Norman Lamb’s article on NHS spending

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, has published his 5-year Forward Look setting out the challenges facing our health and care system in the coming years.

It makes sobering reading. Simon Stevens sets out the huge scale of the financial challenge facing us in the years ahead as we continue to adapt to an ageing population, and increasing numbers of people living longer with multiple chronic conditions. We also need more investment to ensure that people with mental health problems can get the same standard of care and support as with physical health.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats set out their priorities for the NHS. We committed to investing at least £1bn extra in our health and care system in each year in the next parliament. £500m of that will go to mental health to ensure mental health patients get fair treatment, and can access the support they need. And by the end of the next parliament we will give each carer £250 a year to recognise the immense contribution they make to society.

We also made clear that we would be arguing strongly this year for significant additional funding for the health and care system as part of the Autumn Statement. We are the only major party arguing for money next year for the NHS. And Simon Stevens has today made our case for us in the most powerful terms possible.

I know that when I speak to voters in my North Norfolk constituency, and when I meet people across the country, health and care are consistently among their highest priorities for government investment. But the Conservatives are not making the case for investment in health and care: they are just promising to maintain the current level of spending. If that’s the deal, the NHS would crash. Liam Fox has argued for an end to the NHS ringfence – but this could damage our NHS beyond recognition.

Labour, too, have not argued for any increase in funding next year. In Wales Labour has cut NHS spending by 8%, missing targets on A&E and cancer treatment and presiding over the worst ambulance response times in the UK. Over 13 years in government, Labour wasted money with PFI schemes and special favours to private companies. What is more, they just don’t understand that you can’t secure the future of our NHS without securing our economic recovery too.

I am passionately committed to our National Health Service, and the role it plays in giving every person the opportunity to enjoy a decent and fulfilled life regardless of their health needs.

And I recognise, as most people do, that if we want to have a sustainable NHS which is able to provide good care to those in need, we have to pay for it. Britain currently spends less than almost any other major country on its health and care system.

And we will be making the case relentlessly in the coming weeks to make sure the NHS gets the funding it needs next year so it can continue to provide excellent care to those in need. Liberal Democrats want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. We cannot do this by neglecting our health and care system.

Drivers will save £150 million over next ten years as driving licence fees fall

Drivers will save up to £150 million over the next ten years as the cost of getting a driving licence is slashed, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Transport Minister Claire Perry announced today.Driving licences

Driving licence fees will fall by up to 32% as part of the government’s commitment to deliver savings to the taxpayer.

The changes, which follow a recent public consultation, come into force from 31 October 2014. Drivers applying online will see the fee for a provisional driving licence fall from £50 to £34 and online renewals after ten years fall from £20 to £14. The fee for driver tachograph cards – used by businesses to record how far their staff are driving – will fall from £38 to £32.

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“Giving savings back to the taxpayer is a key element in this government’s drive for a stronger economy and a fairer society. That’s why we’re slashing the cost of getting a driving licence and giving it straight back to young people and businesses, saving £150 million over ten years.”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said:

“The cost of driving, especially for young drivers, can be significant and we are committed to cutting costs where we can. Thanks to DVLA making large scale savings to their running costs, we have been able to cut the cost of the driving licence which will save drivers and businesses £150 million over the next ten years.”

DVLA is reviewing all fees and the reduction in driving licence fees is a result of the first part of this ongoing review. Other fees being considered in the review include vehicle first registrations and duplicate registration certificates.

A million ‘first licence’ applications are processed every year and the fees drop will save new drivers £82.2 million over ten years. Over 77% of these applications are made by 17-24 year olds. In addition 2.1 million photocard licences are renewed every year and the changes will save motorists £61.3 million over a decade.

Businesses make another 85,500 renewals a year and will save £2.44 million over ten years while the cost savings to tachographs will save another £3.58 million over the decade.

Type of licence Current fee New fee online New fee postal application
Provisional licence £50 £34 £43
Renew Photocard licence £20 £14 £17
Driver and Company Tachograph cards £38 Postal service only £32

Firms making nuisance calls to face more fines

Fining companies that bombard people with nuisance calls and texts should be easier, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced today.

The Government has published a six week consultation on lowering the legal threshold before firms responsible for nuisance calls and texts can be hit with fines of up to £500,000.

The law currently requires the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by their conduct.

The Government wants to reduce this to causing ‘annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety’.

Sajid Javid said:

“Companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, but have escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.

“Being called day after day may not be ‘substantially distressing’, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

“I want to make it easier for companies to face the consequences of ignoring the law and subjecting us to calls or texts we have said we don’t want.”

Liberal Democrat Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:

“Being pestered by marketing calls and texts is annoying at the best of times.

“But at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end and this Government is determined to tackle the problem.

“We have already increased the level of fine available to punish rogue companies. Now we want to make it easier to stamp it out by lowering the threshold for taking action against these companies so the Information Commissioner can move more quickly and deal more firmly with those who break the law.”

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, and chair of the Government’s Task-force on marketing consent said:

“Changing the rules so it’s easier for regulators to punish the companies making nuisance calls is a big step forward and a victory for the 125,000 people who supported our Calling Time campaign.

“Millions of us endure unwanted calls and texts every day so these new powers must be introduced as soon as possible. We look forward to the regulators using them to crack down hard on the unscrupulous firms that flout the rules.”

Consumers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) should not receive unsolicited marketing calls unless they have agreed to receive calls from that specific organisation.

The consultation closes on 7 December 2014.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service: Have a ‘FAB’ and safe 5 November!

As we approach 5 November, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) is warning of the dangers presented by fireworks and bonfires (FAB) and helping to keep both the public and their firefighters safe.

Bonfires present additional hazards when it’s dark. The best advice is to attend an official event, as Allen Cunningham, Group Manager, Community Safety Central Support said:

“We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but I urge residents to enjoy this time of year responsibly. I would encourage people to attend organised events rather than putting on their own bonfire and fireworks displays, as often this is where problems can occur.”

Organisations can promote their own official public events this year by emailing HFRS with all the details. The list of events and how to contact us can be found by clicking here.

Allen continued:

“Our attendance at these types of incidents can put pressure on our resources when there may be a greater need for us elsewhere.”

In certain areas, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service will also be running patrols to identify build ups of illegal bonfires. Residents are also urged to be vigilant and ring their local council to report any potential unsafe activity. Arrangements will be made to remove illegal stacks before they are lit over the coming fortnight or on 5 November itself.

Safety messages have also been shared across Hull secondary schools by Community Safety Advocates who have stressed the importance of responsible behaviour around fireworks and bonfires. Fire Service staff will also have access to the city’s 300 CCTV cameras to guide crews to problem areas more effectively and monitor any anti-social behaviour which may then involve Humberside Police.

This time of year should not be viewed as a chance to burn waste or household rubbish. These and larger items should be recycled or disposed of using household collection services or at waste and recycling centres across the Humber region.

While most people treat fireworks with respect, a small minority treat them as toys and forget that they are actually explosives. To stay safe this year, always remember the following advice:

  •  Use only BS7114 fireworks. Check this when you are buying. All reputable dealers will only sell fireworks to this standard.
  •  Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time.
  •  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on each firework. Read them by torchlight – NEVER use a naked flame.
  •  Light fireworks at arm’s length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.
  •  Stand back after lighting.
  •  NEVER go back to a firework once lit – it may go off in your face.
  •  Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy.
  •  Used fireworks should be collected after the display with care. Douse with water, bury or place in a metal container.
  •  Keep children under control.
  •  Keep pets indoors.

For further safety advice in the run-up to 5 November, follow @humbersidefire on Twitter and look out for the hashtag #HullSafety

Clock change reminder from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service

TICK. TOCK. TEST your smoke alarm. Before it’s too late. Turning the clocks back one hour is a great time to also check smoke alarms.

Last year over half the 213 fire deaths in the home were caused by smoke inhalation. Working smoke alarms can give people the wake-up call they need to escape – because smoke will not, it will leave you for dead.

Shockingly, in the majority of domestic fires with fatalities, smoke alarms were either absent or did not go off – and a common cause was missing or flat batteries.

As the nation changes their clocks back on the weekend of the 25/26 October , the national Fire Kills campaign is urging people to TICK TOCK TEST their smoke alarms. Before it’s too late.

In March 2014, nearly one in seven people tested their smoke alarms when they changed their clocks to British Summer Time. Hopes are high that this number can be improved now that the clocks are due to change back.

This autumn, Fire Kills is determined that even more people will keep their loved ones safer from fire by testing their smoke alarms. You can follow Fire Kills and Humberside Fire on Twitter and look out for #TickTockTest

Ed Davey: EU reaches ‘historic’ deal to tackle climate change

Statement by the Secretary of State, Edward Davey on the historic EU deal to tackle climate change

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said:

“This is a historic moment. Europe has sent a clear and firm message to the world that ambitious climate action is needed now. True to our word, we have delivered a highly ambitious EU climate target while also significantly strengthening Europe’s energy security by making us less reliant on imported energy. This morning only five countries in Europe had climate targets post 2020, now 28 countries do.

“The UK has been leading the climate debate pushing for an ambitious deal in Europe and by building alliances and working constructively with our European partners, we’ve agreed a package of measures that meet all the UK’s top priorities.

“It lays down the gauntlet to the world to come forward with ambitious climate targets, reforms EU energy policy so it’s flexible and affordable, and tackles energy security – reducing Europe’s energy import bill for fossil fuels by around €285 billion by 2030.

“It’s good for consumers because we can decarbonise at the lowest possible cost using a diverse mix of technologies.

“And it’s good for business as it provides the certainty they have been calling for to unlock billions in low carbon investment.”

Nick Clegg statement on GDP figures: October 2014

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released new figures on UK GDP for the third quarter of 2014.

Commenting on the new data, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

After many difficult decisions and with the hard work of people up and down the country, the British economy is doing well.

Our economy is now larger than it was before the crash of 2008; over a million more private sector jobs have been created since 2010; and nearly 3 million people on low wages no longer pay any income tax on what they earn.

As the economy continues to grow stronger, we are making sure that it does so in a society that is fairer.

GDP figures show our economic plan is working

GDP figures released today by the Office for National Statistics provide further evidence that our economic plan is working.

The latest statistics show that in the three months to September the UK economy grew by 0.7%.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“Our recovery is now well established and creating jobs in record numbers.

“These GDP figures show the UK economy has good momentum to deal with a less certain global outlook. Our plan is working and we need to stick to it.

“The families and businesses of Britain whose hard work is powering this recovery will judge harshly any Party that threatens to squander this progress.

“Britain can’t forget the deficit or believe unfunded promises.

“Being sensible with the nation’s money is the bedrock of the Liberal Democrat approach. We will keep a steady hand on the economic tiller because that is the only way to produce the stronger economy and fairer society that Britain needs.”

More than 700 employers to design top quality apprenticeships

Top quality new apprenticeships are being designed by employers as part of the government’s successful apprenticeship trailblazers scheme.

  • more than 700 employers are to design 76 new apprenticeships in professions ranging from TV production to welding
  • employers including PwC, BAE Systems and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue are designing the new apprenticeships as part of the government’s trailblazer initiative
  • more than 1,000 employers now involved in the trailblazers scheme

Job opportunities in policing, boatbuilding, TV production and surveying are among 76 top quality new apprenticeships being designed by more than 700 employers as part of the third phase of the government’s successful apprenticeship trailblazers scheme.

The employers from across 37 more trailblazing sectors are designing new apprenticeships to best meet the skills needs of their industries. They will develop apprenticeships in sectors ranging from nuclear to fashion and the armed forces, and will bring the total number of employers involved in designing apprenticeships as part of the trailblazers project to more than 1,000.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Across the country apprenticeships are a driving force behind getting young people the skills that employers want and the economy needs. Our reforms have empowered businesses large and small to design and deliver world-beating apprenticeships that offer a real route to a successful career.”

Employers including PwC, BAE Systems and Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue will work with organisations from across their industries to develop the new apprenticeships. In addition to this, employers involved in the earlier phases of the trailblazers initiative are to develop a further 47 high quality apprenticeships.

On a visit to Sky, 1 of 18 employers working together to design new apprenticeships in television production and broadcasting as part of the new phase of trailblazers, Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

“There has never been a better time to do an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships give you the experience and top-quality training you need to get the career you want. I’m thrilled to be working with UK companies including Jaguar Land Rover and Grant Thornton to make our apprenticeship system the best it can be. We’re on track to deliver 2 million apprenticeships and we are building a better future for Britain.”

While visiting Sky Nick Boles also met software developer apprentice Priscilla Ossai, one of the stars of the government’s newly launched Get In. Go Far campaign. The campaign is working to change the perception of apprenticeships among young people, their parents and teachers by showcasing the variety and quality of apprenticeships on offer today in some of Britain’s biggest and brightest companies.

Trailblazers are groups of leading employers within a sector working together to develop new apprenticeship standards for occupations ranging from welder to police officer. Launched in October 2013, the trailblazers initiative aims to ensure that every apprentice in England is enrolled on a scheme that has been designed and approved by employers. More than 300 apprentices have now started on approved standards since September 2014 in the automotive and energy and utilities sectors with further starts planned soon.

The trailblazers play a key role in replacing complex apprenticeship frameworks with short, simple, accessible standards written by employers in language they understand.

Graham McWilliam, Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Sky commented:

“At Sky we’re delighted to be supporting the trailblazer programmes. It forms part of our wider commitment to providing apprenticeships across our business – around 150 next year – as well as offering a huge range of other opportunities and training to young people across the UK.”

Steven Read, Trainee Programmes Manager at UK Power Networks which delivers electricity supplies in London and are part of the Energy and Utilities trailblazer under the first phase of the scheme said:

“We are delighted to welcome our first 29 new recruits to the new power distribution craftspeople apprenticeship. The trailblazer initiative has allowed employers like us to introduce a common industry standard in the skills we teach to the dedicated men and women who keep Britain’s electricity distribution networks running. It is refreshing, as an employer, to be involved in designing and a developing the benchmark against which all our apprentices are trained.”

TSI and Jo Swinson launch free, easy to use legal guidance website

On Wednesday (22nd October) Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson and Trading Standards Institute (TSI) CEO Leon Livermore launched Business Companion, a free online resource that allows business owners to quickly and effectively find and understand the trading standards laws and consumer protection regulations.

“We know that businesses can find navigating their way around trading standards law a daunting prospect,” said Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson. “It is important that there is help available to support them in understanding the law and keeping up to date with any changes.

“Business Companion will provide an invaluable free and easy to use resource to help companies remain compliant. That’s not only good for business but reassuring for consumers too.” Business owners frequently experience confusion when determining which of the thousands of existing laws apply to them.

Unfortunately, the law doesn’t define businesses by their trade but how they sell, what they sell and where they sell. Do they sell products or services? Do they sell by distance or face-to-face? These questions serve as a guidepost for Business Companion site navigation. By answering these simple questions, business owners are directed to guidance that generally affects their business.

Business Companion has been designed so business owners can also query laws specific to their industry. For example, a query for ‘potatoes’ results in law related to food labelling and weights and measures. When these queries are complete, the business owner can create a printable ‘guide’ for easy reference.

“The majority of businesses strive to do what is right and what is legal,” said TSI CEO Leon Livermore. “The Trading Standards Institute is thrilled to present a free, accessible tool that can help them do just that.”

Business Companion also allows businesses to set up legislative alerts so they can immediately be notified via email when a change to that law goes into effect.

“This feature makes Business Companion the most effective tool for businesses to keep on top of the laws and remain compliant,” Mr. Livermore said.

Another advantage to Business Companion is that searches are country specific. A Scottish convenience store owner will only get laws relevant to Scotland. Guides are broken down into 15 key quick guides for businesses interested in a general overview of particular laws and in-depth guides, which give the user a more detailed explanation of the law.

John Allan, national chairman, of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:

“Small firms are so busy running their own businesses they can’t be experts on all the many complexities of the regulation landscape. This one-stop shop on consumer and fair trading information will be really useful and warmly welcomed by our members. It will help free them up and enable them to get on with the job in hand – creating jobs and growing their businesses.”

Business Companion is part of the business education role commissioned from TSI by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).