Tag Archives: top-up

Scottish boosts for carers make those in the rest of the UK look second-class 

Care: the Tories don’t.

The Scottish Parliament has announced another boost for carers – this time those who work unpaid apart from receiving the government allowance.

It’s only a fortnight since the UK government refused to give people employed as carers the real living wage – as opposed to the fake ‘national’ living wage the Conservatives mocked up a few years ago.

Carers employed in Scotland already receive the real living wage and are therefore £1.09 per hour better-off than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Now, the SNP-run Scottish Parliament has announced a one-off Carers’ Allowance top-up of £230.10 in June, to be paid in recognition of the extra pressures unpaid carers are facing because of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown.

And Scottish carers already receive a supplement of £230.10, twice a year.

The top-up announcement means they will receive £690.30 more than their counterparts in the other UK countries this year.

It establishes a two-tier pay pattern for carers in the UK, with those in Scotland automatically better-off than the others, who are therefore now second-class.

Carers in the rest of the UK are already agitating for the national government in London to even up the balance:

Chief Executive of Carers UK Helen Walker said: “The UK Government needs to do its part to ensure the rest of the UK’s unpaid carers receiving Carer’s Allowance – and providing upwards of 35 hours of care a week – also receive a coronavirus supplement.

“This is imperative to show carers that the Government recognises the additional financial costs that they are facing at this time.

“Caring Behind Closed Doors, our research into carers’ experiences during lockdown, showed 81 per cent of unpaid carers had extra financial costs as a result of the crisis.

“At the same time, unpaid carers are under extra pressure, providing more care and not getting breaks.”

This Writer used to be a carer, of course. I received Carers’ Allowance for many years and only gave it up because my earnings from Vox Political meant I was no longer eligible for it.

I still do the work, of course – and if I was still receiving the allowance, I would be furious that the UK government is saying – even if only by default – that my work is less valuable because I don’t live in Scotland; that caring is as much a postcode lottery as the Tories have made healthcare.

Some might argue that it is unfair for Scotland to put the UK’s Tory government in this position – and it’s a reasonable argument.

But if Scotland can afford it, then there’s no reason the much richer, national government can’t. It’s just a matter of priorities.

Source: Coronavirus: Scottish unpaid carers set to receive £230 one-off Carer’s Allowance top-up – Welfare Weekly

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Conservatives run up other people’s bills – unlike socialists, who always pay theirs

Voting for Theresa May’s minimum-wage Tories is like trying to dig your way out of a hole; they will only put you deeper into debt.

Yes – the headline paraphrases the late, unlamented Margaret Thatcher, but reverses her claim in the name of accuracy.

Here’s her original comment, in an infographic from Twitter – but pay attention to the weblink attached to it:

Read the article and the reason I edited the late Blue Baroness’s claim should be clear:

Companies in the UK are paying their workers so little that the taxpayer has to top up wages to the tune of £11bn a year. The four big supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) alone are costing just under £1bn a year in tax credits and extra benefits payments.

This is a direct transfer from the rest of society to some of the largest businesses in the country. To put the figure in perspective, the total cost of benefit fraud last year was just £1bn. Corporate scrounging costs 11 times that.

Worse, this is a direct subsidy for poverty pay. If supermarkets and other low-paying employers know they can secure work even at derisory wages, since pay will be topped up by the state, they have no incentive to offer higher wages.

None of this makes sense. We are all, in effect, paying a huge sum of money so that we can continue to underpay the 22% of workers who are earning below the Living Wage – the level at which it is possible to live without government subsidies. The only possible beneficiaries are business owners.

So you can see very clearly that big businesses – which are predominantly run by people who vote Conservative, are members of the Conservative Party or are donors to the Conservative Party – are clearly refusing to pay their bills. As employers they have a duty to pay a reasonable amount to their workers.

Libertarians will undoubtedly be heading for the ‘Comment’ box to claim that all contracts are valid as employees have freely entered into them – but this of course ignores the fact that people are effectively coerced into accepting unfair wage offers because government policy on unemployment benefits forces them to accept any offers given to them, and this provides an incentive for businesses to keep those offers low.

So there is an argument that none of these contracts are valid as they are not entered into by people in equal positions. Hmm…

Socialists of course expect people to fully fund everything that benefits them. So, for example, the NHS was founded on the principle that everybody pays a little towards the health service, to ensure that all those who need its care will benefit from it. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. It’s an insurance policy – but, strangely, capitalists approve of private insurance but criticise the system that funds public services. Odd people.

Consider also their willingness to use systems and services that are publicly-funded, while taking advantage of tax avoidance schemes to ensure that they don’t have to pay for them. That’s fraud and theft, isn’t it?

We may conclude that Mrs Thatcher was lying – and so is anybody who echoes her words or their meaning.

Also that the Conservative government is acting against contract law by forcing people into unfair employment conditions.

And that businesses are unfairly profiting from these harmful contracts.

I could go on to explain how this damages the UK economy by reducing the flow of cash through it, but you should be aware of this fact already – in practice.

It won’t change under a Conservative government because Conservatives are greedy and do not understand economics. So we need to end Conservative government.

Spread the word.


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Tick tock, Tory boys – glynismillward189

141026cameron

Reposted from the Sunday Telegraph

When even the Telegraph, which is the de facto house paper of the Conservatives, starts baying for your blood then you know you’re in trouble. The tock is ticking for Cameron and Osborne, writes glynismillward189.

The European Union warned Britain months ago that it was facing a massive increase in its EU membership fee, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.

A furious David Cameron vowed on Friday that he would not pay an “appalling” and unexpected demand for an extra £1.7 billion in British contributions to the EU budget by the December 1 deadline.

However, The Telegraph can disclose that EU officials warned member states in January that new bills were coming, and produced figures showing that Britain was likely to have to pay higher fees this autumn.

The disclosure cast doubt on Mr Cameron’s claims that he had been ambushed out of the blue by the demand for more money on the eve of the Brussels summit on Thursday.

The development will intensify pressure on the Prime Minister and George Osborne, the Chancellor, over why Britain was apparently so unprepared for the extra surcharge.

There’s more – and you can read it on glynismillward189 or in the Torygraph itself, if you’ve got the stomach for it.

The point, however, is this:

David Cameron’s indignation at this sudden imposition from Europe may be nothing but a show; a gesture at sabre-rattling against “this organisation” to appease Tories who are considering changing their vote to UKIP and to suggest a strength that he simply doesn’t have.

He has been caught lying about the UK’s finances – as has his innumerate Chancellor, George Osborne.

Let’s all watch him squirm.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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How much can YOU pay? A&E charges would speed NHS privatisation

Health-CARE? It seems increasing number of GPs want the person on the stretcher to stump up a fiver or a tenner before the medical staff in the photograph can begin treatment.

Health-CARE? It seems increasing number of GPs want the person on the stretcher to stump up a fiver or a tenner before the medical staff in the photograph can begin treatment. (Image: BBC – intentionally left fuzzy to preserve anonymity of those involved)

It is strange that more has not been made of the revelation that one-third of GPs apparently believe a £5 or £10 charge should be imposed on everybody turning up at hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

This seems to be a clear next step towards the marketisation of what used to be the National Health Service, disguised with a claim that it would “reduce frivolous use of the NHS and the growing pressure on emergency departments”.

It seems that a poll of more than 800 doctors found 32 per cent said “fees would be the most cost-effective way of cutting the number of people who go to A&E, who could have gone to their GP or a pharmacist instead or did not need medical attention at all”. Presumably they have already tried simply telling people what to do, then.

The story in The Guardian states that “specialists believe between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of all visits are unnecessary and that many patients could have sought help elsewhere because their illness was minor or not urgent”. That leaves 60-70 per cent of visitors paying extra for services their taxes have already funded!

According to the book NHS SOS (edited by Jacky Davis & Raymond Tallis; published by Oneworld), the plan is to convert the publicly-funded nationwide health service into one of “managed” care along the lines provided by Kaiser Permanente in the USA.

This is based on a flawed use of figures (p.39) so Kaiser is in fact far more expensive, but that didn’t stop then-Department of Health strategy director Chris Ham from defending the claims and allowing Kaiser to emerge as the model for NHS reform. This was seen as particularly useful for those with cash to invest in the company or other MCOs (Managed Care Organisations) as they reaped huge profits – until market saturation, government and employer schemes to keep health care costs down, and a series of scandals made the pendulum swing the other way. Then these companies started lowering patient benefits, increasing premium fees and withdrawing from unprofitable markets, and this is very similar to the current situation in England.

Finally, these firms began to expand internationally, to countries including the UK, where the NHS was seen as a hugely attractive business opportunity.

MCOs decide how services are organised and funded for their clients, through contracts with selected providers and rigorous control of hospital admissions. This seems uncannily close to the work of Clinical Commissioning Groups, which were set up under the pretext that they would allow GPs to control budgets, but in practice allow the money to be controlled by private firms that have been hired by overworked doctors – as was always intended by the Tory-led Coalition government.

Government regulations mean private companies must be allowed to bid to provide as many services as possible. Freedom of Information rules mean they can find out how the public service operates and then undercut its bid. Without funding, the public service will close, leaving the way clear for the private provider to pump up its prices – so they will eat up more and more of the limited NHS budget. But which services do they choose?

They choose those that are easiest and cheapest to provide – the services that provide the most opportunity to make a profit.

Accident & Emergency is not one of those services. It will remain with the public sector providers who are being “continuously cut and squeezed into downsizing, mergers, centralisation and closures”, reducing care to “short-staffed, overloaded, ‘centralised’ units”, covering “only those services that the private sector does not wish to provide” (ibid, p.18).

How can services like A&E continue, if the private operators are taking all the cash? The only answer, it seems, is to bring in health insurance. That is the plan, at least – and the proposed A&E charges seem intended to be a palatable way of opening that door to a public that would once have treated the very idea as anti-British and voted the government that proposed it out of office for a considerable period of time.

Next it seems likely that “top-up” insurance will be offered to people whose complex ongoing conditions qualify them for so-called Personal Care Budgets. The budget money will be limited, forcing patients (or rather, customers) to “top them up” with insurance.

Be very clear on this: You are not looking at the thin end of the wedge. The wedge has already been driven in and England is well on the way to having a privatised health service, with the NHS as nothing but a brand under which taxpayers’ money can be handed out to private firms that handle only the simplest procedures.

The intention, it seems clear, is to allow publicly-funded services to wither over a period of time, in order to soften you up – make you more receptive to the idea of paying for healthcare that once was free but may not even be available in the future if you don’t come up with some cash.

Are you going to sit there and wait for that to happen? Private health care, and health insurance, is far – far – more expensive than the NHS, which was the most cost-effective and efficient health provider in the world until the Tory-led Coalition got hold of it. Don’t believe the propaganda – the service had record satisfaction levels in 2010.

You can still stop the rot. To find out how you can work to reverse the damage being done to the most cherished organisation in the UK, visit www.keepournhspublic.com and www.nhscampaign.org.uk

If you’re living in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, don’t think that devolution of healthcare will save you because it won’t. Budgets are already under pressure from Westminster and the Tories will do whatever they can to force regional governments into the same, or similar, patterns.

One of life’s certainties is that you will become ill at some point. Don’t wait until that happens, because it will be too late.

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