Voices on the Left: 5 blogs from the left you need to read this week

A roundup of news on the left...

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1.Exclusive: Private schools pocket millions in Covid loans denied to state schools-openDemocracy

Private schools were handed more than £157m in government-subsidised loans during the pandemic, under a scheme that barred state schools from applying, openDemocracy reports.

In yet more evidence of just how much Tory levelling up is a total sham, public schools like Charterhouse were among those who benefitted from Covid loans, as state schools continued to miss out, further embedding inequality in our two-tier education system.

openDemocracy reports: “Many loans went to the former private schools of government ministers, including the Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove (Robert Gordon’s College); home secretary Suella Braverman (Heathfield School); health secretary Steve Barclay (Reading Blue Coat); and Scottish secretary Alister Jack (Glenalmond College).

“Armed forces minister Johnny Mercer’s old school, Eastbourne College, also received a loan.”

2. This NHS Crisis Was Years in the Making-Tribune

John Lister has written a piece for Tribune on how the current crisis affecting the NHS is not the result of Covid or union strikes but the result of over a decade of Tory austerity and underfunding.

The government has sought to present the pressures facing the NHS as resulting from Covid and strikes, however as Lister writes: “It was not strike action or Covid that almost doubled England’s waiting list from 2.5 million in 2010 to 4.6 million at the end of 2019, nor have strikes been the cause of the subsequent rise to 7.2 million. It was not industrial action, but systematic government underfunding and lack of NHS capacity that meant 2.91 million patients had been waiting over eighteen weeks for treatment in October 2022, with 410,983 of them waiting over a year.”

He adds: “The Royal College of Emergency Medicine warns the emergency delays could be costing between 300 and 500 people their lives per week, ambulance chiefs have warned 160,000 patients a year are being harmed, while the Society for Acute Medicine warns the situation in A&E is ‘unbearable”.

3. Number of Single Parent Households in Severe Food Insecurity Doubles-Byline Times

The number of single parent families who are severely food insecure has doubled since 2019/20, according to new research published this week, Byline Times reports.

It comes as families across the country continue to struggle during the cost of living crisis, while the government continues to bury its head in the sand.

Single parent families who can’t afford food essentials has increased from 9% to 18%, while nearly a quarter of people (23%) receiving means-tested or disability benefits are severely food insecure this winter, up from 4% pre-pandemic.

Yet another shameful record for the current government.

4.The waste of human potential allowed by the Tories must end. With Labour, it will-LabourList

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pension’s Secretary, has written a piece for LabourList on the employment crisis facing the country, with over a million people out of work, despite wanting a job.

Ashworth writes: “Since the pandemic, the UK’s performance on supporting people into work has been uniquely disastrous amongst major economies. Our employment rate has seen the biggest fall in the G7. Employers are struggling to fill more than a million vacancies. And unemployment is forecast to rise by a further half a million by 2024.”

On solutions, he adds: “A Labour Department for Work and Pensions will hand resources to local areas, giving communities the means to deliver targeted support for the most vulnerable and tailored help for those facing complex barriers to accessing work. We will replace the status quo of rigid, national contracting to guarantee that every area can provide services suited to its local economy and workforce.

“For the next Labour government, joblessness will never be a price worth paying. People deserve the independence, inclusion and fulfilment of decent employment and security if they cannot work. The waste of human potential the Tories have overseen must end – and with our plan, it will.”

5. Tory plans to rush ‘sunsetting’ of EU laws could put rights of millions of workers at risk-Morning Star

The workplace rights of more than 8 million people are being endangered by Tory plans to “rush the sunsetting” of EU laws by the end of 2023, the Morning Star reports.

The think tank the Work Foundation says that protections for part-time, fixed-term and agency staff will be in the greatest jeopardy ‘if the government presses ahead with post-Brexit plans to amend, replace or scrap thousands of pieces of EU legislation by December 31’.

The think tank warns that working time directives and paid holiday entitlements are among the regulations that could be weakened by the Retained EU Law Bill currently going through Parliament.

Work Foundation director Ben Harrison said: “UK workers are already facing the worst cost-of-living squeeze in generations and the prospect of rising unemployment.

“The last thing millions need is a year of uncertainty in relation to their basic employment rights, but that is exactly what the government’s current approach provides.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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