Thursday 19 March 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, March 19, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

'Chronic underfunding' of social care increases burden on NHS, say GPs
Nine out of 10 GPs believe deep cuts to social care under the coalition have added to the growing overcrowding at both their own surgeries and hospital A&E units. In a poll of 830 family doctors in England, 92% did not think that enough social care is available to stop patients ending up in emergency departments or to avoid them having to stay in hospital despite being medically fit to leave. The Care and Support Alliance, which commissioned the poll, said “chronic underfunding” of social care had increased the burden on the NHS. “The care system is on its knees. The message from GPs is clear – cuts to social care have directly led to extra pressure on primary care as well as huge challenges for hospitals,” said Richard Hawkes, the chair of the CSA, a group of more than 75 organisations working with old and disabled people receiving social care. Councils in England claim £3.5bn has been taken out of the social care system since 2010 as a result of austerity-driven deep Whitehall cuts to many local authorities’ budgets. Some 500,000 people who would have received social care in 2009 no longer qualify for it, despite the ageing population, London School of Economics research has found. GUARDIAN

BUDGET 2015: George Osborne rejects OBR forecast of 'much sharper squeeze on spending'
The chancellor dismissed an assessment by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent watchdog, which found there would be a “much sharper squeeze on real spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18 than anything seen over the past five years” followed by a big increase in spending after that. Osborne insisted he was not proposing deeper cuts but the same pace of cuts as the last five years. The OBR’s judgment about large cuts in the early years of the parliament has also put pressure on Osborne to spell out exactly where his axe is going to fall. He refused to say exactly where £12bn of welfare cuts would come from, beyond freezing payments, saying people would have to look at his approach. GUARDIAN

Tax evasion: French prosecutor demands HSBC's Swiss private bank face criminal trial
HSBC's Swiss private bank has one month to respond, after which French magistrates will decide whether or not to hold a trial. Parent company HSBC also faces a separate, ongoing French investigation. The French newspaper Le Monde reported that HSBC turned down a €1.5bn (£1.07bn; $1.6bn) settlement offer. HSBC faces 10 separate investigations around the world for allegations that it helped wealthy clients avoid paying millions in taxes to governments in the UK, the US, Argentina, France, and elsewhere. The tax evasion came to light as a result of a whistleblower, Herve Falciani, who leaked documents regarding the scheme to the UK's tax authority (HMRC) in 2010. HSBC has since apologised for operations at the Swiss bank, and has said that it has reformed the way it conducts business. BBC NEWS

National Express first transport firm to pledge living wage for all UK workers
The bus, coach and rail operator will become an accredited living wage employer, with hundreds of low-paid workers getting a significant pay rise, including contracted staff as well as employees. Its largest domestic business, the bus division – based in the West Midlands – will pay the living wage from January 2016, with the group ensuring all its staff, including those on the higher London rate, earn above the threshold from 2017. The Living Wage foundation said that around 1,200 firms had now signed up to pay the rate of £7.85 an hour (£9.15 an hour in London), around 20% higher (40% higher in London) than the national minimum wage of £6.50, but National Express was the first private transport group to commit. Research from KPMG last year found that 22% of the working population are paid less than the living wage. GUARDIAN

Labour and Tories refuse to commit to doctors' £8bn NHS funding plea
The two main parties have spurned the pre-election demand by an alliance of bodies representing GPs, hospital consultants, A&E specialists and other doctors that they commit to finding the “substantial” sum if they form the next government. The Lib Dems have pledged the extra funding. Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, has made clear that the service will need at least an extra £8bn a year by 2020 if it is to remain viable in the face of mounting pressures and unprecedented demand for care linked to the ageing population. That would take the NHS’s budget, currently £113bn, to over £120bn. Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund thinktank, said: “If this funding is not found, patients will bear the cost as staff numbers are cut, waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates.” GUARDIAN

WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell to pocket £36m shares award
Sir Martin Sorrell will receive £36m from a controversial share plan this year, even though the scheme was dismantled in 2012 in response to investor anger. The stock award for the chief executive of advertising group WPP mean he risks becoming a lightning rod for political criticism of executive pay in the run-up to the UK general election. Sir Martin is the highest paid FTSE 100 chief executive, according to figures compiled by the High Pay Centre, and has been the subject of sizeable shareholder revolts over the past three years. Investors also are expecting a number of disputes over pay this year at top London-listed companies, including at WPP, where 60 per cent of shareholders rejected the remuneration report in 2012 as part of the so-called shareholder spring. Roger Barker, director of corporate governance at the IoD, said this month that executive pay was “likely to be an issue ahead of the general election”. FINANCIAL TIMES

National Audit Office boss fears ‘radical surgery’ of cuts
Sir Amyas Morse, who leads the National Audit Office, suggested that civil servants were carrying out “radical surgery” without knowing “where the heart is”. In a rare interview, Sir Amyas indicated that, as Whitehall embarked on another round of austerity, officials lacked the information or overview to assess when judicious cuts leading to improvements in productivity veered into the rationing of services. “If you’re going to do radical surgery it would be nice if you knew where the heart was,” he said. “You’re slightly more likely not to stick a knife in it by mistake.” Sir Amyas went on to suggest that, under David Cameron, an “optimism bias” had led ministers to press ahead with projects in which they believed, such as NHS reforms, with little debate about the potential risks of implementing them. Sir Amyas, who reports directly to parliament, rather than a minister, cited local government cuts, that had led to a big reduction in the funding going to social care, and correspondingly greater pressure on the NHS. Instead of saying central government were not responsible for what happened in local government — “so I will just kind of chuck it over the wall and let that turn out how it may, I’m sure they’ll make a good job of it’” — civil servants had “a responsibility to be much better informed at the centre than that”. Sir Amyas added that, when he and his team had spotted problems or deficiencies, civil servants had sometimes been reluctant to address them. He said: “’d like to feel that they’d be steering towards the sound of gunfire, rather than steering away from it.” FINANCIAL TIMES


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