John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Sunday, April 30, 2006
  Campaign for Accountable Government
One of the things I am doing is campaigning to improve the accountability of government (the executive).

I have done quite a bit of studying of Constitutional Law recently and concluded that there is a mechanism to force ministers to answer some of the questions they refuse to answer.

A good example of failing to answer questions was the situation with the prisoners that should have been deported.

So far I have reported Five Ministers to the Cabinet Secretary for Breaching the Ministerial Code of Conduct and started a process of Judicial Review against one of those five on the basis that she has failed to answer a question properly.

Clearly this will go on for some time, but we really do need to improve the way in which ministers are held to account. Too often they refuse to answer questions.
Some MPs find Freedom of Information legislation a better mechanism for getting answers than Parliamentary Questions. I am running a few appeals through that process at the moment as well.
 
Saturday, April 29, 2006
  Election Fraud 2006
The Times Article brings together a number of allegations from across the country.

It seems quite clear that in Tower Hamlets there is a big postal vote stealing operation going on.

A lot of media attention was given to the investigation of 14 postal votes in Nechells Ward. These votes were sent to a house which belongs to the Family of the Lib Dem Candidate for the Ward. They include his vote, his wife's vote and those of his children. Somehow this warranted an issue of a press release indicating that his wife had been arrested such that he found out via the media rather than his wife - which sounds odd to me.

I accept the point that 3 of the 14 votes relate to votes which have been sent from different addresses. This, therefore, needs investigating. There are 23 other similar situations across the city which also require investigation.

Clearly it would be wrong to make any judgement in advance of the police investigation. We have investigated the three votes and we do not see evidence that warrants a charge. Furthermore, Natural Justice requires that the candidate is innocent until proven guilty. Notwithstanding that we have decided to suspend his vote in group meetings until the investigation comes to an end. Labour have been calling for us to disown him on the basis of the arrest.

This, I suppose, fits with Labour's approach to justice whereby an arrest proves guilt and the Home Secretary decides who he wants locked up.

On the other hand there is the approach of the Labour Party whose candidate for Bordesley was arrested in 2004 on the same basis, released, elected then disqualified and banned from campaigning by an Election Court.

Labour's view here is that the person concerned does not warrant any disciplinary action being taken against him ... because there is an appeal going to the European Court.

Frankly, even if he gets some change to the process as a result of the European Court the fact that up to 4,000 ballot papers were shown to have fraudulently applied Labour votes in the one ward indicates that something was very wrong.

In the mean time Labour are claiming to have a "no visit" rule. Well this afternoon we saw Labour activists and councillors visiting homes of people with postal votes.

That is not a criminal offence, but it simply shows that Labour do not do what they say. That does not surprise us.

Two particularly interesting bits from the times article are:
Tower Hamlets council, where Labour holds a seven-strong majority, confirmed that almost every party fighting in the elections had registered complaints against other parties.

This shows the problems with a system that is as full of holes as a gruyere cheese.

and

A Tory candidate standing for election to Oxford City Council is also the subject of a police inquiry. Charles Steel, an Oxford University student, was accused of forging the signatures of nominees, which are required to allow him to stand. Police were alerted by the council after receiving complaints from two supposed nominees who said that they had not signed his paper.

I have heard of this before for BNP candidates, but not for a Tory. Are there that few tories at Oxford these days?
 
Friday, April 28, 2006
  NHS Jobwatch 10994
One thing that Blogger is not good at handling is large tables.

With the following list we are now up to about 11,000 announced job losses

North Middlesex NHS Trust Apr-19 50 http://www.enfieldindependent.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.735730.0.hospital_on_critical_list_jobs_to_go_as_part_of_15m_cuts.php
West Hertfordshire NHS Trusts Apr-13 700 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-2130210,00.html
Gloucestershire NHS Community Hospital 86 beds Apr-03 172 guess http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2006/04/03/hjuniord03.xml&sSheet=/health/2006/04/03/ixhfeatures.html
United Lincolnshire NHS Trust Mar-10 26 Times
Buckinghamshire Hospitals 95 The times
Hammersmith Hospitals 350
Isle of Wight PCT 6
North Tees and Hartlepool 74
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust Apr-28 645 http://www.24dash.com/content/news/viewNews.php?navID=47&newsID=5238
East Sussex Apr-25 250 http://www.24dash.com/content/news/viewNews.php?navID=47&newsID=5104
 
Thursday, April 27, 2006
  Questions and Answers
The saga with prisoners who should have been deported is a good example of how the government's failure to answer questions undermines government.

From Hansard:
Feb 2005 : Column 961W

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many applicants for asylum who have been granted temporary leave to remain in the UK who have served, or are serving, custodial sentences for crimes committed in the UK in each of the last five years for which there are records, have been (a) returned to their country of origin and (b) had their status revoked; and if he will make a statement; [208945]

(2) how many applicants for asylum who have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK who have served, or are serving, custodial sentences for crimes committed in the UK in each of the last five years for which there are records, have been (a) returned to their country of origin and (b) had their status revoked; and if he will make a statement. [208946]

Mr. Browne: The Prison Service does not record information on deportation orders on the Inmate Information System. Information on the number of persons held in prison who are the subject of a deportation order is not therefore available except by examination of individual case-files, at disproportionate cost.


Clearly had the government had to look at this issue to a greater extent at an earlier stage then fewer such prisoners would remain at large in the country.
 
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
  In office, but not in power
The saga with the released prisoners shows another example of a government which is in office, but not in power.

Charles Clark's use of the passive voice today when he referred to IND has improved implies that he did not expect to be able to have any impact on whether or not IND would improve.

There are also a number of areas (health cuts) where the government deny all responsibility.
 
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 26th April 2006
Millennium Dome
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost has been of the Millennium Dome to public funds in each year since its inception. (John Hemming)

A:The information is as follows.

(1) Grants from National Lottery funds were made by the Millennium Commission to the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) as follows.

Grant (£)
1997–98 449
1998–99 nil
1999–2000 60
2000–01 119
2001–02 nil
2002–03 nil
2003–04 nil
2004–05 (23)nil
2005–06 (24)nil

(23)£24 million (unrequired funds decommitted from NMEC by the Millennium Commission for use on other projects)

(24)£1 million (unrequired funds decommitted from NMEC by the Millennium Commission for use on other projects)

(2) In addition, English Partnerships has been meeting management, maintenance, security and other costs at the site from 1 July 2001, and will continue to do so until the redevelopment of the arena by the Anschutz Entertainment Group is completed, expected in summer 2007, at which time Anschutz takes on full responsibility for the Dome structure and its immediate surroundings.

All of English Partnerships' costs (gross total of around £32 million to date) from July 2001 to the completion of the arena's construction, and including the costs of the entire sale process, are expected to be recovered from sale proceeds, forecast at £550 million over the period of the deal, which lasts for around another 19 years.

The year by year English Partnerships' maintenance and other costs to date have been as follows:

Maintenance and other costs (£)
2001–02: 2.299
2002–03: 2.952
2003–04: 2.586
2004–05: 1.726
2005–06: (25)0.364
Total 9.927

(25)To end February 2006.

In addition, English Partnerships spent £6.7 million on decommissioning some of the Dome's contents, £0.558 million on a one off payment for insurance and £14.5 million on the sale process between March 1999 and June 2004. (Richard Caborn, Minister of State (Sport), Department for Culture, Media & Sport)

Relative Need
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reasons the system was changed from formula spending share to relative need factors.(John Hemming)

A:I refer the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley to the statement I made to the House when announcing the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, 5 December 2005, Official Report, column 627. (Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)


Relative Need
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the formula is for converting relative need factors into monetary amounts. (John Hemming)

A:The full formula is given in Section 5 of the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2006–07.

A model showing the calculation of formula grant for all authorities can be found on the ODPM website at: http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/0607/grant.htm. (Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)

Relative Need
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total relative needs grant block is for 2006–07; and what the total of needs above threshold is for 2006–07.(John Hemming)

A:The relative needs amount for 2006–07 is £20,878,123,134. The total needs above the threshold is 0.23098045438450.

A model showing the calculation of formula grant for all authorities can be found on the ODPM website at: http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/0607/grant.htm (Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)

NHS Finance (Hospitals)
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account is taken of the variation of fixed capital costs in the formulae for funding NHS hospital trusts through payment by results.(John Hemming)

A:The national tariff is currently based on average reference costs, which are calculated from individual returns from every national health service trust, NHS foundation trust and primary care trust which provides services. NHS reference costs are based on a full absorption methodology and therefore include cost of capital. In addition, the annual tariff uplift includes an assessment of the increase in statutory capital charges payable and charges payable on new private finance initiative investments. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

Payment-by-Results
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals she identified before the introduction of payment by results as being at risk of deficits as a result of its introduction; and what percentage deficit she expected for each one. (John Hemming)

A:The movement from local prices to a national tariff means that the income of most national health service providers will change. We undertook an exercise to estimate changes in income for organisations to inform the transition from local prices to national tariff. Transitional arrangements channel extra funds into organisations which lose income under payment by results, to give them time to adjust to the new arrangements.(Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

Gas Supplies
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his statement during the debate on 14 March 2006, Official Report, column 1303, on gas supply and demand, what the source was of the statement that Germany's wholesale gas prices have increased by 80 per cent.(John Hemming)

A:The sources of the statement are publicly available IMF data on Russian-German border prices over 2005 and Royal Bank of Scotland exchange rate data. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for energy, Department of Trade and Industry)

Gas Supplies
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his statements during the debate on 14 March 2006, Official Report, column 1303, on 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 1551 and on 12 January 2006, Official Report, column 486, on gas supply, how he calculated the figures regarding the costs of energy to British and German industry. (John Hemming)

A:The statement on 12 January,

"Our liberalised markets mean that the cost of industrial gas is also competitive. In the past 14 years, the cost of energy to British industry has been around £8 billion less than the cost to German industry"

referred to the difference in cost were UK industry to have paid German prices for the gas they consumed over the period 1990 to 2004. The statistics for the prices to UK and German industries were taken from the TEA publication 'Energy Prices and Taxes' and Ofgem estimates, while the consumption of UK industry was taken from the IEA publication 'Energy Statistics of OECD countries'. A similar exercise undertaken by Ofgem came to the same figure.

The statement on 16 February,

"over the past 10 years British companies have paid £9 billion less for their energy than German companies, for instance, but there is an issue here that we need to tackle"

referred to the difference in cost were UK industry to have paid German prices for the gas and electricity they consumed over the period 1995 to 2004. The statistics for the prices to UK and German industries were taken from the IEA publication 'Energy Prices and Taxes', while the consumption of UK industry was taken from the IEA publication 'Energy Statistics of OECD countries'. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for energy, Department of Trade and Industry)


NHS Finance (Hospitals)
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expected (a) turnover, (b) fixed capital costs as a proportion of turnover, (c) fixed costs and (d) financial out-turn is for each NHS hospital trust for 2005–06. (John Hemming)

A:The information requested on turnover, fixed capital costs as a proportion of turnover and financial out-turn for 2005–06 for each national health service trust has been placed in the Library.

The turnover and forecast out-turn position for 2005–06, as submitted by both NHS trusts and primary care trusts at the mid-year point (month six), is available in the Library. Copies of this information is also available on the Department's website at:

www.dh.gov.uk/publicationsandstatistics/freedomofinformation/classesofinformation/fs/en
(Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)

Council Tax
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the values were for (a) the assumed national Council Tax before floors and ceilings and (b) Council Tax at standard spending in each year since 1997–98; and for what reason these figures have increased at a rate beyond that of inflation. (John Hemming)

A:The following table gives the Council Tax for Standard Spending for the years 1997–98 to 2002–03 and the Assumed National Council Tax for the years 2003–04 to 2005–06.

Council Tax for standard spending/assumed national council tax £
1997–98 593.09
1998–99 634.62
1999–00 664.88
2000–01 695.54
2001–02 730.89
2002–03 769.16
2003–04 1,037.46
2004–05 1,061.46
2005–06 1,101.96

Both of these measures were simply the calculation of the assumed national council tax used within the formula grant calculations, and depended on the total of Standard Spending Assessments or Formula Spending Shares, the amount of Revenue Support Grant and the distributable amount of business rates, and the number of band-D equivalent properties in England.

The large increase between 2002–03 and 2003–04 reflects the change to the Formula Spending Share system. The totals for Formula Spending Shares were set at approximately the level of spending by authorities, and thus the assumed national council tax was reset to a level nearer to the actual national average band-D council tax. (Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)

National Blood Service
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the National Blood Service uses predictive dialling. (John Hemming)

A:The National Blood Service, an operational division on National Health Service Blood and Transplant, uses predictive dialling. (Caroline Flint, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health), Department of Health)
 
Monday, April 24, 2006
  Labour and Consistency
Labour have frequently critisised the Lib Dems for being inconsistent. For example they criticise us for the fact that the Edinburgh Lib Dems have not implemented a congestion charge.

Our response is that it is "horses for courses" and what is appropriate locally should apply.

Now Labour are delivering leaflets in Birmingham criticising the administration for introducing a congestion charge. Firstly the administration does not actually have a policy of introducing a congestion charge. Furthermore, however, Labour can either claim that consistency should apply in which case they should be consistent.

Alternatively they should allow local discretion and not criticise the Lib Dems for using local discrretion.

The same Labour leaflet criticises the extension of the Metro system. This is a policy supported by Labour.
 
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 25th April 2006
Non-Emergency Situations
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria he used in deciding that (a) drug dealing, (b) drunken behaviour, (c) harassment and (d) intimidation should be treated as non-emergency situations; and if he will make a statement.(John Hemming)

A:My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will not be making a statement as the criteria for what constitutes an emergency or non-emergency situation is an operational matter for which the Association of Chief Police Officers have existing standards for call handling in police contact centres that include definitions of emergency and non-emergency contacts. 101, the new single non-emergency number, complies with these standards and will work alongside 999 and other non-emergency numbers to provide a service for less urgent community safety and antisocial behaviour problems.

101 operators will direct callers to the emergency service if the call requires a 999 response. A non-emergency situation will also require an immediate priority response if the situation relates to serious criminal conduct or concern for somebody's safety even if the situation is not considered an emergency.

The initial scope of the 101 service has been developed through research with the general public, and in consultation with a wide group of stakeholders and local authority and police force partnerships.

The core service will cover:

Vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property;

Noisy neighbours;

Intimidation and harassment;

Abandoned vehicles;

Rubbish and litter, including fly tipping;

People being drunk or rowdy in public places;

Drug related antisocial behaviour; and

Street lighting.

The new service will improve the delivery of these services by providing a more informed and better coordinated response by local agencies. 101 will be provided by local authorities and police forces working in partnership to both handle calls and deliver services. (Hazel Blears, Minister of State (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Home Office).

Pharmacies
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health:

(1) what estimate she has made of the funds received by pharmacies as a result of the difference between the price paid for drugs by (a) the Prescription Pricing Authority and (b) pharmacists in each financial year since 2000–01; and what estimate she has made of the funds received in (i)2005–06 and (ii) 2006–07;

(2) which 10 drugs contributed most to the total funding of pharmacies because of the difference between the price paid by the pharmacies and the price paid by the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) in each year since 2000–01; what estimate she has made of the total funding from that source in the next two financial years; and what the price paid was by (a) the pharmacy and (b) the PPA for each of those 10 drugs. (John Hemming)

A:There was a survey to measure the margin on drugs available to community pharmaceutical contractors (the discount inquiry) in October 2000. The discount inquiry asked a random sample of pharmacy contractors what prices they had paid for a sample of medicines including rebates from suppliers. As a result of this survey, the claw-back used to calculate reimbursement prices paid to pharmacists was increased by about 0.6 per cent., depending on size of pharmacy, from an average of about 10.6 per cent. to 11.2 per cent. Under the terms of its agreement between the Department and the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee, the data used in the discount inquiry remain confidential.

Although there have been no discount inquiries since 2000, the Department has monitored drug prices using market information from manufacturers and wholesalers. As a result of this, and following a public consultation paper, the Department reduced the reimbursement prices of four recently out of patent medicines on two occasions: the first with effect from December 2003 and the second with effect from September 2004. In total, this reduced the retained margins available to community pharmacy contractors by £300 million per annum.

When the current community pharmacy contractual framework was implemented in April 2005, the amount of retained margins in England was assessed as £500 million per year. This money is an integral part of the total of £1,766 million agreed during the contract negotiations, and will help to pay for services to patients. The Department is currently undertaking surveys of community pharmacy contractor invoices to determine the current amount of retained margin available to pharmacy contractors. If the current survey shows that total retained margins differ substantially from £500 million, the Department will make adjustments by varying reimbursement prices or the claw-back to bring it in line with the sum agreed as part of the contractual framework. The Department will continue to assess the level of retained margin but does not believe it is realistic to prepare forecasts as the actual sums retained will be determined by the market prices for generic medicines which can change significantly over time.

From a survey in October 2005, the 10 drug presentations that contributed most to the total funding of pharmacies due to the difference between the price paid by the pharmacies and the price paid by the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) were as in the following table.

Drug presentation PPA reimbursement price,
October 2005
Simvastatin tablets 40mg, pack size 28 4.14
Simvastatin tablets 20mg, pack size 28 1.79
Omeprazole capsules enteric coated 20mg, pack size 28 10.59
Amlodipine tablets 5mg, pack size 28 5.48
Citalopram Hydrobromide tablets 20mg, pack size 28 2.59
Amlodipine tablets l0mg, pack size 28 7.96
Pravastatin Sodium tablets 40mg, pack size 28 3.33
Ramipril capsules l0mg, pack size 28 2.78
Gabapentin capsules 300mg, pack size 100 53.26
Ramipril capsules 5mg, pack size 28 2.55

When assessing the prices paid by the PPA, it is important to note that there is a claw-back such that the reimbursement to pharmacies is reduced currently by 6 per cent. to 12.5 per cent., depending on the size of the pharmacy; this reduction is not allowed for in the table.

Disclosure of prices paid by pharmacy contractors for the purchase of these medicines might prejudice co-operation in future and make it impossible to undertake these surveys, and hence make the monitoring of total payments under the pharmacy contract very difficult. (Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)

National Blood Service
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the National Blood Service uses predictive dialling. (John Hemming)

A:The National Blood Service, an operational division on National Health Service Blood and Transplant, uses predictive dialling. (Caroline Flint, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health), Department of Health)

Council Tax
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the values were for (a) the assumed national Council Tax before floors and ceilings and (b) Council Tax at standard spending in each year since 1997–98; and for what reason these figures have increased at a rate beyond that of inflation.(John Hemming)

A:The following table gives the Council Tax for Standard Spending for the years 1997–98 to 2002–03 and the Assumed National Council Tax for the years 2003–04 to 2005–06.

Council Tax for standard spending/assumed national council tax £
1997–98 593.09
1998–99 634.62
1999–00 664.88
2000–01 695.54
2001–02 730.89
2002–03 769.16
2003–04 1,037.46
2004–05 1,061.46
2005–06 1,101.96

Both of these measures were simply the calculation of the assumed national council tax used within the formula grant calculations, and depended on the total of Standard Spending Assessments or Formula Spending Shares, the amount of Revenue Support Grant and the distributable amount of business rates, and the number of band-D equivalent properties in England.

The large increase between 2002–03 and 2003–04 reflects the change to the Formula Spending Share system. The totals for Formula Spending Shares were set at approximately the level of spending by authorities, and thus the assumed national council tax was reset to a level nearer to the actual national average band-D council tax. (Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)
 
Saturday, April 22, 2006
  DOA = £71
Inevitably there is a price the PCT pays a hospital if someone turns up DOA (Dead on Arrival). That price for 6-7 is £71.

There is a ratchet effect on emergencies (I suppose you wouldn't have an elective DOA) so only 50% of the tariff counts in a cash sense - £35.50.

We have had some luck in getting info about the Czech experience which was that a tariff encouraged Hospitals to press the payment button.

It remains that the tariff has assumed 2.5% efficiency savings. That is part of Gershon, but remains challenging.
 
  NHS Deficits - are they understated?
I recently asked a question about NHS deficits and was given the forecast as at period 6 (end of September). One thing I have not been clear on is whether or not for the last financial year the inter Trust balances have been reconciled.

A lot of payments are made between NHS Trusts. That means that if one claims a debt and the other denies it then there is a hidden deficit. I have asked questions of the Department of Health which would tease this out, but they have failed to answer.

I have seen figures for Lincolnshire with a deficit of 17.5 Million, but been unable to check them against the written answer as I only have that on paper and it has not as yet gone into Hansard.
 
Friday, April 21, 2006
  Gasoline Shortages Continue On Friday
From NBC:
Gas stations in three East Coast states ran out of fuel on Thursday as gas prices soared. Shortages were reported in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania starting on Thursday afternoon. They could last as long as 30 days.

This is only indirectly related to hydrocarbon depletion. It links moreso to a changeover to ethanol mixed fuel. I am really not sure that ethanol is a good source of real energy when you take into account the fertiliser needed to grow the plants to ferment into ethanol. (C2H5OH aka Alcohol).

One issue I have left alone for a while is oil depletion. There does seem to be a gradual movement internationally towards recognising the realities of depletion. The government's chief Scientific Officer was looking at the issue.

I have been trying to pin down the gas situation for the winter coming. As usual it will depend primarily on the weather, but there are issues. The long term issue is one of paying for the gas. This winter, however, there remain practical physical supply constraints as well. Capacity goes up by about 40 mcmd on 1st Dec 2006. However, we encounter our usual supply issues there. I am also not sure what the situation is in terms of physical supply as you go away from the Dutch and Belgian coasts. I will post more on the gasissues blog once I have got some clarity as to what is exactly the situation.

The US $3 per gallon compares to $8 in Norway.
 
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
  How Central Government is Pushing up Council Tax (and how they deny it)
Only some of the money that councils have to spend comes from Council Tax. The rest is doled out by Central Government. Central Government (the Offfice of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)) have a set of formulas which they use to determine how much cash each council gets. Part of these forumla is an assumption about how much money will be raised in council tax by the council: The more money a council raises itself the less it needs from ODPM. This is designed to even things out between rich and poorer areas. The table below shows how ODPM's assumptions about the amount raised in council tax by councils has been rising above the rate of inflation for each year since 1994/1995 apart from 2004/2005.

This means that if a council wishes to maintain the same income in real terms over two years it will have to increase council tax: it will be recieving less from central government. Council Tax has to rise in order for the council's spending to stand still.

Assumed Band D Council Tax values

YearRPI .Relative Diference (%) .ANCT .Increase (%) .CTSS .Increase(%) .RNF .Increase (%) .
2006/20071.52.1%£12593.6
2005/20063.20.6£1101.963.8£1215
2004/20052.5-0.2£1061.462.3
2003/20043.10.5£1037.463.7
2002/20031.53.7£1000.83*£769.165.2
2001/20021.83.3£730.905.1
2000/20013.01.6£695.544.6
1999/20001.63.2£664.884.8
1998/19994.03.0£634.627.0
1997/19982.41.8£593.094.2
1996/19972.40.7£568.943.2
1995/19963.31.3£551.564.6
1994/19952.64.5£527.417.1
1993/19941.3£492.66


ANCT : Assumed National Council Tax before floors and ceilings calculations
CTSS: Council Tax at Standard Spending
RNF: derived from the Relative Needs Factor
RPI: Retail Price Index. A measure of inflation.
Relative Difference: The increase in ODPM assumption minus inflation (RPI)
*: The large change between 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 was due to the effect of Resource Equalisation, which aligned the CTSS (renamed ANCT) more closely with actual local authority Council Tax values. A notional figure for ANCT in 2002/2003 was calculated by ODPM (by assuming the Resource Equalisation had happened a year earlier) to show the trend without the effect of Resource Equalisation.


The relationship between council tax rises and ODPMs assumptions regarding ANCT, CTSS and RNF is denied by Phil Woolas, the Minister responsible. Please follow the link.
 
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
  Children's hospital services 'at risk' from tariff system
(The Times)The chief executives of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, Alder Hey in Liverpool and Sheffield and Birmingham Children’s Hospitals say in a letter that the operation of the tariff — the list of fixed prices for NHS procedures — will leave them about £22 million a year worse off.

I do think that Labour taking on the children's hospitals is ill advised. Children's hospitals do tend to be more expensive for operations because of the additional care that goes in to handling children and involving parents.

Based on calculations that they have made so far, Great Ormond Street expects to lose £5.93 million in 2006-07, Alder Hey £11.03 million, Sheffield £2.5 million, and Birmingham Children’s Hospital at least £2.6 million — a total of £22 million.
 
Sunday, April 16, 2006
  Probation - the Devil's in the detail - like most things
According to the Independent a report later this month will
"question the ability of the Probation Service to protect the public from dangerous criminals"

In a sense this shows the way in which many issues cause a mass of column inches, but little is actually done to resolve the problems that are highlighted. The criminal justice system has so many errors in it that we should not be surprised when things go wrong. The government's solution with the police and Probation Service tends to focus on filling in forms rather than dealing with offenders. In the mean time rather than look from a whole system perspective and develop a plan that reduces criminality we end up with ideological battles over small parts of the system. In the mean time we have a system that actually acts to encourage criminality.

The important aspects of any system rest within the detail, but rarely is any proper attention given to the detail and hence little happens.

I have been spending some time looking at the failings of our current system of parliamentary scrutiny and concluded that much of this rests in the failure of ministerial responsibility. The principle that ministers tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to parliament has basically failed. Whether ministers actually know what the truth is is a question in doubt. They depend upon information from across the country much of which can be adjusted in various interesting ways. The end result is a bit of a shambles.

We see a similar issue in terms of the way in which media attention swings to an issue for just sufficient time for nothing to happen apart from spinning from a few ministers.

Two interesting tests of this are:

a) Jamie Oliver's School Meals debate. I am not aware of anything of substance that has changed as a result of that although I am sure that some superficial changes could be identified.

b) Live 8. Live 8 in my view was a major success because it reunited Pink Floyd. It also raised a lot of money. I am not sure what else it has done.

A lot of "Make Poverty History" grandstanding has ensued, but again I am not really sure what has changed of substance that affects people on the ground.

One area I will be campaigning over the next few months is to improve parliamentary scrutiny and ensure that ministers are held more accountable for their departments. I think I have worked out how to do this, but only time will tell.
 
Friday, April 14, 2006
  Progressive Scan - don't press the button
Having bought a new DVD player for the kids, for some reason it didn't display anything even though we bought a new SCART cable. Hence we returned it to the shop who also could not get it to work.

We replaced it and I watched the kids install it. The first question it asks is whether or not to use Progressive Scan. Had it said Progressive or Interlaced then I would have had some idea what that means. However, I thought it was scanning for channels so we said yes.

The end result was that the display again stopped working. Having resorted to RTFM it turns out that it is a different approach to the lines on the screen. Luckily by random pressings of the "pscan" button it stops. The manual said "press three times". That didn't really work. But some random pressing of the button linked with an element of cosmic ordering (or hoping) did elicit a display.

The lesson of the day is that if the DVD player says "do you want progressive scan" the answer is No.

Don't press the button!
 
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
  Brown goes to South Africa - Birmingham gets a hospital
For the government to only reduce the hospital by 108 beds is a small cut in comparison to those they are making elsewhere. We, therefore, should welcome the final announcement of the new hospital.

It has taken some time, but we have finally got there. The irony is that it appeared to require Gordon Brown's absence before it was signed off.

Still a new hospital is a new hospital.
 
  Dental Fees up by 30% on average
Initial returns from Birmingham dentists show that the money raised by the government from Dental Fees has gone up by around 30% as expected. It will, however, not be possible to confirm this until a few months have passed.
 
Monday, April 10, 2006
  Lone Parents Work Survey - request for responses
Two lone parents who live in Yardley are writing a book of advice for lone parents about how to cope both with working and being a lone parent.

They say:"We are two lone parents writing a book that provides information, and a true reflection of lone parenting…that’s the good, the bad and the ugly bits!

If you would to contribute by sharing your thoughts and experiences with us or are interested in completing our survey please email us on the address below. "

loneparents_sanity@hotmail.co.uk
 
  Cautions and Rape
It is interesting how the issue about when a caution is appropriate has just hit the public agenda.

There are massive numbers of cautions and clearly sometimes a caution is appropriate. The Home Office, however, has done no research as to what the recidivism rates are. This has to be the key issue.
 
Sunday, April 09, 2006
  The Frietag Method
There has been some debate in the media recently about children and delivering leaflets. Now and again I take my own children out delivering leaflets as I did with two this morning.

There is an interesting question as to how old a child has to be before they actually do more to help than hinder. My 5 year old, who said today that she had not been to the park for "ten years", is very close to being about to do more work delivering leaflets than it takes me for to wait whilst she runs around. Sadly, however, she has not actually got that far. I suppose her enthusiasm for going delivering leaflets will wane when the work done exceeds the time it takes for me to wait for her.

I think the threshold is probably at about 7. It does also depend upon whether the leaflets are addressed (and from time to time I deliver a road with leaflets only noticing part way down the road that they are addressed.)
 
Friday, April 07, 2006
  One Million to lose NHS Dentistry
The local SHA are talking about 95% signup rather than the 90% nationally. It remains, however, that many are signing up "in dispute" rather than accepting the contract.

The situation continues.

In the mean time the PbR tariff is turning out to have hidden traps. I have been looking at what happened with the Czech Republic's reforms. It looks that we may end up with a form of "melt down" with over 50% of NHS organisations in effective deficit by about period 6.

Predicting the year-end deficit is difficult for the first few months and only starts becoming reliable after about period 5.

Still whatever happens does not look good although with a bit of luck Eastern Birmingham will not suffer that much. Indeed if the DoH show good sense in going for 3 PCTs in Birmingham rather than 1 then we could come out relatively well.

In Staffordshire where they are merging 6 PCTs into 1 (probably) there will be chaos. (There already is quite a bit of chaos).

See my NHS Jobwatch for a summary

Patricia Hewitt finished off MG Rover and now is going hard at the NHS.
 
Thursday, April 06, 2006
  Labour's NHS Job Cuts [ NHS Jobwatch total 10994 ]
I shall try to keep this table of job cuts in the NHS as uptodate as possible. If you know of anything that is missing or wrong please email me.
Hospital TrustFirst ReportedJob lossesLink
NIGEL CRISP, NHS Chief ExecutiveMar-071BBC
Royal Cornwall HospitalMar-08300BBC
Peterborough and Stamford HospitalsMar-13185BBC
University Hospital of North StaffordshireMar-161000BBC
Royal Shrewsbury Hspital and Princess Royal HospitalMar-20291BBC
Derriford Hospital, PlymouthMar-20200BBC
New Cross Hospital, WolverhamptonMar-21300BBC
Royal Free Hospital, NW LondonMar-22480BBC
Queen Mary's Hospital, SidcupMar-23190Guardian
County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals TrustMar-23700BBC
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals TrustMar-29325BBC
Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS TrustMar-29150BBC
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, WoolwichMar-31100Telegraph
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS TrustApr-04400BBC
Medway NHS TrustApr-04160BBC
James Paget NHS TrustApr-05100BBC
Royal United Hospital, BathApr-05300BBC
Worcestershire Acute HospitalsApr-0572024dash
York HospitalsApr-0720024dash
Mid CheshireApr-07150 -> 25024dash
Sandwell and West BirminghamApr-1380024dash
Birmingham Blood CentreApril200staff
North Middlesex NHS TrustApr-1950enfieldindependent
West Hertfordshire NHS TrustApr-13700Telegraph
BBC
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS TrustMar-2374BBC
Norfolk and Norwich University HospitalMar-27700BBC
Gloucestershire Community NHS TrustMar-27172Telegraph estimated numbers 86 beds going
United Lincolnshire NHS TrustMar-10200BBC estimate on 17.5m deficit
 
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
  Birmingham Blood Service Scheduled to Close
I really don't think the government understand how to make things efficient. Large national processing centres do not in themselves make things more efficient. There is, of course, a critical mass that matters.

In the case of the Birmingham National Blood Service Centre currently in Vincent Drive the plan is for processing, testing and cross matching to go to Bristol.

That means that local donations will go there and then be brought back to Birmingham.

The anti-natal service is to be moved to Sheffield.

Apart from the job implications (which is 210 local jobs lost) there really are questions about the merits of increasing the amount of transport required, both in terms of time and cost of transportation.

The service currently operates for 35 hospitals from Oswestry to Rugby, Stoke and Hereford.

This is an issue I will raise with the Health Minister.
 
Monday, April 03, 2006
  Yardley Photographic Society Celebrates George Bate
George-with-John-Hemmings
After my advice bureau I visited the Yardley Photographic Societies exhibition of photos taken by their oldest member George Bate. The photos in the background are his. He has done quite a lot of work on reenactment photos.

Meanwhile we have a few photos from the week campaigning on NHS and disability issues.

warngovt

borisgrahamjohn

scope
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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