“CEO pay soars as working wages flatline”

“Pay for chief executives at Britain’s largest listed companies rose more than six times faster than wages in the wider workforce last year. The average boss’s pay packet hit £3.9m. A worker on a median salary of £23,474 would have to work 167 years to earn that.

Chief executive pay at FTSE 100 businesses surged 11% while average worker earnings failed to keep pace with inflation, rising just 1.7%, according to the High Pay Centre’s annual review. The report comes after years of workers’ pay being squeezed by weak pay growth and rising prices. The mean figure for female bosses was £2.8m – less than half the £5.9m average for men – and men got more than women in eight out of 10 companies and organisations that reported figures under government rules

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: “Workers should get seats on boardroom pay committees to bring a bit of common sense to pay decisions. And the government should put the minimum wage up to £10 an hour to give more workers a fairer share of the wealth they create.” Meanwhile, unions have rebuffed a call from the transport secretary to cap train fare rises if rail workers agree to cap their pay claims accordingly. “As you will be aware, one of the industry’s largest costs is pay,” Chris Grayling wrote to rail unions. The RMT said rail staff would not pay for “the greed of the private train operating companies”.”

Source: Guardian e-briefing

Evo-North: 11 business-led Local Enterprise Partnerships unite to hijack funding formerly controlled by local authorities

Coming soon to a group of Local Enterprise Partnerships on your doorstep.

On 9 July 2018 it was announced that 11 Northern Local Enterprise Partnerships would join together as “Evo-North”:

“Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP and vice-chair of NP11, said: “To translate the Northern Powerhouse concept into increasing impact requires new types of conversations across the region and at the heart of this collaboration are common goals which transcend local interests.”

Gaskell noted that the The NP11 will serve as a “strong coherent regional voice” with national government about the potential of an innovation-led economy for the North.”


Now we see the full take-over of former local authority funding by this new business-led UNELECTED group as a press release publicising one of its forthcoming events makes clear:

“Following last month’s announcement from Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry that 11 LEPs will form the government-funded body ‘NP11’ to act as a modern-day ‘Council for the North’, last week, a cross-party group of MPs called for £100bn investment to transform the north of England’s transport by 2050 and for the date of Northern Powerhouse Rail to be brought forward to 2032.

This makes EvoNorth the perfect opportunity to put your products and services in front of the budget-holders who are actively seeking them. You get the opportunity to ask questions and network with the people responsible for delivering the Northern Powerhouse by attending this exclusive event. You can benefit from branding and exhibition opportunities by contacting the events team on 0161 833 6320, and you can also submit an enquiry or click here to contact us by email.

EvoNorth is an important event and platform where the Northern Powerhouse is discussed and debated across a wide range of topics including skills, employment & apprenticeships; digital revolution and innovation; health and social care; wellbeing & fulfilment; and infrastructure, business and inward investment.

It stands out from the crowd with its immersive series of lively and engaging Q&As, roundtable discussions, workshops and exhibitions. You can be a part of this exciting opportunity by attending, exhibiting or sponsoring: just contact the events team on 0161 833 6320, submit an enquiry or click here to contact us by email.”


So, very, very soon our district, our county and our region will almost certainly be in the grip of these unelected business people who have already shown their conflicts of interest countless times.

And we can do nothing to stop them …. unless the Conservative government which has enthusiastically x nay zealously – driven this initiative is removed from power.

“Local council plans for Brexit disruption and unrest revealed”

Owl wonders what EDDC and DCC (and our Local Enterprise Partnership) have arranged for us.

“Councils around the UK have begun preparing for possible repercussions of various forms of Brexit, ranging from potential difficulties with farming and delivering services to concerns about civil unrest.

Planning documents gathered by Sky News via freedom of information requests show a number of councils are finding it difficult to plan because they are not clear about the path the government in pursuing.

The responses, from 30 councils around the UK, follow the publication of details of Kent council’s no-deal planning, which suggests thatparts of the M20 might have to be used as a lorry park to deal with port queues until at least 2023.

Bristol council’s documents flag up a potential “top-line threat” from “social unrest or disillusionment during/after negotiations as neither leave nor remain voters feel their concerns are being met”.

One of the fullest responses came from Pembrokeshire council, which released a Brexit risk register detailing 19 ways it believes leaving the EU could affect the area.

Eighteen are seen as negative, of which seven are deemed potentially high impact, including the “ready availability of vital supplies” such as food and medicines.

The one positive impact was that Brexit may drive people to move away from the UK, which could reduce demand on council services.

A number of councils, including East Sussex, are worried about the provision of social care after Brexit because of the potential fall in the number of EU nationals working in the sector.

According to Sky, East Sussex’s report says: “There has already been a fall in the number of EU nationals taking jobs in the care sector and the county council has great concerns that the end of freedom of movement will put further pressure on the sector that is already stretched and struggling to deliver the level of care required for our ageing elderly population.”

A number of councils have expressed concern about the disappearance of various EU funding streams and whether thethe Treasury would step in to replace them.

The local authority in the Shetlands released a document saying that tariffs on lamb exports under a no-deal Brexit would mean 86% of sheep farms could expect to make losses. The current figure is about 50%.

One common complaint, according to Sky, was frustration at the lack of central government information about which plan might be pursued. Wirral council said: “Given the lack of detail from government about any proposed deal or arrangements, it is difficult to carry out an assessment that is not purely speculative at this time.”


LEP growth: correction or a new-found realism?

It now appears from further reading that the LEP’s very ambitious growth target has been moved from 18 years to 30.

Was it originally an error to give an earlier date or have the goalposts moved? Either way, it shows some common sense.

The new hoped for economic growth rate is now 2.35% pa. This is still quite ambitious, but MIGHT be achievable given continuous best economic conditions throughout the period, whereas 4% growth was clearly totally undeliverable.

Let’s hope this new-found move towards realism will similarly find its way through into our planning structure.

However, we must note that their Strategic Economic Plan predicts 3.06% growth over the next 12 years. That’s doubling the economy in 23 years! Surely, some mistake there?

Anyway, at least the new man seems to have immediately put the 4% nonsense firmly to bed.

However, there is still another caveat: Devon and Somerset are set to have expanding populations and the assumption is that the new arrivals will all be productive – ie not a majority of “unproductive” older incomers. This is expected also to continue over that 30 year period, so the growth per capita could actually be significantly smaller.

“Councils anticipate cutting services to ‘legal minimum’ “

Owl says: But this was always the ambition of Conservatives who much prefer “the big society” (charities and volunteers providing services) and “the small state” (councils providing minimum services). We should not be surprised at that – it is what their voters vote for. But what we SHOULD be surprised at is that it is taking MORE of our money to achieve this, not less.

Labour councils are most pessimistic (83% believe this vill happen within 5 years), as they should be, as they are generally in poorer areas and/or the North where reliance on business rates (which will be the main source of council revenue with council tax) will be tricky, particularly in a post-Brexit economy. But Tory councils, even those in business rate-rich areas are also pessimistic (63%).

A sorry state of affairs to look forward to if this government remains in power: higher taxes, lower (rock bottom) services.

“Two-thirds of councils believe they will only be able to deliver minimum services required by law within five years.

The results of a survey by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) comes as Northamptonshire County Council voted through an action plan to cut services to the bone in order to tackle a likely budget deficit for this year of up to £60m–£70m.

NLGN’s second Leadership Index survey found that councils with social care responsibilities are the most pessimistic, with 88% indicating they will be unable to deliver discretionary services by 2023.

Adam Lent, director of the NLGN, said: “This should be a sober wake-up call for a government that is overseeing a country with ever deepening social divisions and growing inequality.

“Councils are best placed to tackle these problems, and should be receiving greater investment to do this, not seeing their services stripped to the bare minimum.”

Lent said areas stripped of libraries, park maintenance, pothole repairs and advice to residents on care, or housing, were likely to see a narrowing of opportunity for residents.

The survey was carried out from 7th June to 2nd July, with 191 council leaders, chief executives and mayors replying.

Labour-run councils are the most pessimistic with 83% predicting that discretionary services will disappear by 2023, compared to 63% of Conservative-run authorities.

Northamptonshire, on Thursday afternoon, approved an action plan that agreed “spending priorities”. These include safeguarding vulnerable children and adults. Also in the plan is a review of contracts with third party suppliers. Around 70% of Northamptonshire’s services are delivered through external suppliers.

Paul Carter, County Councils Network chairman and leader of Kent County Council, said: “It is clear that unless government finds a long-term solution to council funding and a fairer distribution of resources between authorities, other well-managed county councils could find themselves unable to balance the books.

“The new secretary of state for local government recognises the situation we face, but the Treasury needs to better understand the pressures we are under and support counties with short-term resources for the next financial year, ahead of a longer-term deal in the spending review.”

Northamptonshire will also review its external contracts, including Private Finance Initiative Schemes, as well as its capital programme.

Before the meeting, Andrew Lewer, Conservative MP for Northampton South, tweeted that the county council’s “problems are national as well as local”. He revealed he has written to communities secretary James Brokenshire and health secretary Matt Hancock to request a meeting about the authority’s position.

Pressure on the government to provide further assistance to Northamptonshire also came from Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, who tweeted that her organisation was “writing to ministers asking for them to also ensure no vulnerable children are put at risk by cuts to services”.

It also emerged this week that East Sussex County Council last month agreed plans to reduce services to the bare minimum required by law.

Becky Shaw, chief executive, said: “Careful planning, efficiency savings, innovation, hard work and commitment to our four key priorities have enabled us to make the best use of our dwindling resources, but the pressure created by local residents’ needs cannot be met by income raised locally.

“Having transformed our services and saved £129m since 2010, we need to be realistic about what further budget cuts will mean for the residents, communities and businesses of East Sussex.

“Our core offer paints an honest picture of the minimum that we realistically need to provide in the future and we want to use this as the basis for discussion with the government, partner organisations and residents in East Sussex.”

The Times reported this week that the chancellor, Philip Hammond, has told non-protected departments, including the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to earmark further cuts before next year’s spending review.

Some departments believe that these budgets could be cut by as much as 5%, according to the report.”


Tory MP blames Tory government and Tory councillors for Tory council collapse

“A Conservative MP has said ministers need to urgently “learn the lessons” from the financial collapse of Tory-run Northamptonshire county council if they are to prevent more councils slipping into insolvency.

Andrew Lewer, the MP for Northamptonshire South, said that while mismanagement had fuelled the Northamptonshire crisis, the council was also a victim of underlying financial pressures affecting all local authorities with social care responsibilities.

Lewer’s comments will be seen as a breaking of ranks both with the government and with his six fellow Tory MPs in the county, who have up to now sought to present the council’s problems as unrelated to wider funding issues.

His intervention came as Northamptonshire county councillors prepare to take further steps towards drawing up a drastic cuts plan that they hope will close a £70m black hole in the accounts over the next few months.

Lewer has written to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, James Brokenshire, and the secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock, to request a meeting to discuss the council funding crisis and ensure the wider lessons of Northamptonshire are heeded.

“A culture of poor performance and decision-making in Northamptonshire county council fuelled the current crisis, but there are bigger, national drivers that also have a significant bearing on the position of not only Northamptonshire, but other local authorities too,” said Lewer.

“Adult social care demand from a rapidly increasingly elderly population is the big elephant in the room. We need to have a discussion on how future local government is structured, financed and delivered, especially for this crucial and costly sector.”

Council social care bosses in England warned earlier this year that care services for older and disabled adults were on the brink of collapse because of funding pressures. The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that adult social care faces a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025.

Lewer, who became an MP at the last general election, is a former leader of Derbyshire county council, and a vice-president of the LGA.

Northamptonshire councillors will discuss a proposed action plan which calls for “radical service reductions and efficiencies” in areas including children and adult social care, as well as a programme of staff redundancies, at a council meeting on Thursday morning.

Although it is anticipated no precise details of the cuts will be put forward at the meeting, councillors are expected to approve a “hierarchy of priorities” approach to the cuts which will see some services restricted to the legal minimum, and non-core services eliminated altogether.

Councillors will also vote to formally accept a section 114 letter from the council’s director of finance, published last month, which sets out in humiliating detail the extent of Northamptonshire’s financial problems, and the poor decision-making that led to it being declared technically bankrupt in February.

The meeting comes amid growing concern in local government circles that more councils – many of them Conservative-run – could follow Northamptonshire into draconian cuts to try to stave off huge budget shortfalls, with Somerset and Lancashire among those reporting financial stresses.

Last week it emerged that East Sussex county council was drawing up plans to move to a bare legal minimum level of services – which it called a “core offer” – to cope with a growing budget shortfall that if not addressed would see it bankrupt within three years.

A spokesperson for the LGA said: “More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements.”


Don’t look to eastern East Devon for jobs unless you have a car

Following on from the post on an increase in buses and frequencies on the western side of East Devon (which has effectively become a commuting suburb of Exeter:


comes this information:

“Bad buses ruin work chances

Unreliable buses that are too expensive are causing low-income families to miss out on jobs, according to a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Fewer services mean people are unable to travel long distances and guarantee punctuality, putting commuters at risk of losing their job. Since 2010 funding for buses has dropped £182 million, fares have risen 13 per cent above inflation and 3,347 routes have been cut.”

Source: Mirror page 25