Sunak’s spending review shows some common sense. But has he put enough cash into it?

Rishi Sunak looking nervous: is he being honest with us? Does he even know?

There were no surprises in the announcements that formed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review – but it did mark a major change.

Sunak has abandoned the failed “starve the beast” economic model that was favoured by George Osborne and that caused such economic havoc between 2010 and 2015.

Instead of forcing austerity on the UK by cutting investment, thereby restricting the amount of money passing through the UK economy and shrinking it, creating a spiral of steadily decreasing funds, Sunak has reverted to a tried, tested and effective model.

He has elected to borrow money and use it to pump fresh blood into the economic veins of the country. The question is: can a Tory ever put enough cash into the system?

This Writer was on Twitter during the Chancellor’s speech, and provided my own commentary throughout. I reproduce it here, along with other comments I’ve picked up:

We should all remember that announcements mean nothing; Labour has announced that it will implement all the recommendations of an EHRC review of the way the party handles anti-Semitism complaints but it seems this is because it won’t make any difference to what the party does.

So we need to watch what the Tories do, and check not only the amounts of money they hand out – but who gets it.

The so-called “chumocracy” has had far too much of our money lately and This Writer, for one, fears that they haven’t finished slurping up the blood that keeps our economy alive, vampires that they are.

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Remember the vaccine that was 90 per cent effective, we were told? That was a MISTAKE

It had to be too good to be true. It was an announcement by Boris Johnson.

The finding that a vaccine developed in Oxford was 90 per cent effective was a mistake caused by a dosing error, it has been revealed:

In the spring, scientists were left baffled as to why participants were experiencing much milder side effects than expected.

When they checked, they found participants had received just half the dose given to 500 adults in earlier safety trials.

Instead of restarting the trial, researchers at Oxford University boosted the initial participants with a full dose while everyone who enrolled later received the full amount.

The so-called “correct” vaccine does was just 62 per cent effective.

Fortunately, it seems to have been a lucky mistake as a lower dose appears to be more effective.

But we’re dealing with Tories here. Let’s not take anything at face value until the Covid crisis is very far behind us.

Source: Dosing error in trials led to Oxford vaccine’s 90 per cent efficacy by accident, say scientists

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Carers are being pushed further into exhaustion, poverty and despair by government neglect, survey says

I once stated that we thought this window-writing was by a child in care, but it could also have been drawn by an adult recipient of care – or it might have been by a carer instead.

Government neglect is pushing unpaid family carers into poverty and leaving many exhausted and fearful of the future, according to a survey from the Carers Trust.

The charity found that the majority of unpaid carers feel they are not getting enough support from the social care system, with only 12 per cent saying the support they receive is adequate to meet their needs:

Almost two thirds of unpaid carers taking part in the survey (64%) said they do not receive enough support. A further 24% responded that they weren’t sure whether they got enough support. Only 12% of respondents agreed that they were getting enough support from the social care system.

The survey also points at Government cuts to local authority funding as one of the main reasons as to why unpaid cares aren’t receiving enough help and support. According to the survey, almost two thirds of unpaid carers (64%) are now spending 50 hours or more per week caring for a family relative.

Carers Trust says this suggests that in just nine years the proportion of unpaid carers providing 50 hours’ care or more per week has almost tripled since the 2011 Census (23%).

This Writer was an unpaid carer for years, until This Site started to offer me a better living.

It is work that takes up as much time as a person can devote to it – and is often thankless, as the person who needs the care often has their own pain to accommodate and may be inconsiderate as a result.

This can lead to difficult decisions between earning and caring – and in many cases to mental illness as the pressures affect carers.

How typical of Tories that they are worsening these pressures.

Source: Government ‘neglect’ pushing unpaid carers into poverty, exhaustion and total despair

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Gavin Williamson scrapped dozens of protections for children – unlawfully

Williamson the dunce: I know it’s a duff image but it reflects this MP’s abilities so I’ll keep using it as long as he continues to be a dunce.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stripped children in care of 65 legal protections illegally, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judges said he should have consulted the Children’s Commissioner and other stakeholder organisations before inflicting such a “substantial and wide-ranging” “bonfire of children’s rights”.

The regulations affected included legal timescales for social-worker visits to children in care, six-monthly reviews of children’s welfare, independent scrutiny of children’s homes and senior officer oversight of adoption decision-making for babies and children.

The protections affected also cover disabled children having short breaks and children in care sent many miles away from home.

It seems Williamson did conduct a consultation but was selective about whose opinions he sought – adoption agencies, private providers and local government bodies.

But organisations representing the children and young people who were to be affected by the changes were not consulted and the Children’s Commissioner only found out about the changes after they had been forced through Parliament through the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) regulations in April.

We are told that all of the changes were temporary and have now expired.

We have yet to hear – may never hear – how many children were harmed as a result of them.

Williamson has been told to run proper consultations in future.

But will he? And doesn’t this simply reignite the debate over whether Conservatives should be allowed anywhere near children in care.

Source: Education secretary ‘unlawfully scrapped children’s rights’ – BBC News

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Shocking verdict in Mike’s court case against Labour means NOBODY is safe

Anybody who hands their personal information to a third party – a company, a club, a political party, the government or whoever – may see that data handed out to others or made public, with no way of seeking legal redress, according to the finding of a court case today.

And Labour members going through the party’s complaints procedure are still unlikely to get justice, even after the party promised to follow recommendations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

These are the inevitable conclusions drawn from the verdict in This Writer’s court case, in which I accused the Labour Party of breach of contract.

I had said that Labour had failed to follow its own procedures for investigating complaints against party members after an allegation of anti-Semitism was made against me in 2017.

And I had said that a party official – or several – had leaked information, including lies, about me to the press while I was going through that process, in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Both of those claims were found to be accurate.

But in the hearing this afternoon, Deputy District Judge Whiteley said he could not uphold my case against Labour because the party’s Rule Book does not say that it must follow the procedures it has created to investigate complaints, or that it must adhere to the DPA.

That’s right. Unless an organisation’s rules specifically state that it will adhere to the Data Protection Act, then there are loopholes in the law – large enough to drive a lorry through – that mean your personal information can be passed on to anybody at all, regardless of your own wishes.

In this case, I had said somebody within the Labour Party had passed information that I had been accused of anti-Semitism to the Western Mail in 2017, and a Labour employee (I don’t know whether it was the same person) had passed false information about the allegations against me to The Sunday Times in February 2018. I said this breached the Data Protection Act because information about me had been passed on without my permission.

But Labour said that the party itself had not authorised the leak and that it had been unable to identify that anybody within its system had caused it. The party could not deny that the leak came from within Labour because the information had been generated as part of its complaint process and could only, therefore, have come from Labour.

The law states that an unincorporated association (which is how Labour is defined for legal purposes) is responsible for prohibited conduct carried out by its employees and agents against members and prospective members. Breaching the DPA would count as such.

But it also states that an association would not be legally responsible for the act of an employee that was not carried out in the course of their employment – and the court deemed that leaking information was not an act carried out in the course of their employment.

This means that any organisation that has your personal information may pass it on indescriminately – to anybody it likes, no matter what the Data Protection Act says or how avidly it states it adheres to that law, because anybody working there can follow the actions of Labour’s employee(s) and know they will get away with it.

So if you have provided your information to any third party at all, it is not safe.

Nor will it be safe until our lawmakers find a way to close this loophole in the law. They will not even consider doing so unless they are pressured into it. That will be your responsibility.

The judge also said that Labour had not breached its contract with me by failing to investigate the complaint against me according to its own procedures, because those procedures were not enshrined in the party’s Rule Book and therefore it had no obligation to follow them.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has announced that the party will follow the recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose report on anti-Semitism in the party contains a chapter on the failings of the process by which complaints are investigated.

The EHRC recommended that Labour should “publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how antisemitism complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made”.

It says the party should “develop and implement comprehensive internal guidance for all stages of the antisemitism complaints process”.

None of this means a damned thing because anybody challenging a failure by the party to follow its procedures will find that it has no obligation to do so; they are merely procedures, not rules.

Consider the way current complaints procedures have been flouted wholesale recently – not just over the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn but over complaints against allies of Starmer who have been accused of anti-Semitism – and against Starmer himself.

It seems clear that the Labour Party Rule Book is not worth the paper it is printed on – or the electricity required to put it on your screen.

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Should anyone be surprised that Brexit will cost more than Covid – in the long term?

This Writer’s initial reaction to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey’s claim that a no-deal Brexit will cost more than Covid was:

Is that because most of the cost of Covid was due to short-term profiteering by Tory crony companies?

The cost to the UK of this nonsense is short-term, though; when the pandemic is finally under control, the profiteers won’t have an opportunity to screw any more cash out of the Treasury.

But the loss of the free trade deals the UK enjoyed as a member of the European Union will have long-term effects that may last many years:

LSE modelling estimates a reduction in GDP worth 8% over a decade compared with remaining in the EU.

Asked about the research, Bailey said economic models suggested there would be long-term consequences, as it could take a long time for the UK to adjust to a new trading relationship. “It takes a much longer period of time for the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and change in the profile of trade,” he said.

Bailey was talking about the effects of a “no-deal” Brexit but be warned that even a deal will place the UK at a disadvantage.

Source: No-deal Brexit to cost more than Covid, Bank of England governor says | Politics | The Guardian

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Is this the REAL reason Boris Johnson reckons the UK will be back to normal by Easter?

Money, money, money and none of it is his own: it seems Boris Johnson has chosen a convenient deadline for the Tory Covid contracts profiteering bonanza – to ensure that he can claim significant borrowing cuts in the next financial year.

Boris Johnson and his government are claiming that new vaccines mean the Covid crisis will be mostly over – and life mostly back to normal – by Easter.

Does he think his profiteering Tory friends will have had all the cash they can screw out of the national bank account by then?

It seems awfully convenient that the Easter deadline coincides with the end of the current financial year. Johnson couldn’t ask for a better cut-off point for Covid-related borrowing and “emergency rules” tendering.

Drawing a line under the crisis then will make it possible for him to claim a massive cut in borrowing. starting in the first quarter after the crisis ends (if predictions about the vaccine(s) are accurate).

And in the meantime, the Tory profiteers who got contracts they didn’t deserve and couldn’t honour – in place of professionals who had to lay off employees as a result, will carry on laughing to the bank (or their new country mansions, in some cases).

Source: Boris Johnson plan aims to return life to ‘close to normal’ by Easter

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Don’t be fooled by Johnson’s pose on MPs’ pay rise. Why didn’t he oppose it sooner?

Isn’t it curious that Boris Johnson has taken so many weeks to come out in opposition to the planned basic-rate pay rise of £3,300 for MPs?

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced in October that MPs could be entitled to the rise, starting next April.

Johnson said nothing at the time. If he genuinely believed that it was not appropriate for MPs to have the extra cash, at a time when the rest of us have been forced to tighten our collective belts due to the Covid crisis and his government’s calamitous response, he would have mentioned it then.

By a curious… coincidence?… the time period between that October announcement and now is roughly the length of time one would expect a focus group to report back to Johnson on whether such a pay rise was likely to affect his popularity.

Is that the real reason for his sudden piety?

It isn’t that long since we were all being told he was complaining about being poorly paid.

We all know Johnson is two-faced; I wouldn’t place much value on the face he’s showing us now.

Source: Boris Johnson against MPs’ pay rise, says No 10 – BBC News

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Conservative Covid-19 contracts cronyism: professionals suffer as cash goes to Tory chums

One more time: we can hope the PPE provided by Platform 14 was better than what we see here – but the fact that this Tory-run company beat firms that may be considered better-qualified remains a scandal.

This is an outrage.

A Merseyside company specialising in medical wear from its establishment half a century ago was ignored and passed over by the Tory government’s “emergency” tendering process for PPE contracts.

Meanwhile a former Tory councillor was given £276 million worth of PPE contracts for a company that was dissolved in April 2019 after making a loss of around half a million pounds.

The Merseyside firm – Florence Roby – is having to lay off staff – while the owner of the revived Platform 14 has apparently skimmed £1.5 million off the top of his contract and used it to buy a 17th-century Cotswolds mansion with 100 acres of land.

This is Tory cronyism – and profiteering – at its worst.

If Florence Roby – which has five decades of experience – had won some of these valuable contracts, it would have produced excellent PPE. Moreover, the investment in this well-established firm would have provided employment and security to experts in their field.

You can draw your own conclusions about Platform 14 (est. 2012) from the fact that it managed to run up huge losses in seven years, and from what its owner has done with your money.

These are the decisions the Tories have been making regularly since they started using the so-called “emergency” system to avoid going through a proper tendering process for Covid-19-related contracts.

As a result, the effort to control the disease has been hampered by substandard products – where they have been supplied at all – and amateur manufacturers.

And Boris Johnson has run up a borrowing bill that is expected to total more than 316 billion more than this year’s national deficit, when the financial year ends in April 2021.

He’ll expect you to pay for Steve Dechan’s £1.5 million mansion. How do you feel about it?

Source: Mersey company forced to lay off staff as PPE contracts go to Tory connected firms buying from abroad – Liverpool Echo

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Thousands of disabled people could be eligible for £4,600 a year – in tax credits

If you have a disability and are receiving Personal Independence Payment, then you could be eligible for a bonus – from the taxman (or woman).

If you are still able to work, you might also be able to get the disability element of Working Tax Credit, totalling up to £3,220 a year, or up to £4,610 if your disability is severe.

Gov.uk’s tax calculator can help you find out how much you could receive – you can do it here.

It is true that tax credits have been replaced by Universal Credit for most people, so usually you can only make a new claim for tax credits if you also receive the severe disability premium, are entitled to it, or if this was the case within the past month.

If you can’t make a new claim for tax credits, you may still be able to apply for Universal Credit (or Pension Credit if you and your partner are State Pension age or over).

You have nothing to lose.

Source: Are you eligible for PIP? Thousands of claimants could be missing out on an extra £4,600 – Chronicle Live

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