“Government accused of covering up schools cuts with misleading figures”

“The government has been accused of attempting to cover up school budget cuts in England, after the UK’s statistics watchdog said it would investigate ministers’ use of spending figures that included private school fees to fend off criticism.

The UK Statistics Authority said it had received complaints about a recent claim, made by the Department for Education and the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, that the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world.

But the claim, based on OECD figures, was revealed by the BBC to include university student tuition loans as well as the fees paid by private school pupils, which fall outside the DfE’s budget.

The department also faces scrutiny over its continued use of a claim that there are 1.9 million more children in schools rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding than at the time of the 2010 election.

“The UK Statistics Authority and the Office for Statistics Regulation are investigating the concerns raised, and will publish their findings shortly,” a spokesperson for the regulator said.

Last Friday saw a protest by more than 2,000 headteachers over school funding cuts in England. In response, the DfE defended its record, and included the statement: “The OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world, spending more per pupil than countries including Germany, Australia and Japan.”

Gibb later repeated the same claim during an interview on the BBC, and the DfE published the statement in a blog on its website.

But the OECD data was comparing education spending as a percentage of national output, and included government spending in England and elsewhere along with university tuition loans for students as well as fees paid by pupils at private schools.

The OECD figures also include government spending on education in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which in most cases is devolved to national assemblies in those countries and is not counted within the DfE’s budget.

Jules White, the headteacher of a secondary school in West Sussex who helped organise last Friday’s protest, said the DfE was attempting to cover up the “savage cuts that have been made to school budgets” .

“At every stage, the government and Department for Education has refused to acknowledge an overwhelming independent body of evidence which clearly confirms that the cuts have gone too far,” White said.

“Ministers have now been caught out and we appeal to them to stop the pattern of using dreadfully misleading information which is unfair to educational professionals and most crucially to parents and pupils.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has estimated that funding per pupil in England fell by 8% between 2010 and 2018, with 66,000 more children in state schools this year than the year before but with 5,000 fewer teachers. …”


Telegraph pays Boris Johnson £275,000 a year for 10 hours work per month

“Boris Johnson was re-employed by the Daily Telegraph on a salary of £275,000 a year for his weekly column, it has been revealed.

The Conservative MP and potential leadership candidate had to give up his newspaper job when he became foreign secretary in 2016, forfeiting the substantial second income.

However, the parliamentary register of members’ interests shows he was immediately rehired on the same rate after resigning this summer, with no attempt made by the Daily Telegraph – which has experienced years of job cuts and falling profits – to push down his salary.

The former foreign secretary said he spends 10 hours a month writing his 1,100 word column, equivalent to a pay rate of £2,291/hour – or around £4.80 a word.”


Very stupid Tory Minister says councils are not getting cuts just more flexible ways to earn income!!”

Owl says: As John Crace (Guardian) puts it – top Tories these days seem to be fighting over their only brain cell!

“Treasury minister Liz Truss has been branded “innumerate or inept” after falsely claiming that local councils are not facing cuts.

Philip Hammond’s deputy insisted the government was simply giving town halls more “flexibility” to raise money themselves, rather than slashing their funds.

“We are not making cuts to local authorities,” Ms Truss told BBC Newsnight.

In fact, the Local Government Association highlighted this week that funding will be reduced by 36 per cent next year, the largest annual deduction in almost a decade.

And the organisation’s Conservative leader has warned that more councils will go bust unless ministers “address the funding crisis”.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s local government spokesman, condemned Ms Truss’s comments, saying: “This shows she’s either totally innumerate or completely inept.

“Councils of all political persuasions are edging towards the financial cliff edge, and it’s a Tory Council, Northamptonshire, that’s the first to go bump on their watch, with others not far behind. …”


A few newspaper headlines from the Tory Party conference

An alternative view of the conference!

MP’s ‘horror’ at getting £4.2bn to digitise NHS with no plan
(BBC News)

Conservative MP slams party conference ‘narrative’ as he cannot recall a single ‘real announcement’
(Sky News)

Outrage as Tory uni society picture shows one student with Hitler-style moustache while another sports ‘F*** the NHS’ T-shirt
(Daily Mirror)

Don’t Always Believe What Tory MPs Say On TV, Says Party Grandee
(Huffington Post)

Education Secretary Damian Hinds Could Face Probe From Statistics Watchdog Over Conference Speech
(Huffington Post)

Boris Johnson And Jeremy Hunt Described As ‘D*ckheads’ By Former Tory Treasury Minister Jim O’Neill
(Huffington Post)

“NHS faces £2.7bn cuts after government pension slip-up”

“The NHS will suffer £2.7bn in new cuts after the government miscalculated the pension costs of public sector workers, a new analysis from the House of Commons library has shown.

The government has offered to cover the NHS’s additional costs up until 2020, but the final two years of additional pension costs totalling £2.7bn until the next election will have to be covered by the public service.
This could have paid for the salaries of a total of 61,912 nurses, said the Labour Party, who released the research.

They say the government could have miscalculated pension costs for all public sector workers by as much as £4bn a year.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Peter Dowd, said: “Billions of pounds are being quietly cut from our NHS due to a poisonous cocktail of disastrous economic mismanagement and spiteful behaviour.”

“These cuts are the equivalent of paying the salary of over 61,000 nurses a year. Nurses whom we desperately need after 8 years of crushing austerity in our NHS.”

Labour say the initial announcement was snuck out in a statement late last Thursday with no parliamentary scrutiny.

The Conservatives’ annual party conference is currently underway in Birmingham, and will publish its next budget on 29 October.

Dowd added: “The Chancellor must immediately own up and commit to meeting these extra costs, not just push them on to slashed and struggling public services.”

“All this just goes to show, you cannot trust the Tories with our NHS.”
This comes after the government pledged more than £145m for emergency care and 900 extra beds ahead of the winter earlier this month.

But experts have been critical, saying the funding won’t be nearly enough, especially if the UK is faced with the “extremely challenging conditions”.
General and acute bed occupancy was at a whopping 94.4% with an average of 20 trusts having over 99% occupancy each day.”


Tory grandee blames socialism, tax credits and Karl Marx for divorces

“No-fault divorces are “lacking in morality” and could destroy “the institution of marriage”, a senior Conservative politician has declared.

Archaic laws demand proof that a marriage has broken down due to a partner’s adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion – but Justice Secretary David Gauke has said this approach will be scrapped as soon as possible.

But speaking at an event at the annual Tory Party conference in Birmingham, the party’s former treasurer, Lord Farmer, condemned the move and said liberalising the law was immoral and causing the “breakdown of society”.

He also blamed tax credits for a rise in break-ups and said the key to ending domestic violence “cannot simply be more refuges for victims to flee to”.

Farmer, who converted to christianity age 35 and is on the right of the party, said one or both partners should take blame when they “fail to live up to the promises made” at their wedding.

He said: “It is simply another example of the hyper-liberalism that treats family breakdown as inevitable.

“Making marriage easier to exit and sanitising divorce may make it less painful to the adults involved, but it is far more likely to weaken the institution of marriage than strengthen it.

“It will render marriage more voluntaristic and like cohabitation with its assumption that a couple may only stay together whilst it works for both of them.

“Marriage on the other hand is a solemn vow, an explicit statement of commitment, ‘until death’. Saying it’s no-one’s fault when one or both parties fail to live up to the promises made empties those promises of all meaning.”

He added: “I would go further and say support for no-fault divorce is lacking in morality.”

At the event on “strengthening families”, which saw arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg introduce Farmer’s speech, said the decline of marriage began with socialism.

“In many respects, it goes back to Engels, it goes back to Marx, the destruction of the family and building up reliance of everyone on the state, not the family,” he said.

He added that policies of the 1997 Labour government had accelerated divorce rates among low-income families and said former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown took an “unreservedly liberalising approach to family change” which judged that all families “were deemed to require and deserve state support”.

Farmer hit out at the Working Families Tax Credit, introduced by Brown, which increased the benefits available to single mothers who went out to work for 16 hours a week or more.

Marriage breakdown was also leading to poor health and high suicide rates among single men, and, Farmer claimed, encouraged children to join gangs.

He said: “Defenders of the defamilialising approach argue that it is potentially very harmful for women to be dependent on men who might be abusive if they are to make ends meet. Of course this is true.

“It is also very harmful for men, women and children and society if men become surplus to requirement in families.”

He went on: “Defamilialisation and tyrannous hyper-liberalism have not ushered in a better, freer world but have facilitated an individualisation in social life which has resulted in father absence on a massive scale”.

He added that most of the 50,000 young people caught up in county lines drug activity “come from a broken home”, adding: “Also a lack of a good male role model helps lure young men into substitute family of a gang.”

Farmer went on to say more charities should aim to mediate between couples trapped in domestic violence, adding: “The response to our completely unacceptable levels of domestic abuse cannot simply be more refuges for victims to flee to.”

Farmer also called for the Government to appoint a senior cabinet minister for families and said welfare overspending, rough sleeping and educational underachievement had their roots in family breakdown.

“The welfare system picks up the pieces when relationships crumble, because people who were previously dependent on each other become dependent on the state,” he said.

He even claimed the housing crisis was exacerbated by marriage breakdown as demand for properties went up because “couples with children split up and both want family-size homes”.

Rees-Mogg, who is father to six children, called the fringe meeting “one of the most important meetings of party conference” and said “the family is the building block of society”.


The mysterious case of the missing speeding Health Secretary video!


ITV’s short clip of Matt Hancock, Health Secretary’s ministerial blue-lighted car travelling at speed through Ottery Hospital’s car park, was deleted yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after it was posted.
Given that the video, which was in the process of going viral, must have dismayed both Mr Swire and Mr Hancock, my suspicions are directed firmly at these two.

I will be interested to hear from the two politicians whether they played a role in removing the embarrassing footage.

The tweet in question from political correspondent, Nick Smith, also confirmed that Mr Hancock’s black jaguar, using its security alert blue lights, appeared to be fleeing the apparently terrifying prospect of talking to me and around a dozen peaceable looking residents….

Here’s the video of the ministerial car speeding away after trying to shake us off…

For more detail see…