Tory MP breaks ranks on Northamptonshire council crisis

From The Guardian: A Conservative MP has said ministers need to urgently “learn the lessons” from the financial collapse of Tory-run Northamptonshire county council if they are to prevent more councils slipping into insolvency.

Andrew Lewer, the MP for Northamptonshire South, said that while mismanagement had fuelled the Northamptonshire crisis, the council was also a victim of underlying financial pressures affecting all local authorities with social care responsibilities.

Lewer’s comments will be seen as a breaking of ranks both with the government and with his six fellow Tory MPs in the county, who have up to now sought to present the council’s problems as unrelated to wider funding issues.

His intervention came as Northamptonshire county councillors prepare to take further steps towards drawing up a drastic cuts plan that they hope will close a £70m black hole in the accounts over the next few months.

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Smokers forced to quit on their own after funding cuts

From The Observer: Thousands of smokers are being left without the support they need to quit after prescriptions of products to help them stop plummeted by 75% over the last decade, according to a report.

GPs are the most common first port of call for smokers who want to beat their addiction in England – 38% of smokers choose this route.

However, primary care prescriptions of nicotine replacement patches and gum and the smoking-cessation drugs bupropion and varenicline fell by three-quarters in England between 2005-06 and 2016-17.

In Worcestershire, where 15% of the population smokes, the local authority decommissioned its stop-smoking services, and local clinical commissioning groups advised GPs not to prescribe stop-smoking aids for new patients in April 2016, the report reveals.

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Bus services in ‘crisis’ as cash-starved councils cut funding, campaigners warn

From The Guardian: Campaigners have called for the government to act to help dwindling bus services, as a report showed council funding had almost halved since 2010.

Budgets to subsidise routes were reduced by another £20m last year and 188 services were cut, according to the Campaign for Better Transport.

Its Buses in Crisis report found that squeezed local authorities across England and Wales had taken £182m away from supported bus services over the decade, affecting more than 3,000 bus routes.

Council funding has preserved funding for services, particularly in rural areas, that private firms have deemed unviable, and where no alternative public transport exists, accounting for more than one in five journeys. But most either cut funding – or spent nothing – last year.

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Cash-strapped Bournemouth school scraps hot meals

From BBC News: A head teacher has told parents her school can no longer afford to provide a hot school meals service because of budgetary pressures.

Emma Rawson, headteacher at Stourfield Junior School in Southbourne, said funding pressures meant the school could no longer afford the staffing costs of more than £20,000 per year.

She said she was “frustrated” because some pupils relied on those hot meals.

The Department for Education requires all schools to serve hot or cold meals.

The school said it would provide cold packed lunches for those children eligible for free school meals. All other pupils would be required to bring their own food to school.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

English councils warn ‘worst is yet to come’ on cuts

From The Guardian: England’s county councils have warned ministers that the “worst is yet come” over cuts to services and that several authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up budgets.

Only an emergency injection of funds next year to counter a growing financial “black hole” would head off severe cuts to services and potential unrest among MPs, the County Councils Network said.

It said councils faced having to make “truly unpalatable” cuts to key services such as social care, refuse disposal, librariesSure Start centres and roads maintenance while putting up Council Tax bills and introducing new charges.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

IVF services slashed in England as NHS bosses cut costs

From The Guardian: A growing number of areas in England have axed IVF treatment on the NHS and the proportion offering the recommended three cycles of treatment has fallen to just over one in 10, the Guardian can reveal.

The data, gathered by the Fertility Network UK, also show that a further one in 10 are considering restricting or axing fertility treatment, amid widespread NHS cuts and the rationing of services in an effort to save money.

Despite guidance from the NHS group Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) that women under 40 should be offered three cycles if they have been trying to conceive for two years, the number no longer offering any cycles has increased from four to seven in the past 15 months.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tories’ access to work cap unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, High Court hears

From the Morning Star: A Tory Government cap on the amount paid to help cover the extra costs of working with a disability unlawfully discriminates against deaf people, the High Court heard today.

Action on Disability chief executive David Buxton uses British sign language as his first language and requires full-time interpretation, historically provided under the access to work (ATW) scheme, to do his job.

When he joined Action on Disability, a “hearing-led organisation,” from a position at the British Deaf Association, Mr Buxton required increased support.

But the Department for Work and Pensions’s £42,100 cap on ATW payments means Mr Buxton could only be supported by an interpreter three days a week.

Earlier this year, the government announced it would raise the annual cap to £57,200 from April — but Mr Buxton requires £67,500 a year.

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Met Police chief: It would be “naive” to think police cuts haven’t contributed to rise in violent crime

From The Independent: The head of the Metropolitan Police has said it would be “naive” to think cuts to the number of rank-and-file officers had failed to have an impact on the rising levels of violent crime.

[Read article on Independent website…]

The New York Times: In Britain, austerity is changing everything

From the New York Times: A walk through this modest town in the northwest of England amounts to a tour of the casualties of Britain’s age of austerity.

The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home. The leisure center has been razed, eliminating the public swimming pool. The local museum has receded into town history. The police station has been shuttered.

Now, as the local government desperately seeks to turn assets into cash, Browns Field, a lush park in the center of town, may be doomed, too. At a meeting in November, the council included it on a list of 17 parks to sell to developers.

[Read full article on New York Times website…]

Rise in knife crime shines spotlight on youth services cuts

From YMCA: Youth services have become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.

YMCA England & Wales, which supports 33,560 young people through youth work and youth services every year, today released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.

Young people in the West Midlands and the North West have been among the hardest hit, with local authorities in the West Midlands cutting spending by 71% since 2010/11, while the North West saw cuts of 68%. Local authorities in London, which have faced criticism following the rise in recent knife crime among young people, have cut spending on youth services by 59% since 2010/11.

[Read full article on YMCA website…]

Britain’s prison crisis caused by ‘poor political decisions’ by Conservatives and huge cuts, says former head of jails

From The Independent: The former head of the prison service has accused the Tory justice secretary, David Gauke, of attempting to shift blame for violence and disorder in British prisons from his own government to the spread of former legal highs among prisoners.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Rio Ferdinand slams Tory plans to cut bereavement benefits for grieving parents

From Welfare Weekly: Former England captain and Manchester United star, Rio Ferdinand, has slammed Government plans to reduce the length of time grieving parents can receive bereavement benefits, it has been reported.

Tory minister Richard Harrington recently claimed those changes “will help people readjust to single-parent life”, to which Labour’s Stella Creasy accused the minister of cruelly using “justifications that sound like something from the dark ages”.

His opinion isn’t shared by Rio Ferdinand, whose wife Rebecca died in 2015 aged just 34 from breast cancer, leaving behind three children and a devastated father.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly website…]

Councils forced to sell off parks, buildings and art to fund basic services

From The Guardian: Analysis shows the financial predicament facing councils across England. Government funding has fallen by nearly 50% since 2010. Combined with increased demand for adult and children’s social care and homelessness services, as well as paying higher national insurance contributions for staff, growing numbers of unitary and county councils are relying on their reserves to balance their budgets.

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Hundreds of mental health patients died after NHS care failures

From The Guardian: At least 271 highly vulnerable mental health patients have died over the last six years after failings in NHS care, a Guardian investigation has found.

Coroners have been so alarmed at the lapses in care that emerged during inquests that they issued legal warnings to 136 NHS bodies, mainly providers of care, between 2012 and 2017. They included mental health trusts, acute hospitals, ambulance services and GP surgeries.

Mental health campaigners said the findings were shocking and claimed that many of the deaths were avoidable and constituted a “tragedy”.

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Impact of austerity leaves schoolchildren at risk of missing out on music

From SWLondoner: Following the austerity measures implemented by the coalition government, funding for the arts was curtailed, and access to music education has become increasingly difficult.

The 2010 comprehensive spending review announced a 30% cut the Arts Council England budget. These cuts placed significant strain on our cultural organisations, including theatres, orchestras, music venues and art galleries.

Our most prestigious institutions, including the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, Royal opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, are set to lose £2.5million of Arts Council funding per year between them.

Yet the impacts are more widespread; with cuts to local council budgets, less money is being spent on grassroots music education.

While 85% of parents state that music education is beneficial for their children, 70% say that the cost is prohibitive.

The National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain stated that 70% of its members were privately educated, which underlines that access remains an ongoing challenge.

[Read full article on SWLondoner…]

‘I have lost hope’: the people with mental health problems who are being stripped of their benefits

From The Guardian: Daniel O’Connor, 64, from Glasgow, has led a tough life. He has severe depression and adjustment disorder, and has twice attempted to end his life. O’Connor had been receiving DLA for nearly 22 years when, this year, his application for a PIP was rejected. Since then, he has experienced financial hardship and says his condition has worsened. O’Connor says he felt as if he wasn’t being listened to at his PIP assessment and recalls telling the assessor that on some days he struggles to get out of bed because his depression is so debilitating. However, his assessor dismissed his story, citing the fact that he could drive as evidence of his ability to carry out everyday tasks. “We got to discussing a previous suicide attempt I had [made],” he says.

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You are a thousand times more likely to be killed by Tory Government cuts than by terrorists

There were 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, representing the largest increase in deaths in the post-war period, which included a large spike in January that year. Researchers exploring why concluded that failures in the health and social care system linked to disinvestment are likely to be the main cause.

#VotingToryKills #ToryAusterity: There were 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, representing the largest increase in deaths in…

Posted by Stop The Tories Channel on Monday, October 9, 2017

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Tory ministers ‘refusing to pay for fire safety measures’ after Grenfell

From the Guardian: Councils have said the Tory government is failing to release funds to improve the fire safety of dozens of tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster despite promising that a lack of financial resources should not stand in the way of essential works.

[Read full report on Guardian website…] 

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