Tory MP blocks BBC journalist who quoted his exact words about food banks to expose his hypocrisy

“Conservative MP Dominic Raab has blocked a BBC journalist on social media after she repeated his comments about food banks.

The former Brexit Secretary posted a photo in which he posed with food bank volunteers in his Esher and Walton constituency. He wrote: “Thank you to Tesco in Molesey and the Trussell Trust for partnering to encourage customers to generously provide food collections for families in our community, who are struggling at this time of year.”

In response, Victoria Derbyshire quoted verbatim previous remarks made by Mr Raab in the run-up to the 2017 general election. She reminded him he had previously blamed the rising reliance on food banks on those who had a “cash flow problem”, insisting they were not “languishing in poverty”.

The journalist soon found herself blocked from following Mr Raab’s Twitter account. Ms Derbyshire tweeted: “I repeated verbatim what Mr Raab said about people who use food banks..”

On Victoria Derbyshire’s 2017 debate show, Mr Raab had said: “I’ve studied the Trussell Trust data. “What they tend to find is the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem episodically.”

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust handed out a record 1.3million emergency parcels in 2017, with 41 per cent of recipients putting their need down to delays and changes in their benefits.”

Pub chain owner denies tweet that Universal Credit allows him to push zero-hours contracts

Probably not the best PR for a wealthy businessman to be seen publicly boasting about how he is happily using taxpayers’ money to subsidise his staff wages.

So it’s a bit strange to see this tweet from the DWP quoting the MD and owner of pub chain Whiting and Hammond bragging about how so very little he pays his staff that his workers have to rely on Universal Credit to get by. …”

“Pensioner poverty rises as benefits freeze bites”

“Declining home-ownership and rising rents mean that one in six may have to choose between food and heat, warns Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

One in six pensioners is now living in poverty as a result of declining home ownership, soaring rents and the benefits freeze, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned. Pensioner poverty is rising, having fallen steadily for nearly two decades, the charity said. The figures prompt fears that many pensioners will be forced to choose between paying for heating and buying food this winter, as benefits remain frozen below inflation for the third year in a row.

The foundation’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “Pensioner poverty is a problem that we thought had gone away.”

The incidence had halved over 20 years, but began rising again in 2012-13. By 2016-17, 16% of pensioners were living in poverty, rising to 31% among those in social housing and 36% among private renters. Poverty here is “relative poverty” – an income of less than 60% of the median among pensioners, after housing costs.

Robb said: “For middle-aged people who have been struggling over the past few years, who don’t have many savings and don’t own their own home, the prospect of being a pensioner is very challenging.” The “golden age” when people enjoyed rising home-ownership and well-paid work was coming to an end, he added. About 20% of all pensioners rent their home, and the proportion is growing.

The problem is compounded by the benefits freeze, in place since 2016. “As rent goes up faster than housing benefit, pensioners have a huge gap to fill,” Robb said. “This tips people into poverty, and forces them to choose between food and heating.”

Figures published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this year reveal that relative poverty among pensioners has risen in the past five years, while “absolute poverty” – an income of less than 60% of what the median of the general population was in 2010-11 – has fallen by just 1%. By comparison, absolute pensioner poverty fell by 12% between 2002-03 and 2007-08, and by 3% between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The foundation called on the government to end the benefits freeze and to build genuinely affordable housing. “These figures are part of a wider increase in poverty across all age-groups,” said Robb. “If we don’t tackle the causes now, we fear that we are going to see poverty – particularly among pensioners – rise even more.”

Another NHS campaigner speaks out

Roseanne Edwards, who is fighting to “Keep Our Horton General” in Oxfordshire writes:

“From our fellow campaigners who are fighting as hard as we are for their local hospital. It is a copy of what is being done to services in Oxfordshire. It is happening all over England.

The background their hospital is set against is the same politically inspired NHS reorganisation we are all victims of.

“Following the 2010 election which returned a Coalition Government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Department of Health was too busy with the torturous passage through the House of Commons and Lords of the Health and Social Care Bill, which became the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and took their eye off the ball, neglecting to commission training places in Universities for Doctors, nurses physiotherapists and other valuable and essential health professionals.

This resulted in a national shortage which we are seeing today, in A&E surgeons, paediatricians, nurses and other staff.

The outcome may have been intentional. Michael Portillo speaking on the BBC Parliament channel following the election, said that the Conservatives kept quiet about their intentions for the health service because they knew that if their plans became known, they would not be elected.

The intended change was to the fundamental foundation of what used to be the National Health Service, the Secretary of State’s duty to provide, which was removed and a system of contracting services out to tender to enable more profit making companies to siphon off the NHS revenue put in place with competition law operational.

Martin Barkley says that the Care Closer to Home model of service provision will be sustainable. This is government propaganda. What does sustainable mean? The funding for the health service is a matter of choice. Government chooses to fund it or not. This government and the Coalition, chose not to. Even when ‘Care Closer to Home’ is put in place and Dewsbury Hospital downgraded, completely as planned for spring 2017, the government could choose to reduce funding still further.

This is exactly what is happening with the mandatory and secretive Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) agenda, being worked up by the Councils, CCGs and Trusts, in West Yorkshire footprint number 5. The West Yorkshire STP has to save money as part of West Yorkshire’s share of the £22billion ‘efficiency savings.’

There is NO EVIDENCE to show that the cuts to hospital provision and services at home, are less expensive than inpatient stays. The pilots in Torbay were inconclusive. In fact they may prove to be more expensive. The expenditure of the National Health Service model as it had been and the treatment it carried out, was consistently found by OECD studies to be the most cost effective in the developed world, treating everyone according to need. This was the case even including the increased costs and associated difficulties caused by the marketised Foundation Trust system.

(The CCG CEP) Dr Kelly outlines what he describes as a “whole system change” in the NHS. What the describes, is chopping the services into tiny bits and letting private profit making companies provide the cheaper, less complex services, such as the dermatology he mentioned and the opticians on the high street. This denies revenue to the Hospital Trust, destabilising it. A new contract announced after the public meeting for Musculo- Skeletal services has gone toprivate company ConnectHealth:

redirecting even more revenue away from the Trust:

The ‘Right Care ‘ initiative mentioned is an import from the US. What does ‘redesigning therapies’ mean? The Right Care programme, is looking at money. Is this the first step to withdrawing what was once available?

The Royal College of Surgeons has criticised the policy of withdrawing treatments now evaluated as procedures of limited clinical effectiveness (PoLCE) or procedures of limited clinical value (PoLCV). There is no national list of these, as CCGs are free to choose which ones to fund and which to not. The Royal College of Surgeons states that the growing list is “extremely detrimental to patients across the NHS, removing equality of access to treatment, creating postcode lotteries, lowering the standard of care provided in the NHS and potentially reducing the quality of life for some patients.”

Following the fragmentation described here, the architects of the STPlans want an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO) to put it back together, with the private sector cocooned and shareholding, in the provider structure.

Dr Kelly speaks of the Hospital Avoidance Team, going into hospitals to facilitate early discharge. What we have learned since the public meeting is that there is a postcode lottery with regard to what is on offer following a hospital stay and hospital nurses and other staff have to know where you live, because North Kirklees patients can not have what Wakefield patients get.”

Ottery Community Hospital – a campaigner speaks on council in-fighting

Text of address to Ottery Town Council by Philip Algar, a long-term campaigner for the Ottery hospital, including its in-patient beds:


As an interested member of the public, I have attended almost all the town council meetings over the last few years. During that time, I have seen the councillors confront many issues, some trivial and some serious. However, I have not seen a collective, note the word “collective”, and timely public effort by the council as a whole to support those of us who have been campaigning to save the Ottery hospital. I can think of nothing that is more important to the local people than having access to a well-located modern greatly-valued hospital and this, surely, justifies your collective support. Why has such support been missing?

Whenever the subject of the hospital’s future has been included on the town council agenda, the main speaker, often the only speaker, has been one councillor, who, quite correctly, has said that she does not speak for the council but for a group of which she is a leading member.

As recently as last August, I asked the council to adopt an official and supportive role but nothing happened and, as far as I know, my suggestion that the hospital should become a community asset, which was rejected by EDDC, was not challenged by this council, even although such status has, I am told, been granted to other hospitals. I had suggested in advance that it might be wise to devise a response in anticipation of a negative decision.
All this is why I shall no longer be attending your meetings which will be good news for many of you. Furthermore, the well-intentioned and hard-working unofficial groups have failed to make much progress with the official bodies and, apparently, admit this. That said, it would be helpful if they were more communicative with the public.

Given this lamentable situation, it was hardly surprising that three councillors, backed by a county councillor, suggested setting up a semi-official working group to solve the crisis. Three councillors voted in favour and six, according to the draft minutes of the meeting, abstained.
I was astonished to learn that, allegedly, some councillors construed this as a defeat for the trio. That is breathtaking and worthy of Private Eye. If this is true, it also exposes a level of ignorance that calls into question the competence of those involved. If it is not true, I withdraw this comment immediately.

Now, despite an objective explanation from Dr. Margaret Hall, explaining that, effectively, NHS groups, apparently, will only discuss matters with official groups or those under the aegis of the council, you still chose to organise this meeting, at an unusual time when so many residents are at work. I note the comments that this meeting was planned as councillors were attending a finance meeting. The claim by the abstainers, that they did not have sufficient information, has already been undermined by Dr. Hall’s contribution so why have another meeting?

This, presumably, is an effort to overturn the initial decision on the creation of a working group. The agenda also raises the possibility of supporting a decision that has already been agreed after a vote of three to nil, and which has now been explained by Dr. Hall. I find the possibility that organising a meeting to consider reversing the democratically-taken decision to be a truly ludicrous waste of time and totally unnecessary.
Those who were penalised by the decision to remove inpatient beds and now face the prospect that the hospital may not even become a hub, deserve much more from their councillors.”

End: 29.11.18

“The Government Thinks No-one Will Notice Their Devastation Of Local Government – We Won’t Let That Happen”

“Unless this Government changes tune, elderly people will be lonelier, disabled people will get sicker, vulnerable children will fall through the net.

Despite unprecedented pressure and growing warnings, Councils are bracing themselves for the biggest cuts they’ve had to face since 2010. That is the prospect of the Tories’ local government settlement set to be announced.

The past eight years have seen councils forced to make cuts – but they’ve reached the end of the line, with so-called “non-essential services” being cut to the bone, leading to even deeper reductions to the services that we all rely on like street cleaning, libraries, and children’s centres, and to many of the preventative services that previously reduced the pressure on the NHS and police.

So severe and urgent is the crisis facing our councils, that the UN’s special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights mentioned it in the opening paragraph of his recent report, saying that local authorities had been “gutted by a series of government policies”.

Despite all the warnings, the Government will announce a further 36 per cent cut to local government funding, the largest annual deduction in almost a decade.

Councils of all parties are facing a funding crisis with devastating effects on key public services – children at risk, disabled adults and vulnerable older people – and the services we all rely on, like clean streets, libraries, and children’s centres.

In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this is an unacceptable position to be in. It is a national scandal that 1.4 million older people are now not getting the necessary help to carry out essential tasks such as washing themselves and dressing – up 20% over the last two years. The deterioration of social care alone will fundamentally damage the fabric of society as we know it. Huge amounts of money have been taken out of the system, despite obvious rising demand.

This is a crisis of the Tories’ creation, but as ever they are pushing the blame on to councils, communities, carers and families. Our councils were the first target when the coalition government came into power, losing 60p out of every £1 that the last Labour Government was spending on local government in 2010.

As a result of these cuts, the Tory-led Local Government Association is predicting that next year, councils will be facing a funding gap of £3.9 billion just to maintain current services, including £1.5 billion gap in adult social care funding.

Instead of showing the leadership that is needed in this crisis, the Government continues to put sticking plaster after sticking plaster, on what is now, an open wound.

Previous local government settlements under this Tory government have been unacceptable, unfair and unhelpful. Unless this Government changes tune, elderly people will be lonelier, disabled people will get sicker, vulnerable children will fall through the net, and our communities will become more unpleasant, unsafe and unattractive places to live. All councils are now reaching breaking point and short term sticking plasters will not keep the wolves from the door for much longer.

Andrew Gwynne is the Shadow Secretary of State, Communities & Local Government and Labour MP for Denton & Reddish”

Tory grandee says Tories should take blame for increase in poverty and he wants no part in it

“Lord Michael Heseltine has warned MPs against voting to “make this country poorer” in the looming House of Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

In a rousing speech on Wednesday afternoon, the Tory former deputy prime minister told the House of Lords that if it votes for slower economic growth, lower tax revenues and lower public spending “those who will suffer most are those least able to bear the strain”.

“I tell you there are no solutions that help the fortunes of the least privileged in the most stressful circumstances,” said the famously pro-Europe politician.

“When the election comes, it will have been a Tory that led the referendum campaign,” Heseltine continued.

“It will have been a Tory government that perpetuated the frozen living standards.

“It will be a Tory government that is blamed for what we are talking about today.”

“I will have no part of it,” he added. …”