Insecure work: the Taylor Review and the Good Work Plan

This Commons briefing paper tracks the recommendations made in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and the Government’s response in the Good Work Plan. – The House of Commons Library

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On 1 October 2016, Theresa May, then Prime Minister, commissioned Matthew Taylor, the chief Executive of the Royal Society of the Arts, to lead a review into how employment law needed to adapt to keep pace with modern business practices. The review was driven by the rise in atypical forms of working, particularly in the ‘gig economy’.

Data from the Office of National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey indicated that there had been a substantial rise in the number of workers working on zero-hours contracts, peaking at 907,000 in the period of October to December 2016. A 2016 report from the TUC suggested that there were as many as 3.2 million insecure workers who lacked access to basic rights and decent levels of pay.

The Taylor Review was formally launched on 30 November 2016, shortly after a landmark ruling involving Uber, the ride-sharing company. The Employment Tribunal found that Uber drivers were not self-employed but were ‘workers’ entitled to basic workers’ rights, including the right to receive the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.

The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices was published in July 2017. It concluded that the labour market was changing, that new forms of work were raising questions about the existing legislation and that there was a need to “organise our national framework around an explicit commitment to good work for all.” The Review broadly centred around three themes:

  • tackling exploitative employment practices;
  • increasing clarity in the law and helping people enforce their rights; and
  • aligning the incentives driving labour market change with broader national objectives.

It contained a wide range of recommendations on issues such as agency workers, employment status, the enforcement of employment rights, maternity discrimination and zero-hours contracts.

The Review received a mixed response from stakeholders. Business groups broadly welcomed the Review’s recognition that flexibility can be a strength in the labour market but cautioned against reforms that could damage job prospects. Trade unions welcomed elements of the Review, such as the recommendation to abolish the ‘Swedish Derogation’ – a rule that exempts some agency workers from the right to equal pay with directly hired staff. They also welcomed the recommendation that a higher rate of minimum wage should be paid for working hours not fixed in the contract. However, they broadly concluded that the Review was not bold enough, criticising recommendations such as the right to request fixed working hours.

In December 2018, the May Government published the Good Work Plan, outlining how it intended to implement the recommendations of the Taylor Review. The Government stated that it was accepting 51 out of the 53 recommendations made in Taylor and labelled its proposals the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation. By contrast, the Labour party criticised the Plan as falling dramatically short of improving the lives of workers.

The Government has passed secondary legislation giving effect to some of the commitments in the Good Work Plan, including legislation that will abolish the Swedish Derogation and legislation to extend to workers the right to receive a written statement of employment rights.

However, many of the core recommendations in the Taylor Review have yet to be implemented. The Government has held consultations on measures to tackle one-sided flexibility and a proposal to establish a single enforcement body for employment rights. It also held a ‘Good Work Plan consultation’ on family-related leave, although the issue did not actually feature in the either the Taylor Review of the Good Work Plan. As the Government has not responded to the numerous consultations on these reforms, it is not yet clear how it intends to proceed across the full range of issues identified.

Nevertheless, in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the Johnson Government announced an Employment Bill. The Bill has yet to be published, but the Government stated that the Bill would have a variety of purposes, including giving effect to many Good Work Plan recommendations. It said the Bill would include measures such as establishing a single enforcement body, giving workers a right to request a contract with more predictable hours and banning deductions from staff tips.

Some key questions remain, including whether the Government intends to legislate to reform employment status – one of the key aspects of the Taylor Review.

Structure of this paper

This paper provides an overview of the recommendations made in the Taylor Review and the action the Government has taken to date.

Section 1 provides a timeline of key events and publications as well as a summary table listing all of the Taylor Review recommendations and Government actions.

Sections 2 to 15 provide a detailed overview of specific issues raised in Taylor.

Section 16 provides a summary of some of the key stakeholder responses.

  • Commons Research Briefing CBP-8817
  • Author: Daniel Ferguson
  • Topics: Work & Incomes

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Gran forced to survive on £4 a week in row over council house

Gran ‘forced to survive on £4 a week’ in two-year row over council house. – The Mirror
Veronica Smith, 55, currently lives in a three-bedroom council house and pays £85 a week in rent. She has been waiting for more than two years to be given a smaller two-bedroom bungalow.
Veronica Smith has been waiting more than two years for a new council house

A mum claims she’s been forced to live on £4 a week after waiting more than two years for a new council house. Veronica Smith, 55, currently lives in a three-bedroom house but has wanted to move to a smaller two-bedroom bungalow ever since her husband died from cancer.

The disabled gran suffers with multiple health conditions which affect her mobility, cause extreme anxiety and leave her at high risk of stroke or heart attack. Mrs Smith lost her £90-a-month Disability Living Allowance payment more than a year ago and is now running up a £131 utilities debt, Stoke-on-Trent Live reports.

Her three-bedroom Smallthorne council house costs £85 a week – and she receives just £53 a week in housing benefit. Her discretionary housing payments run out in April and she is also affected by the bedroom tax – a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that means you will receive less in housing benefit if you live in a council property which has one or more spare bedrooms.

Veronica said: “I just can’t afford to stay here. My husband put a lot of hard work into this house, I like it. “I just have to do without. I’ve got in a mess with the gas and electric. If I can afford to put it on, it goes on. If I can’t, I do without. I’ve been left with £8 to live off a fortnight.

“I’m at high risk of a stroke or heart attack, I’ve got osteoarthritis in the knees and arthritis in the hips. “I appreciate that two-bedroom bungalows are in very short supply. But it is horrendous duck, absolutely horrendous. “I’ve got to stay in Smallthorne because of my anxiety.”

Her sister Linda Dudley said:  “She’s been put through more anxiety on the back of David’s death. She could do without it. I know other people lose people, but at the same time it’s another thing on top of everything else.

“My beef has always been that if there isn’t a property for them to go to then don’t punish someone. Tenants want to get out of the bedroom tax but they can’t because of a lack of houses.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it experiences a lot of demand for its housing.

Councillor Joanne Powell-Beckett, cabinet member for housing, said: “We always work as much as possible to match residents’ requests regarding where they would like to live, however, unfortunately no properties have become available to meet Mrs Smith’s requests. 

“We experience a lot of demand for our housing, and have asked Mrs Smith to consider looking at a wider geographical area to improve the chances of getting the accommodation she would like.

“While Mrs Smith is waiting for a property to become available we are working with her to support her with her financial situation.”

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QUELLE SURPRISE: DWP in tampering scandal

DWP in tampering scandal after nearly 7000 health assessments changed or binned. New figures show the scale of the problem as auditors mark down health assessments. – Daily Record
The DWP have been criticised for ‘rigged’ audits 

The full scandal of “secret” benefit tampering can be revealed after the DWP admitted nearly 7000 health assessments were changed or binned over two years.

Last month, the Record revealed how one of two firms working for welfare chiefs had “audited” the paperwork after they were submitted by a health professional. Now we can show how two private contractors marked down or rejected 6850 reports without the guaranteed of follow-up meetings with the claimant or assessor.

SNP Marion Fellows has hit at the DWP [right]

The SNP demanded the practice is stopped and investigated – but the DWP insisted the system is there to ensure “quality”.

Marion Fellows, the SNP’s disabilities spokeswoman at Westminster, obtained the new figures after the UK Government gave a partial response in January with a much lower total.

“This blindfolded decision-making undermines the whole process and will impact heavily on peoples’ lives,” she said.

“From out-sourcing to private companies chasing targets to DWP auditors themselves, the whole system is rigged against people with disabilities trying to access vital support.

“I had to chase the DWP to provide the actual numbers despite the purpose of my question being clear. This may be yet another attempt by the DWP to prevent information about the impact of their policies getting out.”

The Record exposed the secret audits over a year ago when a Scot with MS and mental health problems was sent before-and-after copies of his assessment for a Personal Independence Payment claim.

The original was submitted by a nurse after an assessment. It was then plucked from the files by a private firm and systematically marked down, leaving him without any support. The changes show the auditor was routinely disregarding professional opinion on the claimant’s health.

In 2018, the IAS contractor marked down or scrapped 2240 files, followed by 2300 in the following year. A second contractor, Capita marked down or rejected 1120 assessments followed by another 1190. Files are graded acceptable, unacceptable, acceptable with amendment or acceptable with feedback. The companies dipped into about 1500 a month between them.

The DWP said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring people receive the support they are entitled to. COMMITTED MY **** “That is why assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals and we continue to work with them to ensure quality is continuously improving. IMPROVING!!!!!

“Sometimes assessment reports are returned to providers to ensure we have as much information as possible to reach an accurate decision.”

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The financial toll of being a carer

‘It’s just basic survival’: the financial toll of being a carer – The Guardian. From quitting a job to care for a spouse to supporting an ill parent, four carers explain how they cope. 

Mary Adeson
 Mary Adeson, who cares for her mother, says she always thinks about how to make her money work harder. Photograph: Carers UK

Giving up your job to look after a family member or friend may not be something you’ve given much thought to, but two in three UK adults can expect to become an unpaid carer during their lifetime, according to Carers UK.

About 600 people a day quit work to look after for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill, and the emotional and financial impact on these individuals can be huge.

While research suggests unpaid carers save the UK economy about £132bn a year, the main carer’s benefit, carer’s allowance, is just £66.15 a week if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week.

Mary Adeson, 33, is an auditor and lives in London. She has helped care for her mother, Caroline, 57, who has schizophrenia, with her two sisters since she was a teenager

“From a young age, my twin sister, Hannah, and my sister Heide, 27, and I have looked after my mum. She’d often feel really depressed. We didn’t realise she had a mental health disorder until she was repeatedly sectioned after a number of incidents over the years. We didn’t want to put additional pressure on her, so we learned to manage ourselves. We became very self-sufficient.

By the time I was in year 11, I had part-time jobs. Hannah and I had to go to work as mum wasn’t able to. We couldn’t depend on her to pay the bills, and letters would pile up. Hannah and I just split the costs. When I was at college I worked evenings and weekends and then over the holidays. I always worked while studying.

Now I work full-time as an auditor and still live at home with my mum and Heide. We both handle all the finances. While my mum receives disability allowance, we don’t claim for carer’s allowance. With my salary, I don’t feel like it’s necessary.

Do I feel like I’ve missed out on any luxuries? For a long time now I’ve always just worked out what my budget is. I know how much I’ve got and what my expenses are, so nothing comes as a surprise. I felt more of an impact when I was working during school, college and university. It was difficult paying for accommodation as well as dealing with my financial responsibilities at home. But I just had to find a way to make it work.

I do have to watch my spending, and I’m quite mindful about the future. I worry about what will happen if mum gets worse and we need to pay for her to go into a home. I’m always thinking about how to make my money work harder: I invest in stocks and shares and art, and I have a pension. I don’t have the luxury not to think about it.”

John Stefanyszyn, 64, lives in Sheffield and looks after his wife, Joanna, 46, and his niece, Lauren, 20, who both have ME

John Stefanyszyn
 John Stefanyszyn: ‘Without my pension I’d be absolutely screwed.’ 

“My wife has had ME since she was 14, but in the past year she’s also suffered from pudendal neuralgia. She’s in constant pain and has to spend a lot of time in bed. While a nerve-block injection last June improved her condition slightly, the past year has been very dark.

I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to survive. I stopped working as an NVQ enroller about three years ago to care for my wife. I receive a carer’s allowance of just £66.15 a week. Fortunately, I receive a private pension of £400 a month from my 16 years working in the civil service and as an Investors in People manager. Without that, I’d be destitute.

My wife receives employment support and personal independence payment (Pip) of about £700-£800 a month. But with outgoings such as mortgage, insurance, car and groceries, we struggle every month. We have to sit down and look at what goes in and out.

A year ago, I thought about redecorating downstairs, but now we’re struggling to get that done because of the cost. Fortunately the Sheffield Carers Trust managed to sort out a holiday for us to a B&B in Scarborough in October. But otherwise there’s no way you can pay for holidays and sustain your life. Without my pension we’d be absolutely screwed – I don’t know how we could afford anything. I try to stay on top of things but it’s difficult. For the past three years I’ve also looked after my niece. She’s in her own flat, and carers go to visit, but I look after her advocacy and fight for her rights.

I spend half my time worrying about money and the other half battling for basics and being an advocate. It’s a constant fight for resources across the board, and it takes time, energy and capability. Sometimes it’s easier to just give up and let injustice walk over you.

I do worry for the future. If anything happens to me, who will look after my wife and niece? You do go through some bad moods, thinking you are better off dead. You don’t choose this life. It’s not fun, it’s just basic survival.”

Helen, 48, lives in Salisbury and cares for her daughter, Maja, 21, who has Kleefstra syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, and has specialist learning and physical support needs

Helen, a carer
 Helen: ‘Waiting five weeks for universal credit to come through has left me in debt.’

“Maja was born with Kleefstra syndrome, which means she has floppy joints and isn’t so stable. She didn’t start walking or talking until she was eight. She functions like a four- to seven-year-old, depending on the activity. She can write and has a good vocabulary. She’s really sociable but she’s prone to low moods and mental health problems.

Maja attends a specialist college on Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm. We live on benefits as it’s difficult to find a job because of the holidays. Last summer Maja had eight weeks off, then there’s Christmas holidays and so on. An employer that flexible just doesn’t exist. I always try to keep an eye out for a job. I receive income support of £87.60 every two weeks and a carer’s allowance of £66.15 every week. Maja receives personal independence payment of £350.60 and £588 in universal credit every month.

Waiting five weeks for her universal credit to come through left me in debt. I’ve a £500 overdraft now. I don’t seem to be able to get out of it. I’m recently married but my husband doesn’t live with me, so I’m financially in control. I pay the bills, but he does help out because he feels like he should but, at the same time, he has property elsewhere and has bills to pay. It’s difficult to get a break. I receive income for a carer to come in for three hours a week.

When Maja was 18, I received 43 nights of care per year, and she would go to a respite centre in Salisbury, which she loved. This was taken away in July. Maja misses it terribly. I miss it too. An overnight break is very important for us both.

I’m grateful that I live in the UK and that we have a benefits system at all. However, the problem is that if you’re a carer like me, my daughter’s condition isn’t going to change. If it does, it will only get worse. What I mean is, there is no cure for my daughter – this is a permanent situation. So we live on benefits.

I put money aside for Maja’s pocket money and her needs, clubs, activities and special holidays, but we can’t afford to replace old clothes, shoes or broken furniture, electrical appliances and to generally maintain and upkeep our place. My choice has always been: do I give my daughter a myriad of opportunities and experiences, or use the money to maintain my home and garden better?”

Syreeta Challinger, 38, founder of a lifestyle store, lives in Frome, Somerset, and cares for her husband Rob, 42, who is paralysed on his right side and has aphasia and epilepsy after having a brain haemorrhage and stroke in 2014

Syreeta Challinger
 Syreeta Challinger: ‘I’m trying to figure out a solution that works around Rob’s needs.’ 

“Rob and I had been living and working in Hong Kong for several years when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and stroke while on holiday in Sydney. It resulted in Rob losing his speech and requiring 24-hour care. As we hadn’t been recently residing in the UK, we were unable to claim any benefits for the first two years, and we moved in with Rob’s parents in Lincoln.

I managed to keep my job and work remotely, but it meant commuting to Hong Kong every three to four weeks. Commuting to another continent is not good for anyone, never mind with what we were going through. I ended up quitting to become a full-time carer.

Over the years I’ve applied for so many jobs, but once you tell employers your circumstances and that you potentially require flexible working, you’re not such a suitable candidate any more. I did work part-time in a local shop for £8 an hour, but having worked in high-end roles before meant I was probably too can-do for the job.

At the moment, Rob receives Pip of £350 a month, and I receive carer’s allowance of £66 a week. What are you supposed to buy with £66 a week? It hardly covers a food shop. In the summer we moved from Lincoln to Frome to be closer to friends. We’re renting a bungalow, which is doable through financial support from family members and savings from the good jobs we had in Hong Kong. However, we’re literally on zero now.

The focus this year has been figuring out how to get back to supporting the three of us – our son, Grayson, was born in the summer. Rob doesn’t receive employment and support allowance any more, as I’m attempting to work. A job coach at the Department for Work and Pensions advised that I would be financially better off if I didn’t work, but I’m just 38 – I don’t want to be staring at four walls every day.

I’m trying to figure out a solution that works around Rob’s needs. I’m excited but also extremely scared about how we’re going to make this work, but I have hope – now Rob doesn’t need 24/7 care, his speech is coming back and he communicates through drawings.

In 2016 I launched Moments of Sense and Style, a lifestyle store selling products that align with our story and offering a message of courage, strength and hope. I spend 10 hours a week on it but I’d love to market it more. For the future, I want to get on top of the bills and then have a little fun again and maybe take a holiday. Things have been really stripped back for us since the incident.”

Economic timebomb

The proposed closure of UK borders to low-skilled workers after Brexit has caused carers to be dragged into the discussion.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, has been heavily criticised in some quarters for suggesting employers could plug the gap with some of the 8 million Britons between the ages of 16 and 64 classed as economically inactive – a cohort that includes those with caring responsibilities, long-term sick and retired people, and students.

Helen Walker, the chief executive of Carers UK, says caring for a loved one round the clock can mean a real struggle to make ends meet. “Many carers have to manage on a reduced income, and the majority spend that limited income or savings on the cost of care, specialist equipment or products – reducing their financial resilience.

“Our research shows that financial hardship worsens for carers the longer they are caring, with double the proportion of carers in debt after 15 years of caring, compared with those in their first year. More than half of unpaid carers save nothing for retirement. This has huge implications for carers and the economy in the long term, with many left drained of money in later life and in need of support from the state and our social care system – which in its current form is already creaking.”

Carers UK wants the government to increase the carer’s allowance and allow unpaid carers to earn more and keep their benefit. “We must see unpaid carers put at the heart of a reformed and sustainable adult social care system,” says Walker.

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COVER UP: DWP destroyed reports into people who killed themselves

‘Cover-up’: DWP destroyed reports into people who killed themselves after benefits were stopped. – The Independent. Up to 50 reviews into deaths following harsh social security cuts and sanctions have been shredded, officials admit 

Image result for department for work and pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions has been accused of “a cover-up” after destroying reports into suicides linked to benefits being stopped. Around 50 reviews into deaths following the loss of social security payments before 2015 have been shredded, officials have admitted – blaming data protection laws.

However, the data watchdog has said there was no requirement to destroy the reports by any particular date and that a “public interest” exemption could have been used. The sister of Tim Salter, a benefit claimant who killed himself soon after his benefits were stopped in 2013, accused the DWP of “trying to cover up” what was happening to “vulnerable” people.

“We should be allowed to find out what happened? Why would they want to destroy them? What are they hiding?” Linda Cooksey asked. Stephen Timms, the chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, agreed it was a possible cover-up, saying: “I’m very sympathetic with that view. “It all underlines a lack of seriousness by the department about putting things right when they go wrong.”

Mr Timms, who said his committee would demand answers about the shredded reports, pointed out a scathing National Audit Office report had warned the DWP was unable to show it was learning lessons. Having been “very secretive”, it was now “very reluctantly” becoming more open, he said – but “trying to keep things as hush-hush as possible – and it’s not good enough”.

On the DWP claim that data rules required the destruction of old investigations, Mr Timms said: “The law does not specify five years or six years and this kind of information should be held for longer. “In any case, the lessons learned from these reviews, there’s no reason why they should be destroyed. They should be kept and progress on implementing improvements monitored.”

BLACK TRIANGLE
*image Black Triangle

Up to 49 internal reviews carried out before 2015 have been destroyed, a freedom of information response to a campaigner revealed, the BBC reported. More than 100 have taken place over the last decade, amid growing concern over deaths linked to harsh benefit cuts and sanctions introduced by Iain Duncan Smith.

When Ms Cooksey found her brother’s body, there was no food in the house, no money in his bank account and a letter from his housing association threatening him with eviction.

Mr Salter had been left partially sighted by a previous suicide attempt and had mental health conditions – but was found fit for work and had his benefits cut back drastically nine months before his death.

This week, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams fought back tears in the Commons as she read out a list of 24 people who died after problems with their benefits. On 69 reviews since 2015, she told ministers: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. We do not even know the actual number of people who have taken their own life as a result of what they went through.”

In a statement, the DWP said: “We take these reviews extremely seriously and ensure cases are investigated and concluded and any lessons learned.”

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Man’s despair over Universal Credit

Bertie’s despair over Universal Credit – Derry Journal. 
A man who retired on medical grounds has spoken of how his first experience of the welfare system in decades has left him in deep despair.

Bertie Thompson [below], aged 63, said: “There’s a few times I’ve felt like doing something really, really stupid. For the sake of pleasing Universal Credit. They don’t care. They don’t seem to care.”

Mr. Thompson worked as a labourer and driver for the Council for over 30 years. Before that he worked as a mechanic at McCandless and Piggot’s garage on the Strand Road and later at Dunlop’s.

But he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2006 and forced to retire three years ago.

He initially made himself available for work and signed on for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) but was transferred to Universal Credit in November. He says his health has deteriorated over the past three years and he believes he is no longer fit for the jobs being recommended to him. Last July he nearly went blind as a result of complications with his diabetes. “I was three weeks short of going blind. I have to go every two months for a check-up to the hospital.” Bertie is also partially deaf and struggles on his feet.

“I’ve two hearing aids and I came out with an ulcer on my foot. I might have another one starting and I’ve an appointment to see the doctor. I’ve a diabetic clinic to go to. They reckon diabetes is a chronic disease so I just have to be careful,” he says. He is currently awaiting the results of a medical assessment.

The Department for Communities told the ‘Journal’ it has been in contact with Mr. Thompson regarding his concerns.

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NHS Eugenics

Coronavirus panic sweeps UK as NHS admits ‘weakest’ would be left to die – The Mirror

Three more Brits have tested positive for deadly coronavirus as schools shut and the FTSE 100 falls £152billion. Shoppers are in a rush to buy hand gel, medicine, groceries and nappies while the NHS admits it would not be able to treat ‘weakest’ if the disease takes hold.

Three more UK patients have been confirmed with coronavirus amid fears the NHS would ration care in a crisis. A school near one of the patients was shut while across the country stores ran out of hand gel as shoppers began stockpiling.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The NHS would find it hard to cope if the pandemic took off.” It emerged tonight overstretched hospitals will be forced to treat only the patients most likely to survive if coronavirus takes hold in the UK.

Mr Hunt warned that other patients would face delays as resources were concentrated on the virus. Mr Hunt, who chairs the Health Select Committee, said: “Even the NHS would find it hard to cope if the pandemic really did take off as hospital beds would soon fill up. “There would also be a severe knock-on effect on waiting times for other treatments.”

It came as:

  • Three new UK cases were confirmed today;
  • Doctors told of a “three wise men” system where top consultants would decide who would get rationed care;
  • A school was shut down in Buxton, Derbyshire, after a patient who had been on holiday to Tenerife became one of Britain’s latest victims;
  • Hand sanitiser shortages were reported amid fears of panic buying;
  • Shoppers told of stockpiling in case of lockdowns across the country
  • Global cases totalled 82,539 across 47 countries, with 2,812 deaths

Plans have emerged showing NHS patients could be denied care if intensive care units struggled to cope with a severe coronavirus outbreak. Under the “three wise men” protocol, senior consultants at hospitals overwhelmed with patients would give priority to those most likely to survive and recover, and ration equipment such as beds and ventilators. The scheme, developed after the 2009 swine flu pandemic, is still reportedly included in the plans of several NHS trusts.

Waits for treatments are already at record highs after 10 years of Tory austerity and with staff vacancies going unfilled. The Northern Ireland patient confirmed to have the disease tonight had recently returned from Italy.

The case was revealed after two others were confirmed to have the virus after returning from Italy and Tenerife. They were being treated at specialist NHS infection centres at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in North West London.

Today’s three new cases were the first in the UK not linked to the Far East. The virus has yet to spread between humans in the UK. The Tenerife patient came down with symptoms of the disease after returning from the four-star Costa Adeje Palace hotel, where patients have been quarantined.

Medics in hazmat suits took the patient from their home in Buxton today. A child connected to the patient is a pupil at Burbage Primary School which was shut down. A nearby health centre was also shut.

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, of Public Health England East Midlands, said the agency was contacting people who had close contact with the patient. Around 700 were quarantined at the Costa Adeje Palace hotel, including 160 Brits, after at least four guests were diagnosed with the virus.

Around 130 were told they could leave today, including 50 Brits. But fears have been raised that hundreds who left before the quarantine was imposed could have caught the infection but have not yet been diagnosed.

Government experts believe up to a fifth of the British workforce could go down sick if a pandemic takes hold. World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned governments to “act aggressively” to contain the crisis, saying major outbreaks in Italy and Iran had proved “what this virus is capable of”. He said it would be a “fatal mistake, quite literally” for nations outside China – where new cases are down – to assume they will not be affected.

At least 13 UK schools have closed their doors over fears of the virus spreading and at least 20 more have sent pupils and teachers home for a fortnight after coming down with colds and coughs after ski trips to Italy. A number of pupils and staff at Stockport Grammar School are self-isolating at home after returning from a trip to the Italian Alps.

Panic buying of hand sanitiser has reportedly led to shortages amid a national public awareness campaign encouraging frequent hand-washing. A number of Boots stores imposed a two-bottle limit after a number of branches sold out. It led to a boom in sales of surgical spirit on eBay and Amazon.

Shoppers told of stocking up on nappies, loo roll, soup, tinned fruit, pet food, medicine, bottled water and wine as they plan ahead in case of self-isolation. Some have bought chest freezers to be sure of enough supplies and even set up portable toilets to avoid sharing a loo with a relative who tests positive.

The Government has said those who take advice to self-isolate at home for a fortnight are entitled to sick pay. Games chief Toshir Muto said the torch relay, due to start on March 29, could be “downsized”.

Euro 2020, due to take place at venues across Europe from June 12 to July 12, is at a “waiting stage”. Five Serie A league matches in Italy are being played behind closed doors this weekend, but England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley, on March 27, is still on.

In the Six Nations rugby, Ireland men’s and women’s matches against Italy in Dublin on March 7/8 are off.

Pope Francis, 83, cancelled a church service today after he was struck down with illness though there is no suggestion he has coronavirus as the outbreak in Italy topped 500 cases.

The outbreak will become a pandemic if it spreads worldwide. Antarctica is the only continent yet to record a case. Denmark was among the countries confirming their first cases today.

Saudi Arabia has stopped pilgrims entering the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In Japan, all schools will close for several weeks.

US experts have reported the first case of unknown origin, which suggests the virus is spreading there. In China, where the virus began, 78,497 cases have been reported, including 2,744 deaths.

Historically the NHS has had annual funding increases of 4% to keep up with a growing older population and new technologies, but this has fallen to just 1% for most of the last decade. Recent rises take it up to about 3.5% but experts say that is nowhere near enough to undo the damage.

A government spokesman said: “The UK is a world leader in preparing for and managing disease outbreaks, and our approach will always be led by medical experts.

“We’ve been clear from the outset that we expect coronavirus to have some impact on the UK and a global pandemic could have a pronounced effect on the NHS, which is why we are planning for every eventuality.”

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Environment Agency fatcat bosses pocketing £12million

Anger with Environment Agency fatcat bosses pocketing £12million as flood levels surge
The Agency’s latest annual report shows four directors trousered up to £675,000 worth of salaries between them last year while over the past decade, directors shared nearly £12m. – The Mirror. I live just over 1/2 a mile from the River Severn, so you can imagine how this makes me feel!

Sir James Bevan earns £210,000 a year
Sir James Bevan earns £210,000 a year

Flood victims have slammed fatcats at the Environment Agency as it emerged they have raked in nearly £12million in pay in the past decade. Its chief executive Sir James Bevan, 60, earns £210,000 a year – more than the Prime Minister’s salary.

Meanwhile, thousands of Britons have seen homes and livelihoods washed away and are asking whether highly paid Agency bosses can do more to help. The Agency’s latest annual report shows four directors trousered up to £675,000 worth of salaries between them last year while over the past decade, directors shared nearly £12million.

Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd gets £100,000 for a three-day week while deputy Richard Macdonald got £25,201 last year for doing five days a month. The quango also has members who sit on various committees who earned £3.7million in total over the past decade.

Insurers says large-scale floods cost nearly £800million in payouts since 2010. Suzanne Stankard, whose home in Mytholmroyd, West Yorks, was flooded, said the Agency put just one row of sandbags over a gap in flood defences. She said: “We just watched the water flow over them. They are not in touch with what needs doing. Yet when you’re on £210,000 a year, you can’t be touched.”

Tewkesbury Abbey, at the confluence of the Rivers Severn and Avon, is surrounded by flood waters

Pam Webb’s home and spa business in Fishlake, South Yorks, were badly damaged in last November’s floods. She said: “There was a risk to life. Anyone paid that amount of money clearly has to take a lot of responsibility.”

Union GMB said: “The Agency hasn’t had the finance it needs to put in place measures to mitigate or deal with the flooding. But apparently it has the finance to keep the top brass well paid.”

Sir James this week said the Agency is spending £2.6billion from 2015 to 2021 on new flood defences and £1billion on existing ones. The Agency said it “remunerates employees in line with standard public sector pay and pension policies”

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Social care faces collapse

Social care ‘cracks are turning into chasms’ and system faces collapse in 2029, the Government is warned in an alarming report – This is money
  • Call for a review of £23,250 wealth threshold at which financial support kicks in
  • Annual care fees average nearly £35,000 in for-profit residential homes
  • Government has delayed a promised social care plan since 2017
  • But Tories offered a ‘guarantee’ in last election that no one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for it

The social care system could collapse by 2029 unless the Government intervenes to prevent a funding crisis and a shortage of beds, says a new study. Action is needed or a ‘tipping point’ will be reached where older people are unable to afford care, councils lack funding to look after them, and care homes don’t have enough room to meet demand, it warns.

The ‘Elderly Care Crisis’ report calls for an overhaul of funding, including raising the £23,250 wealth threshold at which financial support currently kicks in, to help elderly people struggling to pay massive care bills.

More accommodation needed: Report calls for the Government to require councils to plan and allocate land for retirement, care and nursing homes

More accommodation needed: Report calls for the Government to require councils to plan and allocate land for retirement, care and nursing homes

Annual care fees averaged nearly £35,000 in for-profit residential homes and £48,000 in nursing homes in 2019-2020, according to the research from law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research thinktank.

The Government has delayed a promised social care plan since 2017, but the Conservatives offered a ‘guarantee’ in the last election that no one needing care will have to sell their home to pay for it. They pledged to make an urgent attempt to build a cross-party consensus on funding, and while a deal is being sorted out they will earmark an extra £1billion of funding every year for more social care staff, better infrastructure, technology and facilities.

Six challenges are identified in the IM/CEBR report. A lack of pension savings: Despite the launch of auto enrolment, workers need to save hundreds of pounds a month more in order to have enough to live on in retirement, let alone pay huge social care bills.

How is care paid for at present?

Under the current system someone’s assets – including the family home – is depleted down to £23,250 if they need to go into a care home.

If you need care in your own home, your assets must be depleted to a level set by your local council, which cannot be lower than £23,250, but your home is excluded from this means test.   UK workers need to save £799 a month into a pension over a lifetime to get a moderate standard of living when they retire, or about 26 per cent of average full-time earnings, according to Institute and Faculty of Actuaries research last year.

Average monthly pension savings are £225, leaving a shortfall of around £575. Meanwhile, savings of £1,755 a month are needed to achieve a comfortable, as opposed to moderate, standard of living in old age.

Reliance on friends and family: Many elderly people who need care are leaning on others for financial support. Some 22 per cent of people have loved ones getting professional care, and about 18 per cent of them have helped to pay for it, according to a survey of UK adults by CEBR. Financial support averages £5,900, but some people have given more than £50,000.

‘If paying for care isn’t an option, and council funding for care is too difficult to access, people are caring for loved ones themselves,’ says the report. It cites official data that estimated the total value of informal unpaid care for adults at £59.5bn in 2016.

People in their 60s are most likely to provide unpaid care to friends or family, often while still working, with women more likely than men to do so. How much does it cost? Average length and cost of stay in residential or nursing home

The UK’s ageing population: In 2020, the average 65-year-old man can expect to live until they’re 84, and 65-year-old women are likely to live to 87, says the report. The projected number of people aged 65 and over will rise to 12.6million in 2020, and to 15.4million in 2030, and the proportion of the population still of working age is expected to fall.

Shortage of elderly care accommodation: In March 2019, there was a total capacity of 463,000 beds and 393,000 people were living in residential or nursing homes, says the report.

Demand for and capacity of care homes has been ‘flatlining’ since around 2012, but the former is expected to grow and 480,000 beds are likely to be needed by 2030. If capacity stays the same, the UK will reach a shortage of supply by 2029.

Insufficient council funding and planning: A survey of all 329 local planning authorities in the UK to see if they had a policy to allocate where care homes should be located, or had earmarked specific sites for retirement, care or nursing home developments, found just 44 met both criteria.

The report cites a Local Government Association estimate in 2018 that adult social care services would face a £1.5billion funding gap in 2019-20, and that this would grow to £3.5bn in 2024-25. Equity held up in homes: When older people’s homes are included as part of their wealth, the cost of care becomes more attainable, says the report.

They could release a significant amount of money by downsizing or moving into retirement accommodation, but many are very reluctant to sell even though they don’t need all of the space, and want care home fees to come from somewhere other than their estate so they can leave an inheritance to their children. The report suggests better incentives like stamp duty tax breaks could convince elderly people to free up equity in their homes and provide a source of care funding, taking pressure off councils and family members.

As well as changes to the care funding system, the IM/CEBR report calls for the Government to do more to support informal carers looking after elderly people, and to require councils to plan and allocate land for retirement, care and nursing homes.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson responded: ‘Putting social care on a sustainable footing, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society, and we will be bringing forward a plan for social care this year. ‘We are providing councils with access to an additional £1.5bn for adults and children’s social care in 2020/21 to help meet rising demand and stabilise the social care system.’ The extra £1.5bn includes an additional £1bn of grant funding for adults and children’s social care. The Government is also proposing a 2 per cent council tax charge that will allow councils to raise a further £500million.

 

Kelly Greig, head of later life planning at Irwin Mitchell, says: ‘For years now we have been raising awareness of the impending care crisis the UK is facing. The fact that we now know the elderly care system will collapse at the end of this decade is a stark warning of what is to come. ‘It’s now been 10 years since funding levels for social care were adequate, and the cracks are turning into chasms.

‘A decade on we have less people eligible for funding support, more families taking on unpaid labour to look after their elderly loved ones and workers needing to save unsustainable levels of money into their pensions just to afford care in later life.

‘We have a new majority government and the first post-Brexit budget coming up. While they have promised a cross-party solution we need a bold and fast-acting plan before it is too late.

‘The elderly care sector is already on its knees, and continuing to ignore the issue would be a disservice to the tens of millions of people that will be reaching old age in the next 20 years.’

Former Pensions Minister Ros Altmann says: ‘Almost no-one has planned for long-term care. ‘Despite growing numbers of frail, older people in our society, neither central nor local Government has a sustainable plan to pay for care and there are no incentives for private individuals to set aside funds to meet later life care needs.

‘Pensions are designed to support independent living, not the sharply higher costs of care. This important report uncovers many of the consequences. ‘There are many aspects to this massive policy failure, which has been left unaddressed by successive Governments for so long that there is no silver bullet solution.’

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Tory councillor unhappy about project to help feed hungry kids

Tory councillor unhappy about project to help feed hungry kids during the school holidays. After his party was criticised at Stockton Town Hall, Cllr Andrew Stephenson claimed ‘no kids are dying’ and said children were all ‘physically fit’. – Teeside Live
Cllr Andrew Stephenson

A councillor has been ordered to apologise after claiming “no kids are dying in Stockton” and saying all children in the town are “physically fit”. Cllr Andrew Stephenson told Stockton Town Hall he couldn’t understand council funding being given to school holiday hunger programmes, during a heated budget debate last night.

Stockton Council put £50,000 into a programme last summer to help youngsters and families get hot meals before they went back to school.  But after responding to criticism of his party on Wednesday evening, the Conservative hit out at cries from council opponents saying kids were dying in the borough.

Cllr Stephenson said: “No kids are dying – no children are obese in Stockton town centre – they’re physically fit. “That’s why when Cllr (Jim) Beall said he was going to do this hunger thing during the school break, I thought, what is he talking about?”

“Get a heart,” cried Cllr Beall.

Figures from the “End Child Poverty” group show 37.4% of Stockton borough’s youngsters are deemed to be living in poverty. This is higher than 29% recorded across Teesside and 28% nationally.

The poverty figures also put Stockton in the top 10% most deprived areas in the country. Council statistics from 2019 also show Stockton town centre ward is the most deprived place in the borough – with an above average number of pupils eligible for free school meals.

The ward also scores worse than the England average for numbers of mothers who smoke during pregnancy, low birth weight babies, mothers who breastfeed, children who are “not ready” for school and 11-year-olds who are classed as obese.

Cllr Lisa Evans, cabinet member for children and young people, invited Cllr Stephenson to attend some of the programmes the council funded during the school holidays.

The Labour member added: “I’d like to invite you along to have a look at how many of them are obese and how many of them need that meal.  “I hope you take me up on the offer, come back to this chamber and apologise to the children out there that need that meal in the school holidays.” The heated exchange came ahead of a vote to increase council tax by 3.9% in April.

After the meeting, Judith Cavanagh, from the End Child Poverty coalition said the “uncomfortable reality” was that more children were “trapped in poverty” on Teesside.

Ms Cavanagh added: “It leaves them with worse physical and mental health than their peers, doing less well in school and with fewer opportunities in the future.

“We would urge any local or national politician who is unconvinced by the levels and impact of child poverty to go out into their communities and hear directly from families caught up in poverty, of how difficult it is to break free from and how distressing it is to see their children unjustly face barriers that their peers don’t.

“Without this we will not get the changes to national policies on welfare, housing or pay that are needed to release the 4.1 million children that the government says are living in the grip of poverty in the UK today.”

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