Nicky Morgan rebuked by Statistics Authority for claim that one in three can’t read or write under Labour

No statistical basis in claim by education secretary that one in three unable to read or write under Labour

Nicky MorganEducation secretary Nicky Morgan has been reprimanded by the UK Statistics Authority for claiming that under the previous Labour government one in three children left primary school unable to read or write.

In a letter to Morgan, head of the UK Statistics Authority Sir Andrew Dilnot referred to comments made by the education secretary in the House of Commons on 10 December, when she told the House:

“If the shadow secretary of state wants to see a failure to prepare young people for the life of work, he ought to be thinking about the fact that under the previous Labour government one in three of our young people were leaving primary school unable to read and write. That is a shocking statistic.”

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Posted in Clean Politics | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses

Migrating health workers could damage health systems in developing countries

We need to think about the impact that our imported NHS has on vulnerable people abroad

workersYesterday, the Daily Mail published figures from the Home Office showing that last year, 44,443 medical professionals moved to the UK from abroad to start work in hospitals and GP surgeries.

It is not the first time this issue has hit the headlines in recent weeks.

In evidence given to the Treasury Select Committee earlier this month, senior OBR economist Stephen Nickell warned that the NHS would be in serious trouble without immigrants.

Rejecting claims that the UK cannot accommodate any more people, he said that ‘the urbanised part of Britain occupies less than 10 per cent of the surface area. The urbanised part of Surrey occupies less of Surrey than golf courses’.

Nickell stated before the Committee his belief that on balance, immigration is both good and bad for the UK. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

More positives, but this remains far from a normal labour market

Positive labour market figures are to be understood in the context of the post-crisis period as a whole and must not detract from the long-standing pressures on working people

Jobseekers allowanceFor the sixth quarter in a row, employment rose and unemployment fell.

The employment rate at 73.0 per cent remains at its pre-crisis peak, though the 6.0 per cent unemployment rate is still above the rate of 5.2 per cent ahead of the crisis, amounting to around 300,000 people.

Earnings growth is up a little. It is very early days, but very low inflation figures could mean real earnings are up too.

Any recent gains must be set against large scale underemployment, the undermining of the rights and conditions of working people and seven years of falling real earnings, as well as emerging deflationary considerations.

Opinion surveys show people are not feeling it, even if the data may be improving, Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

The neo-cons are wrong: our use of torture is the problem, not the media’s coverage

Investigating, examining, debating – and if necessary prosecuting – crimes done in our name is not a threat to democracy; it is intrinsic to it

douglasmurrayIn response to the US government’s revelations about the systematic torture, humiliation and abuse of its detainees, neo-Conservatives and assorted defenders of the George W Bush era have come out fighting, defending the abuses and criticising the report itself.

In the UK, Douglas Murray, self-proclaimed neo-con and the media’s right wing pantomime villain of choice, has taken aim not at the US’s use of torture but at the media’s coverage of such abuse, writing in The Spectator:

“Imagine if while the Second World War was still being fought, the Guardian and Daily Mail of their day spent the weeks and months after the bombing of Dresden drumming up calls for an inquiry into the actions of the Prime Minister, security service and armed forces of the day.

“Imagine that day after day, while the war was still going on, the front pages of British newspapers were given over to calling for investigations into possible human rights abuses and war-crimes of this kind?

“What would the effect have been? Would it have saved one life or made anyone behave better? Or would it have had the effect, day after day, of demoralising the side that was actually in the right?”

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Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , | 3 Responses

The disillusionment of UKIP supporters could damage the charity sector

UKIP rosetteStudy shows that UKIP supporters are as disillusioned with charities as they are with MPS

New polling by Ipsos Mori for NPC warns that the mistrust many UKIP supporters feel for ‘the establishment’ is now extending to the charity sector.

Over half of UKIP supporters said that they had no trust in UK charities, adding them to the list of institutions in which they have lower than average trust – MPs, the BBC and the police.

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Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , | 14 Responses

More irresponsible transport decisions

Public Accounts Committee is not confident that the Department for Transport can handle the rail commitments it has taken on

thameslinkThe Department for Transport faced criticism today for its decision to buy new trains for Intercity Express and Thameslink itself.

The Department has no previous experience of leading this kind of procurement, which is usually left to rolling stock companies and train companies.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said that the decision ‘left the taxpayer bearing all the risk’. She said:

“The Department has no previous experience of running a procurement of this kind, let alone two with a combined value of £10.5 billion […] if passenger forecasts are wrong and fewer new trains are needed in future taxpayers will have to pick up the bill.

“The only way the Department can limit this risk is by requiring train operating companies to use these new trains to run their services regardless of whether they best fit the services they would like to offer.”

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Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , | 5 Responses

The underpayment of care workers is an absolute disgrace

Up to 220,000 care workers are being illegally paid

Social care-JPEGThe people who look after the most vulnerable in our society are being illegally underpaid and it is an absolute disgrace.

Between 160-220,000 care workers are routinely being paid below the National Minimum Wage. UNISON are now asking people to sign this petition calling upon the government to help end the practice.

We have been campaigning extensively on this issue for the last year. We have shown how it is bad news for care workers and bad news for the people they care for.

We have also drawn attention to the fact that the government has been failing to do enough to ensure the law of the land is being obeyed in one of the most important parts of our society. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Responses

Development Assistance Committee commends UK’s increased aid spending

Review recommends that UK maintains its level of spending in the years ahead

Africa aidjThe OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has released a review commending the UK’s increased development spending.

In 2013 the UK raised its official development assistance by 30.5 per cent to £1.4 billion, which the DAC says made it the world’s second largest donor by aid volume after the US.

The UK is the first major economy to meet the 0.7 per cent target that was agreed by international donors in 1970.

Current spending represents 0.72 per cent of gross national income (GNI). The average ODA/GNI ratio among DAC members is 0.30 per cent. Read More »

Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

The Lima climate talks: a small step forward, a long way to go

It’s clear that while the rest of the world is powering up with renewables, the UK is being left behind

chinacarbonSo on Sunday we heard the rather grandly titled Lima Call for Climate Action: considerably less than we’d hoped for, but not as bad as we might have feared.

It’s a small step towards the next UN summit in Paris in 12 months’ time.

What is to be applauded is that we do have an agreement on paper and signed up to; it would have been disastrous to have left Lima without one.

And it is worth noting that the existence of this next step very much reflects the wishes of the British people: a Populus poll last month found that 73 per cent want a global climate deal and 66 per cent want immediate action on climate change.

But it is clear, as Greens/EFA climate change spokesperson Bas Eickout has said, that the talks are lagging behind the real world economic, social and technical progress. Read More »

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Responses

Darling warned Cameron not to pursue EVEL following Scottish vote

The former chancellor warned that whilst the issue of Scottish MPs voting rights on English-only matters needed to be addressed, to link it with further powers to Holyrood risked putting the SNP back into the ascendency

Alistair-Darling-300x239The leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, warned David Cameron not to make any moves to dilute the voting power of Scottish MPs just moments after Scotland voted to stay in the Union.

According to the Guardian, during a phone call with the prime minister in the early hours of 19 September, the former chancellor warned that whilst the issue of Scottish MPs voting rights on English-only matters needed to be addressed, to link it with further powers to Holyrood risked putting the SNP back into the ascendency.

Just hours later however, Cameron used a statement outside Downing Street to call for a process to allow some sort of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) to work in tandem with further powers for Scotland. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Responses