Telephone Number: 01977 722290/1
Here is a link to an article Jon recently wrote, arguing that Labour is more likely to win in the future by securing votes with the core red voters as opposed to trying to win the hearts of blue voters. Read the article at the following link:
In view of recent controversy in connection to hospitality which politicians receive from newspapers, newspaper executives even, I am placing on the website the following statement:
“Occasionally I meet journalists for a chat, but I never accept hospitality and I have never met a proprietor. Part of a MP’s job is to meet journalists, which I frequently do, but I don’t take hospitality from anyone. I have never met an executive of any national newspaper.
Jon has welcomed the news that Wildcats has received confirmation of the renewal of its’ super league licence, saying “This is great news for the fans, players and the board alike. Wildcats have been playing well and it would have been a massive blow to see them demoted. It has been a tense time but I think this decision will now give the Club a much needed boost to move forward with confidence”
Jon Trickett today slammed the Tory proposals that could see fully localised business rates resulting in Wakefield’s Labour run council losing £32.3 million whilst Tory controlled Wycombe would gain £61.2 million. Jon said: “It really is a case of looking after their own. Conservative Community Minister, Eric Pickles MP is claiming that Council’s aren’t motivated to support local firms or create new jobs. This is nonsense. Wakefield Council are trying in very difficult circumstances to create and encourage enterprise. Cutting back the amount they receive on business rates won’t help” Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics warned that the reform to business rates will widen the North-South divide. “The risk is that northern authorities will find it impossible to attract businesses as fast as councils in the South. If that happens, the gap between the South and North will widen” The Times, 18th July 2011
Jon Trickett MP has been contacted by many constituents employed within the NHS, Local Government and Schools who are fearful of what will happen to their public sector pension. Jon said “There is a great myth out there perpetrated by the Conservatives/Liberals and their friends in the right wing media that public pensions are gold plated. This is certainly not the case with the average pension paid to former Health Services worker amounting to less than £4,000 per annum whilst the average occupational pension in the UK is £8,740 per annum”
The GMB have provided several fact sheets which bust the myth about public sector pensions and can by read below.
Key facts about the NHS Pension Scheme (NHSPS):
* The NHSPS in England and Wales is the largest single centrally run occupational pension scheme in Europe, with more than 1.36 million employees currently contributing towards their retirement, 638,000 pensioners receiving a pension and 525,000 former members due to receive a pension in future.
* The NHSPS has two sections which both provide a pension on a final salary basis:
- the 1995 Section offers those in employment before April 2008 a pension paid from the age of 60,
- the 2008 Section offers newer employees a better level of pension, with more flexibility, paid from the age of 65.
* All members of the 1995 Section are being offered a choice to join the 2008 Section through the Pensions Choice Exercise, which will see all employees receive more information about their pension than ever before. For more information on the Pensions Choice exercise go to http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Choice.aspx
* £8.4 billion is paid towards the NHSPS every year. Employees pay one third of this: £2.7 billion.
* Currently £6.1 billion of benefits are paid out to pensioners each year. This expenditure is met from the contributions of £8.4 billion. The surplus of £2.3 billion is held by Government and is used for other expenditure. Government then guarantees the payment of future NHS pensions.
* Half of all NHSPS pensioners receive a pension of less than £4,000 per annum. The average occupational pension in the UK is £8,740 per annum.
* The average age at which staff who have an entitlement to draw pension at age 60 actually draw their pension is 63. This is in line with the average retirement ages seen across the UK.
* NHS Trade Unions and Employers reached an agreement in 2007 to introduce the 2008 Section with an increased retirement age and capped employers’ pension costs in exchange for improved benefits that better suit today’s NHS workforce. Details of the Agreement can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/nhspsagreement
* Under this agreement, the employers’ costs are capped at around 14% of pay. If pension costs increase beyond that, for example due to increased longevity, then the employee costs and benefits may be reviewed. The average costs of funding defined benefit pensions in the private sector is 17% of pay.
* The agreement and introduction of cost capping would have delivered annual savings of £450m. This mechanism and the agreed savings seem to have been abandoned by Government.
Inaccurate information and misleading statements about the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) are rife in the media. This guide highlights the most prevalent and erroneous of these myths and sets out the realities of the LGPS.
MYTH: Public Sector Pensions are unaffordable/unsustainable/untenable [delete as appropriate]
REALITY: This is often claimed, but these claims are not supported by evidence. Lord Hutton’s report, the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office and many others have demonstrated that, as a result of reforms agreed a few years ago the cost of public sector pensions will fall. If escalating taxpayer cost was really an issue, government would not have cancelled the taxpayer cost capping mechanisms in the main Public Sector Pension Schemes. It is the Government’s unpicking of recent reforms that threatens to lead to escalating taxpayer costs; not the reformed schemes. In the LGPS the cost savings from previous reforms are already feeding through and are reflected in a reduced current service cost.
MYTH: Workers in the private sector have to pay for the LGPS while local government workers reap the benefits
REALITY: Everyone pays for everyone else’s pension. Companies with occupational pension provision for their employees include pension costs when pricing their goods and services. All taxpayers pay for the cost of inadequate pension saving (increasingly prevalent in the private sector) through the tax and national insurance spent on increased take up of state benefits and demand on NHS and council care services.
MYTH: 25% of council tax is spent on the LGPS
REALITY: This misrepresentation deliberately ignores the fact that 75% of local authority income comes from sources other than council tax. The true figure as reflected by the Society of County Treasurers is around 5% (£65 a year for the average council taxpayer).
MYTH: LGPS costs are soaring and the scheme is unsustainable
REALITY: The cost of the LGPS to employers for service from April 2008 (2009 in Scotland and Northern Ireland) was reduced during the reforms to the scheme that included changed benefits and higher average member contributions. It is now 13.5% for future service and is set to fall year on year. This cost to taxpayers is lower than other public sector schemes and is significantly below the 17% cost of defined benefit schemes in the private sector. In contrast, member contributions increased in the new schemes to almost 6.6% now standing 0.8% above the old schemes’ member contribution rates. The introduction of cost sharing in the new scheme was designed to cap the future taxpayer share of any changes in costs. Costs associated with service before the new scheme was introduced should have been funded by employers in the past. These costs cannot be reduced by changing the scheme for current or future members.
MYTH: Local government pensions are paid directly by the taxpayer
REALITY: The LGPS, like all private sector defined benefit schemes, is a funded scheme with real investments in UK and overseas business and tangible assets such as property all generating returns to the 101 funds that make up the Local Government Pension Scheme in the UK. The taxpayer funds a proportion of the employer contribution to the funds through local and national taxation. The fund which currently holds more than £155bn of real assets has sufficient resource to pay the pensions due for at least the next 20 years.
MYTH: The employer contribution rate in the LGPS is too high
REALITY: There is not one employer contribution rate in the LGPS. There are over 7,000 participating employers in the scheme and each has their contribution set by the private sector actuary employed by the relevant one of the 101 funds in the UK. Current recommended employer contribution rates based on the last actuarial valuation in 2010 range from 11% to 37% with an average of 20%. Of this 20%, an average of 6.1% goes towards paying off the historic deficits that have arisen. This legacy of past underfunding by employers remains in many, although not all, funds so additional deficit payment contributions are still required.
MYTH: The LGPS is only nominally funded
REALITY: The LGPS has more than £155bn in real assets: property, investments in UK and overseas businesses, cash and government bonds. Four out of the largest 20 pension funds in the UK measured by asset level are Local Government Pension Funds. Total income to the scheme exceeds expenditure by £4-5bn every year, even in the current climate of poor economic performance. Even in the depths of the recession LGPS investments provided nearly £3bn for the LGPS in England alone, accounting for 27% of that scheme’s income. Another factor contributing to the ongoing viability of the scheme to this is the increase in member contributions built into the 2008 reforms. Yield from employees has increased by 17.5% as a result of the new contribution rates. Indeed, despite the global financial situation some funds have managed to improve their funding levels over the last three years as a result of previous reforms.
MYTH: Scheme members retire on gold-plated pensions, protected for life
REALITY: Around half of LGPS pensions in payment are below £3,000 a year. The mean average pension is £4,200pa with the average for women only £2,800pa. The coalition Government’s decision to link pension increases to CPI rather than RPI has effectively resulted in a reduction to the accrued rights and expectations of many LGPS pensioner and non-pensioner members. As a result of the 2010 Emergency Budget LGPS members are likely to lose a quarter of the value of their pensions over the next 25 years from this one change alone. This will only serve to push many more on to welfare benefits in old age.
MYTH: High earners in the LGPS receive unreasonably high pensions
REALITY: In local government highly paid employees are in the same pension scheme as the workers near the minimum wage. In the private sector many company directors and senior managers set up their own exclusive defined benefit schemes on extremely generous terms while their employees have only a low value defined contribution scheme. The average accrued pension for a director in the private sector is £227,726pa, 56 times higher than the average LGPS pension. Some members of the LGPS retire on very high pensions as a result of receiving very high salaries (236 local government employees earn more than £142,500pa), not as a result of an over-generous pension scheme.
MYTH: Local government workers have a job for life and better pay than everyone else
REALITY: The average length of membership in the pension scheme is less than ten years in stark contrast to the vision of a job for life. Existing jobs are often part time and low paid with minimal opportunity for overtime and other mechanisms common in the private sector to boost income. When comparing full time workers who are saving for retirement through an occupational pension scheme, public sector workers actually earn £22 per week less than their private sector comparators. The ‘total reward figure’, which is gross pay and employers’ pension contributions, in the private sector is £666 and in the public sector is £644 per week. Local government pay is also low in the public sector context with two thirds of local government workers earning less than £21,000 a year.
MYTH: To make pensions fair public sector provision must be reduced to the level common in the private sector
REALITY: This would increase the number of older people forced to live in poverty which in turn will increase the cost to the taxpayer of state benefits, health and care services. It is never the right solution to inequality to stoop to the level of the lowest common denominator. In education the solution to problem of good schools and bad schools is not to worsen the good schools so all children are poorly educated. In pensions the solution is not to worsen the good schemes but to raise the standard of the inadequate schemes. In fact defined benefit pension provision in the private sector attracts a future service employer contribution of 17% compared with 13.5% in the LGPS.
MYTH: LGPS benefits need to be cut or member contributions increased because of deficits in the funds
REALITY: The LGPS is more than 80% funded with sufficient assets to pay all pensions due for the next 20 years without any further contributions. Where deficits exist they relate to past service and underfunding by employers. One reason for current deficits is that LGPS funds were between 1990 and 1993 encouraged by the then Conservative government to fund only to 75% so the pension scheme could fund lower Poll Tax bills. Now deficits are measured against a 100% funding requirement, the cost of this historic underfunding is clear. Changes to benefits will only affect the future service cost which, as set out above, is already below the private sector average for defined benefit provision. The 3.2% increase in member contributions announced by George Osborne in October 2010 will not improve the scheme’s funding level. Quite the reverse. The additional income will pass through the scheme to the Treasury as employer contributions to the LGPS are reduced by the same amount as the increase in employee contributions (£1.04bn). This money is being deducted from council and devolved budgets thereby reducing the income to the majority of LGPS employers.
MYTH: The current economic situation means member contributions to the LGPS need to be increased
REALITY: Benefits already earned by members have to be paid, whatever changes are made to the scheme or member contribution rates. The tax the Treasury is proposing to introduce on LGPS members will price many out of the scheme resulting in fewer contributions going into the fund in terms of contributions and a reduction in UK pension saving. The collapse in participation rates that will occur if the £1 billion tax is levied on LGPS members as outlined by Treasury and DCLG will mean that the savings the contribution increase is supposed to yield will fail to do so. The fall in income will further mean that the LGPS will quickly move from having a annual cash flow surplus of £4bn to a deficit, causing more problems for local authorities and council taxpayers.
Members are currently subject to a three year pay freeze, without the protection for the lowest earners that exists in other parts of the public sector. Some members of the LGPS earn only 37p an hour above the minimum wage. GMB research shows that already 25% of council workers opt out of the LGPS for reasons of affordability, and in some local authorities around half of the workforce has opted out of pension saving. Further research shows that the Treasury’s tax on pension saving will have disastrous consequences, with 50% or more of current LGPS members likely to opt out if this policy is implemented.
MYTH: The balance of contributions between taxpayer and employee is unfair so LGPS contributions should increase.
REALITY: The cap and share mechanism that this Government has stopped would have limited the taxpayer contribution in the future. The effect of the Osborne Pension Tax in the LGPS will be that many members are paying more into the scheme than their employers.
MYTH: LGPS members retire at 60 and get a pension for nothing
REALITY: The normal retirement age in the LGPS is 65 and has been for decades. Members of the scheme currently contribute between 5.5% and 7.5% of earnings depending on salary, averaging over 6.5% overall. This is already more than double the amount the average member of a defined contribution scheme contributes. Applying the 3.2% increase the Chancellor outlined in the Comprehensive Spending Review, and protecting the lowest paid, could mean some members’ contributions more than double to 20% while even those on moderate salaries e.g. £22,000 could have to find an extra £100 a month in order to stay in the scheme.
MYTH: The new LGPS only affects new starters while existing members have their own preferential scheme
REALITY: Reforms to the LGPS affected all contributing scheme members, existing and new. The LGPS is not a two tier scheme, the LGPS 2008 (2009 in Scotland and Northern Ireland) is the scheme for any one of the two million people working in LGPS covered employment whether they started ten years ago, ten minutes ago or are due to start tomorrow. Existing members sacrificed benefits and increased their contributions in order to keep the scheme sustainable. The LGPS is the largest pension scheme in the country with more than two million contributing members, one million deferred members and a further one million pensioner members.
MYTH: If I’m not in the LGPS, what happens to the scheme is irrelevant to me
REALITY: If the LGPS is wound up or decimated by a collapse in member participation rates the £150bn the LGPS funds hold in assets will stop being invested in the UK economy in the way it is now. Currently a substantial proportion of these assets are shares in UK businesses, this investment is directly threatened by the 3.2% pension tax the Chancellor has announced. As the largest pension scheme in the UK, sudden changes in investment behaviour by these funds will have repercussions across the economy. With fewer members paying into the scheme and less time to spread the costs of paying the pensions that are owed, the pressure on funds to hold assets in lower risk investments (such as bonds) increases. Similarly the risk of default in meeting the costs of pensions owed increases, exposing the council taxpayer to the risk of having to bail out funds that can’t pay what they owe. It is therefore in everyone’s short term interest that the scheme is kept sustainable as well as being in society’s interest that workers are not forced to rely solely on welfare benefits in retirement.
On 12 July 2011, the Public Bodies bill had its second reading in the House of Commons. The bill, which originated in the House of Lords, would give Ministers the ability to abolish, merge or transfer the functions of the public bodies listed in the appropriate schedules to the Act, and deals with important bodies such as the Chief Coroner. Despite the fact that it has undergone countless amendments, the bill has not proven to be satisfactory in the House. While the Coalition kept reiterating that this bill would significantly help the current economic crisis, the Labour party was keen to point out the many discrepancies the bill contains.
Below is a copy of the speech given by Jon Trickett MP, which highlights the main problems of the bill, and the fact that the current government is not listening to the people and being irresponsible as they go forward with this bill.
“This has been an interesting debate, but at certain times Members walking into the Chamber might have wondered whether they had accidentally walked into a discussion on Welsh affairs, because so much of the debate focused on S4C—a mystery to me as an MP representing a Yorkshire constituency until I was allocated to this Bill. I can assure the House that by the time we reach Committee stage, I will be as expert as everybody else. However, the real reason for the contributions from so many Welsh Members might be a certain boundary review that will be taking place in Wales in due course, but perhaps that is idle speculation.
The sub-debate about S4C was ably led by my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones). Other contributions were made by the hon. Members for Ceredigion (Mr Williams), for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies), for Vale of Glamorgan (Alun Cairns), for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) and for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb). They all made interesting speeches, although it seemed to me that some of the points made by Government Members were hardly supportive of the Government’s position on S4C. The Opposition can assure the House that this matter will be explored in great detail in Committee.
Many other matters were raised, often with great authority, including the Government proposal to transform the chief coroner post. Very significant contributions were made on that matter by my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth), my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr Wright), my right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins) and my hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones). There is a significant problem with the Government’s proposals, which suggest that the coronial service, in part at least, should be made responsible to the Lord Chancellor, who, as we know, is a member of the Government. From time to time, a death that has been examined by a coroner may have been caused, in part at least, by the Government’s actions—we can all think of examples where a Government failure contributed to the death of a fallen hero in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so on. If the coroner has to report to the Lord Chancellor, would that not immediately raise questions about the independence of the coronial service in investigating the deaths? Deaths at war are as tragic as any other, and they obviously involve people who were fighting for our country. Those people are entitled to an independent coronial service, and I do not believe that the Government’s proposals give us that independence.
Powerful points were also made strongly on behalf of rural communities by my hon. Friends the Members for Luton South (Gavin Shuker) and for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey). They discussed not only the beauty of our rural countryside, but the need for fairness. The Government are proposing to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, and that retrograde step, again, needs to be debated very carefully in Committee. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East also spoke about youth justice, on the basis of his great experience, and the House listened carefully to the point he made.
What was striking about the debate was the fact that few Government Members were wholly in favour of the Bill and that they did not make the case for the Bill in the terms used by the Minister for the Cabinet Office. He made a case on the basis of democratic accountability—I shall address that in a moment—but his right hon. and hon. Friends largely chose to make an argument on financial grounds. They said that we should simply be taking an axe and making financial cuts to the service, irrespective of whether the service being provided is good or bad. For example, the hon. Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) referred to the financial imperative to cut services. We accept that there is a degree of financial imperative, particularly in relation to waste, where that is identified. However, I do not believe that the argument made by the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) that we should abolish any quango where even a small amount of waste has been abolished necessarily provides the correct answer—notably, the Minister for the Cabinet Office did not make that case.
The hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) gave an extraordinary motive for cutting quangos, basing her argument on inequality of pay. Those of us on the left, who have long argued for greater equality, welcome her as a recruit, but her case was that we should abolish quangos on the basis of the size of the chief executive’s salary, and that is a bizarre argument. The hon. Member for Watford (Richard Harrington) was the star of the show. He began his speech by saying that he had no experience whatsoever of any quango, ever. He felt that that gave him the basis for making a speech to say that quangos should immediately be reformed, abolished and so on.
The Government rested their case on the need for greater democratic accountability, and we agree that the quango state should be tackled on those grounds. However, they would be well advised to listen carefully to the case made by the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who chairs the Public Administration Committee. He pointed out that in a modern society accountability takes many forms. I have just discussed the coronial service and it may be that rather than the coroners being made accountable to the Lord Chancellor, as the Government would have it, they should be accountable to the relatives of the dead. In that sense, I agree entirely with the point made by the Public Administration Committee.
Considering that it dealt with such important bodies, the process the Government entered into was incredibly rushed. There was little or no consultation in advance with the interested parties, with the bodies themselves or even with Parliament. The reform of these bodies through proper legislative processes is clearly one thing that the Government are entitled to do, but instead, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), they are already proceeding effectively to abolish or at least to weaken through underhand administrative methods those very organisations that the Bill is intended to reform, even before it has gone through Parliament. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, for example, has already had its budget cut by 68%, yet it still exists in law. The staff numbers have been cut by 66%. Only one in three staff remain in the EHRC yet it still has statutory duties imposed on it by Parliament until this Bill becomes law. That is no way for a Government to proceed. It completely ignores the need for parliamentary assent and is once again reflective of a Government who are unwilling to listen or consult.
What we have here is a Government who are simply not listening, so much so that that they are not allowing witnesses to appear before the Public Bill Committee as part of the Bill’s scrutiny. We were told that this would be a listening Government. Why then will they not allow witnesses to appear before the Public Bill Committee when the Bill goes upstairs? The Government do not want to hear the voices of the Royal British Legion, who will defend the rights of fallen heroes to a proper inquest. They do not want to hear the voices of low paid workers in the agricultural industry who will be affected by the changes to the Agricultural Wages Board. They will not allow the voices of witnesses from the disabled community, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz), to be heard on the EHRC or the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, which is to be abolished. We will therefore oppose what we regard as a gross misuse of Government authority in seeking to prevent witnesses appearing before the Committee. I therefore urge the House to reject the programme motion, which does that.
On top of all those things, the Bill fundamentally alters ministerial powers to control quangos. It will concentrate far more authority in the hands of the relevant Ministers, who could merge bodies, transfer bodies or even abolish them without proper reference to Parliament and without listening to witness statements. The costings on which the Bill relies are also riddled with incompetence. The Minister for the Cabinet Office has made outlandish claims in The Sun newspaper that are totally unfounded. We have tabled freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions that show that rather than the £30 billion he claimed, the actual savings will be a fraction of that: £2.6 billion at most. When we considered individual Departments, we found the Government’s claim was often twice as high as the savings that they will make. Our research, for example, demonstrated that although the Government claimed that they would save £18 million from the Department for Work and Pensions, they will save less than £500,000.
Finally, the proposals will have a human cost both to the millions of people who receive services from the quangos and to thousands of employees, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington referred. Let me ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, a straightforward question, which I would like him to answer in his reply. What will happen to those whose jobs may be transferred into the private sector, the voluntary sector and elsewhere in the public service? What will happen to their rights? Does he envisage that their rights under TUPE will be properly protected, as they ought to be?
Hon. Members’ contributions today have revealed that the Government have not considered staff, have not listened to the users of services, have not produced proper costings and certainly have not listened to the millions of vulnerable people who will be affected by the Government’s actions if this Bill is passed. The Government do not realise that when they are taking decisions, they need to see the big picture—on which we can agree: that quangos should be reduced—but equally the detail. Government is about making decisions but it is also about listening and the Government simply do not have the humility to listen, the patience to debate or the ability to implement the detail properly. We will be voting for the reasoned amendment and fighting the Bill line by line in Committee, and we reserve the right to vote against the Bill on Third Reading unless there are substantial improvements to it.”
Following the announcement that Southern Cross is to withdraw from their care homes has prompted Jon Trickett MP to demand answers from the company. Jon has written to the Chief Executive and Chairman of Southern Cross asking what will happen to residents and employees at the two care homes in his constituency, Warde Aldham and Hemsworth Water Park and has demanded to know who the Landlord is for these properties. Jon who has met with GMB Officers and employees both in Wakefield and in London said: “This is an appalling state of affairs affecting the most vulnerable in our society. Southern Cross has acted in an extremely callous way with no apparent interest in caring for either their residents or their employees, many of whom are paid on or just above the minimum wage. In a very calculated way Southern Cross speculated on their property portfolio by selling on their homes when the financial markets were advantageous and now the going is tough they are upping sticks and walking away.”
Jon added: “This is just like the banking crisis; ultimately it is ordinary people who are paying the real price for the avarice of financiers and institutions and all this at a time when the Conservative/Liberal Government want to see greater private sector involvement in the health service. Southern Cross has received thousands of pounds of public money to care for the elderly and it is only right they provide answers.”
Jon Trickett visited Featherstone Rovers this morning to meet with staff and sixth formers from St Aidan’s School in Harrogate and see the work they were undertaking with primary school children from the various schools in Featherstone. The school is linked with StudyRovers which is run voluntarily by Doug and Barbara Wulford. Doug and Barbara, who are both keen Rovers fans, first established the link with St Aidan’s six years ago. The school at Harrogate is committed to helping expand the experiences of school children in Featherstone. Jon is photographed with one of the St Aidan’s students and the dragon mask used in the performance. After watching a show written and performed by the sixth formers the young children worked with the students in various workshops. Following his visit Jon said: “It was a great to meet the volunteers and thank them for all their hard work and commitment to our area. It was clear the young children were having a grea time”
Jon Trickett met with Southern Cross employees and GMB trade union officials at the GMB Office Wakefield to receive a briefing on the latest developments in this troubled company. Jon heard firsthand the pressure that existing staff are under and the uncertainty they face with impending job losses. He was informed how it was not known which Landlord owned which care home, which care home would revert back to the Landlord and which care home would eventually close.
Jon said after the meeting: “Staff and residents are facing great uncertainty. It is appalling the way this business, which receives a big pot of public money to pay for care beds, has been run. The GMB’s research into the financial situation makes fascinating but disturbing reading.
I am absolutely appalled that the ordinary men and women who are the residents and employees in these homes are faced with such an uncertain future as a result of greedy individuals who are milking the system to the detriment of the most vulnerable in our society. It is completely wrong that the people who work in these care homes, many of whom are paid on or just above the minimum wage, are to see their terms and conditions reduced even further. These individuals have not created the financial mess but they are expected to carry the burden”.
GMB research indicates that up to half of the properties were acquired by a company called NHP, of which the ultimate parent company is Delta Commercial Property. This is a company owned by the Qatari Investment Authority and is registered in the Isle of Man. The financial returns for this company are consolidated within Libra No.2 Ltd, a company incorporated and registered in the Cayman Islands. Southern Cross rents paid to the homes acquired by QIA in 2009 equated to £6,348 per bed. This was a 4.9% increase on the 2008 figure when the rent was £6,050 per bed. This in turn was a 3.1% increase on the 2007 figure when the rent per bed was £5,866. This in turn was a 7.9% increase on the 2006 figure when the rent per bed was £5,435. Thus in the past 3 years rents have gone up by 16.8% at a time when property values were falling.
It is no secret that the current Tory government has made detrimental changes that have attacked our communities and Labour values. For this reason, it is more important now than ever to examine the Labour party, and understand what can be altered in order to win more seats in the next election.
An organisation called “Next Generation Labour” has recently emerged to do just that. This group of younger Labour party members has banded together in order to look at the mistakes of the Labour party from the past, and find ways to positively reform the party in order to win back its voters before the next election. They believe that Labour needs to “articulate a modern left politics and reconnect with the coalition of supporters it lost and the vast majority opposed to the Tories’ reactionary agenda.” This new agenda will look to protect the working class, minorities, public services, and a green economy.
To get updates or get involved with Next Generation Labour, visit their website at http://nextgenerationlabour.org/