‘FFS Nadine!’

Tory MP blasts Nadine Dorries for tweet criticising Rishi Sunak’s £3,500 suit.

“Dame Nads” shoots from the lip again! What fun!

After all, what’s £3,500 to Richy? – Owl

Emily Ferguson inews.co.uk 

Bitter Tory leadership infighting has already broken into the open after Boris Johnson ally Nadine Dorries prompted fury for mocking Rishi Sunak for wearing an expensive suit.

The Culture Secretary, who is backing Liz Truss to be the next Tory leader and prime minister, compared the former Chancellor’s pricey suit to the Foreign Secretary’s £4.50 earrings.

It is the latest sign that the race to replace Mr Johnson is becoming a toxic, highly personal battle.

Ms Dorries shared an article on Twitter that reports that Mr Sunak has been pictured wearing a £3,500 suit and £490 Prada shoes.

In a bid to promote Ms Truss over her rival, she claimed that the Foreign Secretary is more likely to be seen in a pair of earrings from high street chain Claire’s.

She said: “Liz Truss will be travelling the country wearing her earrings which cost circa £4.50 from Claire Accessories. Meanwhile…

“Rishi visits Teeside in Prada shoes worth £450 and sported £3,500 bespoke suit as he prepared for crunch leadership vote.”

The tweet, posted just before 8am on Monday, has been heavily criticised by the public, political commentators and even a Tory MP.

Guildford MP Angela Richardson, a supporter of Mr Sunak, shot back: “FFS (for f***’s sake) Nadine! Muted.”

Meanwhile, tory MP Johnny Mercer, called on the party to “raise standards”.

He said: “Back in Whitehall today – perhaps only a few weeks to make a difference. Probably worth remembering that on current trajectory we are out of power in two years time. The puerile nature of this leadership contest is embarrassing. Time to raise the standards.”

Dominique Samuels, a broadcaster, suggested such comments were unhelpful and damage the Tory party.

“Personal attacks like this on fellow colleagues is bizarre and actually harms the Conservatives rather than helps them. Nads should give this a rest,” she said.

Former Labour MP and Cabinet minister Jacqui Smith tweeted: “This is a nasty, silly, trivial tweet Nadine.

“I think we need a bit better from Cabinet Ministers and potential future PMs than a vision of you two pointing and sneering at Rishi’s outfit whilst comparing notes on cheap earrings. #MeanGirls”

David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East, said: “Opposition MPs right now as we watch the Conservatives knock seven shades of excrement out of each-other for all to see.

“Fitting that the most dramatic performance should come from the Culture Secretary.”

Another SNP colleague, Stephen Flynn tweeted a popcorn and laughing emoji and said “they’ve barely even started”.

The Labour Party has branded the comments as “pathetic” and suggested Government ministers should be focusing their efforts on issues the electorate care about.

“The country is in the middle of a cost of living crisis,” a spokesperson said.

“But rather than get on with sorting out the mess they have created, Tory Government ministers are spending their days attacking each other on Twitter. Pathetic.”

The argument has been seen as a public example of reported blue-on-blue attacks as the Tory leadership contest gets increasingly bitter.

“They’re fighting each other,” one member of the public observed. “Nothing like seeing piranhas tear each other apart for power,” said another.

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss face their first live head-to-head TV debate on Monday evening as they both try to convince the Conservative Party grassroots that they are the right person to become the next Prime Minister.

The tory Tory leadership hopefuls will pitch their bids in front of a live audience of about 100 on Monday night as bitter clashes erupted over the weekend.

Pledges on immigration, China and tax cuts have seen the two candidates get personal, as they made attacks on the other’s respective policies.

The infighting, which comes after Tory MPs raised concerns that the earlier campaign debates were shedding too much light on blue-on-blue attacks, has led to calls from within the party to tone it down.

Anglian Water chief lands £1.3m pay despite two-star pollution rating

The boss of a water company with one of the worst pollution records in England has been handed more than £1m in pay and bonuses.

Rewarding failure, something we excel in! – Owl

Alex Lawson www.theguardian.com 

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson faces criticism after he landed a “substantial” £337,651 bonus as part of a £1.3m pay package.

The reward comes despite English water firms overseeing such shocking levels of pollution that the Environment Agency has said water company bosses should be jailed for serious offences.

Anglian Water recorded nearly a quarter of all serious pollution incidents in 2021, according to the agency. It had the third-highest rate of total pollution incidents per 10,000 square kilometres with 34, behind Southern Water with 94 and South West Water with 87.

Anglian was given two stars out of five in the EA’s performance rating, meaning it requires significant improvement.

Anglian Water Services’ annual report now shows Simpson and chief financial officer Steve Buck saw their maximum bonuses cut by 45% after missing customer delivery targets, which included goals on pollution and flooding. Simpson saw 5% of his 2019 bonus clawed back too.

Simpson’s base salary rose to £531,365 in 2021-22, up from £505,277 a year earlier. Buck received a £919,253 pay package including a £228,243 bonus.

Rival utility company Thames Water is also facing heat for handing its chief executive, Sarah Bentley, £727,000 worth of bonuses despite its own poor performance on pollution.

The bulk of Bentley’s bonus will be distributed as part of a £3.1m “golden handshake” sign-on payment that is reportedly to be distributed to her within days of the EA report’s release. The agency also gave Thames Water a two-star rating.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of Anglian’s remuneration committee and an experienced former civil servant, said: “Our environmental performance in 2021-22, including on pollution and flooding, haven’t reached the levels our customers, stakeholders and regulators expect from us.

“We are very clear that poor performance should not be rewarded. As such, our underperformance in these key areas cancels out strong performance in other areas such as leakage.

“This means the performance measures element of the bonus scheme will not pay out at all this year.”

Simpson’s overall package, which was benchmarked against his peers’, fell 37% from £2.1m the year before. However, pay campaigners said the curbs did not go far enough.

Andrew Speke of the High Pay Centre thinktank said: “When the Environment Agency is calling for water company bosses to be jailed over their record on pollution, boards of the worst offending companies should be taking serious action to improve the management of their companies.

“So for Anglian Water, one of the worst offenders, to be awarding their CEO a substantial bonus shows that the rot goes deep in this sector.

“It’s time for the government to intervene and either increase regulation or bring the sector into public ownership, because the current model is failing people and the environment.”

Anglian Water Services has proposed a final dividend of £169m which was reduced by £9m to “reflect the outcome delivery incentives penalty in the period”. The firm expects to pay a £8.3m penalty after missing targets including on pollution, flooding and burst mains.

Nearly £92m of the dividend will be paid to the company’s ultimate owners – a collection of pension and infrastructure funds in the UK, Australia and Canada as well as an investment group based in Luxembourg and owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Anglian said its shareholders had not received a dividend payment since 2017 and had invested over £1.1bn into the business.

The company has also set up an “escaped sewage cell” – a dedicated team tackling pollution using “military planning methods”.

Devon’s new chief exec will earn £200k

Councillors agreed the new terms and conditions this week as part of the process to replace outgoing CEO Dr Phil Norrey, who is retiring after 16 years.

While DCC faces going bust with a £40M overspend! – Owl

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

He is entitled to around £175,000 a year but currently earns just over £160,000 after taking a reduced salary and declining pay rises for a number of years.

A council report concluded a pay rate of “circa £200,000 would be required to attract and retain” Dr Norrey’s replacement, explaining that “salaries generally within the council have not kept pace with others in the public sector.”

It explained the pay rate is now “substantially out of kilter” to chief executives of similar sized local authorities.

Several councils pay more than £200,000, including Surrey, Hampshire and Gloucestershire. Neighbouring Somerset County Council this week appointed a new CEO on £195,000 a year.

But senior Liberal Democrat councillor Alan Connett, leader of the opposition until earlier this year, criticised the Devon increase at this week’s full council meeting – calling it the “wrong thing to do”.

“As we all know, there is a cost-of-living crisis out there. My view is that the chief officer on £175,000 is probably quite well….able to cope with life,” he said.

However, most councillors voted for the rise despite several opposition members from the Lib Dems, Labour, Green Party and Independents voting against.

Justifying the increase, the council report added: “Recruitment and retention is an increasing challenge for all authorities, and, at a senior level, there is a relatively small pool of appropriately qualified and experienced individuals.”

Dr Norrey is retiring at the end of August. Former county solicitor Jan Spicer will become interim chief executive until a permanent replacement is appointed.

The new pay package does not include the interim role.

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 11 July

NHS in England facing worst staffing crisis in history, MPs warn

Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who resigned earlier this month, said that the government was not on track to deliver its manifesto commitment to increase the number of GPs in England by 6,000.

And the candidates to be the next PM want to cut taxes and shrink the state!

Do the Tories know how to govern? – Owl

The large number of unfilled NHS job vacancies is posing a serious risk to patient safety, a report by MPs says.

Jim Reed Health reporter www.bbc.co.uk

It found England is now short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives, calling this the worst workforce crisis in NHS history.

It said a reluctance to decisively plug the staffing gap could threaten plans to tackle the Covid treatment backlog.

The government said the workforce is growing and NHS England is drawing up long-term plans to recruit more staff.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Commons health and social care select committee that produced the report, said tackling the shortage must be a “top priority” for the new prime minister when they take over in September.

“Persistent understaffing in the NHS poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, a situation compounded by the absence of a long-term plan by the government to tackle it,” he said.

The cross-party committee saw evidence that, on current projections, almost a million new jobs will need to be filled in health and social care by the early part of the next decade.

Extra staff would be needed to keep up with rising demand as the population gets older and healthcare becomes more complex and technologically advanced.

The health services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have faced similar staffing pressures.

A ‘national scandal’

The committee also heard evidence from former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who resigned earlier this month, that the government was not on track to deliver its manifesto commitment to increase the number of GPs in England by 6,000.

There was concern about maternity services, with more than 500 midwives leaving the health service between March 2021 and March 2022.

The committee described a situation where NHS pensions arrangements meant some senior doctors were better off retiring or reducing their working hours as a “national scandal” and called for swift action to change the rules.

It said conditions were “regrettably worse” in social care, with 95% of care providers struggling to hire staff and 75% finding it difficult to retain existing workers.

“Without the creation of meaningful professional development structures, and better contracts with improved pay and training, social care will remain a career of limited attraction, even when it is desperately needed,” the report said.

It called for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to be more proactive in enforcing the minimum wage, amid concerns that 17,000 care workers were paid below the legal rate of £9.50 an hour.

Miriam Deakin, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers which represents hospitals, mental health trusts and ambulance services, said that many staff were facing “unsustainable” workloads in the face of “ever-growing demand”.

“The answer is staring everyone in the face: The government must come up with a fully-funded, long-term workforce plan for the NHS,” she said.

Patricia Marquis, England director at the Royal College of Nursing, said the risk to staff and patients from low staffing levels should “shock ministers into action”.

“On pay the committee was very clear, saying it is unacceptable that some NHS nurses are struggling to feed their families, pay their rent, and travel to work,” she said.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused the government of having “utterly failed” to address the crisis.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said the number of people employed in healthcare was now growing and NHS England had been asked to develop a long-term plan to recruit and retain more staff.

“As we continue to deliver on our commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024, we are also running a £95m recruitment drive for maternity services and providing £500m to develop our valued social care workforce,” he said.


Private UK care homes’ profit margins soared in pandemic, research finds

The UK’s biggest care home chains saw their profit margins jump by 18% on average during the pandemic, new research shows, while the highest paid director’s salary surged to £2.3m.

Shanti Das www.theguardian.com

Amid a social care staffing crisis, and warnings from medical leaders that the system is “deeply flawed” and in need of urgent reform, analysis seen by the Observer lays bare the financial successes of major providers caring for elderly and disabled people.

The research – by the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity at Surrey University and Trinava Consulting with the trade union Unison – found that six of the 10 biggest adult social care providers for whom data was available saw their underlying profit margins widen between 2019 and 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

The biggest rise was at Runwood Homes, where the underlying profit margin widened by 37% in 2020, and which reported a profit before tax of £25.4m, up from £15m the year before, according to the research. A quarter of its homes are rated as requiring improvement by the Care Quality Commission.

The highest margin – 41.7% – was at Avery Healthcare, up from 39.8% in 2019 and 32.5% in 2015. The company, which runs 56 care homes in the UK, was recently acquired by the Reuben Brothers, named as Britain’s second richest family with an estimated fortune of £21.5bn, in the company’s first investment in the senior care sector. A press release in March said the deal – a joint venture with US real estate investment trust Welltower Inc – was expected to “generate significant future growth opportunities”.

The​ findings will fuel concerns about profiteering by private providers despite the pressures of Covid, and come amid reports of cost-cutting at some chains, and continued low pay for many staff.

Vivek Kotecha, public policy consultant and director of Trinava, which carried out the analysis, said: “During the pandemic there was a sense of national solidarity and sacrifice that was needed. I think people will be surprised to see that some companies actually appear to have done really well out of the pandemic.”

He added: “What it shows is that these businesses have high expectations for maintaining profitability, and workers and residents are feeling the brunt of this pressure.”

As well as widening profit margins, some providers also increased pay for their top executives during the pandemic, despite Covid pressures and the staffing crisis in social care, according to the research.

Runwood’s multimillionaire owner Gordon Sanders received an extra £2m in dividends in 2020, taking £3m that year compared with £1m in 2019. The company accepted £2m in taxpayer-funded furlough pay and Covid grants over the same period, according to Companies House records.

The highest-paid director across the providers, at Barchester Healthcare, was paid £2.27m in 2020 – up from £2.02m in 2019 and £699,000 in 2015. Posts for care workers at Barchester, which is owned by Jersey-based Grove Limited, were last week being advertised for £9.90 an hour, just above minimum wage.

The findings come amid warnings that the social care sector is in crisis. The British Medical Association warned in June of a “ticking timebomb” and said years of chronic underfunding, severe staffing shortages and a growing elderly population meant that many in the future, particularly the most deprived, would not get the care they need. “This situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and government proposals to shape the future of social care have fallen significantly short of what is needed,” it said.

Last month, a report by Unison highlighted the growing role of private equity in the sector, finding that more than one in nine (12%) care beds in the UK were now in the hands of investment firms. It also revealed cost-cutting at several unnamed firms, including allegations of food and cleaning products being replaced with cheaper substitutes and residents’ meals being reduced from three to two a day.

Christina McAnea, the Unison general secretary, said: “The sector is on its knees, staff are leaving in their droves and those who rely on care are getting a raw deal. Yet many care home owners continue to see their financial fortunes soar amid this crisis. Root-and-branch reform is needed now with profiteering removed from social care.”

Avery Healthcare and Runwood Homes declined to comment.

Barchester Healthcare said that it was investing in care homes and that staff received regular pay rises and loyalty bonuses. “In the six years from 2015 to 2020 inclusive, we invested a total of some £56m in capital expenditure on property and improvements of our services, to ensure that residents are living and staff are working in the best possible conditions,” it said. It added that the £2.3m figure given in company accounts for the highest paid director included a “non-recurring payment related to a long-term incentive plan”, and not just salary.

Sunak Would Put UK on ‘Crisis Footing’ 

Only now he is running for PM, not while he was Chancellor!

What’s changed?

Have the: “We got the Big Calls Right” Tories, really crashed the economy, as some of us fear? – Owl

www.bloomberg.com  (Extract)

Rishi Sunak has said that he would put the UK on a “crisis footing” from his first day as prime minister, as he and Liz Truss bid to woo the Tory grassroots as the leadership contest continues…

….The former chancellor tells The Times that the UK needs to be on a “crisis footing” to deal with inflation and a host of other challenges.

“They’re challenges that are staring us in the face and a business-as-usual mentality isn’t going to cut it in dealing with them. So from day one of being in office I’m going to put us on a crisis footing.

“Having been inside government I think the system just isn’t working as well as it should,” he is quoted as saying.

“And the challenges that I’m talking about, they’re not abstract, they’re not things that are coming long down the track.”

Mr Sunak also hits out at again at the proposed tax cuts lauded by Ms Truss, warning that it could lead to inflation becoming “entrenched” in the British economy.

He said: “What I worry about is the inflation we’re seeing now becoming entrenched for longer.

“That’s the risk we need to guard against. If that happens, it will be incredibly damaging for millions across the UK. The cost for families is going to be enormous.”

He also suggests that the Foreign Secretary’s plans could see interest rates rise, while rejecting the suggestion he is running a so-called “project fear”.

He added: “Imagine what that’s going to do to people’s mortgage rates.

“If we get this wrong, interest rates [will] have to go up even more because of a government that borrowed too much and made the situation worse.

“Anyone who doesn’t take really seriously the fact that inflation is running at the level it is is being hugely complacent about the challenge that is facing this country.

“That’s not project fear, that’s being honest with the country about what is happening and being responsible in saying this is a pressing priority that the government needs to help resolve and not make worse….