“UK CEOs make more in first three days of 2019 than worker’s annual salary”

“… Calculations by the High Pay Centre thinktank and the professional HR body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) show top executives are earning 133 times more than the average worker, at a rate of around £1,020 per hour or £3.9m annually. That’s up 11% compared to a year earlier.

It means CEOs working average 12-hour days would only have to clock in for 29 hours in 2019 to earn the median £29,574 of British staff.

The figures have prompted criticism from both unions and shareholder groups. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/04/uk-ceos-make-more-in-first-three-days-of-2019-than-workers-annual-salary

“24,000 homeless families ‘sent miles from local area’ “

“The number of homeless families forced to move away from their communities is at its highest for 20 years, as councils struggle to find accommodation for the growing numbers of people in need.

According to official government figures, there were 23,640 families in temporary accommodation outside their local area in the second quarter of this year, the highest level in 20 years and more than double that recorded over the same period just five years ago.

The new data has emerged amid rising anger over homelessness, with recent research showing that deaths among homeless people in England and Wales have increased by 24% in five years. Deaths have risen every year since 2013, from 475 in 2014 to 597 last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Several factors are being blamed for the rise in homeless families being relocated. A freeze on benefits and a cap on payments have led to a rise in demand for temporary accommodation. Meanwhile, the stock of council-owned housing has been run down and rents are rising, making affordable private rented accommodation harder to find.

Melanie Onn, the shadow housing minister who uncovered the figures, said they revealed the “human cost of the housing crisis”.

“Eight years of Tory failure on housing means that more and more families are being forced to move away from their communities, schools and jobs,” she said. Labour blamed cuts to housing benefit and an 80% fall in the number of homes for social rent being built.

Greg Beales, director of campaigns at Shelter, said his charity had witnessed the damage caused “when homeless families are forced to uproot their lives and move miles away to temporary accommodation in another area, abandoning jobs, schools and support networks. To put an end to the devastating cycle of homelessness, the government needs to commit to a bold new vision for social housing.

“Only then will families have a fighting chance of a safe and secure home in their local area.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said the number of families being asked to relocate had become unacceptable: “As local councils struggle to find housing for people, the only option for many is to rent privately, but with renting costs now sky high and housing benefit falling short of rents, this is not a viable option for most,” he said.

“As a result many have no option but to leave any semblance of community and support behind, often moving to areas where they have no connections, leaving them trapped in a cycle of desperation.

“The government’s decision to start reinvesting in social housing is welcome, but it doesn’t go far enough. ” …

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/23/24000-homeless-families-sent-miles-from-local-area

“Yvette Cooper: It’s time to boost Brit towns and not lock cash funds in cities”

“… Research done for the Labour Towns group of MPs and councillors found that overall job growth in towns since the last recession has only been half the rate of growth in cities.

The economic divide between cities and towns is growing and the Tory Government is making it worse. …

Austerity has hit towns and smaller cities hard, so it isn’t just retailers who have been leaving.

Often the libraries, police stations, council offices, magistrates courts, swimming pools, community centres, A&E or the maternity services have been closed, forcing people to travel to nearby cities instead. Lottery and arts funding is higher in cities too.

Manufacturing jobs in towns are being squeezed while new service or creative opportunities are concentrated in cities.

Meanwhile most of the transport money goes to London or other major hubs. Buses have been cut.

… It’s time to support Britain’s towns. Instead of making everyone travel to cities for public services, we need more in towns.

Instead of rolling out new broadband or 5G infrastructure in cities first, why not start in nearby towns? Instead of always using all the transport money on overruns for big city projects like HS2 or Crossrail, why not start by improving local trains and buses?

The Government seems to think if you only support cities, everything will just trickle down and out to the towns, but it hasn’t worked. Let’s have a fair deal to boost our towns and cities together. … “

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/yvette-cooper-its-time-boost-13768773

“Grenfell warning over creation of ‘a new generation of slums’ “

“The lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire risk being ignored because developers can convert office blocks into homes without full local authority checks, a former housing minister has warned.

Nick Raynsford said that “a new generation of slums” was being created in Britain because developers did not have to submit a planning application when converting old commercial properties into flats. The policy leaves councils with limited power to ensure that the buildings adhere to national standards.

Mr Raynsford said that “permitted development” rules were designed to minimise bureaucracy when making “modest adaptations” to existing properties, but developers were using them to create thousands of new homes in old commercial buildings.

“The council doesn’t have the power [to force developers] to comply with minimum standards on space, lighting, children’s play facilities, or fire safety,” said Mr Raynsford, who was a housing minister under Tony Blair.

A studio in Newbury House, a former office block in Ilford, east London, was planned with 13 sq m of space. The minimum standard is 37 sq m. Windowless flats have been marketed in a former office block in Brixton, south London, illuminated only by light wells that channel light from flats above.

More than 100,000 homes have been built under permitted development since 2013, accounting for up to 40 per cent of new homes in some areas. The Local Government Association found that 92 per cent of councils were “moderately or very concerned” about the quality of these homes, with 59 per cent worried about safety.

Many standards, including on space, are not compulsory and only apply to plans that go via the planning system.

Julia Park, of Levitt Bernstein architects, said such developments “tend to be occupied by vulnerable people” and were often used as temporary housing.

Mr Raynsford said: “There should be early engagement by planning authorities with the fire and rescue authority when an application for a high-rise residential development is submitted. That runs counter to the whole ‘permitted development’ approach, where obligations on developers are minimal and the council does not have the resources to explore the implications, to ensure fire engines can access the site, for example.”

The government is consulting on whether to extend the rules.

Mr Raynsford referred to evidence emerging from the Grenfell inquiry, after the fire in June last year in which 72 people died. “It seems to be extraordinary that one arm of government is pushing in a direction that’s very different to the conclusions emerging from the public inquiry in which failings, in terms of preparations for coping with serious problems, have been highlighted,” he said.

Hugh Ellis of the Town and Country Planning Association said the conditions in some developments were “Dickensian”, and added: “It is some of the most appalling slum housing this country has seen in the post-war era.”

Kit Malthouse, the housing minister, said: “All developments, including offices converted into homes, remain subject to strict fire safety rules.”

It is understood the government will look at permitted development when considering recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt’s Grenfell report. …”

Source: Times, pay wall

“Ex-Persimmon chief fails to set up charity after anger over £75m bonus”

Owl says: a charity for the homeless would seem appropriate …!

“Jeff Fairburn, the former chief executive of the housebuilder Persimmon, has failed to set up a charity almost a year after pledging to do so in an attempt to assuage public and political anger at his “obscene” £75m bonus.

Fairburn has not registered a charity with the Charity Commission or made any inquiries about how to set one up, 10 months after he said he would donate a “substantial proportion” of his bonus to a charitable trust. Fairburn declined to comment.

He was ousted last month after the company said his mammoth pay deal had become a “distraction”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/21/persimmons-former-ceo-jeff-fairburn-fails-to-set-up-charity-after-pledging-portion-of-75-million-bonus

“Academies failing poorer students, research shows” (and there are many more poorer students)

“Two-thirds of academy school groups performed below the national average for disadvantaged pupils, according to research released today.

A five-year study by the Sutton Trust educational charity analysed 58 ‘academy chains’ – partnerships between a group of academies – and found in 38 of these disadvantaged pupils performed below the national average for all state schools.

In 12 of the 58 chains analysed, poorer pupils performed above the national average but this good practice had not been shared with other academy chains, the report found. It defined disadvantaged pupils as those entitled to the ‘pupil premium’ – a funding package from central government.

Becky Francis, director of the UCL-Institute of Education and co-author of the report, said it was “perplexing that the government has done so little to explore the methods of these successful chains and to distil learning to support others”.

“Our five year analysis of sponsor academies’ provision for disadvantaged pupils shows that while a few chains are demonstrating transformational results for these pupils, more are struggling,” she said.

Francis said that the government should capitalise on the successes of various schooling organisations including local authorities and multi-academy trusts.

The report found that long-standing academy chains achieve better exam results, with newer chains frequently performing poorly.

Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, said: “Two-thirds of academy chains perform below the national average for all state schools on key measures of attainment for disadvantaged young people. Improving their educational achievement was the original reason why academies were set up. In this regard they have not succeeded.

“We at the Sutton Trust are recommending the sharing of good practice of the best academy chains with the rest. More generally schools should make increased use of the body of what works evidence.”

Lampl noted struggling schools are having difficulty attracting and retaining good teachers.

The charity’s report said there is “little to suggest” that regional schools commissioners – who are responsible for approving new academies and intervening in underperforming ones – are bringing about improvements.

RSCs must act “more decisively” with chains that do not deliver improvement on time, the trust said.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “This research reinforces the compelling need for the government to give councils the powers to improve struggling schools.

“Councils have a strong track record in school improvement, with 91% of council-maintained schools now good or outstanding while evidence shows councils are better at turning around failing schools than those converted to a sponsor-led academy.”

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

An annual report released last month showed that academies in England recorded a £6.1bn deficit in August 2017.

Previously the National Audit Office called on the government to ensure that academies could be trusted to manage large amounts of public money.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/12/academies-failing-poorer-students-research-shows

NHS – inequality between regions

“The government must show more urgency in addressing regional health funding imbalances, MPs have warned.

The Public Accounts Committee has also expressed concern about the Department of Health and Social Care’s lack of planning for staffing and medical equipment after Brexit, in a report out today.

The MPs noted there was “significant regional variation” in funding of NHS providers and clinical commissioning groups. DHSC’s 2017-18 annual report and accounts suggest an improvement in finances when taken as a whole but this “masks the underlying deficits at local level”, the PAC report said.

MPs said the department was performing a “balancing act” by offsetting NHS providers’ deficits with a surplus from NHS England’s finances. In 2017-18, 101 of 234 NHS providers were in deficit, although this was mitigated by NHS England’s surplus, the report said. Although, 75 of the 207 CCGs reporting an overspend in the same year.

PAC chair, Meg Hillier, said the number of CCGs overspending was “concerning”.

She added: “The Department of Health and Social Care must show far more urgency in getting to grips with regional funding imbalances and demonstrate it understand the effects these have at the frontline.”

The report was also critical of DHSC’s planning for Brexit, especially around staffing and medical equipment.

It said there is a “lack of a clear plan” for recruiting staff post-Brexit and added: “We are not reassured by the department’s assertion that it has not seen a large exodus of staff since the referendum and that the number of people from the EU working in the NHS has increased.”

Health bodies recently warned that the NHS workforce shortfall could jump from 100,000 at present to almost 250,000 by 2030 without effective planning.

Despite the NHS procuring 56% of medical consumables (gloves, dressings, syringes) from, or via, the EU, DHSC is not putting specific contingency measures in place to stockpile this type of equipment, the PAC revealed.

Hillier said: “The department’s lack of clear Brexit planning could threaten the supply of medical equipment. Staff shortages could deepen. The potential consequences for patients are serious.

“These and other uncertainties are amplified by the continued absence of the government’s promised 10-year plan for the NHS, its promised plans for social care, and its promised plans for immigration.” A DHSC source has confirmed to PF the social care green paper and NHS 10-year plan are now likely to be published in the new year, rather than by the end of this year, as originally intended.

Regional variances in staff vacancies could also be overlooked, the PAC noted. The NHS examines vacancy rates at a national level – rather than a local level – which “hides underlying disparities in specific specialisms and local areas and does not allow them to fully understand the impact of staff shortages,” the report said.

The report also expressed concern that the NHS staff pay rise announced earlier this year would not be distributed fairly. By funding pay awards through the National Tariff the PAC is concerned that NHS Providers in more affluent areas will receive “disproportionately higher share of funding” because the tariff accounts for the cost of operating in different geographical locations.

DHSC has been contacted for comment.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/12/government-must-address-health-funding-imbalances-say-mps