Norman Lamb’s article on NHS spending

Today Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, 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.

Diwali 2014: message from Nick Clegg

Watch Nick Clegg’s video message for Diwali

Read the full message:

Saal Mubarak. This is the time of year when the lights of Diwali burn brightest, bringing joy to communities across the world. Important to Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali means different things to different people. Yet the core values it embodies – kindness, compassion and the enduring power of knowledge to banish ignorance and fear – matter to all of us, regardless of our faith or background.

In Britain, our pride in holding some of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India is a constant reminder of the diversity, generosity and openness that makes our country great. So whether you are in Leicester or New Delhi, marking the return of Lord Rama from exile, attainment of moksha by Mahavira or the Bandi Chhor Divas – this is a chance for all of us to come together, learn from each other and have fun, enjoying the lights and joyous music of Diwali.

So, I want to wish every one joining their family and friends for food, prayers and fireworks over the next five days a very happy and peaceful New Year.

Diwali Mubarak.

The Deputy Prime Minister held a reception to mark Diwali on 22 October: view pictures from the event.

Early years pupil premium – local allocations announced

school childrenThe government has announced the regional allocations for the Early Years pupil premium.

Nurseries, childminders and other early years providers throughout the country are set for a cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.​

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – ​will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a fair start.

Over the country, 172,646 children are eligible for such help, with a total of £49 million available for them.

The regional allocations can be read here.

N E Lincs Holiday Rider returns for October half term

Throughout October half term, 25 October 2014 to 2 November 2014, the Holiday Rider will return on the back of a record breaking Summer

Young people aged 5 to 18 inclusive just need to ask for a holiday rider ticket when they get on Stagecoach buses in North East Lincolnshire and they will pay just £1.50 for unlimited travel around the area that day.

The ticket is not valid outside of the main Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Immingham area, so it cannot be used for long distance journeys on the Humber Flyer or InterConnects 3 and 51.

The young people’s Holiday Rider has seen another record breaking year with sales of almost 34,000 tickets over the six week summer holidays, saving young people over £55,000 and illustrating a 25 per cent increase on sales from the previous year.

A college rider scheme has also now been introduced to help students save money while at college. The college rider is available online at www.stagecoachbus.com from £135 a term.

Dave Skepper, commercial director for Stagecoach East Midlands said:

“Stagecoach East Midlands is delighted to be continuing our partnership with YPPS to deliver great value bus travel for young people in Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Immingham. The growth in ticket sales is directly attributable to the promotional campaigns by young people at YPPS using social media.”

£50m boost for children across the country

Nurseries, child minders and other early years providers across the country are set for a £50m cash injection to help three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged families.

Children from low income families have often fallen behind more well off classmates before they even start school.

But from April 2015, the Early Years Pupil Premium – which has been backed by groups like Barnados, 4Children and the Child Poverty Action Group – will mean extra money to make sure every child gets a fair start.

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Nurseries and schools will be free to choose how to spend the money, which is part of a £50m Government pot.

It comes on top of Lib Dem-led changes in Government to help families, which include shared parental leave, tax free childcare, Free School Meals, and a pupil premium for school age children.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, whatever their background.

“Liberal Democrats in government have already extended free early years education for all children across the country.

“Now this cash boost will mean extra support for those children who need it most.”

David Ward: Why I support the right to recall MPs

David Ward writes:

Liberal Democrats support the right of recall and I’m pleased the Coalition Government ensured that this year’s Queen’s Speech contained measures to get it into law. For too long, voters have not had any way to hold to account the small number of MPs that bring the good name of other MPs into disrepute. At the moment, those MPs could stay in their seat until the General Election. I think that is wrong.

The Government’s Recall of MPs Bill proposes two triggers that would allow voters to open a petition and try to force a by-election. The first of these triggers would be if an MP is convicted of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of up to 12 months. MPs are already automatically expelled if they are given a jail sentence of more than 12 months.

The second trigger would be if the Parliamentary Standards Committee – a group of MPs from various parties as well as lay members from outside Parliament too – recommends (and the House of Commons accepts) the suspension of an MP from the House of Commons for at least 21 days.

Under the Government’s Bill, if either of these triggers became active then a recall petition would be activated and if 10% of the local electorate signed this recall petition within an 8 week period, then a by-election would commence.

It is extremely noteworthy that it’s this Coalition that are the first ever UK Government to allow such a measure anywhere near the statue book.

This is why I supported the Bill at its Second Reading which will now progress into its Committee stage. I believe that more can be done to amend the legislation to enable constituents to have more of a say in the recall of their MPs and I will be looking very closely at any amendments put forward in order to strengthen the Bill.

Norman Lamb responds to NHS England report

Following the publication of a report by NHS England which outlines CEO Simon Steven’s five-year forward view on the health service, Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb said:

“Liberal Democrats want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. That means properly funding our NHS for the future, and providing better care, both for physical and mental health.

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“Over 13 years, Labour wasted money with PFI schemes and sweetheart deals for private companies and now they are wrecking the NHS in Wales – cutting the budget by 8%, missing targets on A&E and cancer treatment and presiding over the worst ambulance response times in the UK. They refused to protect NHS funding in this Parliament and they can’t be trusted with it in Government again. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls would wreck the recovery and you can’t have well-funded public services without a strong economy.

“The Conservatives are not promising anything more than protecting the NHS budget in real terms. If that’s the deal, the NHS would crash. The Tories are totally failing to recognise the need for more resources to deal with the growing pressures on the NHS as we all live longer, often with chronic conditions.

“Only the Liberal Democrats are calling for more funding next year and at least one billion more in each year after that.

“We are the only party that will invest more in our public services once we have finished the job of clearing the deficit in 2018.

“We are the only party putting equality for mental health treatment front and centre of our manifesto, with £500m of extra funding.

“And we are the only party calling for real improvement from the bottom up, joining up health and care to give people care closer to home.

“Much of Simon Steven’s report is in line with Liberal Democrat policy. The priority given to mental health is extremely welcome. Recognising and supporting the needs of carers is vital. And getting hospital teams to work more closely with GPs, and GPs to work together to deliver care is an important step in providing care closer to home.”

Nick Clegg launches scheme to bring together tech industries from the North

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is launching a TechNorth, a new scheme to co-ordinate the existing digital technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.

The government will be investing in an organisation that will promote TechNorth internationally to encourage global businesses to invest in the North.

TechNorth is born out of the Northern Futures project – in which Nick Clegg is asking people in the North what our Northern cities need to do in order to work together to compete globally and to boost their economic growth.

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Nick will officially launch TechNorth during a visit to Sheffield today (Thursday 23 October).

The scheme brings together the best in tech industries from across the North to create an internationally renowned virtual agency.

TechNorth will serve to do what Techcity had done for East London and put TechNorth on the international map.

It will help to attract tech inward investors to the North and support existing tech businesses to grow by pooling ideas and resources, across local boundaries. The aim is to position the North as a place where the digital tech industry thrives.

Nick Clegg said:

“We’ve listened to local business leaders and there is a clear need for us to seize an opportunity to capitalise on existing tech talent by creating a Northern Tech Hub to rival Berlin, New York, or Shanghai.

“My ambition, over time, is to double the number of tech jobs in the North, creating a stronger economy. To put this in context – it is estimated there are about 200,000 ICT jobs in the region currently.

“Time is of the essence, so I’m in Sheffield today to bring creative minds from across the North together so that we can grow this from an idea into reality.

“As a first step, I am announcing the creation of TechNorth, an agency tasked with promoting a world-class tech cluster spanning five cities in the North.”

Tory mask slips on bedroom tax bill

Tories spent a full morning Committee session talking out a simple motion to agree that the Committee should sit in a desperate attempt to use parliamentary procedure to defeat Liberal Democrat MP, Andrew George’s Private Members’ Bill to scrap the bedroom tax.

Mr George said, “The mask has slipped. They have no shame. The ‘Nasty Party’ has reverted to type.

“Parliament overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the Bedroom Tax last month and now the Tories are trying underhand methods to frustrate the will of MPs and of the country.

“This is the Party which, when able to govern on their own, award wealthy second homers with a tax cut. So if the wealthy under-occupy their second homes the Tories reward them. If the poor under occupy their council home they penalise them.

“We’ve now seen that there is no end to their efforts to attack the poorest and the disabled.”

The post Tory mask slips on bedroom tax bill appeared first on Andrew George.

Citizens Advice: Payday lenders need to point people towards debt advice

Payday lenders should seize the opportunity to point people they have turned down for a loan towards debt advice says Citizens Advice.  New research from the Consumer Finance Association, which represents payday lenders, says that some people say they were left financially worse off after being turned down for a payday loan.  Citizens Advice has warned that encouraging borrowers to take out unaffordable loans is not a solution to financial problems.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice , said:

“People should not be given payday loans they have no chance of repaying.  Anyone who is turned down for a payday loan should be pointed towards free, impartial debt advice to help them address their money problems.  Borrowers were only told about debt advice in just one in five payday loan cases people reported to us.

“It’s important the new rules introduced by the FCA clean up the payday loan market.  The regulator needs to make sure that people aren’t being treated unfairly by lenders and are only allowed to borrow what they can afford to repay.

“As people continue struggling to make ends meet, the demand for short term credit will remain high.  People need more choice when it comes to short-term credit.  Increasing the number of credit unions will provide an alternative but so too will banks offering a responsible micro-loan.”

Between April and August this year, Citizens Advice ‘s payday loans tracker found that:

  • 19% of people were told how to get free debt advice
  • 26% were treated sympathetically by their payday lender if they ran into difficulty
  • 22% were made aware of the risks of extending a loan
  • Half were asked questions about their finances before being given a loan.

Last week, Citizens Advice revealed that young people who are struggling to make ends meet are more likely to turn to risky credit options like a payday lender, than other types of credit.  Analysis of 30,000 of the most serious debt cases experienced by Citizens Advice clients showed that ten per cent were aged 17-25. But 15 per cent of problems caused by high cost credit were in this age group. Payday loans accounted for 62 per cent of high cost borrowing among people in this age group.