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Why do the Tories keep ignoring Boston

Boston bypass[2]We recently read with interest that the Secretary for Transport has turned down the latest bypass for Lincoln. This is a £100M scheme which has been rejected but it hasn’t considered pedestrians within its scheme. We also notice that Grantham has been given £16M towards a bypass and Boston has been awarded £4.75M towards the quadrant scheme. The big question we ask – Where is our bypass -Why have the conservative administration turned its back on Boston? It is a bit like being a member of a family but being sent to Coventry. You only have to consider the chaos caused by the recent road repairs/closures to realise that Boston’s roads very easily become gridlocked. We are aware that Boston Borough Council has seen a reduction of 26,000 tickets issued in its car parks in the last year. We keep telling the Tories in Boston that people go to other towns to shop. With the Market Place still having confusing parking arrangements, no wonder people do a U-turn out of Boston. When will our council and the County Council wake up and support Boston – the second largest community within the county? Most people who actually live in Boston, realise that having proper transport links to the A1, whether by the A16 or A52, is crucial to the success of Boston and Skegness as well as supporting our tourist economy and the survival of our food industry to supply the rest of the country. Let’s have a plan to take Boston forward now and not have to wait three decades for major road improvements. It can’t be that difficult – all around us are having bypasses approved and built – why not for Boston especially when we are about to get the new Quadrant development?

Posted on August 20, 2014 11:25 am by Paul Gleeson

Vernon Coaker on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq

vernon coakerVernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, commenting on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq, said:

“Britain’s role in providing assistance to support the humanitarian relief effort in Iraq has made a crucial difference, and I commend the work of our Armed Forces, working alongside our allies, to deliver that aid mission.

“ISIL pose a threat not only to innocent Iraqi civilians, but also to the stability and security of the Middle East and beyond. The government was right to take steps, along with allies, to avert humanitarian disaster and offer technical and logistical support to the Kurdish Forces on the front line.

“The role being played by UK Armed Forces in Iraq‎ ‎must be on the basis of a clear strategy and the Government needs to focus on setting that out, including a role for regional partners and the wider international community.”

Posted on August 19, 2014 10:44 am by Paul Gleeson

Tories need to spend more on Children’s mental health services

mental health issuesNHS England says it does not know how many hospital beds are needed to deal with increasing demand for children’s mental health services. In a recent report, it said too many children were having to travel to access inpatient beds. A leading charity called the review “distressing”, highlighting both a lack of capacity and resources. Ministers admit the system is “too fragmented”. NHS England promised to provide 50 new beds urgently. This report, which was delayed by months, paints a chaotic picture of services for mentally ill children in England. Around 10% of children aged between five and 16 have a mental health condition.

Those requiring inpatient care in Yorkshire, the Humber and the South West have inadequate access to hospital beds, says the report. Other areas which previously could cope are no longer able to do so because of patients travelling to these beds to access care. The review found that the number of beds for young people had increased from 844 in 1999 to 1,264 in January 2014. But most NHS commissioners, who pay for services locally, told the authors that increasing demand since April 2013 meant there was “a current insufficiency of beds”.

Patchy local provision has also led to 16% of young patients being forced to travel more than 100 miles to get a hospital bed, the review found. Major staffing problems in children’s mental health services are adding to the difficulties. The review found there was a lack of availability of adequately trained staff. The problem had “sometimes led to closure to admissions or issues around quality of services”. The way NHS services are now provided is further exacerbating the problems, according to the authors. The report found services that could prevent young people from needing a hospital bed were not provided in several areas.

Boston Labour Councillors echo the words of the chief executive of the charity Young Minds when she said: “While this review is a distressing read, we welcome its publication as it lifts the lid on a lot of major failings in the provision of children and young people’s inpatient care. This report has to be a pivotal moment where we seize the initiative and bring about a sea change in how we support children and young people’s mental health.” We support her call for increased investment in young people’s mental health, particularly in early intervention as we are aware that within Lincolnshire we have a high rate of suicides. We know that in rural counties like ours young people have a “double whammy” – places are often at a premium and they have to wait a long time to be placed; and then when they are placed it is often a long way from their families and friends which distresses them even more.

Posted on August 18, 2014 10:20 am by Paul Gleeson

Nobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say on tax

jamiesonNobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say on tax

Cathy Jamieson MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, responding to comments by Danny Alexander on tax, said:

“Nobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say on tax.

“They backed the Tories in giving a huge tax cut to millionaires while breaking their promise not to raise VAT on everybody else.

“Families will be on average £974 a year worse off by next year because of all tax and benefit changes since 2010, according to IFS figures.

“The Lib Dems should come clean about how they would pay for their promises. Will they just hit working families and pensioners by raising VAT again?”

Posted on August 15, 2014 8:38 am by Paul Gleeson

No time for complacent and out of touch claims from Ministers that the economy is fixed and people are better off

leslieChris Leslie MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, responding to today’s Bank of England quarterly inflation report, said:

“This report shows why this is no time for complacent and out-of-touch claims from Ministers that the economy is fixed and people are better off.

“While the economy is finally growing again and unemployment is falling, working people are still seeing their living standards squeezed. Pay growth is at a record low and lagging behind inflation and the Bank of England has halved its forecasts for wage growth this year.

“Working people are now over £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories. Labour’s economic plan will make Britain better off and fairer with long-term reforms to make work pay, get more homes built and create more good jobs for the future.”

On interest rates, Chris Leslie said:

“George Osborne has said he is relaxed about a rise in interest rates, but families feeling the squeeze won’t be so laid back at the prospect.

“Interest rate decisions are rightly made by the Bank of England’s independent MPC. But the danger is that George Osborne’s failure to boost housing supply ends up forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates prematurely to rein in our unbalanced housing market. This would hit millions of families and businesses across the country already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.”

Posted on August 14, 2014 9:44 am by Paul Gleeson

Tagging would assist a drinks ban in Boston

alcohol tagsBoston Labour Councillors were interested to read recently that offenders convicted of alcohol-related crimes will have to wear ankle tags to monitor whether they are still drinking, under a new pilot scheme. The tags will record levels of alcohol in their sweat. The 12-month trial in four London boroughs – Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton – gives courts the ability to ban people from drinking alcohol. Offenders are expected to be made to wear the tags for four months to make sure they comply.

The aim of the pilot scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, is to reduce the costs and harm caused by excess drinking – a Home Office study has estimated that about one million violent crimes a year in England and Wales are linked to alcohol. For the next year, courts in the four boroughs will be able to impose “alcohol abstinence and monitoring requirements” on people who commit crimes while drunk.

Offenders who are subject to the orders will have to wear an anklet known as a transdermal tag. If the alcohol level in their sweat shows they have been drinking, they may face further penalties. Up to 150 offenders are expected to be fitted with the tags, including motorists repeatedly convicted of drink-driving and people who cause trouble after drinking too much in pubs and clubs.

We believe this would be ideal to use as an additional power when Boston introduces the first street drinks ban within England and Wales. This would give our local police extra support when trying to impose the drinking ban which we hope will come into force very soon in Boston.

Posted on August 13, 2014 8:54 am by Paul Gleeson

‘Cost of a Child’ report shows the cost-of-living crisis facing millions of families – Shabana Mahmood

mahmood, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, responding to the Child Poverty Action Group and Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s third ‘Cost of a Child’ report, said:

“This report shows the cost-of-living crisis facing millions of families. While millionaires have been given a huge tax cut families with children have been hit hardest of all by this government’s choices.

“Labour would back families and make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents, increasing the minimum wage and introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax.”

Posted on August 12, 2014 11:13 am by Paul Gleeson

Tories put a squeeze on low income families

low income families

There is no clearer guide to what the general public considers to be the true nature and cost of a basic, no-frills human existence in the world’s sixth richest economy than the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Minimum Income Standard (MIS). Now in its sixth year, it has become an essential, annual benchmark of what is thought to be the reasonable financial underpinnings of a modest life; not starvation rations, just sufficient to achieve a decent standard of living in the 21st century. Indeed, its frugality is striking. It is an austere menu by modern western middle-class standards: three square meals a day; shoes and clothing; shelter and warmth; a TV, bed and basic furniture, Internet access, enough cash for a trip to the shops, or to buy a present for a family member.

The cross-section of the public who draw up the standard, in collaboration with Loughborough University researchers, allows little in the way of fripperies. No cigarettes, for example, or even a dishwasher or tumble dryer. Only a little alcohol. Yes, they believe (rightly) computer access is needed, and a mobile phone, but that means many of us no longer need a camera, or a landline. We might need a secondhand car if we have children, says the MIS panel, but only if the bus service is no longer adequate which, it has noticed, sadly appears to be the case in many areas.

For all the transformative power of technology, relatively little has changed over the past six years of austerity in terms of the actual content of the MIS. What has changed dramatically however is the possibility that people of working age on low incomes might afford it. Above-inflation costs for food, energy, housing and transport coupled with cuts to wages, benefits and public services means the prospect of a modest, “three-meals-a-day” kind of life is receding rapidly for many low- to middle-income families, with no obvious prospect of a reversal in fortune.

While not itself an index of poverty, MIS smashes poverty myths such as the popular fantasy that people on out-of-work benefits live a life of luxury. Benefit entitlements were always set way short of the MIS; now they meet just 60% of the cost of a decent life for a couple with two children (£40,000 before tax), and less than half the MIS for a single working age person (£16,300). There’s the convenient political fantasy that low-paid work is a guaranteed route out of hardship. Yet austerity and recession means that the “couple-with-two-kids” would need to earn 46% more than they did in 2008 to reach the MIS threshold (wages have risen by just 9% over that period). Lower income working families have typically lost four times as much from cuts to in-work benefits as they have gained in tax allowances, according to the JRF.

Ministers and the rightwing media pretend “real” poverty doesn’t exist in the UK. But people in or on the edge of poverty experience the real-life consequences of this depletion of the resources. Visit a food bank or school breakfast club, or talk to a Citizens Advice bureau debt adviser. Social services report increases in children coming on to their radar suffering from “material deprivation”: meaning they don’t eat eat properly, are inadequately clothed, and live in cold, damp homes.

The government believes it is on course to meet its child poverty targets by 2020, an aim we should be hugely sceptical of it achieving. Meanwhile, the MIS tells us a dismal truth that runs deeper than poverty numbers alone: that increasing numbers of British people on low incomes will never be able to afford an acceptable standing of living. Shameful!

Boston Labour Councillors see the real truth in Boston every day, where lots of people are affected. We have the highest rents in the East Midlands and the lowest wages in the country. We have an ever increasing dependency on food banks. The dreadful bedroom tax is really squeezing the pennies out of our low waged families. Boston Borough Council Tory group inflicted one of the highest cuts in discretionary rate relief, where they made our low income families lose 25% of the original rate relief which was the highest rate allowed to be applied at the time. One of the worst moral aspects of this is that it actually makes a profit out of the poor for Boston Borough Council – so while the Tories like to say “we are all in it together” the truth is that many low income families suffer much more than they should.

Posted on August 11, 2014 8:50 am by Paul Gleeson

The Choice: health and social care – speech by Liz Kendall MP

kendallAs we meet here in Ilford, we’re exactly nine months away from the general election.

It’s voters in marginal seats like Ilford North who will decide whether Ed Miliband enters 10 Downing Street as our Prime Minister next May.

I’m really pleased to be back here today supporting our brilliant MP, Mike Gapes – and our fantastic candidate, Wes Streeting.

Mike, Wes – you and the local Labour team are running a brilliant campaign. You’re rejuvenating the local party with more members, activists and councillors.  In May, Labour took control of Redbridge Council for the first time, and you did it by focusing on the issues that matter most to local people, with clear and specific pledges, based on strong Labour values.

I was here a few months ago, because Wes asked me to come to a meeting of local residents who need care and support and who look after their elderly and disabled relatives.

They told us about the desperate daily struggles they face to try and get the support they need, how they have to battle different services, and that the system really isn’t working for them.

It’s an all too familiar story that I’ve heard right across the country.

Today, I want to talk about how the NHS and social care is going backwards under the Tories, and the risk they pose if they get back into Government again. I also want to set out Labour’s alternative to improve services for the people that use them, the families that support them and the taxpayers that fund them.

The Tory failure

We all remember when David Cameron used to say his priorities could be summed up in three letters: N.H.S.

On his 2010 General Election poster he promised to “cut the deficit, not the NHS”.

He also promised that under the Tories “there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down restructures”.

Four years on, these promises have been broken.

Vital local services have been cut and care is going backwards.

There are now 2,400 fewer district nurses and community matrons than there were in May 2010.

Labour’s walk-in-centres have been closed. The Tories scrapped our 48 hour GP waiting guarantee, now two thirds of patients say they can’t see their doctor within two days and 1 in 6 have to wait more than a week.

£3.5 billion has been cut from local council care budgets. A quarter of a million fewer older and disabled people are now getting vital services like home care visits, which help them get up, washed, dressed and fed.

And today I’ve published new figures, which show that 5,500 fewer people are getting home adaptations like handrails, ramps and stair lifts.

These adaptations are a lifeline for older and disabled people, helping them to stay living independently at home and preventing painful falls and fractures.

Fewer home adaptations, alongside the lack of other services in the community, means increasing numbers of frail, elderly people are ending up in A&E and getting stuck in hospital when they don’t need to be there.

This causes huge distress for them and their families and it’s a false economy because taxpayers end up paying extra for more expensive hospital care.

The Tories promised to protect the NHS. But hospital A&Es have now failed to meet this Government’s lower 4 hour waiting target in every single week of the last year. Over the last 12 months, a million more people have waited for more than four hours in casualty departments.

Delayed discharges from hospital have soared. These delays cost taxpayers £250 million in the last year alone – money which could have paid for 37,000 home adaptations or 18 million hours of home care. Where on earth is the sense in that?

Rising emergency admissions and delayed discharges mean planned operations are going backwards too.

Three million people are now on the waiting list. Figures out today show the 18 week wait target was missed in June and more than 32,500 people waited over 18 weeks – the highest in six years. Average waits for operations are increasing too and the NHS has missed the maximum 62 day wait for cancer treatment for the first time ever.

The Tories failure to keep people out of hospital, and keep waiting lists under control, means the NHS also faces a growing financial crisis.

Trusts ended the year in deficit – for the first time in eight years. A third of hospitals are now in the red, piling on further pressure to make even more cuts in future.

So David Cameron has broken his promise to protect the NHS.

And he’s broken his promise of no more top-down reorganisations too.

Forcing through the biggest backroom reorganisation in the history of the NHS, when it faced the biggest financial challenge of its life, was David Cameron’s single biggest mistake.

A triumph of dogma over common sense that’s wasted three years of time, effort and energy – and £3 billion of taxpayers’ money – which should have gone on improving patient care.

Cameron claimed his re-organisation would cut bureaucracy and put clinicians in charge. But instead, it’s created even more layers of management and chaos and confusion in the system.

There’s not only 221 Clinical Commissioning Groups, 152 Health and Wellbeing Boards and the huge new national quango NHS England, but four new regional NHS England teams, 27 Local Area Teams and 19 Specialist Commissioning Units.

Alongside Public Health England, Health Education England, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission, the NHS is now so complicated and fragmented that no-one knows who is responsible or accountable for leading the real changes to frontline services that patients and taxpayers desperately need.

This is David Cameron’s true record on the NHS: cuts to vital services, which he promised to protect, and a wasteful reorganisation that he promised not to do.

Labour’s alternative

As the NHS and social care go backwards, and with a looming funding crisis, it falls once again to Labour to protect and renew the local services we all rely on.

Dealing with the current crisis, and preparing our care system for the future, means reforming frontline services to meet the challenges of our ageing population, the increase in long-term health conditions and changing public expectations.

And we must do all this when there is far less money around. As Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have made clear: we need big reforms, not big spending to ensure our economy and public services work for everyone – not just the privileged few.

Four changes are now essential.

First, NHS and social care services must be fully joined up so people don’t have to battle different parts of the system and to reduce waste and inefficiency.

The Government claims this is what their “Better Care Fund” will do. But hospitals warn that simply taking money out of their services to plug the gaps in social care will put patient care at risk. Now councils have been told they’ll have to give the money back if their local hospitals struggle.

This isn’t true integration: it’s a recipe for yet more chaos and uncertainty.

We have got to end the false divide between the NHS and social care once and for all.

Places like Torbay and Greenwich have shown that properly integrating health and social care stops people having to deal with lots of different services and telling their story time and time again. It also cuts the number of emergency bed days, decreases delayed transfers from hospital and reduces the number of people requiring nursing care homes.

Joining up local NHS and care budgets in every area would create the potential for truly integrated care, including one point of contact, one care co-ordinator and one team to meet all of a person’s care and support needs.

Second, there must be a fundamental shift in the focus of services out of hospitals, into the community and towards prevention.

This is essential to improving patient care and getting better value for taxpayers’ money.

Take just one area: diabetes. More than 3 million people already live with diabetes and spending on the condition is set to increase from £10 billion to £17 billion over the next 25 years.

80% of these costs go on treating complications, including amputations, many of which could be prevented with better health checks and help for patients to manage their condition to reduce the risk of it getting worse

Making sure everyone focuses on prevention means changing the way money flows around the system.

The NHS is constantly urged to join up services and treat more people in the community. Yet the focus is predominantly on paying for patients to be treated for each of their separate health conditions in hospitals.

A new ‘year of care’ budget covering the whole of a person’s physical, mental and social care needs would switch this focus, giving a powerful incentive to provide more preventive care in the community and at home.

Third, we’ve got to do more to help people to help themselves and to support family carers.

For most of the time, people with long-term illnesses manage their own conditions and families provide the vast majority of care for elderly and disabled relatives.

Training and education must ensure NHS and care staff have the knowledge and skills they need to better support patients and carers in future.

Stronger networks of local support can also make a big difference. Initiatives like the Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds and the Sandwell Friends and Neighbours project identify volunteers to help older and disabled people and their carers, alongside statutory services.

These volunteers provide practical and emotional support, such as going shopping, organising social events or just being available to talk – things that make a real difference to people’s lives but aren’t currently being provided.

Fourth, services must be truly personalised and designed around the needs of individuals and families, rather than those of service providers and their staff.

That’s why Labour will give patients new rights in the NHS Constitution including the right to have an appointment at their local surgery on the same day if they need to be seen quickly, a guaranteed appointment within 48 hours and the right to book an appointment more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice.

We’ll invest an extra £100 million a year to help GP surgeries achieve these new standards, with money saved from cutting back on the costs of bureaucracy and competition created by the Tories Health and Social Care Act: a terrible piece of legislation which Labour will repeal in our first Queens Speech if we’re elected in 2015.

Achieving truly personalised care for the 15 million people with long-term conditions means giving them much greater power and control.

Living day in, day out with a condition means patients often know best how to prevent it from getting worse. They also care more about getting the right help than which service or organisation provides it.

Personalised care planning, where individuals and their families play an active part in determining their own care and support, is essential for people with long-term conditions.

Personal budgets also have an important role to play. Personal budgets in social care, which Labour introduced in Government, have helped transform the lives of thousands of disabled people and their families.

Pilots of personal health budgets for people with long-term conditions show they can improve patients’ quality of life and reduce their use of more expensive hospital care.

Of course there are many aspects of NHS care where personal budgets aren’t suitable, like emergency and inpatient care.

But for the growing number of people with long-term health conditions, they are an important way of ensuring a publicly funded health system can do the things that people really want.

The Choice in 2015

The NHS is a part of all our lives from the moment we are born, to the time we die and often many times in between.

But the NHS is even more than this. It is an expression of our values: our belief in the power of collective action to change people’s lives for the better, by ensuring care is available to each of us according to our needs, not our ability to pay.

At the next election there will be a real choice about whether these values will be protected for future generations.

It’s a choice between care going backwards, with fragmented services and money wasted under the Tories – or Labour’s plans to fully join-up the NHS and social care so we get the best results for patients and the best value for taxpayers’ money.

A choice between the Tories, who used to promise a ‘bare knuckle fight’ over hospitals but now force through financially driven changes, ignoring the views of local people.

Or Labour, which will be straight with you when hospital services need to change to improve the quality of care, and give clinicians and the public the power to make these changes happen

And it will be a choice between a Tory Government, which has thrown the system into chaos, then blamed NHS staff for not coping and left patients and families to struggle on their own.

Or a Labour Government, which will make the real reforms we need so everyone gets the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

And when people ask whether these huge changes are possible, let’s remind them: in 1997, the NHS was on its knees and many people questioned whether it could even survive. But through investment and reform, Labour transformed patient care and left patient satisfaction at an all-time high.

Next year, voters will face a real choice about which party can protect and renew the NHS once again.

Labour is proud of our record on the NHS. We’re determined to put right David Cameron’s mistakes. And we are confident that our alternative will ensure the health and care services we all rely on can be sustained for future generations.

That’s what’s at stake when we go to the ballot box in May next year. And it’s what we’ll be fighting for in the months to come.

Posted on August 8, 2014 10:12 am by Paul Gleeson

HMYOI Glen Parva Report latest evidence of Cameron’s growing prisons crisis

Newly+Appointed+Barnsley+Central+MP+Dan+Jarvis+PMtAWmEPgfrlDan Jarvis MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister, responding to the Chief Inspector of Prisons report into HMYOI Glen Parva, said:

“This shocking report is the latest evidence of the growing prisons crisis under David Cameron’s Government.

“The culture of bullying, self-harm and soaring violence that the Chief Inspector has exposed makes a mockery of Ministers’ claims to be delivering a ‘rehabilitation revolution.’

“We need a Labour government to put public safety first by getting Glen Parva back on track, something the Tories have failed to do. Their failure increases the risk that young offenders released from this prison will carry on committing crimes, creating needless victims and costing the taxpayer considerable sums of money.”

Posted on August 7, 2014 9:33 am by Paul Gleeson