems is the definition of anarchy – none of us are above the law!

Although the Planning Permitted Development Rights have recently been extended in 2019 to achieve greater flexibility and speed up planning delivery processes, none of us envisage a carte blanche approach, where we can all ignore planning laws and embark on building high-rise blocks of flats in our gardens, whilst justifying their existence through Government housing needs figures!”

“First-time buyers using Help to Buy paying 10% more for homes than everyone else”

Catch 22: first-time buyers can buy only new properties; if they could get the discount on ANY property many would save at least 10% – and have none of the poor-quality build issues affecting new properties.

But developers won’t allow that!

“First-time buyers using the Help to Buy scheme in England are paying an average of 10% more than those buying a new home without Government support, figures suggest.

Those who purchased a new-build home in the past year using the scheme paid an average £303,450 each, significantly more than those who bought without Government help.

On average, the premium paid by those using the scheme was 10.3% in the 12 months to September 2019.

That’s according to a report on 41,500 new build properties, which also found huge price disparities between properties sold in London and the rest of the country. …”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/first-time-buyers-using-help-20536679

“East Devon leader responds after call for him to resign”

Might more councillors who rushed into “The Independent Group” which Ben Ingham was so very keen to lead, be regretting their choice? If so, interesting times. As Owl has already pointed out, if all other non-Tory and non-TIG councillors came together (Independent, East Devon Alliance, Green and Lub Dem) they would be the majority group …

“East Devon leader Ben Ingham said he will not be ‘stepping aside’ after a former cabinet member called for him to resign.

Writing for this title, Councillor Paul Millar said Cllr Ingham has ‘failed to deliver a workable policy let alone the change people were asking for’.

In response, Cllr Ingham said he will not be stepping down ‘just yet’ and the ruling Independent Group are focused on delivering on its policies ‘including a balanced budget for next year’.

Cllr Millar said: “I call on Ben to do the right thing and step aside to allow someone more in touch with the reality of people’s lives to lead the council.”

In response, Cllr Ingham said: “I won’t be stepping aside just yet.

“There is so much to do and the Independent Group is eager to put our priorities into action.

“This includes preparing a balanced budget for next year.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/ben-ingham-response-to-resignation-call-1-6311778

Nurse shortage now a serious Health and Safety issue for patients and nurses

“The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has published a report today, called ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, outlining the serious staffing crisis and its potential causes.

The report warns of the need for legal responsibilities regarding the supply and planning of the health and care workforce. It says they need ‘Investment, long-term solutions and legislation to futureproof the workforce’.

This comes after current NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing positions in the NHS in England alone, with 12% of posts are now without a full time Registered Nurse (RN).

RCN have stated in the report that there must be clearer roles, responsibility and accountability with workforce planning and supply, clearly defined in law.

Since 2017, the number of nurses in England joining the professional register for the first time has consistently been lower than the number of people leaving the register,
Recent polling for the RCN pointed out that 80% of the public agrees that the Government should have a legal responsibility for ensuring there are enough nursing staff.

This issue is having a knock-on effect on patient care, with new analysis showing that wards working with less than 50% of the expected registered nurses were twice as likely to admit they had to compromise on care.

This is why RCN have said, it is no longer the time to be discussing whether we need law, but rather how we secure these vital changes in legislation.

Despite the fact that The Health and Social Care Act (2012) devolved many of the roles and responsibilities on this issue, the RCN report shows that the subsequent poor clarity across all parts of the health system has left parts of it in ‘limbo’ and limited any potential progress on the staffing the crisis.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said:

“Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in. We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

“Without these bold changes, the public and staff within health and care services cannot be confident that safe and effective care can be delivered, risking the health of patients now and in the future.”

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.

The alarming new report indicates clearly why action is needed to tackle the current workforce crisis but also to ensure there is a sustained investment in the future workforce, at least £1bn per year, according to the RCN.”

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Service-Focus/nursing-workforce-have-shrunk-at-an-alarming-rate-says-rcn-as-nursing-vacancies-rise-to-record-highs

94-99% of rented accommodation too expensive for those on benefits

And remember this includes working people whose wages are so low they are entitled to benefits (effectivelya subsidy to employers).

“The government must increase the levels of housing benefit given to people in the private rented sector as families are being priced out of homes, according to a trade association.

The National Housing Federation analysis has found that 94% of homes for private rent – and up to 99% in some areas – are too expensive for those on housing benefit.

The Local Housing Allowance – used to calculate how much benefit households in the private rented sector will receive – when introduced in 2008 was worked out from the bottom 50% of market rents and later reduced to 30% under the coalition government.

In 2013, rates of LHA were separated from market values and eventually frozen in 2016 leaving working families unable to afford a place to live, the federation said.

NHF said the benefit – for which there are 1.3 million claimants – is inadequate and is leading to increasing levels of poverty and debt.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “Low income families are being punished two-fold, no longer able to access social housing because of the dire shortage of it, they now can’t access enough housing benefit to rent privately either.

“The crippling effects of the housing crisis and significant cuts to benefits have forced thousands of parents into impossible situation in order to keep a roof over their children’s heads, many having to choose between crippling debt, overcrowding or homelessness.”

The number of homeless children in temporary accommodation has increased by 83% since 2011 to 126,020, the report added.

The federation has urged the government to end the freeze on LHA and increase it so that it covers 30% of private rent homes in any local area. It also repeated its recommendation to spend £12.8bn each year on new social housing.

The NHF analysed 75,000 rental homes advertised on Zoopla in July 2019 and compared the cost of rent for each property with the rate of LHA that a family requiring that sized property would be entitled to.

A government spokesperson said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is an absolute priority. The government increased more than 360 Local Housing Allowance rates this year, by targeting extra funding at low-income households.

“We’ve helped councils and housing associations to speed up the delivery of more homes, including social housing, through our £9bn Affordable Homes Programme – delivering over 430,000 affordable new homes since 2010.”

Housing minister Esther McVey told the Conservative Conference last week that the government would prioritise brownfield land for new builds.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/10/nine-out-10-families-priced-out-private-rented-sector

Post-Brexit employment law at risk

“Three low paid workers and their union are launching a legal challenge to make the prime minister seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.

The government has promised EU-law derived employment rights will remain in UK law after Brexit.

But if there were a no-deal Brexit, the union says, ministers would have free rein to water down these rights.

And workers could no longer rely on the supremacy of EU law, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights or Court of Justice.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), is currently relying upon these aspects of EU law in a number of worker’s rights court cases.

The organisation, which represents some 5,000 workers – 1,000 of whom are EU citizens – has now filed court papers to begin legal proceedings.

Key workers’ rights based on EU law include:

minimum paid holiday
working hours regulation
equal pay
protection against discrimination
consultation on redundancy plans …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49960647