Bigger problems than Brexit?

“Lord Mervyn King calls for general election to provide mandate for either Leave or Remain.

Brexit is stopping Britain from addressing deep problems with its economy, a former Bank of England governor has warned.

Mervyn King called for an election and a new parliament to resolve the current impasse, claiming that “most people think that this has gone on for far too long and just have the view – ‘just do it’”.

He added that it did not matter whether people voted to remain or leave the European Union.

Lord King was speaking after MPs voted to delay a meaningful vote on the prime minister’s deal, forcing Boris Johnson to write to the EU to ask for a further extension to the Brexit process.

“It’s frustrating parliament can’t make up its mind and hasn’t been able to vote but let’s hope they do,” Lord King told Sky News after his speech at the International Monterary Fund’s annual meetings in Washington.

He warned the all-consuming nature of Brexit meant politicians were not looking at the UK’s underlying economic challenges.

“We have one of the lowest savings rates in the British economy of any country in the G20 save perhaps for Argentina. We’re not saving enough to finance our pensions or care for the elderly, or to finance infrastructure.

“These are the big challenges. What do we do about the education of 50 per cent of people who don’t go to college or university? It’s a great shame [Brexit] has dragged on so long.”

Although he claimed that Britain was “in the middle of the worst political and constitutional crisis for arguably several hundred years”, Lord King downplayed the impact Brexit could have on the UK and world economies.

“The decision to leave the EU is not likely to have a major impact on the UK economy in any way… I think there’s an awful lot of bogus quantification going on to justify positions held for other reasons,” he said. “I don’t honestly believe that Brexit has any great significance even for the rest of Europe, let alone the rest of the world. I don’t think the long-run economic consequences of the UK leaving the EU are particularly large.”

But he warned the global economy was in “great stagnation”, having grown more slowly and for a longer period than before the Great Depression of the 1930s, with levels of debt higher than they were before the 2008 financial crash.

Lord King, who governed the UK’s central bank for a decade until 2013, asserted the global economy would not be likely to suffer another financial crisis in the next 12 months.

But he warned of a global low-growth problem that wouldn’t be solved by another cut in interest rates, exacerbated by “extraordinary uncertainty”, and admitted “no one knows” whether another financial crisis is on the cards.

“We need a much wider set of policies to get out of this,” Lord King said.

The UK economy unexpectedly shrank 0.2 per cent in this year’s second financial quarter – its first contraction since 2012.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-economy-mervyn-king-bank-england-election-recession-debt-a9163531.html

Abbeyfield care homes in Budleigh and Axminster under threat of closure

Owl says: The tip of a very big iceberg … with the Titanic speeding towards it.

“Devastated residents and families of those living at a care home which is under threat of closure fear it could result in the deaths of those who are very old and vulnerable.

Long-established Abbeyfield Shandford in Budleigh Salterton provides nursing and personal care for 28 people, and of those five are aged 100 or over. It employs 35 staff.

In January it first announced it was reviewing the service and then stated it would continue to be provided.

However, in September it began a consultation into the future of the home which will run until November.

Abbeyfield Society, who own the home, have said it will carefully consider all submissions from residents, relatives and staff before a final decision is made.

It has confirmed if a decision is made to close the home in Station Road, no residents will be expected to leave until January 2020 at the earliest.

The consultation has resulted in a petition being launched which has already been signed by hundreds of local residents. …

… “Abbeyfield have made out it’s a failing care home and needs huge upgrading and expenditure, but it doesn’t. The last inspection by the Care Quality Commission was this year and it was rated good.” …

[Abbeyfield spokesperson said] “In the case of Shandford, we carefully considered a number of factors, including whether the increasingly complex needs of residents can continue to be well served in a building which requires significant renovations to bring in it line with best-practice standards. …

“”This situation is further compounded by the long-term recruitment challenges we have faced, meaning that we have often relied on agency staff – despite the best efforts of the local management team. This not only places significant further financial pressures on the home at a time when the wider funding of social care is under strain, but also means we cannot always provide the continuity of care that residents deserve. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/deaths-feared-care-home-closed-3438701

BREAKING NEWS: “GP provider abandons Cranbrook Medical Centre”

And this in a town which has got grants to become a “Healthy New Town”!

Home

“Hundreds of residents could be without GPs if a new provider is not found for Cranbrook Medical Centre by March next year.

Access Health Care (AHC) has revealed it will not be extending its contract which is due to expire in March 2020.

The firm, which operates from the Younghayes Centre, has cited staff recruitment and retention and Cranbrook’s location as reasons to pull the plug on operations.

The medical centre has experienced low patient numbers, adding to AHC’s burgeoning financial pressures.

NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning, paying for and monitoring GP practices in Devon, said its priority is to make sure that the population of Cranbrook continues to have access to a full range of GP services and care.

Mark Procter, director of primary care at the CCG, said: “We have a number of options to explore and are committed to finding the right solution for Cranbrook.

“All services continue at Cranbrook Medical Centre and patients should attend appointments as normal.

“We are writing to patients with further information this week and will keep them up to date with developments.”

Three drop-in sessions have been arranged at the centre so the CCG can hear people’s views on the process.

The first two will be held on Tuesday, October 15, from 10am to noon, and 2pm to 4pm.

The third will be staged on Wednesday, October 16, from 6pm to 8pm.

Mr Proctor said: “In the meantime, please be reassured that there is no need for you to take any action and all appointments and services continue as normal at Cranbrook Medical Centre.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/gp-provider-abandons-cranbrook-medical-centre-1-6278291

“Self-funded care home residents pay £12,500 a year more than councils”

“Self-funded care home residents are charged 43pc more than those funded by their local council, according to a report released today.

Analysis by Just Group, the retirement specialists, found that care home residents who front their own fees are charged an average of £12,532 per year more than their council-funded counterparts – typically paying £44,252 a year compared to £31,270.

Stephen Lowe, of Just Group, said: “These figures start to explain why people think care fees are unfair when those footing the bill are charged many thousands of pounds a year more than another person who could be in the same home.”

The gap between self-funded and local authority-funded residents has widened dramatically since 2005, according to a report by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA), the watchdog.

Nine in 10 residential homes now charge self-funders more, compared to only 20pc fourteen years ago. The same report found that the rise in fees for self-funders was due to the amount paid by local authorities not truly covering the costs to the care home.

This means residents paying their own way are effectively used to mitigate the loss to the care home’s finances. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/self-funded-care-home-residents-pay-12500-year-councils/

Vultures swoop on foster care system

“Private equity firms buying up small agencies have “set off alarm bells” within England’s foster care system, the Local Government Association says.
Three groups account for 45% of funds spent on independent fostering by English councils, according to new analysis.

The LGA said councils worry about what could happen if one group failed.

The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers said its members provided a vital and high quality service.

More than 75,000 children are in care in England, compared with about 60,000 a decade ago. Most of these children are in foster care.

Councils manage foster placements themselves as well as commissioning care from independent fostering agencies.

Many of these providers started as local, small-scale operations but private equity firms – essentially, investment companies – have moved into the sector in recent years.

The National Fostering Agency, Compass Fostering and Foster Care Associates are now the dominant independent groups in the industry.

All three run for profit and are backed by private equity. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49450405

“Growing up in air-polluted areas linked to mental health issues”

Welcome Sidford Business Park:

“People who spend their childhood in areas with high levels of air pollution may be more likely to later develop mental disorders, research suggests.

Air pollution has become a matter of growing concern as an increasing number of studies have found links to conditions ranging from asthma to dementia and various types of cancer.

There are also signs it may take a toll on mental health. Research published in January found that children growing up in the more polluted areas of London were more likely to have depression by the age of 18 than those growing up in areas with cleaner air.

But a study by researchers in the US and Denmark has suggested a link between air pollution and an increased risk of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/20/growing-up-in-air-polluted-areas-linked-to-mental-health-issues?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Mental health crisis at Hinkley C

“Hinkley Point nuclear power station, Britain’s biggest construction project since the second world war, is grappling with a mental illness crisis, with several attempted suicides since work began in 2016, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

More than 4,000 workers are on site delivering the vast decade-long building project, a central plank in Britain’s future energy strategy.

But according to union officials, there has been a surge in suicide attempts this year, a rise in the number of people off sick with stress, anxiety and depression, and an increase in workers suffering from mental distress.

Officials from the Unite union say they have been told of 10 suicide attempts in the first four months of 2019. The Guardian understands at least two workers connected to the project have taken their lives since construction started in earnest in 2016. …

… The main causes of the distress appear to be loneliness, relationship breakdown and the struggle of being sometimes hundreds of miles away from family.

Électricité de France (EDF), which is in charge of building Britain’s first new nuclear power plant for more than 20 years, disputes the figures, acknowledging two suicides – one of those a former worker who had left the project.

Executives say that a number of workers have said they are suicidal, but point to a wide range of measures to address the problem, including 200 mental health “buddies”, “time to talk” rooms, an on-site GP, and plans to recruit a chaplain.

“I’m aware of people who have said they have felt like committing suicide,” said Angie Young, the site health and wellbeing manager. She said the figure of 10 was a “total exaggeration”. “We do have people say life is not worth living but we’re getting in there and helping.”…

… At Hinkley, workers live on special campuses in nearby Bridgwater, or else in converted digs in the town. They work a variety of shift patterns and are shuttled to and from the site on scores of buses. Some contractors work as much as 11 days on with three days off, including an extra weekend day for travelling home. …

… Socially there are reports of increases in drinking, gambling and prostitution in Bridgwater, which has been upended by the huge construction site on its doorstep. One source in a local betting shop told of some workers spending up to £3,000 a week and others “self-excluding” from the premises in an effort to arrest the development of a financially detrimental habit.

Such is the concern among EDF management that, together with Unite union, they have stepped up efforts to tackle the crisis, including bringing in the former boxer Frank Bruno to talk to contractors about his own mental health condition.

Bruno, who has spoken about being sectioned after a mental health crisis, hosted three sessions with more than 200 attending each.

“People were talking about it for a while after. It energised people because they thought if someone like Frank Bruno can have mental problems, anyone can,” said Jonathan Davies, another union official.

EDF is also implementing an impressive mental health programme on the site, with posters urging troubled contractors to open up and one in 20 workers now trained as a mental health first aider, or “buddy” as they are known.

“We are seeing 12 people a month, mostly about relationships, some of them about gambling and being unable to cope with being away from family for a long time,” said Malcolm Davies, who has led the talks to get mental health top of the agenda with management.

“Construction is a very macho industry. We have the highest amount of mental health issues of any sector. People can be very upset over something but they won’t tell you.”

“Men are doing very physical work, with manual handling of heavy objects every day and if you’re the big bloke and you say you can’t cope or you are seen crying you get ridiculed,” he added. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/revealed-suicide-alarm-hinkley-point-c-construction-site?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other