Staff at Colchester General Hospital have been forced into covering up delays to treatment for cancer patients in order to hit nationally set targets. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited the Trust in August and September after finding inaccuracies in waiting time data and being bombarded with complaints. They claim to have found “serious concerns” over the treatment of cancer patients.
In recent months the NHS has come under fire in the Keogh Review, which revealed that potentially 13,000 patients may have died unnecessarily across 14 trusts including Colchester. Colchester was one of three trusts that avoided being placed in special measures at the time, but following the shocking revelations, the CQC has recommended it be moved into this category. Continue Reading
Earlier this year, Humberside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove, announced money saving agreements with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council. Under these agreements, Humberside Police would be able to use council refuelling depots, reducing the needs to use commercial forecourts. According to a press release published on the PCC’s website, “the arrangement has a number of benefits, with the Force accessing a cheaper fuel than is available through garage forecourts and in doing so providing a valuable Police presence at the council’s fuel facility both within and outside of normal working hours.”
This is a very sensible cost-cutting measure, and Mr Grove’s deputy, Paul Robinson, whose role is to develop partnership opportunities, is to be congratulated for securing the deals. Last week, however, I was looking through the travelling expenses claimed by both Mr Grove and Mr Robinson and discovered that whilst Mr Grove claims 45p per mile, Mr Robinson claims 65p per mile – 20p more than HMRC’s recommended rate. Continue Reading
TaxPayers’ Alliance activists in Colchester braved the cold and the rain last Wedensday to protest against energy taxes. Passers-by stopped at our stall to pick up leaflets and sign a petition for our ‘Stop the Energy Swindle’ campaign.
At a time when many families are still struggling to pay the bills, green levies and other measures add £200 to the cost of the average household’s combined gas and electricity bill. This is expected to hit £620 by 2020. Green policy is the fastest growing influence on household energy bills. Continue Reading
Widespread austerity. Slashed budgets. Tough spending decisions. Not for the EU, it seems. This week, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that the European Union wasted almost £6 billion last year – 5 per cent of its total budget – on erroneous projects. This included providing funding for fraudulent and illegal schemes. Of the multi-billion pound waste, over £800 million was provided by British taxpayers. Continue Reading
Today we publish an innovative guide for local authorities, showing them how to cut waste, save money, reduce bureaucracy and ultimately cut taxes. Produced by Councillor Harry Phibbs, 201 Ways to Save Money in Local Government, contains advice on how council chiefs can make big savings in areas such as procurement and shared services. It also suggests more subtle changes – such as placing word limits on council documents and running competitions to find savings – that can save time and establish a culture of efficiency often lacking in too many town halls.
The Government will shortly announce the local government settlement – containing the size of the grants councils receive from central government. At the same time that families are dealing with the competing pressures of rising prices and stagnant wages, local authorities shouldn’t add to that burden with Council Tax hikes. Instead, local politicians should look to cut out wasteful spending and consider removing non-essential services.
Highlights of how councils can save money:
Other notable suggestions include:
Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Far too often we hear unimaginative councillors insisting that they have no choice but to raise Council Tax and increase the burden on already hard-pressed families. But there are literally hundreds of ways in which local authorities can save money before even thinking about increasing the Council Tax.
“201 Ways to Save Money in Local Government should be essential reading for anyone in local government and indeed anyone interested in holding to account their local representatives. In future, any civic leader claiming that raising the Council Tax is their only option had better be able to prove that they have implemented or at least considered implementing every single idea we are putting before them today. If not, they won’t be able to look their residents in the eye and insist that they have exhausted the possibilities for saving money.”