Fight the Cuts

Ralf Littlte knocks Block off #Conservative #NHS Privatiser and Murdoch fan boy Jeremy Hunt #Mental Health #Derbyuk #Derbyshire #Derby

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120,000 DEATHS LINKED TO #Conservative #LibDems AUSTERITY #Derbyuk #Derbyshire #Labour #Momentum #DCFC

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The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths.

The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels.

On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year. Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths. The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”.

Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”.

The Government began relaxing austerity measures this year announcing the end of its cap on public sector pay rises and announcing an extra £1.3bn for social care in the Spring Budget. Over three years the additional funding for social care is expected to reach £2bn, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was “patching up a small part of the damage” wrought by £4.6bn cuts. The study, published in BMJ Open today, estimated that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn. The Department of Health said “firm conclusions” cannot be drawn from this work, and independent academics warned the funding figures were “speculative”.

However local councils who have been struggling to fund care with slashed budgets urged the Government to consider the research seriously. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government must match Labour’s spending pledges in the Autumn Budget.

Per capita public health spending between 2001 and 2010 increased by 3.8 per cent a year, but in the first four years of the Coalition, increases were just 0.41 per cent, researchers from University College London found. In social care the annual budget increase collapsed from 2.20 per cent annually, to a decrease of 1.57 per cent. The researchers found this coincided with death rates which had decreased by around 0.77 per cent a year to 2010, beginning to increase again by 0.87 per cent a year.

And the majority of those were people reliant on social care, the paper says: “This is most likely because social care experienced greater relative spending constraints than healthcare.” It also notes that a drop in nurse numbers may have accounted for 10 per cent of deaths, concluding: “We have found that spending constraints since 2010, especially public expenditure on social care, may have produced a substantial mortality gap in England.”

The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association. And he added this trend is seen elsewhere. “When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent. One of his co-author’s, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said it showed the damage caused by austerity

“It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics,” he said. “This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”

The Department of Health stressed that no such conclusion could be drawn. A spokesperson said: “As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths.

“The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8bn increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2bn investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”

And independent academics added that it is hard to prove cause and effect with this kind of study even if the underlying assumptions may be correct.

Professor Martin Roland Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge said: “This study suggests that a change happened to cause deaths to stop declining around 2014. This is likely to be a correct finding. However, the link to health and social care spending is speculative as observational studies of this type can never prove cause and effect.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “We would urge government to review the evidence behind this analysis. If correct, it would clearly reinforce the desperate and urgent need to properly fund social care

Mr Ashworth, responding to the study, said: “This shocking mortality gap is a damning indictment of the dire impact which sustained Tory cuts to our NHS and social care services have had on health outcomes across the nation.

“Ahead of the Budget, this appalling news must serve as an urgent wake up call to the Prime Minister. She must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come.”

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‘Cuts have hit the poorest places most’

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‘Cuts have hit the poorest places most’

by a staff reporter

Posted: 20 Mar 2015 @ 12:32

iSTOCK

Budget gap: Newcastle city council was one of the  ​case-studies for the research

THE poorest people in the most deprived areas in England have been hit hardest by government cuts since the last election, research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows.

Its report Cost of the Cuts analysed local-government expenditure and discovered that the poorest English authorities had seen reductions of more than £220 per head, compared with cuts of less than £40 per head in the least-deprived areas.

Services such as housing and planning were found to have been the most drastically affected. Social-care spending in poor areas has been cut by £65 per head, whereas in wealthier areas it has risen by £28 a head. Back in 2010-11, the most deprived councils had an extra 45 per cent of expenditure per head to cope with additional needs. By 2014/15, this had been reduced to 17 per cent.

The report said that local councils had tried to minimise the cuts faced by the poorest, but it was an impossible task.

The report said: “The reality is that the poorest places and the poorest people are being the hardest hit, with those least able to cope with service withdrawal bearing the brunt of service reduction.”

It recommends that the next government reduce the scale and pace of the cuts, shifting its agenda from short-term savings to longer-term reform. If not, then local authorities will be unable to fulfil their statutory duties and deliver “critical services” to their most vulnerable citizens, it warns.

As well as analysing local-authority spending, researchers also looked at four different local authorities in detail – one in Scotland, and three in England. They found that the pace of cuts in Scotland had been much slower than in England, giving the local authorities more time to invest in preventative measures to help people cope with the cuts.

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So, George, how exactly will you cut the welfare bill?

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Housing benefit and pensions are likely to keep rising, as will tax credits. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies says, it’s time we knew where the cuts will fall

A protest outside the Department for Work and Pensions in London, calling for an end to benefit sanctions. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has warned the Tories’ squeeze on real spending in the next parliament would be tougher than anything seen over the past five years.
A protest outside the Department for Work and Pensions in London, calling for an end to benefit sanctions. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has warned the Tories’ squeeze on real spending in the next parliament would be tougher than anything seen over the past five years. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Any challenge from the Institute for Fiscal Studies is a hard one for George Osborne to dodge.

The tax-and-spending watchdog wants him to explain how he plans to cut welfare spending in the next parliament.

The coalition has failed in the last five years to reduce the welfare bill. And welfare cuts form a centrepiece of the Tories’ plans for the next five years.

Paul Johnson, the IFS’s director, said that without welfare cuts, the impact on Whitehall spending during 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be “twice the size of any year’s cuts over this parliament”.

The Office for Budget Responsibility had already made its views plain. It said the squeeze on real spending between 2016 and 2018 would be tougher than anything seen over the past five years.

The implications of failure for Osborne would be huge. If the £12bn welfare cuts and hoped-for £5bn of anti-tax avoidance measures fail to materialise, any hope of a reprieve for local government, transport spending or the defence budget would be dashed.

Looking back over the last five years it is easy to see why welfare has proved a hard nut to crack. A cut in tax credit entitlements has done little more than put a brake on their inexorable rise. Housing benefit has proved equally stubborn. And pensions, which make up about half the welfare bill, have increased, handing pensioners an extra £4.6bn by 2014-15, according to the IFS.

There is a possibility wages are about to take off, making workers better off and giving the next government an easier time when it proposes further restrictions on tax credits. The cost of jobseeker’s allowance could also come down further should employment carry on climbing, (though it accounts for only a tiny fraction of welfare spending).

That still leaves housing benefit, which is likely to rise in line with escalating rents, and David Cameron’s promise to maintain all pensioner benefits without any means testing. And pensioners are in line for an inflation-busting rise of 2.5% in the state pension next month.

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Taming corporate power: the key political issue of our age

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Taming corporate power: the key political issue of our age

Big business and its lobbyists have taken control of our politics. But there is an alternative. In the first of a new series, here’s how we can take on the fat cats

Illustration by Nicola Jennings
Illustration by Nicola Jennings

Does this sometimes feel like a country under enemy occupation? Do you wonder why the demands of so much of the electorate seldom translate into policy? Why parties of the left seem incapable of offering effective opposition to market fundamentalism, let alone proposing coherent alternatives? Do you wonder why those who want a kind and decent and just world, in which both human beings and other living creatures are protected, so often appear to be opposed by the entire political establishment?

If so, you have encountered corporate power – the corrupting influence that prevents parties from connecting with the public, distorts spending and tax decisions, and limits the scope of democracy. It helps explain the otherwise inexplicable: the creeping privatisation of health and education, hated by the vast majority of voters; the private finance initiative, which has left public services with unpayable debts; the replacement of the civil service with companies distinguished only by incompetence; the failure to re-regulate the banks and collect tax; the war on the natural world; the scrapping of the safeguards that protect us from exploitation; above all, the severe limitation of political choice in a nation crying out for alternatives.

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