Monday, 30 January 2012

Social care funding gap has widened by £500m, says Age UK

From Community Care magazine

The gap between social care funding and need has grown by £500m for older people in England in 2011-12, compounding a situation in which 800,000 pensioners were already going without services.

That was the message from Age UK in a report today that warns that a multi-billion injection of cash is required to ensure the care system can serve all who need it by 2015.

Eight hundred thousand older people in need of social care were not receiving formal support in 2010, previous research for the charity by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics had found.

PSSRU estimated that £7.8bn, excluding user charges, would need to be spent on older people's social care by councils in England in 2011-12 to ensure no further increase in unmet need; however, just £7.3bn was spent, found Age UK's latest report, part of its ongoing Care in Crisis campaign.

Were social care spending for older people to remain flat in real terms until 2015, the charity estimates that this funding gap would grow to £2.1bn.

“Behind these figures are real older people struggling to cope without the support they need, compromising their dignity and safety on a daily basis," said Age UK's charity director, Michelle Mitchell.

Age UK called for a multi-billion pound package of measures to revive the care system, including:-

• An entitlement to care and support for all those with moderate needs and above under the Fair Access to Care Services system. This is yet to be costed but the bill would be several billion pounds.

• Implementation of the Dilnot commission's proposals, notably a cap on lifetime care costs for all at £35,000, extending state funding to existing self-funders. This would cost £2.2bn a year by 2015.

The Local Government Association said the findings reflected the scale of government cuts to councils, whose budgets are due to contract by 4.7% this year and 3.3% in 2012-13, without adjustment for inflation.

“Local authorities, which are already squeezing every pound through cutting red-tape, making back office savings, linking services and exploring a whole range of other innovations, are going to find it increasingly difficult to make further savings against a backdrop of escalating costs, a system that is underfunded and compounded now by severe funding cuts," said LGA community well-being board chair David Rogers.

However, care services minister Paul Burstow re-iterated his long-held view that cuts to service levels were councils' responsibility. "The government has provided enough for councils to maintain the current levels of access and eligibility if they work hard and smart, and invest in new ways of working like telecare and reablement," he added.

Filling the gap between need and funding was as much a matter of reforms to the way the system worked, through increased investment in prevention and reablement and greater integration with the NHS, as it was about resources, said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Peter Hay.

However, with the government due to issue a White Paper on the long-term reform of adult social care this spring, Hay issued a challenge to ministers: "We have offered the government a sector that's open to bold and innovative reform. It's up to the government to take [the offer]."

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Brighton and Hove Labour councillors join Tories on council tax

Labour say they oppose the Tories but locally whose side are they on?

It was always assumed that Brighton and Hove Conservatives would vote for a council tax freeze in the city, supporting their national party policy.

But for the first time yesterday (Thursday 26 January) Brighton and Hove Labour councillors formally declared themselves in alliance with the Conservatives, saying they would likely reject the Greens' proposals for a 3.5% council tax rise.

They chose instead the Tories' tax 'freeze' and the £5.4m in cuts to council services that would accompany such a freeze.

The council motion carries no weight and has no effect on the budget proposals themselves: it was just indicative of party feelings.

Green cabinet member for finance, Councillor Jason Kitcat said, "City politics have gone in a bizarre direction for the Labour Party to be uniting with the Conservatives to impose an additional £5.4m in cuts on the people of Brighton and Hove.

"We already face huge austerity measures from the Conservatives in Westminster and now Labour says it will be helping the Conservatives to make things even tougher in our city.

"These 'blue Labour' councillors have spent the last two months criticising the Greens for what they call frontline cuts.

"Now they're declaring that if they had their way, they would impose a further £5.4m reduction in services.

"Yet they don't seem to know how they would fund the £5.4m that the tax freeze would cost. So we call on the Labour councillors to get their act together and reveal their cuts in detail.

"We gave the city plenty of time to look at our proposals and suggest amendments, to which we listened.

"It's only fair on the people of our city that the both Labour and Conservative councillors should reveal their cuts or admit that they don't actually know how they would balance the books.

"It's time for them to put up or shut up."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Japan diverting tsunami funds to support whale hunt.

Japan caused outrage as authorities confirmed it is diverting millions of pounds tagged for the reconstruction of its tsunami-devastated coast to protect its annual Antarctic whale-hunt. Roughly 2.28bn yen (£19m) from a reconstruction fund for areas badly hit by the crippling 11 March earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster will be used to beef up security for the Japanese whaling fleet, which left port under heavy guard in December.
The money is part of about 500bn yen in "fisheries-related spending" green-lighted by parliament. Japan's Fisheries Agency justified the decision by saying that "safer hunts" would ultimately help whaling towns along the coast to recover. Conservationists immediately condemned the plan. "Not only is the whaling industry unable to survive without large increases in government handouts, now it's siphoning money away from the victims of the 11 March triple disaster, at a time when they need it most," said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. "This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians who support it".
The whaling boats left in secrecy from Shimonoseki in southern Japan, guarded by an unspecified number of coast guard officers, a patrol ship and other "security measures," according to local media reports. The fleet's target catch is said to be about 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sympathy for the royal family

Comment seen on an e-group:
"You've got to have sympathy for the royal family!
How will they cope with the benefits cap?"

Peter Tatchell Day

How and why PinkNews will be celebrating Peter Tatchell Day

by Benjamin Cohen for

25th of January marks what we’re calling Peter Tatchell Day, his 60th birthday. I’m delighted to explain how and why will be celebrating the birthday of a man who has through direct action changed Britain and the world for the better.

All of the advertising spots around the site will be donated to his Peter Tatchell Foundation on his birthday to raise awareness and fundraise. will lose a not inconsiderable amount of money but we want to do it to mark an important day in the history of our community. Over the course of his 60th birthday year, we will donate a further 41 million advertising spots around this website and iPhone app to his foundation to celebrate the 41 years since he joined the London Gay Liberation Front.

Way back in 1973, aged just 21, Peter staged the first ever gay rights protest in a communist country – in East Germany – which resulted in him being detained and interrogated by the secret police, the Stasi. Many years later, in 1998, he helped expose the Nazi war criminal, SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who conducted gruesome medical experiments on gay prisoners in Buchenwald concentration camp.

More than any other person or organisation, Peter has, often single handed, campaigned for the rights we now enjoy in the UK. He’s also been a huge campaigner all around the world for LGBTQI rights. I believe that the 25th January should be celebrated not just throughout the LGBTQI communities around the world but actually beyond because he’s not just fought for our rights, he’s campaigned on a variety of human rights issues and put his own life on the line when he did, such as his two attempted citizens arrests of the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. After the second, he was severely injured by Mr Mugabe’s body guards.

Over the next few weeks, PinkNews is inviting you to send in your memories of him, how you met him how, how he inspired you and how you believe he’s changed your life for the better. As well as how you think he should continue his work.

Peter probably won’t remember, but I actually first met him on the former Channel 4 programme, The Big Breakfast. He was fresh from attending hospital after his attempted arrest of Robert Mugabe and I wasn’t at that stage publicly out. I was promoting a BBC programme I was appearing on. He probably won’t have realised how influential on me that meeting was and how I looked back on that when I decided to launch PinkNews.

Peter has been an amazing ally of mine since we started He’s always supportive, eager to help and constantly writing columns for us. Even in my other life at Channel 4 News, Peter’s been a help. I remember phoning him as he sat, badly beaten in a Moscow police station, after being attacked by neo-Nazis at the banned Moscow Pride in 2007. Immediately after he was released, with a huge bloodied black eye, he recorded an interview via satellite telling a large audience in the UK how badly the Russian authorities were treating gay people in the city. Through his highlighting of the Moscow Pride ban, and the legal case brought by LGBTIQ campaigners in Russia, the country was subsequently found in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights.

The work that Peter does is inspiring, it has changed lives and it’s not just been by leading huge campaigns. He has helped many individuals too, including many LGBTIQ refugees in the UK escaping persecution in their home countries. With Peter’s help, for which he receives no salary, a large number have successfully been recognised by the British authorities and have been able to build new lives for themselves, free from the terror of state persecution.

His leadership of the Equal Love campaign, arguing that gay couples should have the right to marry and that straight couples should have the right to hold civil partnerships has so far been a partial success. The prime minister David Cameron has pledged to introduce gay civil marriage, although Peter is continuing the fight to ensure that gay couples should be allowed to hold religious marriages and straight couples to hold civil partnerships. In other words, true marriage equality. But it’s unlikely that without his campaign that the government would have even started moving in the current direction.

I’m really hoping that our many readers from all around the world dig deep from now until Peter Tatchell Day and throughout his birthday year to help support his and his team’s work through the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Click here for more details.

Benjamin Cohen is the founder and publisher of He is also a correspondent for Channel 4 News

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Try something new today, supermarkets told: pay a living wage

Try something new today, supermarkets told: pay a living wage in London Darren Johnson has called on supermarkets, the Mayor and Government to make work pay for all workers in London, following an investigation by the Fair Pay Network into low pay in the four largest supermarket chains. Last year the National Minimum Wage fell further behind the cost of living in the capital, rising 2.5% while the London Living Wage – calculated to cover basic living costs in the capital – rose by 5.7%. The higher rise in the London rate was attributed to benefit and tax credit cuts, and rises in food costs, average rents and public transport fares.
Darren Johnson commented:
“The minimum wage isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living in London, forcing more parents to work two jobs to make ends meet. The Government needs to ramp the minimum wage up to be a genuine living wage, but instead they are letting the gap grow wider.
“The Mayor of London needs to get on his bully pulpit and call for all employers in London to prioritise pay rises for the lowest paid above bonuses for chief executives. In this age of obscene inequality we cannot leave it to employers to make sure they pay their staff enough for a basic standard of living.“

The Fair Pay Network report is available online:
On the 1st October 2011 the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 21 rose to £6.08, compared to the London Living Wage of £8.30. The latter is calculated each year by the Greater London Authority based on actual living costs and average incomes.
Since 2008, the National Minimum Wage has increased by 6.1% while the London Living Wage has increased by 11.4%.
16% of London’s workforce earns less than the London Living Wage, rising to 41% of part-time workers.
I believe it ought to be pointed out that people press-ganged by welfare reform legislation and bad advice from JobCentre Plus to join supermarket staff on 'work experience' as trainees get much less than the formally recognised staff members and were more likely to be obliged to work over Christmas than the regular staff members. For further details of this, contact Anne-Marie O'Reilly of Boycott Workfare

Sunday, 8 January 2012


From Schnews
Sea Shepherd have taken to the skies. Well kinda... taking a leaf out of the US military manual the anti-whaling activists have gotten themselves a drone!

The battery powered, remote-controlled aircraft has a range of 300km, and feeds back GPS co-ordinates, live video and still images to the activist ships to pinpoint the Japanese whaling fleet. It's already clocked up one victorious mission, with one sortie for the drone allowing the ship Steve Irwin to track a whaler over 28 nautical miles away. The three ships belonging to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are all equipped with drones, donated by Bayshore Recycling, a New Jersey-based, environmentally-minded recycling company.

Once only used in high-tech military operations by the US air force and Israeli spies, drones are now becoming more and more commonplace, and affordable! You can pick one up for as little as #300 (google it if you don't believe us), control it with yer smartphone and use for whatever you wish. Now available to the general public, the mind boggles as to what new and inventive (and potentially terrifying) applications this technology could now have once dastardly people start customising and modifying them. Meanwhile after the drones found the whalers, Sea Shepherd engaged in a six hour stand off with one of the Japanese Yushin Maru 3. See

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New 50p coin explains the offside rule

People may soon come across some new 50p coins in their change. One of them includes a diagram that attempts to explain the offside rule in football.

The 29 new coins form a series which features each of the Olympic and Paralympic sports to be contested during London 2012. The football coin was designed by London journalist Neil Wolfson.

Although the designs will be attractive to collectors, all the coins are legal tender so should start to appear in change soon. Around 87 million of these coins will be in circulation.