It’s the same the whole world over – rich man’s pleasure, poor man’s blame!

“Currently, 45 per cent of Britain’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest 10 per cent of the population. On the contrary, the less well-off half of the UK’s population (50 per cent) owns just 9 per cent of Britain’s wealth, according to the research.

Average household wealth among the least well-off half of Britons is just £3,200 in net finances, property and pensions, compared with £1.32million held on average by the wealthiest 10 per cent.

Wealth inequality among British households is double that of income inequality, which instead refers to how much each family takes home. …”

Reminds Owl of the old Cockney song of which the lyrics of the chorus are:

“It’s the same the whole world over
It’s the poor what gets the blame
It’s the rich what gets the pleasure
Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame?”

The new way to stay in power – do nothing (and just one Tory rebels)

The new way to stay in power – abstain on anything important

“… Dr Wollaston, chairwoman of the health committee, at one stage threatened to vote against the Government unless ministers recognised they need to address a “fundamental flaw”.

… Dr Wollaston rebelled against the Tory whip by voting in favour of Labour’s motion.

She was the only Conservative MP to do so, according to the division list.

The result of the vote released by the House of Commons also said DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds voted in the aye lobby in support of Labour’s motion.

But Mr Dodds told the Press Association he did not vote in the aye lobby, adding: “They made a mistake.”

Labour MP Anneliese Dodds (Oxford East) was not listed on the ayes despite speaking out against UC roll-out in the debate.

Raising a point of order after the vote, Ms Abrahams said: “This is a major defeat for the Government on their flagship social security programme.

“Conservative whips and the Prime Minister have spent today strong-arming Conservative MPs to vote against a pause of the rollout of Universal Credit.

“While the Secretary of State has retreated on various aspects of his Universal Credit policy, in a panicked attempt to appease Tory MPs who know that the policy is not fit for purpose.

“Yet again, the Prime Minister and the Tories cannot command a majority in the House of Commons.

“The Prime Minister is in office, but not in power.”

Commons Speaker John Bercow said: “A resolution of the House of Commons is just that, an expression of the view of the nation’s elected representatives in the House of Commons.

“Constitutionally, and this is important…the House cannot direct ministers, and it is for ministers in the Government to decide how to respond to the clearly expressed view of the House.”

Mr Bercow added that he felt confident ministers would do so, having granted an urgent debate on the Government’s response to opposition day debates just two weeks ago

Tory MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said it would be helpful where a substantive motion was passed that the Government came to the House to explain what they intended to do about it.

Mr Bercow responded it was “a statement of fact” Labour’s motion was passed, adding: “I think it highly desirable that the Government, in the light of the result, should come to the House and show respect for the institution by indicating what it intends to do.”

Tory former minister Sir Edward Leigh questioned what the point of the Commons was if it merely expresses opinions “for the sake of it” as he made a point of order following the vote.

He said he had trooped through the lobbies to vote on hundreds of divisions on Wednesdays over 34 years as an MP, and that he was “under the impression that it served some purpose”.

And what worries me is that surely there is some sort of precedent here.

“This is not and should not be a university debating society, what is the point of the House of Commons if we just express opinions for the sake of it and surely when we vote it should have some effect?”

The division list was later updated, with Mr Dodds’ name no longer on the ayes list and Ms Dodds’ name appearing on the list of Labour MPs who supported the motion.”

Want to comment on LEP’s business plan for us? Go to Torbay council website says Sidmouth Herald!

Sidmouth Herald (as part of Archant a BIG supporter of our LEP) prints a press release on the Sidmouth Herald website on “consultation” on the LEP’s new, improved, answer to all our prayers business plan, citing the enthusiastic words of Paul Diviani, the Deputy Chair of an un-named committee.

Unfortunately, according to the press release, the consultation document appears to be only on Torbay’s website! No link to an EDDC website or the LEP’s own website!


Perhaps the first consultation comment might be: put your own house in order before you attempt to put a nuclear cell in those of other people!

Here is the press release, in full, in all its glory, where 20 or so business and council members, many with nuclear interests or nuclear-industry-supporting industries attempt to persuade the rest of us that most of their (ie our) money going to Hinkley C is a good thing:

County and district councils in the two counties, along with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Dartmoor and Exmoor national park authorities, and NHS commissioning groups from Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, South Devon and Torbay, and Somerset, have worked together to come up with a draft productivity strategy for the area, referred to as the Heart of the South West.

This has now been put out for a consultation, which will run until November 30.

The partnership is said to be seeking the views of businesses, organisations, groups and individuals.

It says its ambition is to double the size of the area’s economy to £70 billion by 2036 and is seeking the right interventions and Government backing to achieve this.

The partnership says the area has ‘unprecedented opportunities’ in sectors including nuclear, marine, rural productivity, health and care, aerospace and advanced engineering, and data analytics.

Councillor Paul Diviani, deputy chair of the prospective joint committee of the leaders of the Heart of the South West, said: “The Heart of the South West economy is larger than that of Birmingham, so we need to be recognised for our true potential as a cohesive economic area.

“Our vision is for all parts of the Heart of the South West to become more prosperous, enabling people to have a better quality of life and higher living standards.

“To achieve that, we have to create a more vibrant and competitive economy where the benefits can be shared by everyone, and by working in partnership we can present a stronger proposition.

“We urge our stakeholders in business and the wider community to give us their views and help us create an effective strategy for delivery.”

The results from the consultation will be considered by the joint committee of the leaders of the Heart of the South West and the Heart of the South West LEP board, before a final productivity strategy is agreed early in 2018.

The consultation documents are available to view on Torbay Council’s website at

Emergency cash for public services is just a “sticking plaster” not a solution

“Plugging funding gaps in critical public services will cost £10 billion over the next five years without fixing deep-seated problems.

The Institute for Government (IfG) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy have concluded in a report that spending on frontline services has become trapped in a “reactive cycle” of allowing problems to mount until there is a crisis and an injection of emergency cash is the only solution, denying money for “transformative” projects.

Emily Andrews, of the IfG, the report’s author, said: “If the chancellor and government cannot break out of this cycle they must accept that budgets will rise or services will deteriorate.”

Emergency cash had already been pumped into schools and social care, the report notes.

The report says that even if should good decisions be taken by Philip Hammond in his November 22 budget, they “will not solve the underlying problems which have allowed this government to get into this reactive spending cycle”.

Times, pay wall

Telegraph: “Elderly patients could be put at risk by pressure to empty NHS beds, warns social care chief inspector“

“Pressures on hospitals to empty thousands of beds ahead of winter could risk the safety of frail elderly patients, the chief inspector of social care has warned.

Andrea Sutcliffe said she was concerned that vulnerable patients would be moved into inadequate facilities, after councils were told funding could be cut if they do not reduce bedblocking rates in their local hospitals.

She told a conference: “I worry that if people focus just on moving people through the system quickly then does that mean that they will force the discharge of somebody that is old and frail into a service which we have rated ‘inadequate’, which would put them at risk potentially.”

Urging council leaders to focus on protecting the vulnerable, “whatever the short term imperatives are,” she raised concern about a “heightened level of tension” between councils and NHS trusts, over who was to blame for the number of elderly people stuck in hospital for want of social care.

People really have to hold on to what are the right things to do – hold on to good relationships and also make sure they are not compromising on safety,” she told the National Children and Adult Services Conference last week, Local Government Chronicle reported.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, in September ordered hospitals to free up more than 2,000 beds amid fears that bed occupancy levels are too high for services to cope, as winter pressures mount.

NHS England’s director for acute care, Prof Keith Willett on Wednesday said it would be “extremely difficult” for the health service to get back to the performance it achieved four years ago without increased funding.

Nationally, the NHS has not hit any of its three key targets for 18 months, with longer waits in A&E, as well as for cancer treatment and other planned surgery.

A spokesman for NHS England said: “Hospitals and GPs are preparing intensively for this winter, and would remind people of the importance of having a flu vaccination. There are 21 million people eligible this year, but last year eight million people missed out and that is something we can all definitely change.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “No one should have to stay in hospital longer than necessary – it undermines dignity and reduces quality of life so it is right that we are tackling delayed transfers of care as part of our wider efforts to improve care for patients.

“We’ve already provided £2 billion in additional funding for social care and committed to a consultation to ensure the sector is sustainable in the long term.”

Rental repossessions increase in Devon

Concerns have been raised following an increase this year in the number of people in Devon having their homes repossessed.

Figures from Citizens Advice Exeter show an overall 3.8 per cent increase in the number of housing repossession cases listed at Exeter County Court in the six month period ending September 30. This is in comparison to the same period in 2016.

Steve Barriball, Citizens Advice Exeter chief executive, said: “In the last six months there were 296 cases listed for repossession, an overall 3.8 per cent increase, or 11 cases, on the previous year. However, there was a small reduction in mortgage repossessions, which were down by four cases.

“The biggest increase was in housing association repossessions, up by 12.7 per cent. There were further increases of 2.7 per cent in private rented sector cases and 1.8 per cent in local authority actions.

“For the last few years we have seen the headline number of cases listed for repossession level out. Therefore, these latest figures are concerning. …

Working parents in south-west can’t keep up with childcare costs

“The cost of childcare has risen four times faster than wages in Devon, according to new findings.

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) has highlighted the ‘childcare gap’ for parents with one-year-olds, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

The average wages of South West parents with a one-year-old child rose by 11 per cent in cash terms – although pay is still falling in real terms – between 2008 and 2016.

Over the same period childcare costs shot up by 44 per cent. …

In the South West, the TUC says:

A single parent working full-time with a one-year-old in nursery for 21 hours a week (21 hours is the median amount of childcare used per week for pre-school age children) spent 22% of their wages on childcare in 2016, up from 18% in 2008.

One parent working full-time and one parent working part-time with a one-year-old in nursery for 21 hours a week spent 14% of their salary on childcare in 2016, up from 12% in 2008.

Two parents working full-time with a one-year-old in nursery for 21 hours a week spent 11% of their wages on childcare in 2016, up from 9% in 2008.

The analysis also shows pressure is even greater on parents working full-time, especially single parents. A single mum or dad in the South West with a young child in nursery for 40 hours a week would need to spend more than two-fifths (41%)of their pay on childcare.

To address this increasing pressure on working families, the TUC is calling for universal free childcare from the end of maternity leave. They also want more government funding for local authorities to provide nurseries and child care and a greater role for employers in funding childcare.”