The Government Promised a Green Paper on Funding Adult Social Care, Where is it?

 

 

 

The government promised to publish a Green Paper on funding adult social care last
autumn, but in the end, it did not materialise, instead, saying that it would be published
alongside its NHS Long Term Plan. Well, on Monday this week, the NHS Long Term Plan
was published, but the Green Paper on adult social care was nowhere to be seen. There has
been no word from the government on when it will be released.

To recap, the Green Paper idea was hatched in the wake of the Tories disastrous manifesto
commitment at the 2017 general election, which pledged to fund adult social care by
requiring users of the service to pay for care with equity held within their homes, should they
own one. The policy idea was said to be the brainchild of Nick Timothy, one of the prime
minister’s special advisers, and apparently not even discussed in Cabinet beforehand.
It was a bit of a back of a fag packet plan, which when I first heard about it I thought was a
very un-Tory like policy, and very risky to just spring on the electorate at a general election. It
almost certainly cost the Tories votes and contributed to the government losing its majority in
Parliament. It was quickly dubbed the ‘dementia tax’ and Tory MPs reported that it ‘went
down like a bucket of sick’ on doorsteps during the election campaign. Timothy was duly
sacked as an adviser.

There is broad agreement among politicians and health care professionals that this issue
does need to be sorted out. In the meantime, the government has found £410 million to give
to local authorities (in England) for adult and children’s social care and allowed them to
raise council tax by up to 6%, to get them through the coming year. This is just a sticking
plaster on a deep wound, but the Green Paper idea allows the government to kick this
particular can down the road, as they have done with many other issues.

Why there needs to be any more delay on this pressing issue is a mystery, government
Green Papers are only consultation documents after all. Quicker off the mark has been the
Local Government Association (LGA), who published their own ‘green paper’ in July last
year and the consultation closed on 26 September. The results have been analysed, and the
LGA has now published the findings. Over 540 people and interest groups submitted
responses, with more than 15,500 people looking at the LGA website about the green paper.

The consultation responses indicated that people like decisions about adult social care being
taken locally, by local authorities, so that local factors are taken into account, but worried
that this would lead to variations in the service across England. Many thought that the
service should be provided locally but guidelines should be decided nationally. Most people
thought that funding should be provided nationally, rather than covered by council tax.
The LGA estimates that by 2024-25 providing a good standard of care to all adults who need
it, will cost around £5 billion per year, and with an increasingly aged population costs will rise
even further after that. Most responses to the consultation made the point that more money
needs to be allocated to adult social care.

At the moment people who receive care are obliged to contribute towards the cost if they
have income and assets over £23,250, which 80% of respondents thought was too low an
amount. Just over half thought that this amount should be raised to £100,000, but that extra
funding from the government should also be provided.

The most popular option for respondents for raising this central funding was an increase in
National Insurance contributions (56%) from employees and employers, with a rise in
income tax (49%) the second most popular choice. 56% of people also said they would
support paying extra for specific social insurance to cover the costs of care, which could be
done through either National Insurance or some ring-fenced income tax.

I think that it is very unlikely that higher earners will have to cover most of the costs by
raising the top rate of income tax, because the Tories just don’t do that sort thing, even if the
fairness of this is obvious to most people.

Whatever scheme is eventually devised to pay for adult social care, the problem needs
addressing urgently, so the government should just get on with releasing the Green Paper,
to take this long overdue decision, and stop stalling.

Universal Credit: ‘The Truth’. An Anonymous Account

This individual wished to remain anonymous, but really wanted to share their experiences of Universal Credit:

I started claiming for Universal Credit in November 2018. I was reluctant to claim, as I did not want to be viewed as a ‘scrounger’.

I could not continue without support, as I had reached destitution – I required urgent assistance.

I contemplated suicide a few times, to avoid becoming a societal burden but primarily due to the issues which led to my destitution in November 2018.

I applied for state assistance at the beginning of November, but was informed I could not receive a full payment until mid-December 2018.

I was reluctant to apply for an ‘advanced payment’ as I was informed that it was a loan. I could not afford to accumulate more debt. But, I eventually applied as I was desperate and could not afford the necessities for living. I applied for one-hundred pounds, to help me survive until I received my payment – but the amount I borrowed was set to be deducted from my payment in December 2018.

My payment eventually arrived and I was immediately short on funds again. I was loaned money from friends and family in small amounts. I struggled to repay everyone.

It is even more difficult to find a job due to my autism and I was initially expected to attend group sessions and places I struggled mentally to cope with, but I am now given a bit more leniency. I raised the issue of my autism at the outset, but so many fail to understand my thoughts and feelings.

I wanted to live with my partner, but if I did this (to minimise costs) I would lose the majority of my support, as the state will judge me based upon the income of my partner of almost two years.

I was forced into this situation abruptly due to issues with my studies and this was all unexpected and unprecedented. I feel that I require emotional support, but cannot access it and I also feel awful for becoming a societal burden.

I am struggling to find a job due to my situation and this is exacerbated by the emotional state I was left in – in November 2018. It takes so long for benefit applications to be reviewed and I often cannot afford to wait for these outcomes – as I have also applied for Personal Independence Payments.

My autism leaves me worrying and struggling to engage in daily activities. I am not sure about anything anymore – I just hope I can have someone to assist me with these difficulties. I cannot keep placing the burden on my partner and loved ones – I hope I can get assistance from the NHS.

It is even more problematic that I have to sign a tenancy agreement before I am informed about any possible entitlement for rent support – a system which could leave me in severe debt or homeless.

Money is tight and my thoughts are low. I want help and support. I wish that mental health services would be well funded and supported – I hope I can access counselling and/or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Osborne: Tories Facing ‘prolonged period’ in Opposition

George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has issued a warning to the Conservative Party.

He claims that the party must become more socially-liberal and pro-business, otherwise will face electoral defeat in a General Election.

He believes that the Government is actively trying to avoid a Snap General Election.

He said: ‘There is a way of course for the government to avoid that [General Election] and they are terrified of an election – they can themselves embrace a referendum’.

He believes that discussions of a referendum have been occurring, but these claims are denied by officials in Downing Street.

Mr. Osborne criticised the path being pursued by Theresa May. ‘I think she should have started where she has tried to end up, which is a more conciliatory partnership with the European Union’, he said on BBC Radio 4.

He further stated: ‘I think that was essentially a massive mistake by the Conservative administration – which it was punished for at the general election – because the Conservative Party decided to embrace the Brexit result in such a way as to essentially dismiss the views of those who had voted remain, treat them as saboteurs or traitors and run against urban Britain.’

His comments come amidst growing pressure on the Government to abandon their current proposals regarding the withdrawal from the European Union.

However, the Government reaffirms that this deal is ‘the only deal’ and will act in the ‘national interest’ – a claim refuted by the Opposition Parties.

Comment from Thomas Howard, Editor at TPN:

George Osborne’s comments are a damning indictment of an inept Government. He claims that his former colleagues are not acting in the national interest, as there are active attempts to avoid a General Election.

He has condemned the treatment of those individuals who voted ‘Remain’ in the Referendum in 2016 – he believes that they have been wrongly criticised by the majority of the Conservative Party.

It is clear that these issues continue to cause societal divisions and that more harm is being made – which is largely the result of the ‘Brexit’ being pursued by the Conservative Party.

The arguments for Brexit: Explained

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call Brexit among the most divisive political votes in history. Whether Brexit will be positive or negative for the UK still divides the opinions of most of the 70 million inhabitants of the UK. The main consensus amongst progressives is that Brexit will mostly be negative; both politically, socially and most importantly, economically. But then why did more than half of the UK vote in favour of it? In this article I intend to explore some of the main underlying points in favour of Brexit, and evaluate the grounds for their support.

One of the most salient arguments brought forward by Brexit supporters is the bureaucratic nature of the European Parliament. Supporters believe that Brexit would return power to the government, and by association, the British people. This idea appears particularly unfounded as all ministers of the European Union are elected from their respective national government. The United Kingdom itself hold regional elections to decide it’s MEPs, however, that isn’t to say these elected MEPs won’t act in the interests of their home country or even the local communities that elected them. In 2015, many of the elected MEPs for the UK, notably those of the United Kingdom Independence Party, refrained from adhering to parliamentary conduct in protest at the European Union. However, this issue isn’t unique to the European Union and has existed virtually as long as democratic institutions have.

The ability to take control of laws and policy

One of the main requirements of being a member state in the Eurozone (the free, single-market of the European Union that allows the free movement of goods and people across Europe) is to adhere to the European Court of Justice. The European Court of Justice is the main law-making entity in Europe and ensures that all EU countries abide by the laws set down by the European Union. Currently, it is comprised of one judge from each EU member state and 11 advocates for the Union itself. The main argument of pro-Brexit politicians is that the European Court of Justice takes away the ability for the UK government to manage its own laws and gives power to the EU and away from UK citizens.

Whilst this is true to some extent, the European Court of Justice also provides several opportunities for UK citizens to control the UK government through the Court. The most notable example of this is through the European Court of Human Rights, which forms a Court of law above the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, that theoretically each EU member state must adhere to the ruling of. The European Court of Human Rights provides another avenue for citizens who think the government, or justice system, has wronged them to seek legal help.

However, the usefulness of the European Court of Human Rights in managing the UK government is itself questionable. The UK government has failed to adhere to guidelines and rulings made by the Court. The most prolific example of this came in the decision in 2003 to introduce the Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentences (also known as indeterminate prison sentences), which allowed judges to instil no fixed term limits when convicting criminals to be imprisoned if they are deemed to be violent or a danger to the public, even for crimes that would originally only confer a 1-2 year sentence. While the UK government did abolish the handing out of Indeterminate Prison Sentences in 2012 after a European Court of Human Rights ruling that it was in breach of human rights, the abolition didn’t comply with the recommendations to revoke the current indeterminate sentences handed to over 3,500 prisoners in the UK who were currently serving no fixed prison sentence term. To this day several hundred IPP prisoners are still trapped in custody, some for crimes that would otherwise have seen them walking free decades earlier.

Our continued place in the European Single-Market would ensure that we were still required to adhere to all laws created by the European Court of Justice, however without having a UK-representative on the Court itself. This means any deal involving membership of the single-market would result in still having to abide by EU law.

Trade and the Membership Fee

In 2016, the year following the Brexit vote, the UK paid over £13 billion  to the European Union for membership, a tariff that must be paid by all member states. While this is considerably less than the ‘£250 million a week’ fee ,famously mentions by the Vote-leave ‘Battle Bus’ during the vote, it is still a considerable fraction of UK GDP.

We must however consider that a sizeable number of this is given back to the UK, of around £4.5 billion each year. This is mostly given in the form of grants to research projects, and the UK’s many tourist attractions and national landmarks. The biggest recipient of the money in terms of geographical areas of the UK is Cornwall, due its huge international tourism spots.

The case for a financial reason to leave the EU is also further complicated by how it is almost completely impossible to even estimate the amount of money the UK makes each year from free-trade, free-movement, and other various services discounted by EU membership, such as a relaxation to the Rules of Origin restrictions relaxed on products within the EU. This has been hotly contested by lobbyists, policymakers and analysts since long before the Brexit vote, possibly even since the UK has been in the European Union itself.  The lack of consensus and ambiguities on what exactly makes the UK the most money from being a member of the EU makes this point one of the most difficult to disrepute.

Whether trade would be better or worse off without the European Union is also a very hotly contested topic. Brexit supporters argue that the European Union decides the trade regulations and partners for its members, denying the UK the ability to manage its own trade and determine its own trade partners. Yet this argument fails to understand the very reason why the European Union was created in such a way in the first place. The European Union was designed to have the single market to ensure European Countries would have larger bargaining power with the new world-superpowers seen rising in the far-east and the United States. These large powers are forced to do business with the entirety of Europe, as opposed to being able to strong-arm smaller and economically weak individual European countries (such as the tactics employed by the Trump Administration in recent years with Mexico and Canada) into deals that would only benefit the larger powers.

As argued by Brexiteers, the United Kingdom, boasting the 5th largest world economy, can gather the economic power needed to ensure fair trade deals are made with other superpowers, most notably by gaining the backing of the United States through a ‘special relationship’ that favours US-UK trade. But yet again, this argument is too simplistic when compared to reality. It is true that the UK has the 5th largest GDP of any country in the world, but the relative difference in GDP between the UK and the two largest economies, China and the United States, is immense. The International monetary fund found in 2017 that the United States had a national GDP 10 times higher than the UK.

This is also further complicated by the role the United Kingdom plays as the only fully English-Speaking country to reside in the European Union. The United Kingdom is often regarded as the ‘gateway to Europe’, and has developed a vast financial economy off the ability for the United States and far Eastern investment firms and banks to do business in the UK and make use of its easy access to the Single-Market.

It is questionable whether the UK would be able to sufficiently make use of its economy to stand on its own feet without the need of the European Union. There may also be a legacy of nostalgia towards the days of the old British Empire and the United Kingdom’s ability to stand as a world power. The reality is the UK has yet to prove such a feat is possible after so many years sheltered in the Single-Market.

Immigration

Immigration is by far the most contentious issue in the Brexit debate. There is a general assumption that the Pro-Brexit argument in terms of immigration, is that the free movement of workers between European countries has contributed to a huge rise in low-skilled migrants into the UK. This argument was somewhat hijacked during the Brexit vote considering the Migrant Crisis, where there was a flood of refugees from conflicts with Islamic State and the Syrian Civil war moving across the Mediterranean and into the European Union through Italy. Another issue backing the immigration argument for Brexit is that the flood of migrant workers from countries that give lower salaries for the same jobs (such as Eastern European countries that often make use of their lower economies to provide less pay for low-skilled and skilled workers), move to the United Kingdom and take the jobs of UK nationals.

According to data from the office of national statistics for September 2018, there are currently 2.25 million non-UK EU nationals, compared to 1.24 million non-UK nationals from outside the EU working in the United Kingdom. However, only 881,000 of the EU nationals working in the UK are from Eastern European countries, and the number of Eastern European Migrants in the UK has been steadily decreasing since September 2016, where it peaked at just over 1 million workers. The United Kingdom has seen relatively steady increases in the number of UK nationals working in the UK over recent years.

Another issue, particularly around the ‘Migrant Crisis’, is that even though part of the argument in favour of Brexit included discussion on whether the European Union would force the United Kingdom to ‘share the load’ of refugees from the Middle East, the agreement to bring refugees into the UK wasn’t decided by the EU, but instead by a joint agreement between France and the UK. In that situation, the United Kingdom did have control over its borders and instead chose to let migrants in. A further issue with the Immigrant Brexit argument is that leaving the European Union might make it more difficult for the United Kingdom to deport illegal immigrants, as currently, EU law allows for quick deportation of illegal immigrants either to other European Union countries, or countries close to the European Union.

Similarly, under directive 2004/38 of the European Union, specifically article 28, member-states do have a certain amount of discretion to avoid the abuse of freedom of movement, notably to ‘guard against the abuse of rights or from fraud’ to ‘adopt necessary measures’ which can include deportation. EU law already allows for migrants who abuse the freedom of movement to be sent back to their home country.

Brexit will fundamentally change the United Kingdom, in terms of its economic make-up, its ability to control policy, it’s government’s accountability, and the United Kingdom’s place on the world stage. Whether this change will be overall positive, negative or could even be considered as anything beyond ‘complicated’ is a topic that will be debated for many decades to come. The arguments in favour of Brexit, while mostly being simplistic in their depiction of very complex political and financial situations, do reflect genuine dissatisfaction with the United Kingdom, neoliberal policies and institutions such as the European Union.

UK Government Blocks SNP Paying Settled Status Fees For Public Sector Workers

Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of SNP has stated that the UK Government will not allow Holyrood ministers to pay the £65 settlement status fees for European citizens who are working in Scotland’s public services.

The First Minister said at the Health and Social Care Scotland conference in Glasgow that the UK Conservative Government will not allow third-party payments, which forces EU citizens to pay the fee upfront. This comes as a surprise as the First Minister has already promised her government would cover the cost for EU public-sector and NHS workers living in Scotland.

Circa 13,000 EU nationals currently work in the health and social care sector in Scotland. However, reports have indicated that there is already a drop in job applications for the health sector.

The Home Office spokesman stated: “The EU Settlement Scheme will make it simple and straightforward for EU citizens to get the status they need”.

Editor’s final comment- Heidi Boahen

This hostile environment created by Theresa May herself and her party have put many European citizens living in the UK in fear. It almost seems as if the current Government wants to purposely put barriers in place which consequently forces Europeans to leave the UK. We are already seeing a number of Europeans leave the UK and it is no surprise as new policies do not seem welcoming. Nurses, Doctors and other NHS staffs should be valued and protected at all times. It is simply unfair for Europeans who have lived in the UK for a long time to have to pay a fee to prove their right to be in this country. As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, it has to shift their focus on uniting the United Kingdom and not segregate the British nation further with hostile policies.

Courts deny Deliveroo riders collective bargaining rights in victory for ‘gig economy’

Deliveroo riders have been barred rights to collective bargaining, the High Court has ruled.

The High Court dismissed a judicial review challenge brought by the up and coming Independent Workers Union of Great Britain which wished to attain recognition from the company so it could represent its workers in collective bargaining negotiations.

The court case is yet another legal test to the “gig economy”.

The Union claimed by not recognising them the company was in violation Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The CAC ruled last year that there was overwhelming support from the riders to collectively bargain through their chosen trade union, the IWGB, but that a collective bargaining unit could not be formed because the riders were not workers or employees. The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) found last November that Deliveroo riders were not classified as workers as they because they were able to ask other riders to take on deliveries for them and therefore not entitled to collective bargaining rights.

The Union challenged they were outside the definition of “workers” who could be represented by a union in bargaining negotiations.

In a statement, the Independent Worker Union said:

The IWGB fundamentally disagrees on High Court judge Michael Supperstone’s interpretation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and how it should be applied. Article 11 guarantees trade union rights as a basic human right.

The Independent Workers Union plan to appeal the decision.

In a statement Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the union said:

“Today’s judgement is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights. Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions. The IWGB will appeal this decision and continue to fight for these rights until we are victorious”.

The outcome of the case will be watched by other new age firms closely. Uber is currently waiting to see if the Court of Appeal will overturn a decision that a number of its drivers should be classified as workers rather than self-employed.

Analysis from Editor in Chief- Iwan Doherty

I am not a legal expert but even I can see that our judiciary is struggling with our outdated laws and definitions regarding the classification and rights of workers. The country needs to modernise its laws regarding workers rights to cope with the changes in the nature of employment. Deliveroo workers are workers and should be able to be represented by Unions for negotiations regarding pay and sick leave. Holiday pay was first enshrined into law in 1938 it should not be denied to workers in 2018.

PM under pressure over budget as McDonnell urges MP to vote budget down over Universal Credit

The Prime Minister will face both internal and external problems when the budget goes to the House of Commons on Monday.

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has urged MPs to vote down the budget if there is no commitment to pausing and fixing Universal Credit claiming “it’s that important”. In an interview, the chancellor appealed to House members across the aisle saying:

 “I am calling on other parties and members of other parties in Parliament to vote down the budget if the Chancellor refuses to halt the roll out of universal credit which is causing such hardship for millions, including many children.”

Food Bank usage in areas where Universal Credit has rolled out has increased 52%. One charity that helps the homeless spoke out against Universal credit, despite the gagging clause against this, saying that people on the benefit are desperate for help. Her charity has seen rises in suicidal citizens, self-harming citizens and women going into prostitution, so they can feed their families.

However, Tory MPs are unlikely to vote down their own budget, especially as a budget is an effective vote of no confidence. The chancellor has hinted at more money for Universal Credit but this is unlikely to solve the multiple problems.

The PM might have difficulty passing the budget if the DUP follow through on their threat to break their confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories if their redlines were breached on Brexit. Leaked plans of the PM’s new Brexit proposal sees Northern Ireland in a different VAT area to the rest of the UK and it is unclear if the DUP will accept this regulatory difference.

There is also a row in the Conservative Party on the direction of public spending. The Prime Minister pledged, again, to end austerity but it is understood the Chancellor is committed to remaining ‘fiscally credible’.

Phillip Hammond has also stated the country would need a new budget should the UK leave the European Union without a deal.

Mr Hammond  Sky News:

“If we don’t get a deal…. if we were to find ourselves in that situation then we would need to take a different approach to the future of Britian’s economy. We would need to look at a different strategy. And frankly, we’d need to have a new Budget that sets out a different strategy for the future.”

Hammond is facing pressure to find more money for spending, with even the Express running a headline urging for more spending. Theresa May has pledged an extra £20bn-a-year for the NHS within the next five years which could mean more borrowing or raising taxes.

Mr Hammond is set to announce a five-year, near-£30bn package of investment in Britain’s roads; hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of investment in broadband. The Ministry of Defence will also get an additional £500m.

This additional spending will anger some on the right of the Tory party who see this an attempt to appease voters rather than trying to control the government’s deficit.

How will Hammond fudge his budget to fake an end to austerity?

At the beginning of this month Thersesa May vowed to end austerity. With Philip Hammond presenting his budget on Monday, two days before Halloween, we’ll find out whether the Prime Minister’s pledge was a trick or a treat.

Budgets can seem dull, however in the most uncertain time in recent British history all eyes will be on the Chancellor next week as he plans around Brexit, ending austerity and the promise by Theresa May to increase funding for the NHS.

The Resolution Foundation think tank have proposed that the Government would need to find a considerable £31 billion by 2022/23 in order to abide by their commitment to end austerity. Add to this the £20 billion per year promised to the NHS and clear questions arise on where this money will come from.

Will it come from increasing tax for high earners? Borrowing in order to increase spending as two thirds of people agree with? Or even a 20% VAT on private school fees that an Ipsos MORI poll confirms 54% of people support. No, a large proportion of the money looks to come from cuts to the pension tax relief system.

The current tax relief system rewards people who save for their future, if a basic rate tax payer pays £100 to their pension, it will only cost them £80, as the Government contributes the £20 it would have taken in tax from £100 of their salary. Hammond is unhappy with this system, wanting to cut it in order to find the money for his Government’s ambitious promises.

Unsurprisingly, 71% of people are against this plan. It would have a major impact on the pensions of doctors, GP’s and teachers. Essentially punishing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in order to pay for Theresa May’s £20 billion plan that is unlikely to have much of a positive impact anyway. The funding won’t aid in areas of the NHS such as public health and social care which are the responsibility of local governments, yet with no aid from the Government to these areas and local governments still struggling with cuts, the £20 billion ‘gift’ to the NHS looks like Tory misdirection, a smoke screen to hide their desire to destroy our NHS.

Of course Brexit will also be a hot topic in the final budget before the UK is set to leave the EU. As there is still no consensus from the Government on if a deal will be reached, Hammond will have no choice but to prepare for the potential economic ramifications of a no deal. This is risky, if the budget concedes the UK will suffer under a no deal scenario, the EU will know how much the UK’s negotiating team will be willing to compromise in whatever deal they come up with. If the UK has any hand to play in the negotiations, this would no doubt reduce it to a fold.

The potential money being set aside for the end of austerity is also dependent on a good deal with the EU, meaning once again, instead of a genuine plan, ending austerity has become another empty promise from the Conservatives.

If you thought things couldn’t seem any worse for Theresa May, hold on.

The Tory’s inability to produce a majority at the 2017 General Election means they are being propped up in Westminster by the DUP, after a deal costing £1 billion. The Tory-DUP relationship isn’t going smoothly, with the Northern Irish party confirming they will vote down the budget presented on Monday if they are unhappy with concessions made to the EU. This would call further into question Theresa May’s leadership and decision making.

Brexit, austerity and the NHS are some of the most important issues in the UK. With the potential that this budget could have a negative impact on all three of these, we further realise the contempt this Tory Government have for the British people.

Theresa May’s promise on an energy cap comes too late as prices rise again

Theresa May’s promise to cap energy bills may be coming too late as British Gas have announced they are set to raise prices again.

The increase in prices will affect 3.5 million customers with the standard variable tariff increasing by 3.8%.

This will raise the average bill by £44, rising to £1,205 a year.

This is the second price increase this year, with British Gas raising its price by 5.5% in April

The prices will go into effect on the 1st October.

EOn, SSE, Npower, EDF, ScottishPower and Bulb have all increased energy prices, blaming wholesale energy costs for the increases.

Theresa May promised in the run-up to the 2017 General election to cap energy bills for 17 million Brits but the Queen’s speech that followed made no mention of the manifesto commitment. The cap was originally a policy suggested by Ed Milliband for the 2015 General Election.

Shadow Secretary for Business and industrial strategy Rebecca Long Bailey responding to energy price hike stated:

The energy companies have gone way too far in ripping off their customers. If it wasn’t for the Government’s delay implementing their promised energy price cap, customers would have been protected from this rise. Now, the cap will not be coming into force until later this year and energy companies are hiking their tariffs before it does.

Labour have promised to bring energy companies into public ownership to reduce prices. A strategy that has worked at a local scale in Nottingham and Leeds where Labour-run councils have created non-profit public energy companies, like Robin Hood energy, that greatly reduce the price of energy for consumers.

77% of the public believe energy should return to public ownership.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

This sort of mess is why vast numbers of moderate voters will continue to vote Labour. Parliamentary politics will never transform our lives, but small things to help pay bills can make big differences to the lives of millions of struggling families, and this fact seems lost on the Conservative Party.

Corbyn’s promises on housing, energy and water are massively appealing and the Tories failing to implement a Labour-lite policy shows where their priorities lie in Westminster.

Retraction: We originally printed that Theresa May had broken a promise on the energy cap. As alluded to in Rebbeca Long-Bailey’s statement the government is due to bring in the cap so technically she has not broken a promise. We apologise for this error.

Breaking News | Bank of England raises UK interest rates by 0.25%

The Bank of England has raised the UK interest rate by a quarter of one percent, from 0.5% to 0.75%.

Expectations of a strengthening economy, growing employment levels and increased consumer spending have all contributed to the decision.

The move comes after the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee announced that economic growth will recover from the 0.2% rate seen in the first quarter, to 0.4% in the second quarter. The financial markets have taken this on board and are forecasting one, and perhaps two rises of 0.25% before 2020

The rate rise is at its highest level since March 2009, and only the second increase in a decade.

As is the case, the move will raise the interest costs of more than 3.5 million half million residential mortgages with variable or tracker rates. However, today’s announcement will encourage savers, who could see a rise in their personal interest rates in the coming months.

The Bank of England was expected to raise interest rates in the middle of May but resisted because of weak growth- partly caused by harsh weather conditions during the ‘Beast from the East’ phenomenon.

The Bank is sticking to its guidance that interest rates will continue to only head higher, but at a gradual pace and to a limited extent.

Analysis from Oliver Murphy- Editor

As is the case with interest rates, there will be those who benefit and those who do not.

The rate rise will certainly come as a shock to the 3.5 million people with variable or tracker rate mortgages. Indeed, on a £150,000 variable mortgage, for example, a rise to 0.75% is likely to increase the annual cost by £224.

Of course, in terms of monetary policy, the Bank’s move is in accordance with its main priority- to reduce the cost of living (inflation). Generally, a rise in the Bank rate is good for savers and negative for borrowers – but the reality is a bit more complex.

Indeed, the Bank may well have jumped the gun by raising the interest rate now. The rise will undoubtedly threaten lowering consumer and business confidence at an already fragile time. According to the Institute of Directors:  “Growth has remained subdued, and the recent partial rebound is the least that could be expected after the lack of progress in the year’s first quarter.”

With the outlook for the global economy uncertain, only time will tell us of the impacts of this rise.