EDDC wants us to donate to Sidmouth beach protection!

Presumably so their £10 million vanity relocation doesn’t have to be cut! Note: only Sidmouth beach management plan is being dealt with this way (so far) – no other town. We pay council tax – now we are expected to make donations! Though perhaps they will soon install a “make donations to our relocation” boxes in the Knowle reception!

“East Devon District Council is asking you to help fund a multi-million pound plan to protect the beach in Sidmouth. The council is appealing to residents and visitors to Sidmouth to help contribute financially to the town’s beach management scheme via a donation box on the seafront.

A £5.7million grant from central government will go towards delivering a scheme to protect the coastline. But a further £3.3m of partnership funding is required for the scheme.

A donation box and its accompanying explanatory sign has been designed to help visitors understand the role of the beach in flooding and coastal erosion and has been placed on Sidmouth seafront, and the public are being asked to donate to help fund it.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/donation-box-installed-on-sidmouth-seafront-to-help-raise-3-3million-for-coastal-protection-scheme-1-4984794

NHS: were Swire and Parish’s “talks” with Jeremy Hunt worthless?

It appears Jeremy Hunt may be for the chop if Mrs May get her way with the next government.

Swire and Parish boasted that they had “conversations” with Hunt over local hospital bed closures – such talks seemingly preferable to actually voting against them in Parliament.

Now it seems that Hunt is not one of Mrs May’s favourite people – and we also know that she is not always disposed to take the advice of people she doesn’t rate.

So how useful were these talks?

Given that Hunt contributed to a book on how to privatise hospital services, even if he gets his old job back – would he listen anyway?

Lympstone primary school amalgamates classes due toeducation cuts

An East Devon primary school has taken a drastic and controversial decision to teach children from different year groups together due to funding cuts.

Lympstone Church of England Primary School has told parents details about new class structures which it will introduce this September at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Parents have been told that despite attempts to bring fairer funding to Devon’s schools, Lympstone will be losing around £62,000 due to national cuts to education funding.

While other schools in similar situations have announced staff redundancies, mostly among admin and teaching assistant posts, Lympstone primary is opting to no longer teach children in set age group classes from reception to Year 6.

The decision has sparked much anger among parents who believe their children’s education and happiness will suffer. It is believed some are even threatening to pull their children out of the school if the changes go ahead. …

The school currently has around 188 pupils who are taught in seven classes. Its budget has lost close to £30,000 this financial year, but with inflation and rising costs, the hit to the school is closer to double that, parents have been informed.

It has resulted in a decision to amalgamate year groups into six classes from seven to prevent a deficit which it is not allowed to have. The school previously went from having six mixed year group classes to seven in 2011. …

http://www.devonlive.com/devon-primary-school-merges-year-groups-to-save-money/story-30283949-detail/story.html

“Exclusive: £8,000 for a blind, £2,000 for a tap; the true cost of PFI”

Owl says: although this is about schools, it applies to the NHS too. Why is Tiverton hospital staying open when others are closing – it is a PFI- funded hospital and closing it or even reducing beds, even if that is a right decision, is not an option.

“Schools are paying thousands of pounds more than they should for everyday items because they are locked into PFI contracts they have no control over, a Tes investigation has revealed.

In what are dubbed “life-cycle costs”, schools are charged over the duration of PFI contracts, which results in even modest monthly payments mounting up over the years.

One teacher, who asks not to be named, cites an example: “We are a PFI school with an annual PFI bill of £132,478. We have been paying £88 [a year] for the installation of a new sink for 14 years now. With nine years left on the PFI contact, that sink will cost £2,024.”

At Bristol Metropolitan Academy, a single blind for a room will end up costing £8,154 under PFI. Oasis Academy Brislington, also in the Bristol area, will pay £2,211 for an external water tap over the course of a contract.

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, in north-east London, told Tes that the companies that profit from financing PFI deals were the “legal loan sharks of the public sector”. She wants an inquiry into PFI “before even more schools and hospitals are saddled with debts they can’t pay”.

For some schools, even getting the gates open to allow children to use the toilet before a school trip is a costly exercise.

One secondary in Oldham – Newman RC College – was charged £48 after security opened the school to allow pupils to visit the lavatory. The same school had to pay more than £400 for caretakers to fit some notice boards.

Such charges are not unusual. Tim Gilson, the head at Malmesbury School, in Wiltshire, said: “We had some benching put in the canteen, just along one wall, about 20 yards. We have to pay about £40 a month for the facilities management cost of that bench, on top of the cost of putting that bench in and all the materials. It’s a monthly charge that continues for the length of the contract.”

With 13 years left on his school’s PFI contract, the secondary will be charged £6,240 just for the management of the bench.” …

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/exclusive-ps8k-a-blind-ps2k-a-tap-true-cost-pfi

“Public services pressures the next government can’t ignore”

Emily Andrews, Institute of Government writes:

“As the general election campaign gets going, politicians must not duck the issue of serious pressures in the public sector

It is no secret that the Conservative government has struggled to implement the promises of their last manifesto, particularly those around spending controls. As our Performance Tracker report shows, the short-term belt-tightening measures which produced efficiencies in the early part of the last Parliament – staff cuts and wage control – are no longer working.

In the last six months, the government has twice been forced into emergency action to stabilise services at or on the brink of failure: with emergency cash injections announced for 2,500 new prison officers at the end of 2016, and £2bn for social care at the March Budget.

The biggest pressures

The data makes it clear where the biggest pressures facing the incoming government lie.

The last time the UK went to the polls (in a general election at least) 91% of people were seen at A&E within four hours. This is shy of the government’s 95% target, which had not been hit since the end of 2012. Since then, despite record overspends and a cash injection at the last spending review, the number of people being seen within this targeted time has continued to fall, down to 81% at the end of last year.

Despite growing numbers of older people, and working-age adults with long-term conditions, adult social care received a 6% spending cut between 2009/10 and 2015/16. This includes a funding boost from the Better Care Fund last year.

Yet delayed transfers of care – where people who are deemed medically fit for discharge remain in a hospital bed – have continued to rise. The number of days delayed due to issues in social care has risen 51% since August 2015.

The extra £2bn provided to the adult social care in the March budget may help tackle this immediate problem, but the prime minister herself has admitted that the government does not currently have a long-term solution to put the struggling sector on a sustainable footing.

Schools have continued to be comparatively well-funded but deeper problems are starting to appear. Last year, the government’s target for teachers entering training was missed by 15%. Meanwhile the number of teachers leaving state secondary schools has outstripped the number entering them, at a time when the number of secondary school pupils is set to rise. Schools will have to tackle these problems at the same time as a 6.5% reduction in per pupil funding (up to 2019/20).

It is no secret that the Conservative government has struggled to implement the promises of their last manifesto, particularly those around spending controls. As our Performance Tracker report shows, the short-term belt-tightening measures which produced efficiencies in the early part of the last Parliament – staff cuts and wage control – are no longer working.

In the last six months, the government has twice been forced into emergency action to stabilise services at or on the brink of failure: with emergency cash injections announced for 2,500 new prison officers at the end of 2016, and £2bn for social care at the March Budget.

Waiting times IfG

Despite growing numbers of older people, and working-age adults with long-term conditions, adult social care received a 6% spending cut between 2009/10 and 2015/16. This includes a funding boost from the Better Care Fund last year.

Yet delayed transfers of care – where people who are deemed medically fit for discharge remain in a hospital bed – have continued to rise. The number of days delayed due to issues in social care has risen 51% since August 2015.

The extra £2bn provided to the adult social care in the March budget may help tackle this immediate problem, but the prime minister herself has admitted that the government does not currently have a long-term solution to put the struggling sector on a sustainable footing.

Facing up to the issues

So what are the options facing the current crop of ministers and aspiring ministers, as their election campaigns kick into gear?

Vague promises of efficiency and reform will not cut it this time round after another two years of intensifying pressures in public services.

Vote-winning cash injection promises – softening the blow of the new schools’ funding formula perhaps – may look appealing. But failure to match the cash to genuine solutions could end up wasting money which the next government, whatever their colour, will not be able to spare. And we know the ‘crisis, cash, repeat’ pattern of the last two years is unsustainable – financially and politically.

To square these circles – of demographic ageing, issues with the schools workforce, and a hefty Brexit implementation bill – the next government will have to make difficult decisions.

All politicians owe it to the electorate to make it clear what those are. It will be pretty obvious whether this is happening. It will mean, for example, putting some specifics behind promises of ‘long-term strategy’ for social care – for example, do the parties intend to implement the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission, and if so how do they intend to pay for it?

Even better, parties should commit to submitting their spending plans to independent scrutiny through an ‘OBR for public spending’, to assess their realism. In a ‘post-truth’ age, it is vital that the public can trust that politicians’ claims about what they can achieve are reliable.

Politicians should use this election to gain a political mandate for specific, challenging reforms to tackle these pressures – or risk failing services and intensifying public mistrust.

http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/opinion/2017/04/public-services-pressures-next-government-cant-ignore

Claire Wright asks for “army of helpers” for bid to challenge sitting MP

An army of helpers are required if I am to run as a parliamentary candidate again!

I am seriously considering putting my hat in the ring as an Independent candidate in the 8 June General Election.

I have been for many years, deeply concerned at this government’s attitude towards public services, especially the NHS, social care and education, all of which are underfunded and hugely struggling, especially in Devon.

Devon County Council has seen over half its budgets disappear due to austerity measures. Many services have been cut back, or lost as a result.

I am also concerned about the effect of Brexit on the vast amount of land and species currently highly protected under EU legislation. This is at risk of not being properly protected as we leave the EU.

In Devon alone, there are 122 sites across 115,000 hectares, including at Woodbury and Aylesbeare Commons.

The transfer of this EU legislation to UK law needs carefully monitoring.

Since Tuesday morning I have received hundreds of messages of support and offers of help if I decide to run again, which has been touching and inspiring. This has forced me to consider my options carefully.

To run a successful campaign at such short notice, however, I need an army of leafleters and helpers.

If enough people come forward to offer practical help, I will be able to run.

If you are able to help, please contact me at

claire@claire-wright.org

stating relevant skills you have and how you can help.

Thank you.

NHS a major concern for voters

“Health is always discussed on the doorsteps in general election campaigns.
Labour has long seen the NHS as its defining electoral issue.

The Conservatives have tried hard to demonstrate their commitment with pledges in recent years of above-inflation investment.

But how much difference will it make this time in a campaign that is sure to be dominated by Brexit?

Polling suggests the state of the NHS is high on people’s list of concerns.
An Ipsos/Mori survey in January in association with the Economist showed that 49% of respondents considered it to be one of the biggest issues facing Britain, up nine percentage points since December and the highest level recorded since April 2003.

This was slightly ahead of the proportion (41%) seeing the EU and Brexit as a major issue. Immigration was next on the list, though lower than in December.

The same survey just before the general election in May 2015 had the economy, the NHS and immigration bunched quite closely together as issues of the highest public concern.

The latest snapshot has the NHS pulling ahead of both. But the key question is whether what people tell the pollsters are key issues translates into voting intentions.

The King’s Fund think tank recently analysed the British Social Attitudes survey taken across England, Scotland and Wales and found that public satisfaction with the NHS was high at 63%, little changed from 2015.
It is worth pointing out, though, that this polling was carried out in the summer and early autumn of 2016 before the latest bout of winter pressures.
The general election health debate will be about England as governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland run their health services and they have no elections this time.

Labour made health a central plank of its 2015 election campaign. Andy Burnham, then the party’s health spokesman, spoke out forcefully about the pressures on hospitals over the preceding winter. He also accused the Conservatives of encouraging privatisation of the NHS, which they in turn denied.

But this failed to cut through, as the Tories achieved a majority.
This time Labour is stressing that health will again be central to its campaigning effort.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39640624