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So The Deal Is Done

As reported in the Guardian, this week finally saw a coalition deal drawn between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and The Conservative Party. Unfortunately this deal came at a cost.

The DUP, well known for their controversial views surrounding abortion, have secured £1 billion for Northern Ireland’s economy in return for their support on the Conservative’s Queen’s Speech.

This allocation of funds begs the question why we are selling off and privatising huge NHS organisations, when we clearly have the money available to help fix some of the problem.

Theresa May’s strong and stable leadership is now a thing of the past as she removes much needed funds from our budget, and trades them for a majority vote.

Understandably, this has caused uproar with not only England itself, but Scotland and Wales too.

The deal, just three pages long, confirms the Conservative agreement to meet NATO and spend 2% of GDP on the armed forces, and both parties must adhere to the Armed Forces Covenant. This promises priority care for children of current and ex members of the Armed Forces.

According to the Guardian, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, named the agreement outrageous, stating it was “a straight bung to keep a weak Prime Minister and faltering government in office”.

Similarly, Nicola Sturgeon professed:

“In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, The Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power – even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution”.

Earlier last week, Jeremy Hunt proclaimed he would consider reviewing the pay cap for healthcare staff, only for it to be forgotten in the Queen’s Speech.

Today, Tuesday 27th June, this was met with the start of the Nurse’s “Summer of Protest” that the Royal College of Nursing declared just last month.

On Thursday, Theresa May will be presenting her Queen’s Speech for vote in Parliament. She will require the alliance of all ten DUP MPs to even stand a chance of having it passed, and enabling her party to govern without majority.

Ironically, although ideal for the Conservatives short term, long term the deal may not be sufficient. It has been suggested that in just two years, the DUP will ask for further concessions from the Tories.

Instead of rejoicing for a secured government, many of us are mourning the loss of a nation that once was.

Leaked Document Suggests Havoc To London Healthcare

A 31 page internal NHS document has highlighted a cost saving exercise to help bridge the £183 million funding gap for a number of hospitals in north-central London.

As reported by the Guardian, this document suggests Doctors affected will have less money to spend on medicine, refer less patients to hospital, and slash the support offered to those with severe needs. They are also looking to close some A&E and maternity units.

Ultimately, this will increase time for treatments and operations as the strain will be added elsewhere to already struggling associations, resulting in poor care:

“We recognise that these choices may be difficult for a number of reasons .. Options that impact on quality of care and options that would be difficult to implement.” (The Guardian)

The affected boroughs are reported to be Camden, Islington, Haringey, Barnet, and Enfield, with University College London and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital amongst the hospitals affected.

The leaked document has sparked outrage amongst NHS providers, with Saffron Cordery, Director of policy and strategy emphasising, “Some of the proposals could challenge fundamental expectations shared by NHS staff and the public about what the health service is there to provide. We cannot do that without a full and proper debate.”

Following on from the General Election, Labour are now stating that the cuts are due to the government not allocating the funds needed to do the job effectively.

Although there has been no final decision, the discussions may result in:

Patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned operations.
Higher care rationing.
Hospital units being restricted, or shut altogether.
Cuts to financial support currently given to those with long term health problems.
Limitations to treatment for those with musculoskeletal conditions.
Less money being fed into the Better Care Fund (a scheme designed to reduce pressure on hospitals).
Job losses.

Is this really the end of the NHS as we know it?

 

 

 

Hung Parliament: So Where Do We Go From Here?

So, the country spoke. The 2017 General Election resulted in a hung Parliament. No majority vote.

With everyone on tenterhooks as the results rolled in, you couldn’t help but wonder why exactly the nation was going through this again.

Theresa May was secure. She had a majority. The Conservative Party were in power.

Now, Theresa May is in talks with Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to form what is being dubbed by many as the ‘coalition of chaos’.

This coalition means Theresa May remains in power, but must have the backing of the DUP party in order to push through laws and bills.

Although nothing is certain, Arlene Foster was reported in the Guardian as saying “talks are positive”. So a Conservative-DUP merge is looking likely.

And then there is Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn was hot on the heels of Theresa May, and although he didn’t secure a majority either, he pulled Labour into a position where they now sit only 56 seats behind the Conservatives.

Following his re-election as MP for Islington North, Mr Corbyn was quoted in the BBC News:

“The Prime Minister called this election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that’s enough to go actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country.”

Although Labour have been “preparing for government” (BBC News), with shadow chancellor John McDonnell telling BBC News they’ve “laid the foundations for a minority government, and then eventually a majority government”, Theresa May refused to succumb to Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for her to retire.

So what does she do now?

With Brexit negotiations looming, Mrs May has been keen to reinforce her determination to succeed and maintain “a deep and special partnership” with the EU.

Meeting on Tuesday with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, he was reported in the Guardian as saying that although he respected the decision of British people, “until negotiations come to an end, there is always a chance to reopen the door.”

Will the uncertainty of Britain, and effectively a Britain with no government bring a softer Brexit deal; one The Prime Minister may well welcome? Or is Mr Macron sending her a warning to retreat?

Although we cannot second guess what next weeks negotiations will begin to indicate, it’s imperative Theresa May organises a successful coalition, secures our government, and regains confidence, not only for Brexit, but for the people of the British Isles.

General Election 2017

49 days ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, called a snap General Election she’d always insisted she would never call.

Tomorrow, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, goes head to head with Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Tim Farron (Liberal Democrats), Paul Nuttall (UKIP), Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (Green Party) and Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), whilst the UK votes for what could be the end of Britain as we know it.

Although originally calling the General Election to allow Britain the chance to choose who takes us through Brexit negotiations, Theresa May has found herself under serious pressure and scrutiny.

She has had to defend her decisions to not attend key conferences, and more recently has led the country through two terrorist attacks, one of which found Britain raising to a critical terror alert.

According to the Telegraph, the latest polls show Labour is still closing the gap behind the Conservatives, with YouGov stating a 4 point gap, and ICM stating 11 points. Despite the gap in the polls, when the election was called, the Tories lead by 17.8 points.

Far from the landslide victory the Conservatives expected, YouGov have predicted the gap will continue to close and suggested we are heading towards a hung Parliament. This occurs when no single party wins a majority vote.

If this was the case, Theresa May would remain in power, but begin discussions with the second party (most likely Labour), to decide whether they can form a coalition. This was the case in 2010 when David Cameron (the Conservatives) became Prime Minister, with Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) as his deputy.

Although each party promotes a very different manifesto, the common theme of each is the NHS. With 91% of nurses recently voting in favour of industrial action (ballot organised by RCN), the healthcare industry is definitely calling for change and crying for a lift on the pay cap nurses and doctors currently experience.

It has been no secret that the NHS is at crisis point struggling with money, staff, and with the Brexit vote, a potential nightmare regarding our nurses and doctors coming from the EU.

With Labour “over promising”, and the Conservatives planning to continue with seemingly little change, are there any parties that really have what it takes to put confidence back amongst the nation?

This Election is probably one of the most pivotal the country has ever held. With so much at stake for the nation, and with no party obliged to see their manifesto through, who will you have confidence in to lead the country out of crisis and into a bright future?

 

 

Brexit NHS

Returning Brits Will Make NHS Costs Climb.

Post Brexit, retired Brits currently living in Europe will cost the NHS £500million if the current EU healthcare scheme ends.

As part of the S1 Scheme, there are currently 190,000 British retirees living in European countries getting their healthcare costs covered. If these Brits were to return to the UK, The Nuffield Trust has estimated their care would cost roughly £979million per year.

We currently contribute £500million, and so would therefore need roughly another £500million to settle the bill.

As reported in The Guardian, the report has stated that by 2025, there could be a shortage of 70,000 paid carers. Consequently, the cost of our exit from the EU will rise if nurses and care workers currently entering the UK from Europe, were no longer permitted; we would lose the migrants that work and pay taxes.

The report highlights that, “Every step should be taken to try to secure a deal that allows them to keep receiving care where they now live”. It indicates that to fulfil the shortfall to treat returning Brits, we’d need approximately 900 beds, and the healthcare staff to match.

This pressure will only add to the strain the NHS is currently under. According to the report, there are now roughly 22,000 migrant nurses working to fill the void the NHS presently has.

The Department of Health has estimated, by severing migration, by 2025 we will have lost 20,000 nurses. This will roughly double if we were to deport those already working here.

“The state of the NHS relies heavily on it being recognised as a significant priority as we enter some of the most important negotiations in Britain’s history” (Mark Dayan, Nuffield Trust).

“These figures are a stark reminder that with the NHS at breaking point, politicians must keep the health service and its patients at the forefront during Brexit negotiations and reduce the impact that leaving the EU will have on Health and Social Care across the UK” (Dr Mark Porter, BMA Council Chair).

Manchester attack

“The Worst Attack Since The London Bombings”

“Manchester is the guts and belly of the nation” – George Orwell.

Yesterday, the world woke up to the heartbreaking news that late on Monday evening, Islamic State had targeted Manchester.

The bomb, detonated at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena, has so far claimed 22 lives, including children that were at the concert with their parents.

With the bomber being identified as 22 year old Salman Ramadan Abedi, the terror threat has been raised to critical with the Prime Minister activating “Operation Temperer”.

It has been confirmed that Abedi was known to police, but wasn’t considered a threat.

As reported by The Guardian, when delivering her conclusion Theresa May stated: “Not only that another attack remains highly likely, but a further attack may be imminent.” She further explained that she didn’t want to cause “undue alarm” but soldiers will be visible on the streets, with military personnel present at public events.

Operation Temperer, activated for the first time, will allow 5,000 troops to support the police, replacing armed officers at key sites to release them for street patrol. This is in response to the police requesting authorisation from the Secretary of State for support for their armed officers.

Ian Hopkins, Gtr Manchester Police Chief Constable said, “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network”.

Although the bomb, detonated in the foyer of the arena, was homemade, it is yet to be discovered whether it was built by Abedi, or given as support from other conspirators.

Senior security sources are said to be “rocked backwards” as a successful bomb plot hasn’t been executed in the UK since the London attacks in 2005.

What is more chilling, is that CCTV footage shows Abedi deliberately walking towards the foyer, detonating the bomb for maximum impact. He sent bolts and shrapnel into those surrounding him, claiming 22 lives with 64 being treated for injuries (updated figures from the Manchester Evening News).

The emergency and healthcare services were yesterday hailed as heroes for their part in dealing with the aftermath of the attack. Eight hospitals in and around Gtr Manchester are being used to treat the injured, with people working tirelessly since the attack.

Despite the catastrophic devastation this brutal attack has had on so many lives, the people of Manchester have been praised for their resilience and strength in rising together. It is not the first attack Manchester has seen, with the IRA once destroying half the city centre in 1996. The Mayor of Manchester reminded us of this yesterday, whilst stating in his speech, “This will not beat us”.

Theresa May is set to chair another Cobra meeting today (Wednesday 24th May) at 9am.

Nurses strike

78% of Nurses Vote In Support of Strike Ballot

As reported in the Guardian on Sunday, The Royal College of Nursing has revealed four out of five members (78%) are set to walkout over the cap on pay rises.

It was revealed they will stage a “Summer of protest activity” at their annual conference with their plan highlighting the dissatisfaction over pay. A second ballot will be taken before any action happens.

It was also revealed this week, that 1 in 9 vacancies within the sector are left unfilled, and according to the RCN, this is part of the reason Nurses are suffering low pay. The Health Foundation Charity found that by 2020 the shortfall could be 42000 Nurses, with almost half of all Nurses believing staffing levels are already stretched.

A formal pay cap of 1% was introduced in 2015, however due to inflatorary rises, this actually equates to a 14% cut since 2010.

Nurses have been left struggling, attending food banks, and some even looking for jobs in supermarkets, to try and make ends meet.

Janet Davies, General Secretary for the RCN haas commented: ” What’s happened today is unprecedented for the RCN and is a reflection of the deep anger members feel. The current conditions in the NHS are driving people out of the profession and putting new people off entering it. Our argument is not with patients. This is about ensuring they get the safe and effective care they need. The 1% cap on nursing pay is putting patients at risk.”

The industrial action will take place across the UK, including Scotland, where their terms are set separately by the Scottish Government. Their Ministers are being pressured to lift a cap which has seen their Nurses’ pay fall by 14%. Although Nicola Sturgeon has accepted it is “unacceptable to see them using food banks”, she is still defending their upholding of the 1% cap.

Mrs Sturgeon believes they’ve “done more than any other Government to protect the pay of Nurses.” Bursaries were protected and they were exempt from tuition fees, with the only downfall that starting salaries were £300 less than in England. The SNP last week refused proposals to raise pay by above 1%.

A spokesman from the Conservative party said “the only way we can increase NHS funding, staffing or pay is to get a good Brexit deal so the economy prospers in the years ahead.”

To see Labour’s reaction to the announcement, see our Facebook page (@LCSlegal).

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Dying Matters Awareness Week

May 8-14th is Dying Matters Awareness Week designed to highlight the importance of discussing death and bereavement.

Last years campaign focused on the difficulties people have in preparing for death and, as reported in the Telegraph, with 83% of Brits in this position it highlighted the importance of “the discussion”.

This year’s campaign is focused on “what you can do”, aimed at giving people easy steps to prepare for end of life.

Write your Will, figures released in 2016 show that over half of Brits do not have a Will. Your Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes after your death are adhered to, not only does this give peace of mind, it offers protection for your family and assets.

Unmarried couples, despite the length of their relationship, still are not recognised in the eyes of the law but writing your partner into your Will guarantees they will be given a share of your Assets. Read our article on writing a Will to find out what to do next.

Prepaid Funeral Plans, with the average cost of a funeral at over £3,000 it is already expensive, yet over the next 20 years this cost will rise to over £12,000. Organising your funeral before you die is the easiest way to relieve the financial burden and stress of paying for your funeral. It also ensures it is tailored exactly as you want it.

LCS have a special offer of £100 discount on Dignity Guaranteed Funeral Plans and, purchasing one today ensures the cost is frozen at today’s prices and won’t be subject to the inflation that will inevitably occur.

Future care, Organising your Lasting Power of Attorney is the best way to ensure you receive the care you desire if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being unable to make decisions for yourself. Appointing someone you trust to make these important decisions gives you and your family peace of mind and confidence for the future.

As it’s important for this to be in place before you lose capacity, take advantage NOW of our 2 for 1 offer on all Powers of Attorney (local and telephone appointments only).

Speak to your loved ones, Death comes to us all so ensure your family are aware of your wishes by talking to them. Although it will be a hard conversation, not discussing this could make it harder for them when the inevitable happens. Use humour, or recent media topics to break the ice. Take the opportunity to highlight what you want and, more importantly, what you don’t want.

To take advantage of our special offers, and for information regarding all of our services, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250. It’s never too soon or too late to talk.

Bereavement benefits: Campaigner dies after cuts in Widowed Parent’s allowance.

A father of two who was campaigning against the cuts to the Bereavement Benefits, dies less than one month after the changes take affect.

As reported in The Guardian, Alan (a pseudonym to protect his identity) who was terminally ill, spoke out about the “callous and brutal” cuts that would sever the financial support available to partners and children.

Under the old system, Alan’s family would have been entitled to £60,000 over ten years to support them after his death. Now, this is reduced to less than £10,000 over just 18 months.

Conservatives, in-particular Ros Altman (former Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions), have teamed up with other parties in an attempt to “persuade Ministers to think again”. They praised Alan and have vowed to continue fighting on behalf of all families in a similar situation: “It’s so sad. His family is going to be devastated and I wish there was something I could have done. I am certainly still trying and I know there is feeling across the House of Lords.”

Lady Altman raised the points that the recent statements from the Princes William and Harry, have highlighted the trauma losing a parent brings, and although the benefits system does need skimming, families in this situation need help and support.

Ministers have claimed that the new system has been designed around modern society, where women are more inclined to work and staying under the old system may stop widowed parents adapting to life.

Campaigners such as Georgia Elms, Chair of WAY Widowed and Young, disagree believing that although families were still suffering at 18 months (the new cut off point), the financial support allowed them to re-enter employment part time. It has also been called for help to be made available to parents who are living with their partner, but unmarried.

To see how the cuts may affect you and your family, read our Resource “Bereavement Changes Could Leave Widowed Parents With Less Support”.

What you need to know about the new speeding fines

​​As reported in the Daily Telegraph, Monday 24th April marked a change that 80% of UK motorists are unaware of; the increase in speeding penalties. The new changes mean you could pay hundreds of pounds more for speeding, so hasn’t there been a better time to heed advice, stick below the limit and drive safely?​

When will a ticket be issued?

As the law stands, you are breaking speeding laws the second you exceed the speed limit. Unfortunately, practically, this does not work.

To enforce the law so strictly would mean people were spending more time watching their speedometers, and less time concentrating on safe driving. That being said, speedometers often become uncalibrated and so the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) enforce a margin of error of 10% plus 2mph.

With this, most police forces won’t prosecute until you are, for example, driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone. Despite the discretion of the police forces, it is worth noting that you could have already been prosecuted via other means regardless of the suggested threshold.

How could I be caught?

Speed cameras

This is the most common way to be caught speeding. These are usually erected on a yellow pole, and if caught, will emit two bright flashes as you drive by.

Motorway networks commonly use average speed systems which record your registration as you drive by. The system works out how fast you’ve travelled between the cameras, and if your average speed is higher than the limit, you will receive a ticket.

Police officers

A police officer may use a speed gun to measure your speed and pull you over if you are above the threshold. Most police cars now have an in-car camera system which, if a car is followed, will give a breakdown of their speed.

What happens next?

The address of the car owner is established from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) will be sent. From this, you will either be sent details of speed awareness courses you must attend, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a court summons.

What is changing?

An FPN currently results in three points and a £100 fine. However, if your speed was high and you were summoned, or rejected the FPN, the maximum fine is £1000 (£2500 on the motorway).

From April 24th 2017, there will be three main bands of speeding.

●  Band A – This is the lowest level eg. 25mph in a 20mph zone. You should expect 3 points on your licence, and a fine that is equivalent to roughly half of your weekly income.

●  Band B – This is for more serious speeding offences eg. 35mph in a 20mph zone . You can expect 4-6 points on your licence or disqualification for up to 28 days, and a fine equivalent to your full weekly income.

●  Band C – This is the highest level eg. 45mph in a 20mph zone. You should expect 6 points on your licence or disqualification of up to 56 days, plus a fine equivalent to 1 and a half times your weekly income.

All the fines are flexible, and mitigating circumstances or aggravating factors could be applied.

Speeding abroad.

An EU directive was introduced in May 2015, and as the UK did not opt out, we are soon to see changes in the UK prosecution of speeding abroad that we must abide by.

These changes will be introduced in May 2017.