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The Centre for Health and the Public Interest (“CHPI”) has recently published a report called The return of PFI – will the NHS pay a higher price for new hospitals?

The report reveals the extent of the cost and idiocy of PFI deals by governments.

In Wolverhampton several years ago New Cross tried to enlist the support of the then 3 MPs (messrs Turner, Purchase and Marris) for a massive PFI scheme there.  We point blank refused, because PFI is an expensive millstone.  We succeeded:  apart from the relatively small PFI for Radiology (signed before the 3 of us were MPs together), as far as I am aware there is still no PFI at New Cross.  (Contrary to what some think, the Heart/Lung Centre was not PFI-funded.)

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CHPI describes itself as “an independent think tank committed to health and social care policies based on accountability and the public interest.  The Centre seeks to frame the policy debate in a way that is evidence-based and open and accessible to citizens.”  They found that:

  • About 2% of the NHS budget is spent each year an making the annual payments for PFI hospitals and medical facilities
  • NHS hospitals with a PFI contract have had to cut their spending on staff and equipment because of the burden of PFI repayments
  • NHS hospitals with a PFI contract are more likely to get into financial difficulty
  • There is profiteering in some PFI schemes, with some investors getting a 40% to 70% in annual returns (= interest)
  • The Coalition government continues to hide PFI deals, by not counting them as public expenditure nor as part of the fast-rising National Debt 
  • The Coalition government’s reform of PFI is called “PFI.2”, and it will be even more expensive!

PFI is a nonsense.  Under PFI, a private company itself pays for a government building etc., and then runs it.  In return, the company makes an annual charge to the government for that facility.  The lengths of the agreements range between 30 and 60 years.

Basically, it’s a landlord/tenant agreement, with the landlord being the company and the tenant being the government.  Like any tenancy agreement, the owner of the property gets it paid for by the tenant.  That’s why so many people want to buy their own homes, so they’re not paying rent for evermore.

The alternative is much cheaper:  the government borrows the money – at a much lower interest rate than a private company can – and builds and runs the facility itself.  For government, the drawback is that such borrowing would have to be revealed as part of the National Debt. 

Conversely, PFI is not listed as part of the National Debt.  So successive governments have used PFI to disguise their real borrowing.  Disastrously, the costs are far higher, and will haunt future generations.  It’s a bit like telling your mum that you did not spend £150 on that new jacket.  You hope that you can avoid telling her is that you bought on the drip (meaning the ultimate cost will be about £300 ... ).

The Labour government used PFI extensively; again, to hide government borrowing.  I always publicly opposed PFI, and demanded that such borrowing be counted as part of the National Debt.  They refused. 

When they were in Opposition, the Conservatives also rightly demanded that PFI be counted as National Debt, and complained about its cost.  They promised that in government they would not use PFI, and that the existing schemes would be counted as National Debt.  As is sadly so often the case, now they’re in government the Conservatives have broken both of those promises:  they have been using PFI a great deal; and they do not count it as National Debt – no doubt because (even without counting PFI) the National Debt has risen by over two-thirds in just 4 years under this government.

Now, the Tories have introduced an updated version of PFI dubbed “PFI.2” – which the CHPI report finds will cost even more.  

You couldn’t make it up …

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

The Idiocy of Private Finance Initiative Funding

The Centre for Health and the Public Interest (“CHPI”) has recently published a report called The return of PFI – will the NHS pay a higher price for new hospitals?...

For many years I have been a supporter of the Wolverhampton Rheumatology Support Group, of which I am a member. 

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At our AGM on 15 September 2014, we passed a resolution expressing some concerns about the proposed shift of some services from New Cross to Cannock.  We asked our Executive members to send a delegation to meet the Chief Executive of New Cross, Mr David Loughton. 

Below is our Secretary’s report of that meeting with the Chief Executive. 

I am pleased that Mr Loughton was constructive and provided some reassurances.  I pay tribute to Mr Loughton for his flexibility and his generosity, and I congratulate the WRSG representatives for their positive and productive discussion with him.

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

 

Secretary’s report on meeting with Mr Loughton              25 November 2014

I am pleased to say that the meeting went exceptionally well.  Mr Loughton took time to explain to us that, because parts of Stafford Hospital are being closed, New Cross needs to move 100 beds out of Wolverhampton to Cannock Hospital to make room for some of Stafford’s the Accidents & Emergencies to come to New Cross.

Rheumatology Day Care and out patients will still be seen at New Cross.  

Rheumatology staff – except Day Care & Out Patients – will transfer to Cannock.

Complex cases and major operations will be done at New Cross.  Each patient will have a personal risk assessment on their health in general and their care needs following surgery, to determine where they will have the surgery. 

We were told that there are more than enough bed spaces at Cannock for Rheumatology Patients.  There is also a new Rheumatology Unit going to be built.  This is expected to be completed around the middle of 2015.

Transport:  Arriva will be putting on a bus service every hour on the half hour:  starting in Wolverhampton bus station at 06.30; picking up at New Cross A&E, Heart and Lung Centre; then directly to Cannock hospital.  The last bus will leave Cannock hospital at 21.30.

If a patient has an appointment letter, there will be NO charge.  Otherwise, normal fees/bus passes will be enforced.   The bus will be a single decker bus with a tail lift / ramp for wheelchair access.

Patients, carers/patients’ visitors and hospital staff will be using this service. 

Car Parking at Cannock Hospital

Disability parking is next to the hospital. 

The council’s staff car park – just across the road – has been handed over to the hospital, providing a further 200 spaces.   There will be a zebra crossing leading from the car park to the hospital.  Mr Loughton advised that there is a grassed area in front of the hospital which, if necessary, will be made into a car parking area.

Also at the meeting, we were discussing how WRSG fund a Managing Arthritis course for members, at a cost of £3,000.  David Loughton very kindly agreed to fund a course once a year, and is making arrangements for annual funding to our group.

Some changes have already been put in place.  However things do sound better than when we were updated at our AGM.

An update will be printed in the next newsletters to all members.

Jan Simpson, WRSG Secretary

Good News for Rheumatology Patients

For many years I have been a supporter of the Wolverhampton Rheumatology Support Group, of which I am a member.    At our AGM on 15 September 2014, we passed...

I welcome Labour’s promise of £3 million in new funding for women’s refuges.  Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called for urgent change as part of this year’s 16 Days of Action against violence against women.

Domestic and sexual violence in our country is little short of a national scandal.  On average, each week two women are killed by their partner or an ex-partner.  At least 750,000 children a year are witnessing violence in their own home.  I am deeply concerned that the number of refuges is plummeting.

Women can be at great risk when they make the brave decision to leave.  Refuges provide a vital safe haven coupled with expert support to help families get back on their feet and start rebuilding their lives. 

Co-founded by my friend Mrs Honor Pringle with Colin Brown, The Haven Wolverhampton pioneered safe houses for women and children fleeing domestic violence.  As a trustee of The Haven, I am all too aware that government funding cuts have caused a big reduction of domestic violence services in our city, and that is deeply regrettable.

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Research from Women’s Aid estimates that 155 women and 103 children are turned away from a refuge every day.  Many organisations are using their reserves to pay to keep shelters open.   In many other areas there is no refuge accommodation at all.

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

Labour Promises a £3 Million Refuge Fund for Women

I welcome Labour’s promise of £3 million in new funding for women’s refuges.  Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called for urgent change as part of this year’s 16 Days...

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Serco is often a failure, yet this government continues to give it contracts to run public services.  What a disgrace.

Serco is the company which recently agreed to repay the government £68.5 million for overcharging on electronic tags.  Along with G4S (another Tory favourite – remember the Olympics fiasco?), Serco was charging the government for electronic tag fees for people who were either dead, back in prison, or abroad. Even the Tory Justice Secretary Mr Grayling MP was forced to admit that his Department had known about the problem for years, and that:  “In some instances, charging continued for a period of many months and indeed years after active monitoring had ceased.”

Now, the Home Office has just handed a £70 million contract to Serco, giving it another 8 years to continue to run the Yarl’s Wood – the largest detention centre for women who are faced with deportation.  It houses 400 detainees. 

The Home Office announced that Serco was the preferred contractor, following a “comprehensive re-tendering process”.  A Home Office spokesperson claimed:  “Serco’s bid demonstrated its offer was the best in meeting quality and cost criteria, and providing value for money for the taxpayer.”

Well, that may be true, in as much as Serco was the best – of a bad lot … because perhaps the others were even more rotten.  You could not even call the company controversial:  everyone knows it’s a cheating failure.  It’s been condemned by penal reformers, by refugee support groups, and by MPs on the independent Home Affairs Select Committee.  It just goes to show that these sensitive public services should be run by the state, not by private companies who too often cut corners to turn a fat profit.

Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Ms Yvette Cooper MP commented that the government should not have agreed this contract until after an independent inquiry had been held into the centre’s operation.  She said:  “It is important that immigration rules are enforced, but they must be enforced in a humane way which upholds the values of our society.  Too often Serco’s Yarl’s Wood operation appears to have fallen below the high standards we would expect.” 

I agree:  no contract should have been awarded.  Instead, the work should have been taken back in-house by the government.

Serco’s managing director of home affairs James Thorburn said:  “We understand the challenges of looking after vulnerable and concerned people and we recognise the responsibility that we have in managing the centre in a caring and efficient manner.” 

No they don’t.

Look at how Serco performed when they had the initial contract for this centre.  Their staff were accused of:

  • sexual misconduct; and
  • women locked up for long spells; and
  • pregnant women held without justification

Whilst almost 90% of the detainees in Yarl’s Wood are women, almost 50% of the staff are men.  That’s a recipe for the very sorts of problems which Serco had.  Two members of staff were sacked for having sexual relations with a detainee; an abuse of power and taking advantage of vulnerable women.  Another member of staff was sacked for failing to act when the detainee reported the sexual misconduct by the two staff.  The risk was obvious, and it’s an institutional failure by Serco that they allowed it to occur.

None of the detainees at Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire has been charged with an offence.  Yet prison inspectors have found:

  • many detainees have been held for long periods – one for almost four years; and
  • women with mental health problems being detained; and
  • pregnant women had been held without evidence of exceptional circumstances required to justify their captivity, one of whom had been admitted to hospital twice because of pregnancy-related complications.

Earlier this year, almost unbelievably, a UN investigator was not allowed to go into Yarl’s Wood, despite repeated requests.

I agree with Natasha Walter of Women for Refugee Women.  She said:  “We have spoken directly to women who say they were abused by Serco staff in Yarl’s Wood, and we have heard how women’s privacy is constantly invaded by male staff in the detention centre.  Serco is clearly unfit to manage a centre where vulnerable women are held and it is unacceptable that the government continues to entrust Serco with the safety of women who are survivors of sexual violence.”

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

Another contract to the Tories’ friends at Serco

Serco is often a failure, yet this government continues to give it contracts to run public services.  What a disgrace. Serco is the company which recently agreed to repay the...

Labour’s plan is to control immigration, but to do so without risking jobs by leaving the EU – as Mr Farage wants.  (Incidentally, he’s also said that he wants to privatise the NHS.) 

The Labour Party will not engage in some race-to-the bottom by trying to out-UKIP UKIP, as the Tories seem intent on doing.  So won't turn our backs on the world by increasingly setting us on a course to leave the EU.  Similarly, Labour won't make empty promises which we know we won’t be able to keep, as Mr Cameron did when he promised to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” – when in fact immigration is now rising.

Earlier this month, Mr Ed Miliband set out Labour’s core election promise:  to build an economic recovery which works for working people, not just a few at the top.  That includes action to freeze people’s gas and electricity bills, raising the Minimum Wage, and protecting the NHS.

Labour will apply British values in the way our economy is run, and we will do the same on immigration.  As a starting point, immigrants should learn English and be part of our society.  That’s good for immigrants themselves as well as for our country.

EU immigrants make a net positive contribution to the UK economy.  Nevertheless, the Labour leadership at last recognises that short- and medium-term pressures can result from immigration.  (Some of us were raising these issues over ten years ago.)  The UK has the second-highest immigration from other member states in the EU, and the third highest net migration.  Part of Labour’s policy is that these pressures should be recognised by the EU, so that states with the highest levels of internal EU immigration (free movement of labour) receive support for the inevitable short- and medium-term pressures on essential public services and integration. 

Secure borders

This government continues its many failures.  The Coalition has failed to secure our borders, and has failed to deal with illegal immigration – which is bad for the migrants who are being exploited, bad for British workers, and bad for our country.

A Labour government will:

  • ensure that, when people cross our borders, they are counted in and counted out, so we know who is here, who has gone home, and who has stayed
  • re-instate fingerprinting of illegal would-be migrants at Calais
  • reform the visa system, to fund 1,000 more border and enforcement staff to take stronger enforcement action against illegal migration

Fair rules in the European Union

Our country needs to negotiate change in the EU – not by hectoring and threats, like the present government, but by discussion and negotiation, and by building alliances with other member states. 

 A Labour government will:

  • insist on longer transitional controls on movement, when new countries join the EU.
  • pursue an EU Migration Impact Fund to be incorporated within the EU budget.  That fund will be used to ease the pressure on public services in areas with particularly high levels of immigration, and to support integration.  It would sit within the existing EU Social Fund, although Labour will argue for additional resources within the current envelope to help states manage free movement.

A sense of fairness also means that we simply cannot allow wages of UK workers to be undercut.  So there must be enforcement of the Minimum Wage – something which the Coalition government has singularly refused to do.

Benefits:  Earned Entitlements

A Labour government will change the rules governing EU migrants’ access to Benefits in the UK.  Those changes will be based on the principle of earned entitlement.  EU migrants can come to the UK to work.  The EU rules provide for “free movement of labour”, not – despite all those British pensioners living in Spain – “free movement of people”.

EU rules do not allow migrants just to come here to live and claim Benefits – those are already the rules, but the Coalition government has failed to make that clear.  Immigrants must know that there a reasonable period of contributions will be required before they can claim Benefits available to UK citizens. 

A Labour government will:

  • stop the payment of Child Benefit for children living abroad
  • stop the payment of Child Tax Credits for children living abroad
  • negotiate changes to EU rules, so that jobseekers are banned from claiming work-based Benefits until they have been resident in the UK for two years

As predicted by so many commentators, the Tory approach to immigration has failed.  It’s all hot air and anti-immigrant rhetoric, stoking up division.  Mr Cameron promised “no ifs, no buts”, he would meet his net migration target. Yet net migration is the same now as when the Coalition came into office in 2010.  Because an exploited workforce suits their rich crony funders, the Conservatives have done nothing to deal with dodgy firms who exploit migrant labour to undercut UK workers.

It’s all indicative of the fact that the Tories can’t build a better future for working people, because Tories only stand up for a privileged few.  They’ve introduced tax cuts for the rich, Benefits cuts for the poor – including the working poor.  Inequality in our society has grown fast under this government, and that trend needs to be sharply reversed – it’s bad for everyone, even for the rich themselves.  In as much as there is an economic recovery, it is only working for the rich few, and basically is only being felt in London and the South East.

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

The Labour Party on Immigration

Labour’s plan is to control immigration, but to do so without risking jobs by leaving the EU – as Mr Farage wants.  (Incidentally, he’s also said that he wants to...

The Labour Party has announced its policies to tackle the scandal of UK’s cold homes.  The plan is to improve vastly our country’s energy efficiency and to help people stay warm whilst reducing extortionate energy bills.  

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On 10 November 2014 the Labour Party announced its policies to tackle the scandal of UK’s cold homes.  The plan is to improve vastly our country’s energy efficiency, and to help people to stay warm, yet also markedly to reduce extortionate energy bills.  The party’s policy paper can be found at:  http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2015/policy-review/policy-review/an-end-to-cold-homes-labour-s-energy-efficiency-green-paper

The next Labour Government will freeze energy prices until 2017, and undertake the biggest reform of our energy market since privatisation. These reforms are aimed to improve transparency, competition and, importantly, the position of consumers.  To deliver long-term, permanent savings on energy bills, and to protect households and businesses from future price rises, it is vital that the energy efficiency of our building stock is improved.  

The UK probably has the least energy efficient housing stock of anywhere in Western Europe.  Poor energy efficiency is the single biggest reason why so many households are in fuel poverty.  Compared with an average household in fuel poverty, the average household which has only an average level of energy efficiency, pays £965 less per year for energy and is five times less likely to be in fuel poverty.

The policies of the current Government do not meet the scale of this challenge.  Their so-called “Green Deal” is so pathetic that a mere 2,581 households have had measures installed since it was launched nearly two years ago.  As if that were not bad enough, the “Energy Company Obligation” has resulted in a significant fall in the installation of energy efficiency improvements.

The Labour Party’s estimates for the situation in Wolverhampton South West are:

  • Number of households = 34,503
  • Number of fuel poor households = 6,384           
  • Proportion of households fuel poor = 18.5%

 Improving energy efficiency is vital.  A Labour government would do this by:-

  1. Enabling free energy-efficient improvements for 200,000 households which are in, or at risk of, fuel poverty a year, with an ambition to upgrade all such homes and end the scandal of cold homes within 15 years, saving the average household over £270 a year.
  2. Providing half a million personalised home energy reports a year, detailing how households could save money on their energy bills through insulation and energy efficiency.
  3. Providing interest-free loans to cover the costs of energy-efficiency improvements for up to one million households, during the next Parliament.
  4. Setting a new target to upgrade properties in the private rented sector to a minimum of an Energy Performance Certification (EPC) “C” rating by 2027.
  5. Designating energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority under Labour’s proposed National Infrastructure Commission.
  6. Streamlining regulations and introducing a long-term plan to support investment in energy efficiency in non-domestic buildings.

 

Cold Homes

The Labour Party has announced its policies to tackle the scandal of UK’s cold homes.  The plan is to improve vastly our country’s energy efficiency and to help people stay...

The Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. George Osborne is the front-runner for my “cheekiness-on-the-year”. I confess that I find it hard even to see who might come close to beating him.

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The Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. George Osborne is the front-runner for my “cheekiness-on-the-year”. I confess that I find it hard even to see who might come close to beating him.

He’s just written round to those he believes to be Conservative supporters, asking for money. If he were asking money for the Exchequer, I could see that, given how he has so badly mismanaged public finances. Alas no, he is soliciting donations for the Conservative Party.

He claims that “By working through our long-term economic plan, we have rooted out the waste and inefficient spending of the last Labour government.” With all this Tory-led government has wasted on, for example, useless IT systems, he’s got some nerve.

He also says that:  “We have got a grip on public finances.” Get a grip yourself, George. When Labour left office in May 2010, the total accumulated National Debt was £750 billion; a huge amount of money by anyone’s reckoning – except Mr. Osborne’s.  What did he do in the next 4 years?  He added another two-thirds to the National Debt so that, by March 2014 it stood at £1,250 billion.

This Chancellor wants you to believe that he has “we have got the deficit down and got a grip on spending.” The deficit has risen this year. Some grip.

He finishes by saying that his government has “been able to cut taxes so that people keep more of the money they earn.”  Who has had the biggest tax cuts?  You guessed it:  his millionaire friends, with the top rate being cut from 50p to 45p – just the sort of people he’d no doubt like and expect to donate generously to their friendly Conservative Party.

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

Cheekiness of the Year

The Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr. George Osborne is the front-runner for my “cheekiness-on-the-year”. I confess that I find it hard even to see who might come close to...

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The National Audit Office (“NAO”) has just published a report entitled “Lessons from major rail infrastructure programmes”.  It says that these lessons should be learned by the government and should inform its decisions on future rail projects – including of course HS2.

The rail projects examined by the NAO are complex and large, with construction either expected to, or having taken, 9 to 10 years, costing a total of £21.4 billion – which is only about one third of the current cost estimates for HS2 ....  The welcome news is that they conclude that the Department for Transport (“DfT”) has made progress in its management of rail infrastructure programmes, and on some of them has controlled costs, managed risks and has responded well.

The unwelcome news is that, worryingly, the NAO also found that there are several factors which the DfT needs to address, or where it needs to provide more focus, as current and future rail programmes develop.  In particular, the NAO suggests that the DfT should develop clear strategic business cases for new railways, and scrutinise the economic analysis of the estimated benefits of them.  

Insufficient evidence of economic benefits

The NAO points out that, amongst other things, there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate the wider national and economic benefits of HS2.  I find that to be deeply troubling.

The NAO found that, if the DfT had bothered to check its economic analysis, then it would have found out what is now apparent to us all; namely that – in its unseemly rush to press ahead with HS2 – the Coalition government made manifest “errors” in its early analysis of Phase One of HS2.  Those errors led to an initial benefit-cost ratio of 2.4:1; i.e. £2.40 back for every £1 invested by the government.  That ratio which has subsequently been revised very sharply downwards to 1.4:1 – much more in line with equivalent programmes.

“Errors” is the NAO’s way of putting it.  Some would say “overegging the pudding so as to mislead”.

Although it might seem obvious to the average ten-year old, the NAO had to point out to this government that its “economic assumptions also need to reflect changes in real-life behaviour.”   Initially, incredible as it may seem, the DfT assumed that business people do no work at all on the train!  So, from the DfT’s point of view, the shorter the journey time (as with HS2), the less time wasted by business people sitting staring out of the train window, and thus the greater the economic benefit of HS2’s shorter journey times – because business travellers would lose less time away from work.

The DfT economists really should get out more, and government ministers should get out of their chauffeur-driven cars; for example, they could take a train from London to Wolverhampton, and see what the passengers in suits (and others, perhaps less visible) are actually doing, and the number of laptops in use.  They would have found that some (well, almost all, actually!) long-distance trains have for years had this new-fangled thing called WiFi.

Surely it cannot be that the government knew about travellers working on trains, but pretended not to, so that the economic case for HS2 would look better … ?

Capacity

Proponents of HS2 say that one reason it is needed is that the West Coast Main Line will be full by the mid-2020s, as forecast by Network Rail – a body which is not exactly renowned for its competence in administering the railways.

However, the DfT’s own figures state West Coast Main Line intercity trains are on average just 32% full, and about 50% full in peak hours.  Moreover, a simpler and far, far cheaper way to increase capacity would be to abolish First Class.  That would increase the seating in each train by about 13%.  It would also be cheaper to lengthen platforms to accommodate longer trains.  Having 12 carriages instead of 11 would increase seating by 9%.  Taken together these two measures would increase capacity by about 23%.

Academic researchers in Denmark discovered that passenger forecasts are overestimated in 90% of major railway projects; and that, on average, passenger growth is less than half the level forecast before the project was started. As far as I am aware, HS2 has not produced evidence to rebut the inference that the forecasts for HS2 are similarly over-optimistic.

Thus the jury is still very much out on the claimed need for massive new capacity on West Coast routes.

DfT out of its depth?

Both the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee and the NAO have repeatedly drawn attention to the DfT’s lack of sufficient “programme management capacity and skills” and its “shortage of skilled staff”.  

This shortage is no coincidence.  It has arisen because of Conservative government policy.  They seem to believe that the market will do everything, and that everything would be better if we had far fewer public sector employees. So this government has failed to invest in hiring the right people to work in the public sector; for example at the DfT. 

How naïve can you get?  Without those skills in-house, the DfT is at the mercy of the private sector, who do employ people with the necessary skills   Then, guess what?  The skilled private sector runs rings around the insufficiently skilled civil service.  We’ve seen this time and time again when it comes to negotiating rail franchises, most of which have been a failure from the passengers’ point of view – but a big success for the fat-cat private companies.

What to do with your spare £60 billion

From a national perspective, because of the unreliable figures I don’t know whether building HS2 is a good idea or not, but I can think of a lot of other worthwhile things that government could get for £60 billion; for example, a million desperately-needed council houses built on government land.  What I do know is that, as someone who has lived almost all his life in Wolverhampton, it looks to me as if HS2 is going to lead to a worse train service for us – yet in round terms this government wants us to pay almost £1,000 each for the privilege.

 Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

To HS2 or not to HS2?

The National Audit Office (“NAO”) has just published a report entitled “Lessons from major rail infrastructure programmes”.  It says that these lessons should be learned by the government and should...

... as the Tories confirm they expect to lose the General Election  

More Privatisation in the Criminal Justice System

... as the Tories confirm they expect to lose the General Election   Read more

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Compared with the same period in 2013, the backlog of asylum claims has increased by 70% to 16,273 in the first quarter of this year, says the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC). 

In addition, the Home Office:

  • has wasted almost £1 billion on computer systems;

  • cannot find 50,000 rejected asylum seekers;

  • is already missing its own new targets for processing asylum seekers’ claims.

 All this chaos arises just 18 months after Mrs May abolished the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

 Chair of the PAC Margaret Hodge MP, has commented:

"The pressure is on, and the Home Office must take urgent steps to sort out this immigration mess. The Home Office scrapped the UKBA in March 2013, partly because its performance in dealing with backlog cases was not good enough.  However, the department has also failed to get a grip on the long-standing problem of asylum backlogs.  To make matters worse, the department is also failing to meet its targets for dealing with newer claims, so it is creating another backlog for itself.  The failure of major IT projects – designed to streamline processing – not only leaves the department reliant on archaic systems, but may also end up costing the taxpayer up to £1 billion.  The cancellation of the Immigration Case Work programme and the e-Borders IT programme could mean a gob-smackingly awful figure being wasted.”

Mrs May should do the honourable thing, and resign now.

Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West

Rob Marris: Theresa May Should Resign as Home Secretary

  Compared with the same period in 2013, the backlog of asylum claims has increased by 70% to 16,273 in the first quarter of this year, says the Commons’ Public...

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