“£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing”

“The government has wasted at least £14 billion between 2016 and 2019 on poorly managed outsourcing contracts finds a report from the Reform Think Tank.

The report is based on an analysis of investigations by the National Audit Office NAO), Parliamentary Select Committees and other statutory bodies. The total value of the contracts investigated was £71.1 billion.

The Ministry of Defence accounts for 27 per cent of this waste. This includes a 17 year delay in the full decommissioning of nuclear submarines and a poorly planned army recruitment programme. This saw soldiers forced into backoffice jobs to clear an IT backlog created by an untested IT system created in partnership between the army and Capita.

Other examples include the vastly expensive liquidation of Carrillion, which cost the government at least £148 million as well as involving the time and resources of 14 government departments and public bodies.

Also the Department for Education continued to give Learndirect £105 million after the programme was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. This should have led to the funding being withdrawn.

A third of the government’s annual budget is spent on outsourced services, at a total of ££292 Billion.

Reform is now calling for an independent regulator of the outsourcing sector which – unlike the NAO or Select Committees would have the power to enforce change and impose sanctions on failing providers.

Senior Researcher and Reform procurement lead, Dr Joshua Pritchard said “Our public services cannot function without outsourcing. But when it goes wrong, it’s taxpayers who end up footing the bill

“The £14.3 billion wasted as a result of poorly drawn up and managed government contracts is inexcusable.

“We need a new regulator with the power to prevent public money being squandered because of totally avoidable mistakes.”

£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing

“Senior role in East Devon’s ruling cabinet has been axed”

So, the “transformation” role in Ben Ingham’s TiggerTory cabinet has been abolished by said leader.

How convenient – no more pesky questions about the Leader’s pre-election promise to move from a Cabinet system to a committee system, more representative of the diverse groups that now exist.

Councillor Millar, understandably, believed “transformation” meant changes to the way officers AND councillors would work. Instead it seems Leader Ingham sees “transformation” as applying to more commercialisation of council services and more revenue-boosting asset-sweating or selling. In other words, a continuation of the previous Tory policies – local government as business rather than public service.

More BOGOF (buy one, get one free) than transformation!

“… No reason for the decision of the leader of the council to not replace the portfolio holder position is stated in the papers ahead of the meeting. …

Instead, the cabinet collectively will take on responsibility for delivery of the Council Plan and the associated strategies of Fit for Purpose, Careful Choices and Commercialisation of Services.

The report says that Cllr Jess Bailey, Corporate Services Portfolio holder, will take on responsibility for Digital by Design and Systems Thinking, while Cllr Geoff Pook, Asset Management Portfolio holder, will now be responsible for Commercialisation of Assets rather than Revenue Generation.

… Next Wednesday’s meeting will also see changes made to committee membership as a result of the political balance of the council changes following Cllr Millar’s resignation from the Independent Group.

The council now consists of 19 members in the Independent Group, 19 Conservatives, 11 from the East Devon Alliance, eight Liberal Democrats, two Green Party members, and one Independent, Cllr Millar.

Sitting as an Independent, he is entitled to two seats across all the committees, and the full council is recommended to approve a proposal that would see the ruling Independent Group lose a seat on both the Overview Committee and the Licensing and Enforcement Committee.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/senior-role-east-devons-ruling-3442021

“New report reveals alarming shortage of country doctors”

“Hospitals in rural and coastal Britain are struggling to recruit senior medical staff, leaving many worryingly “under-doctored”, a major new report seen exclusively by the Observer reveals. Some hospitals in those areas appointed no consultants last year, raising fears that the NHS may become a two-tier service across the UK with care dependent on where people live.

Disclosure of the stark urban-rural split emerged in a census of consultant posts across the UK undertaken by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), whose president, Andrew Goddard, has warned that patients’ lives may be at risk because some hospitals do not have enough senior doctors.

Just 13% of consultants appointed in England last year went to hospitals serving mainly rural or coastal areas, with the other 87% being hired by those with mainly urban populations.
…”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/13/nhs-consultant-shortage-rural-coastal-areas?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“To save on teaching costs, school heads are increasingly busting the 30-child limit — illegal for pupils under seven” [including Broadclyst]

“Broadclyst school [photograph from article above]in Devon has a specially built classroom where 67 children are taught simultaneously. Though unions say such class sizes are detrimental to learning, the school’s head teacher insists pupils are offered an “excellent education”.

It looks more like a lecture theatre than a primary school classroom. Welcome to Broadclyst Community Primary School in Devon, where year 6 pupils are taught in a class of 67 — sometimes with just one teacher.

A Sunday Times investigation has found that cash-strapped primary schools are packing pupils into giant classes to boost their budgets. A school receives between £3,500 and £5,000 a year for each child. More than 559,000 primary pupils were taught in “super-size classes” averaging more than 30 children last year, compared with 501,000 five years earlier, according to our analysis of official data.

In parts of northwest England — including Oldham, Bury, Trafford and Tameside — a quarter of primary children are being taught in such big classes, as per-pupil funding encourages heads to fill their classrooms.

It is illegal to teach children under the age of seven in classes of more than 30 pupils, but there are no such rules for older children. But we have found that nearly 5% of pupils aged 5-7, roughly 73,000 children, were taught in classes of more than 30 last year. Some heads use just one teacher for occasional classes of more than 60 pupils. Broadclyst has one of the highest average class sizes, 42, and at times teaches 67 older children together in a specially built room.

Teaching unions and experts have always warned that such big class sizes damage children’s education. But this weekend Jonathan Bishop, Broadclyst’s head teacher, defended the policy, insisting that the school, about five miles northeast of Exeter, offered an excellent education, and class size “was not the big factor” in a good-quality education.

The school is rated as “outstanding” by the regulator Ofsted.

Bishop said: “I do not think 30 is a magic number to get better-quality education. It is not class size that dictates the quality of education. Our year 6 classroom has got 67 children in one room. There are times when one teacher teaches those 67 children. Is that wrong? Of course it is not wrong.

“Our year 6 classroom is designed like a lecture theatre: I can seat 67 children in there. I know I will be public enemy No 1 by saying this.”

Experts warned that the UK was moving inexorably towards the giant classes found in parts of Asia.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

AveragecUK earnings increase 2p per hour in two years – top 1% earnings go up £7 per hour in same period

“The top 1% of high earners in the UK have enjoyed a 7.6% real terms pay increase over the last two years, while the average worker’s pay rose by just 2p an hour.

A TUC analysis of government hourly pay data between 2016 and 2018 shows thatpay among the very top earners increased at a faster rate than any other group.

People in the top bracket saw their pay increase by an average of 7.6% from £58.73 in 2016 to £63.18 in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual survey of hours and earnings. Over the same period, the real terms pay of average workers rose by just 0.1% or 2p to from £12.71 to £12.73.

The TUC said that average pay in real terms, when adjusted for inflation, was still worth less in real terms than before the financial crisis continuing the biggest squeeze on wages since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, warned that the gap between the richest and everyone else will continue to widen under the prime minister, Boris Johnson’s planned tax cut for high earners, which will cost the Treasury £9.6bn a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

“While millions struggle with Britain’s cost of living crisis, pay for those at top is back in the fast lane,” O’Grady said. “We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the richest 1%. Boris Johnson’s promised tax giveaway to high earners would only make things worse. The prime minister is focused on helping his wealthy mates and donors, not working people.” …

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/oct/12/average-uk-earners-gained-just-2p-per-hour-in-two-years-tuc-reveals?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Doctors fear winter crisis chaos is looming in Devon”

“Fears of a winter crisis chaos across hospitals have been raised after new figures have shown A&E waiting times in parts of Devon are already worse than would be expected during the hardest months of the year.

NHS figures show 72.8 per cent of people arriving at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS trust’s major A&Es waited less than four hours before being admitted, discharged or transferred.

It is the trust’s worst performance since A&E waiting times began to be measured on a monthly basis in June 2015. Performance has been deteriorating at the trust since March this year. The target is 95 per cent.

The RD&E says the reason is due to ‘very high’ patient demand, staffing pressures and shortages in the care sector.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned poor A&E performance in September meant the NHS was on a “collision course” for what is likely to be the worst winter ever.

Overall, 81.9 per cent of patients waited less than four hours at all A&Es and minor injury units run by the RD&E in September.

Across England, 77 per cent of people waited less than four hours in major A&Es in September before being admitted, discharged or transferred.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The NHS has just experienced its worst-ever summer. This is incredibly alarming and should be taken as a serious warning sign of the chaos that is likely to unfold in the NHS this coming winter.

“With summer performance now as bad as recent winters, we have reached a point of year-round crisis and the Government cannot continue to let this happen.

“September A&E waits were the worst performance record outside of winter since 2010 and trolley waits and referrals to treatment are worse than we have seen in the last decade.

“Patient care is suffering, NHS staff working tirelessly around the clock are suffering, and with Brexit on the horizon and early indicators of an extremely cold winter, we are on a collision course for what is likely to be the worst winter ever.

“This is a serious plea – we need to see investment across the board including community and social care, and resources such as more beds, reaching the frontline now.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/doctors-fear-winter-crisis-chaos-3419929

Such good timing: “Decision on whether fire stations will be axed delayed until just before Christmas”

“Devon residents [and firefighters Owl adds] could get an unwanted early Christmas present in the form of cuts to their fire service.

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has been consulting with the public on its Safer Together programme, which looks at how fire stations, engines and crews can be best deployed for the future needs of the two counties.

Among the proposed changes include Appledore, Ashburton, Budleigh Salterton, Colyton, Kingston, Porlock, Topsham, and Woolacombe fire stations closing.

A decision on which savings proposals would be taken forward and implemented was originally due to be taken by the fire authority in early-November.

The fire service confirmed that around 3,300 surveys had been completed during the 12-week consultation window, and it also received 700 written submissions and five petitions on the subject.

The responses are now being independently analysed by the Swansea-based firm Opinion Research Services, with formal proposals coming to the fire authority on December 18, rather than November 8 as originally hoped. ….”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/decision-whether-fire-stations-axed-3410173