MoD: Re-sizing our military forces is only acceptable if it is balanced by a reduction in political requirements for ‘world policing’ - The Government has committed to increasing the planned MOD equipment budget by over £3bn during the Spending Review period after 2015 to fund vital future military equipment.
The longer-term vision for the make up of our military – Future Force 2020 – will be secured by this 1%-a-year real terms increase in the planned equipment & equipment support programme.
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox claimed that this funding will allow the MOD to order significant pieces of equipment over the next decade, including:
* 14 extra Chinook helicopters from 2014 onwards
* The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier conversion to catapult & arrestor gear ('cats & traps')
* Initial spending on the new Joint Strike Fighter fast jets (known as Lightning II) delivering Carrier Strike capability from 2020
* Development of the Global Combat Ship
* 3 new Airseeker signals intelligence & surveillance aircraft in 2014
* Upgraded Warrior armoured vehicles
In addition, the MoD will plan for an Army of around 120,000 comprising of Regulars & Reserves with a ratio of about 70% regulars to 30% Territorial Army. The MOD will publish a fully funded & balanced 10-year Equipment Plan by September 2011, and the National Audit Office will conduct an affordability audit of this.
Moving towards Future Force 2020, and returning the 20,000 personnel stationed in Germany, means the Armed Forces' estate requirements will change. As a result, the MOD has reviewed its future basing needs. The driving force behind the review of basing is the military requirement.
By 2020, the Army will be made up of 5 Multi-Role Brigades (MRB) of around 6,000 people. These brigades need to be geographically close to suitable training areas so they can prepare for deployment.
Civitas: We need a policy that delivers something between the 2 extremes of ‘giving them the key’ and ‘throwing it away’ - As Parliament begins to scrutinise the Punishment of Offenders Bill, a new Civitas report reveals that Government plans to cut re-offending & public expenditure by rehabilitating prisoners fail to deal with key problems.
Bars to Learning argues that the Government's confused priorities mean that the prisoners most likely to re-offend on release are deliberately excluded from the reforms.
The report shows that promises of penal reform have been made, & broken, many times before, and that current proposals will fail while the Government focuses on immediate cost savings.
iea: Noisy waste of money or future of North – South Travel? - New research released by think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, (High Speed 2: the next government project disaster?), ‘shows' that the High Speed 2 (HS2) project is economically flawed. It reveals why the scheme is not commercially viable and asserts that taxpayers will bear a high proportion of the financial risks.
The research finds that policymakers in favour of HS2 are making their case on the basis of bogus assumptions, including:
* Flawed economics
* Huge government subsidies on the existing rail network mean that prices & demand levels are severely distorted.
* Estimates made by the government of demand growth are very optimistic and the long timescale involved also adds to the uncertainty.
Newswire – CF: Almost as bad as ‘legalised theft’? - A report published last week by Consumer Focus highlights serious problems in the Individual Personal Pensions (IPP) market.
The watchdog has written to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) asking that further action be taken to tackle consumer detriment in this market and to the Pensions Minister asking that Government review their policy of ‘no transfers’ into the new low cost savings scheme NEST.
The investigation carried out by Consumer Focus has identified 3 features of the individual personal pensions market which continue to cause detriment to consumers.
Consumer Focus is also keen to hear more from savers about their experiences of individual personal pension plans. If customers have switched individual personal pension plan over the last 5 years the watchdog is urging them to fill in a confidential questionnaire (The survey closes on 16 September 2011).
NHS – Confed: The ‘shocking’ thing is that we even need to have a commission to look into the issue - The NHS Confederation has joined Local Government Group (LG Group) and Age UK to establish a commission on improving dignity & care to older patients in hospitals & care homes. The commission will be jointly chaired by NHS Confederation chair Sir Keith Pearson, chair of Age UK Dianne Jeffrey, and chair of the LG Group's Community Wellbeing Board, Councillor David Rogers.
It will involve senior leaders from across health & social care coming together to take evidence from the full range of relevant groups – from specialist clinicians & healthcare leaders to patient advocacy groups – to get to the root of what needs to happen to improve care. It hopes to report its findings in spring 2012.
Press release & links
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