Thursday 28 November 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, November 28, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Energy row erupts as winter deaths spiral 29% to a four year high of 31,000
Campaigners say Government should be "ashamed" as official figures reveal thousands of over 75 year-olds perished in Britain during the coldest winter for nearly 50 years. Dot Gibson, national secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said "How can colder Scandinavian countries avoid this annual toll while we simply wring our hands?” Ed Matthew of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign group said it was mystifying that Germany could "retro fit" a quarter of a million homes a year while in the UK only 219 homes had been insulated under the Government's 'Green Deal'. The figures came a day after Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, said profits at residential supply arms of the Big Six energy suppliers leapt 75% last year after a near 20% increase in gas and electricity prices. TELEGRAPH

Hospital A&Es swamped by 500,000 elderly diverted from failing community care services
Half a million elderly people a year are being unnecessarily admitted to hospital as emergency patients because of stark failings in community care, an official Government report has warned. Almost one in 10 over 75s had been taken to hospital with avoidable conditions – a rise of over 20 per cent in just five years. The conditions include malnutrition, pressure sores and urinary tract infections. The findings suggested that some GPs, care homes and community health services were failing to treat vulnerable people “in the way they deserve”. Inspectors found safety concerns in one in five nursing homes. Problems included failing to give out medicines safely, not carrying out risk assessments and understaffing. The report also identified a link between high staff turnover and number of reported deaths of residents. INDEPENDENT

U-turn: cap on Payday loans unveiled by George Osborne
Announcing a major and politically significant U-turn, George Osborne said the cap on the overall cost of credit was the next logical step as the coalition sought to regulate what had been a wholly unregulated market. The timing of the U-turn led observers to conclude that politics as much as policy had driven the decision. Both the government and the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had been resisting the move despite strong pressure from Labour and individual Tory MPs eager for their party to be doing more to be seen on the side of hardworking people. Only last month, the FCA said there was no need for a cap and the issue had been referred to the Competition Commission for further discussion. GUARDIAN

Half-blind woman crippled with back pain killed herself after benefits bosses stopped her disability payments - following a TWO MINUTE assessment
Despite being in almost constant agony, Jacqueline Harris, 53, was told she was told fit for work in November 2012 following a Government health assessment. Widow Ms Harris was only able to walk with the aid of sticks after she suffered slipped discs in her back and neck. Her sister Christine Norman says arthritic Ms Harris was asked just one question in the 'lightning-speed assessment', carried out by private firm Atos Healthcare. Mrs Norman said they asked her one question: "Did you get here by bus?" Jacqueline replied with one fateful word - "yes". Her assessment lasted just two minutes. In January her benefits were stopped. But Ms Harris had contested the ruling and her first appeal against the decision failed.  A second Department for Work and Pensions tribunal hearing in Cardiff was due to take place on November 15. However, Ms Harris was found dead at her home on November 2, having taken a suspected overdose. DAILY MAIL

One in five struggle with serious debt
Almost nine million people in the UK are in serious debt and in some areas, such as as Liverpool and Nottingham, over 40% of adults are struggling to pay their bills. Almost 9 million people are in serious debt. The survey of 5,000 people showed in some areas of the UK, including Kingston-upon-Hull, Nottingham, Manchester, Knowsley and Liverpool, over 40% of adults are struggling to pay for basic goods. Earlier this month the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, warned household debt has doubled in the last decade as rising numbers of families fall into a borrowing “trap”. British households now owe an average of £54,000, an increase from £29,000 a decade ago. It found more than 5,000 people are being made homeless each year because of rent or mortgage debts. The rising cost of energy bills was also among the factors contributing to increasing debt among poorer households. TELEGRAPH

RBS accused of pushing small businesses to the edge to boost profits
City regulators have been handed a dossier of evidence compiled by an adviser to Vince Cable, the business secretary, which claims that Royal Bank of Scotland was deliberately wrecking viable small businesses to make profits for the bailed out bank. Cable – a long-time critic of the banking industry's lending practices – said some of the allegations were so serious that he had handed the report, compiled by businessman Lawrence Tomlinson, to the regulators and the bank. The report also calls for RBS and Lloyds Banking Group to be broken up into six banks with a 10% market share to foster competition on the high street. GUARDIAN

Student unions condemn government sale of loans for £160m
The government has sold a student loans book (i.e. the student debts of a large group of students) with a face value of £890m for just £160m, angering student union groups. A consortium called Erudio Student Loans bought the book of mortgage style loans which were taken out by around 250,000 students between 1990 and 1998. Toni Pearce, the NUS president, said the sale effectively meant the public is subsidising a private company to profit from government debt. She added: "The impact of this sale won't only affect borrowers, but will affect everybody. The simple fact is that having these loans on the public books would be better off for the government in the long run. Selling off the loan book at a discount to secure a cash lump sum now doesn't make economic sense." GUARDIAN

Buy-to-let landlords' profits artificially boosted by 'upper middle-class perk' of tax breaks that cost us £5bn a year
The long-standing ability to offset mortgage interest payments and wear and tear against income tax bills on rent, combined with the loopholes that allow many to avoid paying capital gains tax, have been branded an ‘upper middle-class perk’ by an Intergenerational Foundation report. Ed Howker, of the campaign group, said: ‘Britain has spent more than a decade encouraging a form of housing investment that builds very few new homes, rinses the taxman, raises the cost of housing and prices-out first-time buyers.’ The situation is doubly unfair, according to the report’s authors, as much of the benefits from buy-to-let tax breaks go to an older, wealthier generation that has already reaped large gains from high house price inflation. DAILY MAIL


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