Tag Archives: sector

Do you believe this ‘four-day working week to create half a million jobs’ bunkum?

Commuters: to many of them, the idea of a four-day working week may seem highly attractive – but not on these ‘castle in the air’ terms.

Someone’s trying to lead us up the garden path:

The public sector should switch to a four-day week to create 500,000 jobs and help ease a predicted spike in unemployment following the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

The Autonomy think tank said “the time has come” for a shorter working week as the end of the government’s furlough scheme in October is expected to cause an unemployment crisis.

Research by the thinktank suggests public sector workers could move to a 32-hour week without any loss in wages at a cost of up to £9bn a year.

This figure, according to Autonomy, represents 6 per cent of the public sector salary bill and costs the same amount as the furlough employment scheme brought in to save jobs during the peak of the pandemic.

Who says any government is going to give public sector workers a cut in their working hours while keeping their wages the same (that’s a massive real-terms raise) – especially a Tory government? They imposed a public sector pay freeze for years!

And the claim that it would cost up to £9 billion a year – the same as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme – is just more evidence that it wouldn’t work. Sunak is scrapping the furlough scheme on grounds that it is too expensive to continue indefinitely.

Not realistic.

Source: Four-day working week in public sector could create 500,000 jobs, says thinktank report | The Independent | Independent

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Nearly 60,000 dead in UK because of Covid-19 – and Johnson wants to penalise healthcare staff

Read it and weep. First the bad news:

The image above is (according to Chris Giles – economics editor of the Financial Times – on Twitter) a cautious estimate of the number of excess deaths in the UK.

He says the total – as of yesterday – was 59,700. Of these, 51,000 have happened and 8,700 are estimates bringing the official data up to date using evidence from hospitals.

That’s nearly twice as many as the 32,000 or so claimed by your Tory government. And even that figure is appalling because the Tories should have ensured our health service was prepared for it, and didn’t bother.

His report in the FT states:

The official figures from the UK’s statistical agencies are much higher than the daily announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care, which stands at 32,065.

The FT model now estimates that slightly more than 60,000 more people will have died than normal from the start of the outbreak to May 11, based on the excess deaths to date and the latest daily figures from hospital deaths.

At present this is the highest absolute level of excess deaths in Europe, although figures for Italy are not yet comparable because they are only available to the end of March.

Now the ugly news:

Your Tory government is considering freezing the pay of public sector workers – that means doctors and nurses among all the others – in order to pay the £300 billion cost of the coronavirus crisis that its MPs could have prevented if they had made the proper preparations for it over the last few years.

Other proposed measures include tax hikes – so doctors and nurses will be doubly-hit – and a raid on the national pension fund.

Here’s The Independent:

A confidential treasury assessment cited by The Daily Telegraph is reported to say the UK’s deficit could reach heights of £337bn this year due to the government’s attempts to keep the economy afloat during the crisis.

The paper added that the government document said measures including income tax hikes, a public sector pay freeze and the end of the triple lock on pensions may be required to fund the debt.

Proposing to end the triple lock, a guarantee to increase to the state pension every year based on whatever is highest out of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5 per cent, has proved controversial in the past – with many citing it as a catastrophic moment in the run up to Theresa May’s underwhelming 2017 election performance.

And a freeze to the public sector pay – potentially impacting the healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of the response to the virus – is also likely to cause consternation from the public and across the political spectrum.

How do you feel about this plan by the Tories to make healthcare staff and pensioners pay for the Tories’ mistakes?

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Nice – an ‘above inflation’ pay rise for public sector workers. But is it enough?

Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by the pay rise that has been announced for people in the public sector.

Their pay was frozen for two years in 2010, and capped at a one per cent increase every year since. That’s well below inflation.

How much would this rise need to have been, to make up all the increases these people have lost, just to be paid in line with inflation?

It seems to me that the Tories are trying to look generous in giving this increase now.

In fact, it should highlight their cruelty.

In the nine years since they imposed their ridiculous austerity, shrinking the state by starving it of cash, while giving huge tax cuts to the very rich, the 100 richest people in the UK have become £55 billion richer, we’re told.

And what has happened to MPs’ pay in the same period?

The rest of us have suffered – and will continue to do so. Remember that.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers are reportedly set to get a pay rise.

The Treasury will unveil the biggest public sector pay rise in six years as one of Theresa May’s final acts as prime minister, The Times reported.

Soldiers are set to get a 2.9% rise, teachers and school staff 2.75%, police officers, dentists and consultants 2.5% and senior civil servants 2%.

It is thought the money will come from existing budgets.

Incidentally, this is a pay rise for police and soldiers, among others.

Considering current developments over Brexit, are the Tories planning to face widespread public unrest – possibly even violence?

Source: Public sector workers ‘to get above-inflation pay rise’ – BBC News

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POLL: Are John McDonnell’s plans to revolutionise the economy feasible?

The shadow chancellor is planning to revolutionise the financial sector.

Take a look at the video in John McDonnell’s tweet, below:

Mr McDonnell rightly states that the finance sector should be the servant of the nation’s economy, not its master – that its responsibility is to generate the wealth we need to pay for the advances we want – and I hope nobody reading this would disagree.

He goes on to make several suggestions about how to make this happen – a financial transactions (“Robin Hood”) tax and tackling tax evasion are top of the list.

But will his ideas work? Let’s have a poll.

I would appreciate your detailed opinions as well – please send them in as comments.

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Labour plan for vote to scrap public sector pay cap is great politics

Nurses protest outside Parliament against the public sector pay cap [Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images].

Hear, hear.

We know that Tory backbenchers (and perhaps even some of the Cabinet) are wavering over the wisdom of the public sector pay cap. This vote will establish where they really stand.

If they don’t bother to vote, or vote with the minority Tory government, they’ll be marked as “spineless” and their chances at the next general election will be reduced (because we have long memories now, thanks to the social media).

If they vote with Labour’s motion, then the minority Tory government will be shown up as one that even its own members consider to be heartless.

The fact that Theresa May and her cronies almost certainly won’t abide by any decision made against their policy will only make them look worse in the eyes of a British public that is fed up with paying the price for Tory, and City, incompetence.

Labour is to force a Commons vote on scrapping the 1% public sector pay cap.

On Sunday, the shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, called on Tory MPs to join his party in backing moves to end the “unfair” cap with a motion to be debated on Wednesday.

Any vote on Labour’s motion will be non-binding on the government.

The opposition is seeking to capitalise on Conservative support for public sector workers to receive a pay increase and Theresa May’s lack of a majority to pressure her to take action sooner than previously hinted.

Source: Labour to force vote in Commons on scrapping public sector pay cap | Society | The Guardian


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David Cameron won general election with series of lies? Tell us something we DON’T know!

Yvette Cooper is only half-right. Cameron certainly lied to win the election – but Labour failed to beat him because Labour did not effectively answer those lies.

Labour’s five-year-long failure to deny the claim that it had spent too much while in government is the perhaps the most obvious example.

But Cooper has chosen to highlight promises that were made to the people of the UK, which have been broken in the very short time since.

David Cameron won the general election on the basis of a series of lies, Yvette Cooper said on Thursday, as she highlighted a series of broken promises by the Conservatives.

In a sharpening of her rhetoric against the Tories, the Labour leadership contender accused Cameron of ripping up nine pre-election promises. She said he had changed tack on areas ranging from child tax credits to housing and rail electrification.

Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “We may have our own leadership election going on, but Labour can’t allow David Cameron to get away with this and carry on like nothing has happened – he is taking the British public for fools. We have to confront him directly on every lie and broken promise – that’s exactly what I plan to do in parliament and across the country.

The nine areas identified by Cooper are:

  • Cuts in child tax credits. Cooper said Cameron denied during the election that he would cut child tax credits. She said Osborne, the chancellor, unveiled £4.5bn of cuts to child tax credits in the budget which would hit women twice as hard as men.
  • Cuts to child benefit after Cameron said during the election there would be no cuts beyond a two-year freeze. Cooper says it will now be subject to a four-year freeze.
  • Cancellation of rail electrification plans.
  • Downgrading of the number of affordable homes due to be built. The Office for Budget Responsibility has said 14,000 fewer homes will be built.
  • Delaying of a decision on a new airport runway in south-east England. Downing Street says it is standing by its commitment to reach a decision by the end of this year.
  • Delay in the introduction of tax-free childcare from 2015 to 2017.
  • Shelving of an election pledge to give public officials three days off work to take part in volunteering.
  • Delay until 2020 in the introduction of the social care cap.
  • Reversal of pledge for greater government transparency after launch of review into freedom of information.

Source: David Cameron won general election with series of lies, says Yvette Cooper | Politics | The Guardian

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Cameron’s engineered homelessness crisis must end

141028no-oneturnedaway

David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’: What a tasteless joke.

This was his big idea, when he forced himself on us in 2010: His Coalition government was going to thin out the public sector, sure, but don’t worry! The private sector would leap in, to fill the gap, and charities would be a major part of this.

Four years later we get this, from Pride’s Purge: Man dies after homeless[ness] charity makes him homeless

“Anthony Miller’s dead body was found two days ago washed up on a beach in Newquay.

“Just a few weeks ago he had lost his job as a roofer as a direct result of being evicted by homeless charity Chapter 1.

“He had even offered to pay higher rent but the so-called Christian organisation ignored his offers and turfed him out onto the street:

Christian homeless charity says it has every right to make young Newquay man homeless.”

So much for charities stepping into the breach. What about the public sector, then?

As luck would have it, within hours of the Tom Pride article’s appearance, the above image flashed onto Facebook, along with the following message:

“SIGN OUR PETITION AND DEMAND CHANGE: www.crisis.org.uk/nooneturnedaway-fbook

“Simon isn’t the only one to be turned away when he asked for help. Our team of undercover researchers tested council homelessness services across England. In 50 out of 87 visits, they were turned away with little or no help.

“This is nothing short of a scandal. Homelessness is devastating and shouldn’t happen to anyone. The average age of death for a homeless person is just 47.

“Sign our petition to demand politicians review the help single homeless people get under the law in England. Because no one should be turned away when they ask for help.

“www.crisis.org.uk/nooneturnedaway-fbook #NoOneTurnedAway”

The first thing to do with this is realise and accept that publicly-funded local authorities are also turfing people onto the streets. Second is to accept that this is another charity, so they can’t all be bad. Third is to accept what this charity is saying – that it cannot cope with the numbers of people being made homeless by local authorities and other charities, and that this means something is badly wrong with the way the law says the State should deal with the problem.

Laws are enacted by the government. David Cameron leads the current government. We know that his changes have created the current situation.

It has to end, before any other bodies wash up on our beaches. So we come to the fourth thing, which is to ask yourself:

What are you going to do?

Taxpayers are being misled into funding the private firms that are raiding our NHS

NHSRIP

It seems more than half of the UK’s voting public would be willing to pay more income tax in order to fund the National Health Service.

Pollsters ComRes told The Guardian that 49 per cent of people would accept a tax hike if the money went directly to the NHS, compared with 33 per cent who would not and 18 per cent who didn’t know what they would do.

This must be very gratifying for David Cameron, whose creeping privatisation of the NHS is at least partly to blame for the increasing deficit faced by the UK’s flagship public service. The Private Finance Initiative, introduced by the Conservatives in the early 1990s, must also take much of the flak, along with a reduced funding commitment from the Coalition government.

(We can’t be sure about the government’s funding commitment. Back in 2010, then-NHS chief exec Sir David Nicholson said it would have to make £20 billion of efficiency savings within four years – but the Coalition Agreement of 2010 promised “We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament”. However – again – by late 2012 the figures showed a real-terms cut in expenditure which meant the government was not taking its commitment seriously.)

Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of health thinktank The King’s Fund, reckons people want to help the NHS because they have been led to believe that it is starting to struggle financially and clinically, and because they value it very highly.

This indicates that the public has been misled.

Look at the Private Finance Initiative. According to Private Eye (issue 1,369, p34), buying its way out of a PFI contract for Hexham General Hospital will cost Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust no less than £114.2 million. That’s exorbitant enough, but consider this: the buy-out will save around £3.5 million a year on PFI costs over the 19 years the contract would otherwise have had to run.

How badly are PFI contracts crippling the NHS? Well, according to The Guardian, PFI repayments were costing the service £1.76 billion – that’s almost two per cent of the £100+billion budget.

That pales into insignificance next to the amount spent on contracts for private companies to carry out NHS work – £6 billion. Some of that, admittedly, will go into healthcare – but a large proportion will be hived off as profit.

And then there are the real-terms expenditure cuts that appear to be part of government policy. Spending has not risen in real terms since the Coalition government came into office in 2010.

No wonder the NHS is in trouble.

So thank goodness for all the kind-hearted earners who are happy to pay an extra penny from every pound they earn, for the NHS. But that won’t cover the projected £30 billion gap in its finances by 2020.

Taking average earnings to be £26,000 per year (as the government does), then every earner would have to pay an extra 4p in the pound. Tax paid on £26k per annum is 20p in the pound, so that’s a tax increase of nearly 17 per cent or one-sixth.

Earners would be £1,040 per year worse-off. That could put many of them in financial difficulty.

And they would be paying debts accrued by big businesses who wanted to profit from healthcare.

Happily.

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Sajid Javid, the man who trivialised the WWI centenary, shames himself on the economy

Sajid Javid? No - this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it's an easy mistake to make. This charmer's game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) - but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

Sajid Javid? No – this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it’s an easy mistake to make. This charmer’s game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) – but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

They say the secret of great comedy is timing, and Sajid Javid’s speech lambasting Labour’s ability with the economy could not come at a better time – to make a fool of him.

Javid heads up the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – you know, the government organisation that offended everybody earlier this week by denying everybody but the Prime Minister a chance to write a personal message on the wreaths laid at a First World War centenary commemoration in Glasgow.

Having made one faux pas already this week, Javid was set to ram his foot even further down his own gullet with his speech knocking Labour.

According to the Telegraph, he was planning to say that Labour’s “basic instinct” is to spend money, the party’s economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse-off, and this will be the equivalent of two-thirds of national income in 2035, while the Conservative approach would make it the equivalent of one-third of GDP.

The speech met with scorn before it was even made, over on alittleecon. In an article headlined Tory Minister Sajid Javid plucks some numbers out of his arse, author Alex Little pointed out:

  • Sajid Javid does not understand economics; national debt is merely an indicator of how much a government wants the economy to be funded by the private sector or the public. As government debt is issued in the form of bonds, all of it represents somebody else’s savings and more government debt means more private savings, while the economy is funded by the public sector.
  • Whether a low debt-to-GDP ratio is better than a higher one depends entirely on how it has been achieved. A fast-growing, dynamic economy can have a high level of government debt, while a slow-growing economy could have a very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • His timescale covers the next 20 years, making his claim a nonsense from the start. The electoral cycle is only five years so, for Labour to win in 2015 and continue winning until the date Mr Javid uses, they’d have to be doing something right!
  • Of course, Labour has not produced any spending plans yet and, when they arrive, the totals are unlikely to be hugely different from the Tories’ (although the way the money is used may differ greatly). So Mr Javid has (as Mr Little rather indelicately puts it) plucked some numbers out of his arse.

Mr Javid’s week is going very well – he has ruined a major ceremony with the behaviour of a schoolboy, then followed it up by showing that his understanding of economics – wasn’t he Financial Secretary to the Treasury before moving to the DCMS? Coupled with George Osborne as Chancellor, this could explain much – is worse than that of a schoolboy. And it’s only Wednesday.

Let’s all hope he goes for the hat trick.

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Critics of Miliband’s speech have forgotten the magic words: ‘Check against delivery’

An idiot: Matthew Hancock thinks Ed Miliband should be censured for something he never said [Image: BBC].

An idiot: Matthew Hancock thinks Ed Miliband should be censured for something he never said [Image: BBC].

It really is staggering that the UK Statistics Authority has criticised Ed Miliband for a claim made in a draft of a speech that went out to reporters but was not, in fact, used.

Speeches – especially those made by politicians – are checked by several people, not just the author or the person delivering it (these are not necessarily the same person), and even then, the speaker can decide to omit parts or include new information in the moment.

That’s why the words “Check against delivery” appear at the top of every speech issued by political parties to the press. They protect the organisation and its speaker from exactly the sort of criticism currently directed at Mr Miliband by Andrew Dilnot of the UKSA (who should know better) and business minister Matthew Hancock (who made the complaint and therefore, clearly, does not).

Miliband took his information – a claim that four-fifths of all new private-sector jobs created since 2010 are in London – from the Centre for Cities thinktank. Both have stated that they believe the claim to be accurate.

That doesn’t have any bearing on the argument, in fact. The version of the speech received by the press makes it perfectly clear that the statistic is independently-sourced, not an official figure from the Office for National Statistics.

So not only did Mr Miliband not mention it, but there is no official figure against which to compare it. Mr Hancock, Mr Dilnot and the whiners in the news media are attacking him for something he hasn’t done – and that is the only unsurprising aspect of this story.

After all, it isn’t the first time Tories have made false accusations about the Labour Party.

They’re still trying to make us believe the financial crisis was caused by Labour, rather than bankers.

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