“IFS warn austerity ‘baked in’ a Tory manifesto with ‘notable’ lack of social care funding”

In a dire warning the IFS added: “even in 2023–24 day-to-day spending on public services outside of health would still be almost 15 per cent lower in real terms that it was at the start of the 2010s.”

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies is deeply unimpressed at what it deemed a “lack of significant policy action” in the Conservative Party manifesto.

The Tory social care crisis for Britain’s elderly and infirm that Johnson had promised to fix when he became PM did not even get a mention in the manifesto. Johnson had previously claimed that he had a plan ready to sort it out.

The IFS concluded that the manifesto plans meant people expecting relief for Britain’s public services after a decade of austerity would instead see “cuts to their day-to-day budgets of the last decade baked in.”

Economic researchers at the independent think tank calculated that the National Insurance threshold rise to £9,500 that Boris Johnson appeared to have lied or been mistaken about will actually only save most in paid work “less than £2 a week” and highlighted the “notable omission” for any plan to deal with the crisis in social care funding.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive at the Nuffield Trust, an independent health think tank, said he was “bitterly disappointed” to see “unnecessary delay” in tackling the issue of social care.

IFS director Paul Johnson said: “If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals, we would have been calling it modest.

“As a blueprint for five years in government, the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.”

Main manifesto pledges quickly debunked

Speaking at a launch event in Telford, Boris Johnson reaffirmed his commitment to take the UK out of the EU by the end of January, so they could “forge a new Britain”. “We will get Brexit done and we will end the acrimony and the chaos,” he said.

As well as a flagship promise of 50,000 more nurses for the NHS in England despite Brexit “chaos”, the manifesto included a U-turn restoring maintenance grants for student nurses previously scrapped by the Tories.

Tory sources later acknowledged that about 30,000 of the additional nurses would come from measures to retain existing staff rather than new recruits, and the main Tory manifesto pledge was debunked among other claims by a fact checking service within hours of the launch. Labour called the Tory figures “deceitful.”

Chief executive Will Moy said the Conservative Party could “do more to meet the standards we expect” after investigating its pledges on paving the way for 50,000 new nurses and limiting day-to-day spending increases to only £3 billion, despite promising a litany of public services investment.

The fact checkers also slammed Johnson’s use the the slogan “get Brexit done”, a phrase that appears 22 times in the manifesto including on the cover, when a deal with the European Union could take “years to negotiate”.

“The Brexit process will not be completed by January,” despite what Johnson keeps repeating said the independent organisation.

‘Older people face a triple whammy’

“After a decade of the Conservatives cutting our NHS, police and schools, all Boris Johnson is offering is more of the same: more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty,” Jeremy Corbyn responded.

He added: “Boris Johnson can’t be trusted. Older people face a triple whammy as he has failed to protect free TV licences for over 75s, refused to grant justice to women unfairly affected by the increase in the state pension age, and not offered a plan or extra money to fix the social care crisis.”

The lacklustre manifesto may be down to Conservative complacency after recent polls. The latest polling released on Sunday, created by Datapraxis using YouGov polling and voter interviews, suggested the Tories were on course to secure their largest Commons majority since 1987 – a majority of almost 50 MPs.

This would mean if Boris Johnson met the public services spending promises in his manifesto the UK would still be looking at a decade of cuts “baked into” our services, according to the IFS analysis.

Boris Johnson’s broken promise to fix Tory social care crisis

Paul Johnson of the IFS’ initial reaction to the Tory manifesto was scathing: “If the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos were notable for the scale of their ambitions the Conservative one is not. If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest. As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.

“In part that is because the chancellor announced some big spending rises back In September. Other than for health and schools, though, that was a one-off increase. Taken at face value today’s manifesto suggests that for most services, in terms of day-to-day spending, that’s it. Health and school spending will continue to rise. Give or take pennies, other public services, and working age benefits, will see the cuts to their day-to-day budgets of the last decade baked in.”

“One notable omission is any plan for social care. In his first speech as prime minister Boris Johnson promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. After two decades of dither by both parties in government it seems we are no further forward.

“On the tax side the rise in the National Insurance threshold was well trailed. The ambition for it to get to £12,500 may remain, but only the initial rise to £9,500 has been costed and firmly promised. Most in paid work would benefit, but by less than £2 a week. Another £6 billion would need to be found to get to £12,500 by the end of the parliament. Given the pressures on the spending side that is not surprising.”

“Perhaps the biggest, and least welcome, announcement is the ‘triple tax lock’: no increases in rates of income tax, NICs or VAT. That’s a constraint the chancellor may come to regret. It is also part of a fundamentally damaging narrative – that we can have the public services we want, with more money for health and pensions and schools – without paying for them. We can’t.”

School cuts barely reversed

The Conservative manifesto confirmed previous commitments in England to increase school spend in England by £7.1 billion by 2022–23. However, that would leave spend per pupil in real terms after a decade of austerity at the same level as 13 years ago, the IFS explained.

In contrast the IFS found the Labour commitment of a £7.5 billion real terms increase by 2022–23 a 14.6% rise in spending per pupil.

Unlike Labour and the Liberal Democrats the Conservative manifesto refused to extend free, pre-school childcare.

IFS researchers warned that the Conservative manifesto pledges left “little scope for spending increases beyond next year outside of those planned for health and schools.”

In a dire warning the IFS added: “even in 2023–24 day-to-day spending on public services outside of health would still be almost 15 per cent lower in real terms that it was at the start of the 2010s.”

@BenGelblum

IFS warn austerity ‘baked in’ a Tory manifesto with ‘notable’ lack of social care funding

“‘Support staff plugging nurse-shortage gaps’ “

“Failure to recruit enough nurses has left the NHS dependent on less-skilled support staff to plug workforce gaps, analysis by a charity has found.

The Health Foundation claimed there has been a “hollowing out” of the NHS workforce and said the country needs to recruit at least 5,000 international nurses a year until 2023-24 to prevent shortages impacting on patient care.

Although there was the biggest annual increase in overall workforce for a decade between March 2018 and March 2019, this “masks an ongoing shift” in the mix of clinical staff employed by the NHS, the charity said.

While there was 4,500 more nurses recruited in the year – an increase of 1.5% – there was a 2.6% increase in support staff doctors, nurses and midwives (6,500 more), according to the analysis.

Nursing vacancies also reached record levels at 44,000 in the first quarter of 2019 while NHS output – including the number of operations, consultations and diagnostic procedures – grew by 23% between 2010-11 and 2016-17.

“The figures suggest that in some cases, clinical support staff are effectively filling in the gaps left by the widespread shortages of nurses, raising questions of quality and safety,” the report added.

The Health Foundation also said figures show that in response to a “severe drop off” in the supply of EU nurses since 2016, the UK has ramped up its recruitment of nurses from non-EU countries over the last year.

Since the Brexit referendum nurses recruited from EU countries has fallen by 85% – from 6,382 in 2016-17 to 968 in 2018-19.

The charity noted there had still been recruitment from outside the EU in 2018-19 – including 1,791 nurses from India and 3,118 from the Philippines.

A similar trend occurred with doctor recruitment, where there was a fall of 1.6% between March 2018 and March 2019 of permanently employed GPs. The Health Foundation added: “It now appears impossible that the government’s original target of recruiting 5,000 additional GPs by 2020 will be met”.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “Nursing shortages continue to deepen and are inevitably impacting on the front line.

“Services are being forced to make do with shortfalls of increasingly pressurised nurses and rely on less-skilled support staff to pick up the slack.

She added: “Two obvious solutions to the nurse staffing crisis would be to train more nurses in this country and retain more existing staff. But the UK is struggling to grow the numbers starting nursing degrees, and while there must also be action to address this – for example, by giving nurse students the cost-of-living support they need – it will take time to have a significant impact on the numbers of nurses.”

Charlesworth noted that clinical support staff played an important role but added there appeared to be an unplanned increased recruitment of such staff to fill nursing staff shortages.

The Conservatives have promised 50,000 more nurses if they win the election next month, although 19,000 of those will be retained rather than newly recruited.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/11/support-staff-plugging-nurse-shortage-gaps
(pay wall)

A quarter of Devon’s children live in poverty says Devon County Council

It’s what people voted for when they voted Conservative for continued austerity.

“A quarter of Devon’s children are living in poverty once housing costs taken into account.

More than 35,000 children in Devon are living in poverty once housing costs are taken into account, councillors have heard.

A Children’s Services Self-Assessment went before Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee last Monday which provided an up-to-date evaluation of the needs of children and families in Devon.

The report outlined how 14 per cent of the local authority’s children are living in poverty (before housing costs), but that rises to 25 per cent (after housing costs) are taking into account.

More than 10 per cent of children are entitled to free school meals, the report added, and also says that 41,000 households in the county are affected by fuel poverty.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, chairman of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, said that the figures were shocking and in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception but the rule.

Commenting on the report after the meeting, he said: “These local figures for child poverty in Devon are truly shocking, and it’s completely unacceptable and wrong in 2019, in one of the richest countries in the world, that we are still dealing with this most basic of issues affecting so many children.

“Large numbers of people seem to just wrongly assume that because we live a beautiful part of the country, that we don’t experience the same serious social problems that other areas do. These new figures again show in stark reality that this is just not the case, and much of our poverty and hardship is hidden by the affluence that some others have.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Thousands more families across Devon, are living on the cusp of the poverty line. One unexpected setback – like redundancy or illness – could push them into the poverty trap.

“Overall there are more than four million children in the UK growing up in poverty. The situation is getting worse, with the number set to rise to five million by 2020. And those poverty rates have risen for every type of working family – lone-parent or couple families, families with full and part-time employment and families with different numbers of adults in work. This is the first time in two decades this has happened, and incredibly it is happening at a time of rising employment, and these figures in Devon are in line with these trends.

“But the evidence is clear – poverty can make existing vulnerabilities worse. Growing up in poverty puts at risk the building blocks of a good childhood – secure relationships, a decent home, having friends and fun, and an inspiring education.

“A child is said to be living in poverty when they are living in a family with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average after adjusting for family size. So it’s just not acceptable that some people still seem to trot out the same old tired response that no one is really in poverty these days, and it’s like Victorian times or the 1930s, such as when children didn’t have shoes on their feet.

“My grandparents were brought up in near slum conditions, and at times they also did not have proper shoes, and went hungry, are we really seriously saying that we want to inflict all this misery and hardship on children today?”

He continued: “Clearly the biggest driver for children’s poverty nationally and locally is the profound lack of social, affordable, decent housing. The figures are stark. 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation. There are also 90,000 children living in families who are ‘sofa-surfing’. And of course this accommodation is usually terrible.

What is poverty in the UK?

“B&Bs where sometimes the bathroom is shared and there is nowhere to cook. Places where vulnerable adults can be living on the same corridor. Office block conversions – individual flats the size of a parking space, where families live and sleep in the same single room. And even converted shipping containers – cramped and airless – hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. This is a reality that shames the whole nation.

“Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap. Shockingly, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. Many families are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. The prices of essentials like food and fuel are going up and this hits Britain’s poorest families hardest. We know that parents are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their children, and in winter many families are forced to make the impossible choice of feeding their children or heating their homes.

“So we know what actually causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work does not always guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

“Yet in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. Policy makers can no longer deny the depth and breadth of the problem, and the Government must respond with a credible long term child poverty reduction strategy.”

The report revealed that in primary schools, 10.9 per cent of pupils are entitled to free schools meals, and 10 per cent in secondary schools, but Cllr Hannaford feared that the numbers were in reality much higher.

He added: “The percentage is shocking, but there is a feeling in rural areas that it may be more as there is a stigma about people and they don’t claim it so they don’t have the finger pointed at in the local community.”

Cllr Margaret Squires, who represents the Creedy, Taw & Mid Exe ward, added her concerns to those of Cllr Hannaford.

She said: “A headteacher who had moved down here from London said to me the deprivation they see is different. Down here, people don’t want others to know they have free school meals, so they are working every hour they can. But it means that the children are missing out as the parents are so tired, they haven’t got the time to sit and listen to them read.

“I my area, we are virtually fully employed, but some of them work two jobs so they can live in the area, and to survive, they are working all these hours, but it not recorded as deprivation as they don’t have time to sit and read with their children.”

The figures in the report showed at as of September 1, 2019, 771 children were being looked after by the council – a rate of 54.8 per 10,000 children – an increase from 750 – 52.2 per 10,000 children – at March 31.

At September 1, 2019, 3,219 children had been identified through assessment as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, an increase from 3,318 in March 2019, but the number of children subject of a child protection plan had decreased from 518 to 505 between March and September.

The report also said that there were 25 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the area, and that eight children and young people who turned 18 years old and who were in the care of the local authority were living in unsuitable accommodation during 2018-19.

Cllr Linda Hellyer questioned what the council was doing about it, why they were unsuitable, and what have we done to get them somewhere better.

In response, Darryl Freeman, Head of Children’s Social Care, explained that the definition of unsuitable included prison, where two of the eight were in custody. He added that the council will continue to work with them, assuming they allow them to remain in touch, and to ensure that they have choices once they leave custody.

The report also added that the top three risks for the future were increase in demand, across all services, recruitment and retention, particularly of experienced social workers, and sufficiency of provision for special needs children and placements for Children in Care.

The council also earlier this year adopted a new Children and Young People’s Plan, which is the single plan to co-ordinate developments for the next three years

Each priority in the plan has a detailed strategy/ action plan below it with a multi-agency group led by a senior manager from the partnership.

The self-assessment report was noted by the committee.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/child-poverty-devon-truly-shocking-3579939

Tory “manifesto” – “transactional not transformative “

“Theresa May’s manifesto launch two years ago was famously the moment her election campaign imploded. After unveiling her ‘dementia tax’ plans in a marginal Labour seat in West Yorkshire, her poll lead began to evaporate. Instead of gaining seats, she ended up losing them. A few weeks later, her majority went up in smoke.

Every Tory is still scarred by the experience. And, for all his British bulldog bonhomie, Boris Johnson is no exception. So, when it came to his own manifesto launch today (in a marginal Tory seat), caution was the watchword. After May’s hubris in Halifax, what we got was temperance in Telford.

Even the timing of the launch, on a soggy Sunday with the public’s attention elsewhere, felt deliberately low-key, and risk-free. Johnson’s speech was short (a mere 15 minutes) and his manifesto was brief too (59 pages and many of those had big print and big photos). Its contents were as safe as an episode of Antiques Roadshow. What was remarkable was how unremarkable it was.

Johnson twice used the phrase “sensible, moderate One Nation Conservatism”. Sensible is not a word you’d normally associate with the self-styled swashbuckler of the Tory party. If felt like this great gambler, having bet his career on a December election, was doing everything he could to avoid any slip-ups that could leave him as one of the shortest-lived prime ministers in our history.

In spending terms, this blueprint for government paled in comparison to Labour’s splurge. It would increase spending by a mere £2.9bn per year by 2023-24, (Labour’s plan is for £82.9bn over the same period). Compared to recent Tory administrations, there would be more borrowing and more state intervention. The IFS called the fiscal plans ‘very modest’ and the whole thing felt like an Autumn Statement rather than a vision of sunlit uplands.

On the toxic topic of social care, there was no detail at all, despite the fact that this is a huge generational challenge and despite Johnson’s famous summer pledge (“I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared”.) The tax cuts were tepid and the childcare offer was timid. Aides said that only £22bn out of their £100bn ‘headroom’ for spending has been allocated, and hinted more was to come. But no one was splashing the cash today.

Johnson himself tried to claim his would be “a new government, a very active and dynamic government”. Yet when you flick through his blueprint for government for the next five years, this doesn’t feel like a new departure from the May or Cameron eras. In fact, it feels like what it is: a third-term Tory administration that is not exactly brimming with ideas.

Yes more cash for potholes is important, but it still sounded as exciting as John Major’s motorway cones hotline. The ‘Australian-style points-based immigration system’ had virtually no detail. There’s no big bang to tackle the housing crisis, and (as future generations may remember most of all) nothing radical to tackle the climate emergency.

The contrast between the piecemal prospectus today and Johnson’s flamboyant usual rhetorical flourishes was striking. On today’s evidence, to paraphrase the insult once lobbed at Clement Attlee, he’s an immodest man with much to be modest about.

Of course, Johnson is undeniably a better salesman than May ever was. The usual gags were there (“let’s go carbon neutral by 2050 and Corbyn neutral by Christmas!” “Bonjour monsieur Corbyn comment allez vous?”), plus the linguistic gymnastics (in Telford 200 years ago “the phlegethontian fires of Coalbrookdale created the first industrial revolution”). There was also some neat phrasemaking (“from free trade to free speech to the freedom to love whomsoever you choose”).

He even tried his best to do The Vision Thing. “I want you to imagine what the country could be like in just 10 years,” he said. In fact he said “in ten years’ time” (scientists would benefit from more R&D cash, we’d have 40 new hospitals, the UK would still be the UK) so many times that it felt like this was a prospectus for a two-term, not a one-term, prime minister.

One reason Johnson likes talking about the future is because it’s so much easier for him than talking about the past. Holding an election before delivering Brexit has turned out to be an inspired move, simultaneously keeping attention on Corbyn’s confusing position while stressing only the Tories can get it ‘done’.

As many times as he says he’s only been PM for three months, in many places the manifesto only reverses cuts made in the past 10 years. From replacing 20,000 police officers to restoring the student nurse bursary, Johnson is hoping the public will forget he signed up to austerity as both an MP and as a member of the Cabinet. His sense of political responsibility feels like a Westminster remix of Shaggy’s ‘It Wasn’t Me’. Vowing never to extend the UK’s transition period beyond 2020 may prove to be a mistake, but that’s not his pressing concern. Winning this election is.

Simon Fletcher, Ken Livingstone’s former chief of staff, is someone who knows better than most how effective Johnson is as a politician. He warned earlier this year that Johnson “will obfuscate, avoid accountability, brazenly steal policies, play to the gallery and close down as many attack lines as he can.” And the Tory 2019 manifesto does all of those things.

It steals policies like free hospital parking (both from Labour itself and Tory backbencher Rob Halfon) and more nurses, albeit watered down version of both. It plays to the gallery on immigration and crime. It tries to shut down the NHS and schools cuts rows that caused Tories to lose seats two years ago. As with the Boris Bus £350m pledge, there’s less to many of the promises than meets the eye (50,000 ‘more nurses’ turns out to include current staff, just like 40 new hospitals means six fully funded projects).

Two years ago, Theresa May got indignant when asked whether her manifesto was a variation of Thatcherism. “There is no May-ism,” she said sternly. There is no ‘Borisism’ either. In fact the phrase is used to describe his one-liners, his scripted ‘unscripted’ gaffes, his un-PC jokes, rather than a political philosophy,.
But if there is a Johnsonism, it’s as old as conservatism itself: a recognition that Britons prefer evolution to revolution.

The Conservative party also has a knack for renewing itself in office as well as out of it. Johnson chose the seat of Leave-voting Telford today because it is a marginal the Tories hope to turn into a safe seat. But he also hopes to take nearby Labour seats in Stoke, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.

That’s the most important point about the Tory manifesto. It’s not transformational, it’s transactional. It offers an ‘oven ready’ Brexit to Labour Leavers, ‘no extension’ to Nigel Farage and slowly-does-it spending for everyone tired of austerity. And for a nation exhausted by the past three years, and those who just want to get on with their Christmas shopping, it may work.”

Source: Paul Waugh: Huffington Post

Questions for the Tory candidate as he rushes around East Devon

Claire Wright has been clear with her manifesto – protecting what is best about East Devon, standing up for the NHS am]nd social care, conserving the environment and improving education and inequality.

https://claire-wright.org/2019_site/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/GEManifesto2019FINAL5.pdf

Unfortunately, the Conservative Party has not been so clear.
Other party manifestos are unimportant in East Devon.

A vote for anyone other than Claire Wright is a vote for the Tories.

Our parachuted-in, Tory apparatchik candidate is throwing himself around the constituency like a whirling dervish (mostly accompanied by the same old 5-6 people – who must be finding it quite tiring) But has anyone asked him these questions and, if so, has he given any answers?

If not, maybe hustings will provide a platform for him to answer.

What do you think of the Tory fake-news “factcheck uk” Twitter account? Is that acceptable?

What do you think of the “50,000 more nurses” which includes 19,000 that you think you might be able to persuade NOT to leave? Is this acceptable?

What do you think about the “20,000 more police” when you got rid of 21,000. Is this acceptable?

What do you think of the “60 new hospitals” when itis actually only 6 – the others to get minimal funding to plan new hospitals, not build them? Is this acceptable?

Why has social care been left out of the manifesto? Is this acceptable?

All the above is said to be taking 10 years to achieve – if at all? Is this acceptable?