Is the answer to raise taxes on everyone during their working life?

41% of residents in UK independent care homes are now paying for their own care - an increase of 28.5% in the last 10 years (from 130,000 in 2005 to167,000 in 2014).  This rise is a result of the state-funded system declining while demand from our ageing population continues to rise.

The new report from Age UK ‘Behind the headlines: ‘Stuck in the middle – self funders in care homes’ is based on actual calls to Age UK’s information & advice line and highlights the real challenges many face in getting a fair deal.

The decision to move into a care home is very difficult and often made in a rush following a spell in hospital.  At such an emotional time scrutinising the fine print in a care home contract and negotiating rates is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind – but the terms set at this point will have a huge impact not only on an older person’s quality of life but also on their finances too.

The report also reveals the extent to which ‘self-funders’ are ultimately paying the price for a care system under severe pressure.  Care home providers have been increasingly financially squeezed, above all by big cuts in public funding for social care that in turn are forcing local authorities to drive down prices.  As a result many care homes are struggling to balance the books and turning to self-funders to make up the shortfall to keep their homes open.  Self-funders now on average pay between £603 & £827 a week depending on the area, compared to councils paying between £421 & £624 a week.

Researched Links:

Age UK:  Older people who pay their own way in care homes struggling to get a ‘fair deal’

WAG:  People in residential care to keep more of their money

CQC:  Your views on proposed fees for providers

No option but to pay!

Like pensions, most people don’t think about their care needs in old age

That promised ‘cap on care‘ seems further away than ever

It would cost a lot more in a hospital!

Most of us will all be ‘old’ someday

We won’t be able to afford the NHS unless we ‘solve’ this problem

Adding to the cost issue?

Kings Fund:  Older people are paying the price for cuts to social care

LGA:  Councils respond to ADASS Budget Survey 2016

LGA:  Council tax rises will not fix social care funding crisis

LGA:  Funding needed to avoid National Living Wage pushing social care services closer to breaking point


With over 2,500 IT users and services spread across more than 90 separate buildings, many of which were outdated and inefficient to run, Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES) operating costs were too high and staff were far too scattered for effective communication and collaboration.

A recent property rationalisation programme has seen the closure of a number of offices with services centralised in a new civic centre. This building is part of a £34 million regeneration project, achieving the top-level Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating of A for energy efficiency (held by less than 1 per cent of public buildings in the UK).

The plan also included a large increase in flexible working with hot desks in the new building and a much greater degree of working from home.

BANES’ virtual desktop has been very successful. All main council offices have a ratio of two desks to three people. Staff members can sit wherever they choose to support their day’s work, encouraging cross-functional collaboration and ad hoc teaming.

As a result, the council has closed seven major offices and reduced total floor space by 40 per cent, enabling revenue savings of £3.5m per year.

Click here to find out more and access this latest case study.

Following the EU tradition of repeating Referendums until one get the ‘right result!
A draft bill giving Scotland the ability to reconsider the question of independence before the UK leaves the EU has been published for consultation.  It proposes that any referendum would be run in a way similar to 2014, with technical adjustments to reflect recent changes in elections law & procedures such as individual registration.

ScotGov:  Protecting Scotland’s interests

Will Scotland ever be able to afford the financial ‘cold turkey’ of independence?

‘Too many cooks spoil the Broth’

Scrutiny of Brexit is off to a shaky start, according to a new paper from the Institute for Government (IfG).  The report finds that Parliament is already running over 30 separate inquiries into the issue – even before the election of MPs to chair the new Brexit select committees.

In Scrutinising Brexit: Parliament faces its biggest challenge, the IfG says that turf wars over who should scrutinise the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) mean the committee has still not been set up – a full four months after the department’s creation.  The think tank warns that without strong leadership and a clear plan to engage the Brexit Ministers, the DExEU committee risks becoming a large but toothless watchdog.

In recent years, select committees have gained a growing reputation for influencing policy and holding Government & individuals - such as Rupert Murdoch and Mike Ashley - to account. The paper argues that Brexit will either be the issue that unravels this progress or embeds the place of select committees in our democratic system.

But a proliferation of parliamentary inquiries into Brexit will lead to overlapping lines of inquiry, competition for media headlines, and ‘witness fatigue’.  So it is crucial that all committees find a way to coordinate & work together to best serve the needs of the electorate.

Researched Links:

IFG:  Brexit scrutiny risks becoming a chaotic competition for limelight

PC&PE:  Brexit should be scrutinised as it happens say Lords

ScotGov:  Scottish Ministers in Brussels

Like removing a plaster; it hurts less if you do it quickly

Ministers call on all parties to support Scotland’s place in EU

Parliament should 'play a central role' in triggering Article 50

David Davis visits Ireland to strengthen commercial ties ahead of EU exit negotiations

Strengthening UK-Ireland relations ahead of EU exit negotiations

TUC: Unions want to play a full part in Brexit talks

'Too many cooks spoil the broth' - Origin, Meaning & Expansion

Why limit standards to the EU?

On 18 October 2016, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien and UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham co-chaired the Common Thread Network’s AGM in Marrakech.  They also announced the launch of the Common Thread Network’s website.

The CTN is a new & vibrant network which currently links up 20 data protection & privacy authorities in Commonwealth countries spread across all the continents, a network also expected to continue to grow and reach out to many more authorities from the different nations of the Commonwealth.

The new website is one among many features which the Common Thread Network intends to use to foster a common approach & create synergies among Commonwealth nations to uphold individuals’ privacy and data protection rights.  As the Common Thread Network develops its activities, the co-chairs encourage individuals to come and visit the website regularly to keep up to date with the latest Common Thread news.

Researched Links:

ICO:  Common Thread Network website launched

Common Thread Network’s website

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

One of many things to plan for
The Energy & Climate Change Committee final report sets out energy policy implications of leaving the EU.
Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Government must incentivise energy storage and demand side response

BEIS:  New 'central heating for cities' to help reduce energy bills

CCC Infographic: The future of heating in UK buildings

NAO:  Controlling the consumer-funded costs of energy policies: The Levy Control Framework

Adam Smith Inst:  Solar so good, but panels have limited potential in UK

‘Supping with a long spoon’ budget?
The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru have agreed a multi-£m deal, which will ‘secure further investment in schools, the NHS, local government, the Welsh language and the arts’, as part of the draft Budget 2017-18.  The agreement delivers a package of spending commitments reflecting Plaid Cymru’s policy priorities amounting to £119m.
Researched Links:

WAG:  Budget Agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru

WAG:  A 2017-18 Draft Budget to Take Wales Forward: Providing stability & ambition in uncertain times

WAG:  A stable settlement in uncertain times: Mark Drakeford sets out Local Government funding for 2017-18

Welsh NHS Confederation comment on Draft Budget

WAG:  Cabinet Secretary says strong Welsh budget for housing will help provide 20,000 homes

He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon - definition

Protecting our ‘future’

New measures to make giving birth safer, including maternity safety funding and publishing maternity ratings, have been announced.  The safer maternity care action plan, designed to dramatically improve the safety of maternity care in the NHS, was announced by the Health Secretary on 17 October 2016.

The new measures will provide resources for trusts to improve their approach to maternity safety, including £8m for multi-disciplinary training, with at least £40,000 available to each NHS trust in England. They also will make sure lessons are learned from mistakes & shared openly and transparently across the NHS. We will also consult on how to change the litigation culture, which can prevent openness & transparency, by taking views on a new voluntary compensation scheme as an alternative to costly legal processes.

Researched Links:

DH:  Improving the safety of maternity care in the NHS

NHS England:  Second round of funding aims to improve maternity services through patient feedback

Ensuring a healthy start to life

Another financial pressure on NHS

Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to be held responsible and being ‘Made to Pay’?

Fine in urban areas with good transport links, but what about where links are scarce?
Plans to modernise community pharmacies, which will ensure a better quality service for patients and relieve pressure in other parts of the NHS, have been announced by the government. 
Researched Links:

DH:  New plans to modernise community pharmacies

LGA: Councils respond to Government announcement on pharmacies

NHS England:  Pharmacy Integration Fund of £42m announced

Community pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond : PSNC Main site

You don’t have to make an appointment to see one

No ‘whitewash’, so no imminent Honours on offer for Committee members one supposes!

In a cross-party report agreed unanimously without division, the Home Affairs Committee calls on all political leaders to tackle the growing prevalence of this pernicious form of hate.

It notes that "the failure of the Labour Party consistently to deal with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic", but stresses that all parties must examine whether the Committee's recommended reforms should be applied to their own processes for training & disciplining their members and activists.

Researched Links:
PC&PE:  All parties & media giants must address pernicious anti-Semitic hate
A right Royal boost

A Dragon’s Den style event, ‘Pitch@Palace’ has seen more than 40 technology companies pitch to a panel of business judges.  The prize is a place in the national final of HRH the Duke of York’s campaign, in front of an audience of judges from the world of entrepreneurship, technology, media & investment.

In the 3 years that Pitch@Palace has been running it has already helped over 205 businesses grow, with some now enjoying huge global success.  The boot camp is held twice a year. This event was held at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and supported by Harwell Campus Management as well as STFC.

Researched Links:

STFC:  Businesses do battle at boot camp for Duke of York's 'Pitch@Palace'

Recognising corruption exists is a major step forward in reducing it

The government has recently announced that it is delivering on its promises to increase transparency by demonstrating significant progress in its Open Government National Action Plan of 2013-15

18 out of 21 commitments have been completed, including working to introduce a new criminal offence of police corruption, and abolishing bearer shares in order to make it harder for criminals to launder the proceeds of corruption.

Researched Links:

Cabinet Office:  Open Government Partnership - UK Government delivering greater transparency

OGP Action Plans – UK Open Government Network

UK | Open Government Partnership

A fitting memorial to a great man

Thousands of gay & bisexual men convicted of now abolished sexual offences will be posthumously pardoned, Justice Minister Sam Gyimah announced.  The change will see those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships before the change in the law formally pardoned. The announcement underlines a government commitment to build on the case of Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide following his conviction for gross indecency and was posthumously pardoned by Her Majesty the Queen in 2013.

Minister Gyimah said the government would seek to implement the change through an amendment to the Policing & Crime Bill.  Anyone living who has been convicted of these now abolished offences can already apply through the Home Office to have their names cleared through the disregard process. This removes any mention of an offence from criminal record checks.

In an important step, the government also announced it will introduce a new statutory pardon for the living in cases where offences have been successfully deleted through the disregard process.

The government will not support a separate Private Members’ Bill on the subject, brought forward by John Nicolson MP and set to be debated in Parliament on Friday 21 October 2016.  Mr Nicolson’s Bill proposes a blanket pardon for the living without the need to go through the disregard process.  However this could lead, in some cases, to people claiming to be cleared of offences that are still crimes – including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity.

Researched Links:

MoJ:  Minister unveils plans to pardon thousands under ‘Turing’s Law’

EHRC comments on posthumous pardons for gay & bisexual men

Must be level road for Taxis and Uber

Uber London paid same tax in 2013 & 2014 as 3 black cabbies.  Uber should be made to impose a maximum 12-hour day on its drivers – as it already does in New York – amid evidence that its arrival has coincided with a steep rise in overall London cab accidents.

In 2013 & 2014, Uber London had a total turnover of £12.4m and paid a total of £28,796 in UK tax.  In 2015, it had a turnover of £23.3m and paid £411,000 in UK tax.  It does not pay UK VAT.  A Think Tank report calculates that its fair share of the cost of using London’s roads over the 3 years would have been £8m.

Researched Links:

PX:  Mayor can make Uber pay more tax & operate more safely, says think tank, as it calls for black cab shake up

IEA:  Not restricting Uber is a victory for competition

High Court declares that smartphones used in private hire vehicles are not taximeters

TfL protects Taxi & Private Hire trade - combating illegal activity

Support ‘Good causes‘ in your area
Putting small, local charities & community groups into the spotlight on 16 December 2016, with Local Charities Day, which will help them thrive & demonstrate the great work they do in their areas.
DCMS:  Local Charities Day: 16th December
CAB’s apt statement; ‘Should be progressed with caution’

After an extensive programme of engagement with industry, financial regulators and consumer groups, the government has decided not to take forward plans to introduce a secondary annuities market because the consumer protections required could undermine the market’s development.

Many firms have shown they are willing to allow customers to sell their annuities, but the government is clear that there will be insufficient purchasers to create a competitive market.  While exploring this further, it has become clear that the steps that the government would need to take to create purchasing demand in the market would undermine other consumer protections.

Researched Links:

HM Treasury:  Government cancels plans to create a market for secondary annuities

Creating a secondary market for annuities: secondary legislation

Creating a secondary annuities market: tax framework

CAB:  Plans for the second-hand annuities market “should be progressed with caution”

IFS:  Annuity buy-back: thoughts on the potential market and possible pitfalls for pensioners

Looking for a flood of applicants

The Environment Agency is looking for members to join the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) which covers the River Great Ouse catchment.  Would you like to have your say on local flood & coastal management plans?

The Environment Agency has opportunities to start in January 2017, April 2017 and July 2017, covering the River Great Ouse catchment, including large parts of the Fens, part of the Wash and North West Norfolk coast.

The Environment Agency is looking for people who would like to play a part in helping to develop our plans, to work closely with partners & communities.  Someone who has effective communication skills, can think strategically and bring enthusiasm, expertise & new ideas, using their particular skills & experience to advise and provide opinions during committee meetings.

The RFCC has a specific vacancy for a member with coastal expertise and focus.  The Environment Agency also has a vacancy for general members and would in particular welcome applications from people with knowledge & experience of community resilience, agri-business, land drainage or strategic planning.

Members would be expected to attend 4 committee meetings a year and are able to claim expenses.  Closing date for applications is 13 November 2016.

Researched Links:

Environment Agency:  Help plan the future: join the flood and coastal committee

The UK Nuclear industry is more than just one (as yet unbuilt) Bl***y big power station

Visitor numbers for the 2016 NDA Estate Supply Chain Event have now reached more than 1,400.  A few hundred places remain for those who have yet to register.  Entry to the EventCity venue, Manchester, on 3 November 2016, is FREE of charge and anyone interested in attending is urged to act quickly.

The event is organised jointly by the NDA and its Site Licence Companies and is now believed to be the biggest of its kind in Europe. Launched in 2011, its aim is to create greater visibility of opportunities for suppliers, in particular for SMEs.

Researched Links:

NDA:  Sign up now for last places at nuclear decommissioning event


 More contributions following EU Referendum

Still a ‘hot topic’, with widely spread views, for those who put fingers to keyboard in order to ‘share their views’:

Researched Links:

IFG:  Brexit scrutiny risks becoming a chaotic competition for limelight

PC&PE:  Brexit should be scrutinised as it happens say Lords

ScotGov:  Swinney demands student immigration guarantee

IEA:  Brexit offers unrivalled opportunity to halt potential food price rises, argues new paper

DIT:  Establishment of UK-New Zealand trade policy dialogue

IPPR:  New figures demonstrate 'wild overestimation' of non-EU students overstaying their visas

ScotGov:  Scottish Ministers in Brussels

techUK:  Implications of Brexit for the Justice System


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Protecting Scotland’s interests

Demos:  Social media now playing a hugely consequential role in UK politics

Cabinet Office:  Boundary changes are needed in Scotland to solve vote inequality


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

For Theresa May’s government, there’s Brexit-related business – and the rest. The rest divides into the policies and programmes inherited from the Cameron era on which No 10 is still keen, and those that keep going only through inertia, writes David Walker. Data and digital increasingly feel like an also-ran, with leaders deserting the Government Digital Service (GDS) and little enthusiasm from May.
"Matthew Hancock, the former Cabinet Office minister who oversaw data policy, has been consigned to the salt mines, ie arts and culture, where his energy is dissipated. His successor, Ben Gummer, would need tremendous drive to break through No 10’s indifference and make “digital transformation” more than a phrase," he writes.
Elsewhere on the network last week, a police officer gave an account of what life is like in a police force savaged by cuts "It’s been a long time since I was excited or proud of my job. I wish I could provide the service the public deserves, but I can’t."

Also on the network

'We're wasting money': the case for greater local power over transport

'We're wasting money': the case for greater local power over transport
Devolving decisions to local regions will make buses, road and rail more efficient, say our transport experts

Every 1% saved from chaotic NHS procurement could save £220m

Every 1% saved from chaotic NHS procurement could save £220m
If health secretary Jeremy Hunt took a tougher line over procurement, the millions saved could pay for thousands more junior doctors

How chatbots are trying to help refugees navigate a new life

How chatbots are trying to help refugees navigate a new life
Trusted information is hard to come by when you’re a refugee. One start-up aims to connect people with essential services via Facebook and text

My police force is struggling to conceal the fact that it's sinking

My police force is struggling to conceal the fact that it's sinking
Police officers like me are now a rare sight in the neighbourhood I patrol and it’s been a long time since I was excited or proud of my job

News in brief
• Some police forces failing on child protection, warns Ofsted chief
• Thousands of Metropolitan police to be equipped with body-worn cameras
• MPs slam Shared Services strategy over lack of buy-in and "unrealistic" business case
• Troubled Families programme under fire after damning independent study
• Councils given power to tackle overcrowded housing
• Whitehall should abandon ‘flawed’ counter-terrorism strategy