Yesterday saw MPs depart for a week’s holiday and, as usual, the Government used it to take out the trash.
While the attention was focused on Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose the new contracts on junior doctors, ministers quietly buried other bits of bad news.
Cuts to public health funding, court closures and more welfare cuts were all slipped out on the last day of Parliament.
Here were five stories which they didn’t want covered:
Eleven months ago an all-party committee warned the government’s plan to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 was “unsatisfactory” and the case had “not been met.”
Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, finally responded to the report yesterday and announced the Government would be ignoring the committee’s advice.
Public health cuts
Jeremy Hunt made another announcement while the focus was on the junior doctors’ dispute – massive cuts to the public health budget.
The Department of Health slipped out a statement revealing the budget for public health would be cut by 2.2% this year and 2.5% the year after – some £200million less for helping people stay out of hospital, fight addictions and lose weight.
Some people will now find their nearest court is several hours’ journey away after Michael Gove announced he was axing a fifth of the courts in England and Wales.
The 86 closures announced yesterday include crown courts, county courts, tribunals and family courts.
Universal credit roll-out speeded up
Iain Duncan Smith is rushing ahead with the roll out of the universal credit.
The idea of the universal credit is supported by the opposition parties but the decision to speed up the roll out comes with a big catch.
George Osborne was forced to retreat on his cuts to tax credits but this will not apply to universal credit claimants.
It means that from this April some working families on the universal credit will be up to £3,000 worse off than families in exactly the same circumstances still on tax credits.
Buried in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year was a plan to cut the amount of money given to opposition parties.
Known as ‘Short money’ it helps Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems hold the government to account but the Chancellor wants to slash it by 20%.
When out of power the Tories banked £46 million a year in Short money but now in office it wants to deny the same benefit to its opposition.
In a climb down, Cabinet Office minister John Penrose announced yesterday the government would now be consulting on the plans.
But the consultation is starting while MPs are on holiday.
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