PM calls General Election

“Make a success of Brexit”: PM calls General Election

Today, Tuesday 18th April 2017, Teresa May called an emergency announcement at 11:15am to inform Britain of her decision to hold a General Election on June 8th 2017.

Speaking outside number 10, Mrs May began, “I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we have agreed to call for a General Election to be held on the 8th of June. I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next, and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.”

This comes as quite a shock to many, as the Prime Minister has repeatedly enforced that she would not be holding a General Election before the already scheduled 2020 poll.

She continued to explain that “the division in Westminster will continue to risk our ability to make a success of Brexit, and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.”

Having already informed the Queen of her decision yesterday, Mrs May made it quite clear that “we need an election, and we need it now”. During her statement, she indicated that this decision wasn’t one she came to lightly, and only reached her decision over the Parliamentary recess held over the Easter holiday.

It would appear her decision is supported by Parliament, with Senior Tories urging her to call the election, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stating “it will give the British people the chance to vote for a Government that will put the interests of the majority first”.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed her decision, and gave the Conservative candidates his “very best wishes”.

Five pound note

One Month to Spend Your Old £5 Notes

September 13th 2016 saw the introduction of the new polymer £5 note, leaving people 8 months to spend their old notes.

From Friday 5th May 2017, the old £5 note will cease to be legal tender, meaning shops and not all banks will accept them.

The Bank of England have stated that there are still roughly 160 million notes still in circulation, urging people to check their piggy banks and purses to get the notes spent or banked within the four remaining weeks.

It is at the Banks and Building Societies discretion whether they accept the old note after the 5th May, and The Bank of England will continue to exchange the note forever as it does any other note that has ceased.

Following on from the lowest note, the polymer £10 note will enter circulation in September 2017, and the £20 note will enter circulation by 2020.

Registration Fees for Lasting Powers of Attorney are Reducing.

All Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) must be registered before they can be used. This process is carried out at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and until recently, this cost £110 per LPA.

It has now been announced that as of 1st April 2017, the cost to register your LPA will now be £82 making a saving of £28!

Despite the registration service becoming more efficient, Ministers are hoping that reducing the fees will encourage more people to take out an LPA, protecting themselves and their future.

For those who have recently submitted an application which is to be paid after 1st April, the difference in price will be refunded and Solicitors have been instructed to return the difference to the person who paid the original fee.

LCS are currently offering a fantastic special offer of 2 for 1 on all LPAs which now makes this too good to miss.

To arrange your appointment, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250 for peace of mind for you and your family.

New £1 coin

New £1 coin: What do you need to know?

Today, Tuesday 28th March 2017 marks the day the new 12 sided £1 coin enters circulation.

Introduced to reduce the amount of counterfeit coins, this new coin has been labelled the most secure, and even has a hologram which makes it near impossible to create replicas.

The old £1 coin will remain in circulation until the 15th October 2017, where it will cease to be legal tender. Make sure you spend, deposit or exchange your old coins before then or you may find yourself out of pocket.

What do you need to know?

Whilst many machines have been updated, not all have. Here’s a list of what to be aware of so you don’t get caught out.

  • Supermarkets – Sainsburys and Asda have changed their trolley locks to accept the new £1 coin, and Tesco have confirmed they will unlock their trolleys until they can be updated. All still accept the old £1 coin.
  • Vending machines – 85% of these accept the new £1 coin already, and all still accept the old coin.
  • Car parks – As some machines are older and cannot be upgraded, car parks are working to replace their old equipment and all new machines will accept the new coin. Most machines have the option to use notes, other small change and use your mobile phone to text a code in order to pay. People will still receive fines if they are only carrying new £1 coins as there is usually always another way to pay.
  • Trolley tokens – New 12 sided tokens will be created, however all trolleys will still accept the old token too.
  • Banks – You’re advised to deposit your old coins before 15th October 2017.
  • Arcades and Casinos – These are in the process of being upgraded and they still accept the old coins.
Childhood obesity

How do we tackle the child obesity crisis?

The Health Select Committee has called for tighter plans on the advertising and sale of unhealthy snacks and junk food. As reported in the Telegraph, despite the Government setting out it’s Childhood Obesity Plan, they are still to tackle the sale of discounted junk food and the advertising of unhealthy snacks before 9pm.

The committee have also recommended fines for companies that are unwilling to reduce sugar content, clearer labels and local authorities to hold more power to limit fast-food outlets in their area.

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, the Chair of the Health Select Committee has said that they “are extremely disappointed that the Government has rejected some of their recommendations. The omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity. Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge.

“The Government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity, as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality.”

Record numbers of children are now tackling weight problems with one third being overweight by the time they are 11. Research has suggested that problems such as this in childhood can lead to problems such as Type 2 Diabetes in later life.

Within the Childhood Obesity Plan, and with help from Jamie Oliver, from 2018 a sugar tax will be introduced on drinks which have more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. Food companies have also signed a voluntary agreement to reduce their sugar content by 2020, however as of yet there are no fines if they fail to do so.

Although MPs supported this announcement, they did request the monitoring of prices as they felt drinks companies should not pass on the tax by raising prices, and warned they may attempt to raise other prices such as water to make a gain from the unsuspecting consumer.

They also requested that sweetened milk products were added, as at the moment they stand exempt.

Professor Russell Viner, the Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said “it was an error for Government to exclude TV junk food advertising restrictions in their Obesity Plan.” These adverts are known to influence children and industry experts, parents and the committee all agreed that a ban before the watershed would hugely help to tackle the crisis.

The Government have defended their plans by stating that they were implementing “the most ambitious plan on childhood obesity in the world”, and that if no results were seen, they wouldn’t rule out further measures.

Part One: The good news is, we’re all living longer!

How do you feel when you think of old age? Do you see your parents and worry how they will cope as they get older?

With more people enjoying a healthier lifestyle and living into their 80s, not only has life expectancy increased, but the worry of how to pay for care.

Arranging care for members of your closest family can often feel overwhelming. It often succeeds a major traumatic life event and knowing where to begin, can be difficult. People are individuals and their needs are different, so there is no set way to organising care. It is important that the services you choose are flexible and able to adapt to their changing needs. The wisest starting point is assessing their needs at that time and reviewing them regularly. We’ve used the Telegraph Money’s “Guide to Long and Short Term Care” to help you decide. LCS employs an experienced Nurse specialist who can discuss care planning needs with you.

What types of care are available?

Residential Care

These Care Homes offer accommodation, food and personal care. This is suitable for those finding it hard coping at home, and who need more around the clock attention than a carer or family member could provide. Not all these Care Homes will provide specialist help for those suffering from Dementia or other health problems.

Nursing Care

This can be given at someone’s home, or in a Nursing Home. A Nursing Home is similar to a Residential Care Home in what it provides, however qualified Nurses will also be on duty 24 hours per day.

Respite or Short-Stay Care

This is normally taken to give carers a break. The stays are usually four week periods, but may sometimes be less. It is also offered to people recovering from illness or an operation before they return to their own home.

Dementia Care

Dementia, or Dementia related conditions, are the most common reason people require Nursing care. A Nursing Home will usually offer specialist Dementia care.

Specialist Care and Learning Disabilities

Some Care Homes offer specialist care for conditions such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s and there are also specialist units for people with learning difficulties and who may require more supervision than care.

Palliative Care

These settings are better known as Hospices and specialise in end of life care of those with chronic conditions. Palliative care focuses on controlling pain and symptoms, and looks to improve your quality of life. This often involves a plan being agreed between the individual, their family and the carers.

Taking the First Step

The decision to arrange care for a loved one is never easy. Many people worry about them leaving the family home and the effect this may have on them overall. It’s important to remember that there is a good reason why you are researching additional care. You may be worrying about their safety, whether their home is secure, or whether they are eating and sleeping properly.

With the correct help and care, not only will your loved one’s quality of life increase, but the stress on the family will reduce, allowing you to spend quality time with your relative.

If you’re seriously concerned about your loved one’s mental or physical wellbeing, you can chat to their GP. Bear in mind that although the GP may not be able to discuss your relative specifically due to confidentiality, they will explain the options available and give you detials of your local authority’s adult social services department.

If you’re able, or know you will be, paying most of the fees yourself, you can go directly to Care Homes which is a quicker way to arrange the care. This allows you more freedom to choose. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible for help with care fees, the local authority can carry out a financial assessment and advise on any help available.

Choosing a Care Home

When choosing a Care Home, it is important to do your research and not be afraid to ask questions about what care and specialist services they provide. Most Care Homes are happy for you to arrange a visit and include a walk around with the opportunity for you to ask any questions you and your family may have.

Think about:

  • Location
  • First impressions
  • Accommodation
  • Grounds, garden and communal spaces
  • Staff
  • Medical care
  • Activities

Call LCS now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss your care planning needs with an experienced Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

London attack

London attack: Seven arrested overnight in light of London terror.

Yesterday, Wednesday 22nd March, marked one year since the horrific terror attack that took place in Brussels. Yesterday, London was also given a shocking reminder that terrorists are still at large, living amongst us and will strike when we least expect it.

The Metropolitan Police have stated their belief that the attacker acted alone, yet despite this, raided and successfully arrested seven others from addresses in London and Birmingham. What rings shockingly true, is that Teresa May has revealed not only was yesterday’s attacker British born, he was already known to the MI5 being investigated years ago in relation to extremist terrorism; however he was not considered to be part of the current intelligence picture.

The attacker has not yet been formally identified, however it has been confirmed that the car used in the attack was hired from Enterprise in Birmingham, and a neighbour has identified the attacker as living at one of the addresses raided there.

PC Keith Palmer, one of four confirmed deaths, has been hailed a hero with close friend MP James Cleverly calling for him to receive recognition for his courageous efforts. “He was a strong, professional public servant and it was a delight to meet him here again only a few months after being elected. Would Teresa May, in recognition of the work that he did and the other Police Officers and publice servants in the House, consider recognising his gallantry and sacrifice formally with a posthumous recognition?”

Teresa May replied that he had paid the “ultimate sacrifice by giving his life in the heart of democracy”. She also assured Mr Cleverly that it “will of course be considered in due course”.

Mr Palmer, one of the unarmed Policemen standing on the gate, is known to have tried to stop the attacker as he burst through the gates into New Palace Yard. He was stabbed multiple times before plain clothed Police shot the attacker three times in the chest.

Former Staff Sgt Tony Davis, and Captain Mike Crofts witnessed the attack and were first on the scene to administer CPR to Mr Palmer. The two men were leaving a Parliamentary meeting on boxing when they became embroiled in the attack. They ordered an air ambulance and fought desperately to save Mr Palmer until they were joined by Tobias Ellwood, the Tory Foreign Minister who took over from their efforts.

In haunting scenes, Mr Ellwood a former soldier himself, was pictured in his desperate attempts to resuscitate Mr Palmer. He was surrounded by Paramedics, Police Officers and Doctors as he administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and attempted to stem the blood flowing from the officer’s wounds. He is said to be devastated by the death, and stayed with Mr Palmer until the air ambulance arrived.

This horrific tragedy has called for a review of the well-known “weak spot” and the possibility of Police being armed at the gate, as they are around the perimeter of the building.

So far, there have been forty injured with four confirmed deaths; Mr Palmer, Aysha Frade, a man in his 50s and the terrorist himself. A minutes silence was held today to honour the casualties.

The attack as it happened

  1. Terrorist drives at high speed onto Westminster Bridge, mounts the pavement and mows down several pedestrians.
  2. The grey Hyundai i40 is crashed into the railings outside the Palace of Westminster and the attacker, brandishing two knives, bursts through the gates into New Palace Yard.
  3. He stabs Mr Palmer multiple times before being shot three times in the chest with a hand gun.
  4. Parliament is placed into lockdown with MPs being held in Chamber, and Teresa May is evacuated.
NI rise for the self-employed

What National Insurance rise?

In a spectacular humiliating U-turn, Philip Hammond has scrapped plans to increase National Insurance (NI) for the self-employed.

As this announcement came just days after Teresa May pushed this back for review to the Autumn Budget, there’s been speculation over whether this was a joint decision or one taken solely by Mrs May. Despite it leaving a £2 billion hole in the Budget, it is believed Mrs May is concerned that breaking the party’s manifesto pledge of “no increases in VAT, NI contributions or Income Tax” would do significant damage to the Conservative’s reputation.

As more people are turning to self-employment, Mr Hammond could be forgiven for attempting to reduce the tax gap between the employed and self-employed. He has strongly defended his policy claiming it would’ve evened out the playing field as the self-employed receive many of the same benefits, including a state pension.

Despite his efforts, Mr Hammond has come up against criticism with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell urging him to apologise. Mr McDonnell expressed that he found it “shocking and humiliating” that Mr Hammond had been forced to withdraw a decision announced one week ago. He also felt that if the Chancellor had spent “less time writing stale jokes for his speech, they may not have been in this mess”.

It seems the Conservatives were split over this decision as some felt the policy was beneficial as it would not only reduce the gap between the employed and self-employed, but provide money that could be focused into Britain’s lowest earners. Ryan Shorthouse, Director of BrightBlue felt “the focus of the Government should be on softening the cuts to in-work benefits, not reversing the Class 4 NI rise”.

Mr Hammond has promised not to increase NI for the rest of this Parliament, and expressed that the Government will be reviewing other self-employed benefits such as paternity rights.

Budget 2017

“We Are the Party of the NHS”.

Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced the Spring Budget.

Mr Hammond spoke very highly of Social care, stating that he “paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of carers” currently in the system. Although Nursing wasn’t specifically mentioned, an extra £2 billion of funding was declared for Social Care services in England over the next three years, with £1 billion made available in 2017-18.

He also declared another £100 million for triage systems in emergency departments, with the aim to release pressure and help manage the “inappropriate A+E attendances”.

In a bid that received a somewhat mixed reception, self-employed Nurses are now to pay National Insurance (NI) contributions from April 2018. As both sets of workers can claim similar benefits, Mr Hammond believes the age gap in NI can no longer be justified.

Despite this announcement meaning an additional £145 million, he did receive criticism for not discussing a raise in pay for Nurses. It has recently been discussed that a more attractive salary would help retain vital Nurses and attracts people to the profession. Jeremy Corbyn MP stated that “Mr Hammond had a duty to end the pay cap and award a pay rise to the 5 million public servants whom we rely on day in day out”.

There were also substantial changes for working families, as the free childcare entitlement is also set to double to 30 hours per week.

The Budget at a Glance

Tax and NI

  • It will be reviewed in the Autumn Budget whether the self-employed earning more than £16,200 will pay increased NI contributions.
  • The tax free allowance will rise to £12,500 by 2020.

Health

  • £325 million to be made available for the first Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) ahead of the Autumn Budget.
  • Extra funding for STPs to be announced in the Autumn Budget.
  • £100 million for triage systems in emergency departments.

Social Care

  • £2 billion grant for Social Care in England over the next three years, with £1 billion available in 2017-18.
  • Green Paper to be produced on future funding.

Childcare

  • £2,000 a year for working families towards the cost of childcare (under 12) to be made available for all eligible families by December 2017.
  • Free childcare entitlement to double to 30 hours per week.
lasagne app

Would You Buy Next Door’s Lasagne?

Do you think you’re the next Jamie Oliver? Does your lasagne make you feel like Nigella? A new app has been developed that allows busy people the opportunity to purchase food from nearby home cooks.

Finnish duo Leo Wuoristo and Ilkka Salo are the brains behind the food app “Trybe” and believe it is about to take the market by storm. The app connects domestic cooks to a local network, to enable busy professionals the opportunity to buy home cooked food from the area.

Salo himself thought up the concept, by accident it seems, when his neighbour offered him a home cooked curry to save him going to buy his dinner in the pouring rain. He gave her £5 and she gave him the best curry he’d ever had.

After meeting up with his friend Wuoristo, they realised there must be thousands of people who find themselves not only with no time to cook a decent, healthy meal, but who go back to an empty home and eat alone.

The duo individually meet every potential cook to try their dishes, check out their kitchen and photograph their food. They also insist that every cook is visited by the council, and once they’re approved, they’re ready to cook!

Each cook has the option to take pre-orders, or cook on demand. They are supplied with Trybe boxes to put their food in, and the food is then delivered by courier, or the buyer can collect directly from the cook. The money is transferred via the app and the cooks’ can also be rated and given feedback. The system is already proving very popular in London.

The duo are thrilled as they believe it has already exceeded their expectations, and appears to have been adopted by people from all backgrounds. They have stay at home parents, professional chefs, and people that just love to cook.

Although they wholly admit people will never become millionaires, their vision was always to improve people’s diets, and they actively encourage their cooks to use authentic, healthy, tasty dishes that are cooked fresh on the day.

As more people are succombing to their careers and spending less time at home, this app could be a concept for the future and shape the way we view our social life.