Interest rates Cut to 1.5%

January 8, 2009

Interest rates have been cut to 1.5% by the Bank of England, the lowest rates have been for 300 hundred years and an indication of the dire position of the UK economy.

Previous rate cuts haven’t been passed in full onto mortgage customers by Banks and they are unlikely to pass this cut on either. And neither have rate cuts encouraged Banks to lend confidently to individuals and businesses. The bigger concern with the rate cut is that savers who have been prudent will see their interest earnings reduce further which doesn’t encourage people to save and manage their finances sensibly. For this reason, David Cameron’s announcements on tax relief for savers a few days ago is very welcome.

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Bank Apology & Government To Blame?

December 15, 2008

John Varley, head of Barclays Bank responding to the economic slump has said that banks should apologise and show some humility for their role in the downturn and also pointed the finger at the role of ‘governments’ without specifically mentioning the Labour Government. He said:

‘I think if you look at the players who were involved in what’s happened to the world, I think there are quite a lot of players. They would include central banks, they would include governments — but they would certainly include the banks.’

Gordon Brown blames everyone except himself and will never apologise for his role in the recession – he’s simply too smug and too proud. But at least the head of one bank is belatedly recognising that his industry has to shoulder some of the blame for the mess the country’s finances are in which is a welcome first step.

This morning David Cameron has raised the issue of accountability of those who are at fault. He said:

Doctors who behave irresponsibly get struck off. Bankers who behave irresponsibly should face professional consequences. And, for sure, if anyone is found to have behaved criminally they must be prosecuted…Are the government seriously saying that nothing untoward could have happened over here? How can anyone believe that in the worst financial crisis of our lifetime no proper and thorough investigation needs to happen?…If we’re going to build a strong and fair society, individuals must carry the consequences of their own actions – regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what their background is.’

The Government won’t carry out an investigation into the financial turmoil as is being demanded. If it did, there would be several criticisms of Government economic policy of the last 12 years; and when Gordon Brown believes he is saving the world, criticism at home would be the last thing he would need.


What Delayed Independent Baby P Report?

December 1, 2008

The report into the death of Baby P has been published and can be read here. The report highlights serious failings in Haringey Council and makes so many recommendations that one is left to wonder whether anything was being done correctly, and marvel at the sheer incompetence of the way Children’s Services in Haringey have been operating. For an Authority under whose watch Victoria Climbie died, its behaviour has been shockingly complacent.

After he was handed the report Ed Balls has acted swiftly for which he should be commended. Two elected members have resigned and six council employees including Sharon Shoesmith have been pushed which was long overdue. But it is truly remarkable that the report Ed Balls commissioned now wasn’t commissioned immediately after the death of Baby P. As there were ongoing criminal investigations, that report obviously wouldn’t have been published but what prevented the then Secretary of State from commissioning a detailed and in depth review of Social Services in Haringey last year? For over a year the outrageously arrogant Sharon Shoesmith was left in post and we can only speculate as to how many children in Haringey were put at risk or their cases dealt with in the incompetent manner described in the report. What explanation can the Government offer for sitting on its hands and doing bugger all for 12 months? And what were Government appointed Inspectors doing once they learnt of Baby P’s death?

A few weeks ago Gordon Brown accused David Cameron of playing politics for demanding an independent investigation into the death of Baby P. As a result of this political pressure, an independent report was commissioned whose findings will now lead to vulnerable children being afforded better protection and incompetent staff being removed from their posts. I hope Brown now gives Cameron an apology and thanks him for playing politics!


Tories Drop Labour Spending Plans

November 18, 2008

David Cameron has announced that the Conservative Party will not match Labour’s spending plans for 2010/11 for the simple and obvious reason that the country will be unable to afford increased spending.

This is to avoid huge increases in taxes later due to Gordon Brown’s crazy borrowing and will also allow the Conservatives the opportunity to either reduce government debt or cut taxes or both.

This announcement is hugely significant. It gives the Tories several options in tackling the downturn in the economy without having to borrow more. Prudent and responsible!


Future Tax Rises Inevitable!

November 17, 2008

‘Isn’t it the case that Labour’s borrowing bombshell will soon become a tax bombshell? And let’s be clear about what that means. Borrowing £30 billion now will mean an income tax bill for the average earner of nearly £1,500 later.Everyone knows the prime minister is planning a Christmas tax giveaway, but tax cuts should be for life, not just for Christmas. We need real tax cuts not tax cons.’

(David Cameron in the commons responding to Gordon Brown)

Whether Gordon Brown calls it a ‘fiscal stimulus’ or simply ‘additional borrowing’ the taxpayer will have to pay it back with interest in due course. But our PM doesn’t care as long as it gives him a chance of winning the next election.


A Social Worker’s Response

November 13, 2008

My comments here and here on the case of Baby P has annoyed and angered a Manager of Social Workers who has contacted me and complained that I did not present a balanced view of the pressures social workers are facing, which in turn is leading to decisions being made that have an adverse impact on child protection.

The Manager who wishes to remain anonymous complains that:

‘Laming said social workers should hold 12 cases. On average social workers have 20. Other cases keep coming so emergencies still need seeing to daily. Some times cases with kids on at risk register [are] not seen until first review which is 3 months after case conference. [When] workers are off sick, we don’t get more staff.

If society want social workers to protect kids, give us tools to do the job. Demographics and social deprivation all have an effect on people – stress, drugs and poverty have direct link to child abuse. We are in extremely depressive financial times. The referrals never stop coming in, teams do not grow but stay the same. I clearly feel passionately about this having been a manager for eight years and a social worker for five. People just don’t see the other side.’

‘Social worker training and experience is very poor. A person can now qualify at 19. Without being ageist a 19 year old can go to high risk cases!

As I do not have any experience of working in social services and only had limited exposure to social services funding when I was a councillor, I’ll neither deny or accept for now what has been put forward.

However, even after taking into consideration the pressures on Social Workers, the handling of the case of Baby P is simply unacceptable. This child was visited on 60 occasions by authorities and his case file should have had a bright red danger light flashing next to it. All the obvious signals appear to have been missed and the fact that no one has been held to account 15 months after this tragedy is shameful. Its only after David Cameron’s intervention at PMQ’s that an independent inquiry been set up. Can’t the Leader of the opposition raise concerns regarding the care of a child who subsequently dies who was in the watch of a Local Authority without being accused of playing party politics?

If the provision of social services isn’t adequately funded as our manager has claimed, or the training provisions inadequate, and the workload for each worker unbearable, then this is a damning indictment of the Labour Government’s record in this area. This Government has borrowed and taxed like none other before it and even after this tax and spend binge, if social workers feel there is inadequate funding and unbearable pressures on the system, then there ought to be a root and branch review of the whole system – except we had this after the Victoria Climbie case and yet we’re still talking about dealing with the same issues and concerns now.


Baby P Inquiry

November 13, 2008

An independent inquiry into the death of Baby P has been commissioned by Children’s Minister, Ed Balls. It’s a quick and inevitable u-turn by Gordon Brown after accusing David Cameron of playing politics at PMQ’s yesterday for wanting the same thing.

I find it disturbing that Ed Balls isn’t able to provide all the relevant information already and seeks an inquiry now when he ought to have requested a report as soon as he became aware of the death of Baby P. He didn’t have to release the report until the trial had ended but what prevented him from gathering all the relevant information?