NHS 65th Birthday Celebration – Poole Hospital

Campaigners and supporters of the NHS took part in a celebration of its 65th Birthday outside Poole Hospital. They were joined by patients, thanked by staff and received hundreds of ‘Honks’ from passing traffic in response to a sign reading ‘ Honk to Save the NHS’. The celebration was called by Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition in order to take some time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our NHS over the last 65 years and to highlight the threat the Tory led Coalition is to the wonderful service continuing.

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Stewart MacArthur of Poole and Bournemouth Anti – Cuts Coalition said “The NHS has given us improved life chances, security in times of need, pioneering treatment, and care, life without the NHS is hard to imagine. Three years of this coalition government has seen the dismantling, the selling off, the privatisation of the NHS…and the next 65 Years could look very different.

945677_10151547784072684_1984017719_nThroughout the country members of the public and medics are extremely concerned at the privatisation route this government has chosen for the NHS, campaigners are adamant a USA insurance system is slowly being introduced. The recent move to set up a system whereby migrants are to pay towards treatment is a way to have the pay system in place within the NHS ready for top up fees and insurances and is the beginning of a slippery slope whereby other sectors of society will be asked to contribute. This should be a huge concern to all of us and we owe it to future generations to fight for the free health service we have all had the privilege of.”

65 fascinating facts about our glorious health service

1. The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world, along with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Indian railways and the Wal-Mart supermarket chain.

2. The NHS in England and Wales employs around 1.3 million people. This is approximately one in 23 of the working population.

3. Around 77% of today’s NHS workforce is female.

4. There are more than 100 volunteering roles within health and social care.

5. Nurses make up the largest part of the NHS workforce, at just under 30%.

6. Staff across the NHS are in contact with more than 1.5 million patients and their families every day.

7. Approximately 170,000 people (the capacity of the Glastonbury music festival) go for an eyesight test each week.

8. In 2005/06 the NHS helped to deliver around 16,000 babies at home.

9. Almost a quarter of all babies born in 2005/06 were delivered by caesarean section.

10. Each month, 23 million people (more than three times the population of London) visit their GP surgery or practice nurse.

11. In a typical week, 1.4 million people will receive help in their home from the NHS.

12. Full-time GPs treat an average of 255 patients a week.

13. NHS chiropodists inspect more than 150,000 pairs of feet every week.

14. Seventy-five per cent of women aged 53 to 64 in England are screened for breast cancer at least once every three years.

15. NHS Direct receives around 20 calls a minute. More than a million people called NHS Direct over the 2007 Christmas period.

16. The NHS Ambulance Service received 6.3 million emergency calls in 2005/06, which is roughly 360 an hour

17. Community pharmacies dispensed 745 million prescription items in 2006/07

18. NHS ambulances make over 50,000 emergency journeys each week

19. There are now around 90 NHS walk-in centres, offering convenient access to services, including treatment for minor illnesses and injuries

20. The oldest person in the world to have a hip replacement was a 101-year-old lady who was treated at Good Hope Hospital in the West Midlands. More than 89,000 hip replacement operations were carried out in 2006/07.

21. When 13-year-old Sylvia Diggery (nee Beckingham) was admitted to a Manchester hospital with a liver condition in 1948, she became the first patient to be treated by the NHS.

22. Britain’s first sextuplets were born to Sheila Thorn at Birmingham Maternity Hospital in 1968.

23. There was nothing ordinary about the birth in Oldham of Louise Joy Brown on July 25 1978. She was the world’s first test-tube baby. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment is now common and since then, more than a million test tube babies have been born worldwide.

24. The first heart transplant in the UK took place on May 3 1968 at the National Heart Hospital in Marylebone, London. By December 2007, 5,328 heart transplants had been carried out in the UK.

25. NHS Direct was first launched in 1998. It now handles 20,000 calls a day, that’s around eight million calls a year.

26. The man in charge of introducing the NHS was Health Minister Aneurin Bevan. Launching the service on July 5 1948.

27. There are more than 530 NHS trusts in England. The trusts include: Acute trusts, Primary Care trusts, Mental Health trusts, Ambulance trusts and Care trusts.

28. The first NHS trusts were established in 1991.

29. In December 1942 Sir William Beveridge’s report, Social Insurance and Allied Services, proposed major changes to create the foundations for a welfare system and, in its support, a national health service. The NHS was born.

30. The National Health Service Act was published in 1946.

31. Charges for prescriptions, dental treatments and spectacles came into force in 1952. Prescription charges were abolished in 1965 and remained free until June 1968, when the charges were reintroduced.

32. The first UK kidney transplant took place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on October 30 1960 and involved a set of 49-year-old identical twins.

33. Polio and Diptheria vaccines were introduced in 1958, prior to that cases of polio could climb as high as 8,000 in epidemic years, with cases of diphtheria as high as 70,000, leading to 5,000 deaths.

34. Initially, the contraceptive pill was only available to married women when it was introduced in 1961. Six years later, laws were relaxed and by 1967 one million women were taking it

35. Abortions were made legal on October 27 1967

36. Professor Roland Levinsky performs the UK’s first successful bone marrow transplant on a child at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in 1979.

37. John and Rosemary Cox from the West Midlands lauched a campaign for a national register for people to donate their organs after their son Peter died in 1989 – he had asked for his organs to be used to help others. Five years later the NHS Organ Donor Register was launched.

38. More than 18 million people have signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

39. NHS Direct was launched in 1998 and at its peak handled more than half a million calls per month. It was replaced by NHS 111 this year.

40. Following a number of high-profile deaths, and AIDS advertising campaign using images of tombstones and icebergs was launched in 1986.

41. The First keyhole surgery operation using 3D cameras took place at Manchester Royal Infirmary in April 2012.

42. Around one in eight newborn babies requires some kind of special care following birth, usually due to premature birth or low birth weight.

43. Breast screening was introduced in 1988, offering free mammograms to women over 50.

44. Eighteen-month-old Rhys Evans was the first person to have successful gene therapy to cure Severe Combined Immunodeficiency or ‘bubble boy’ disease at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2002.

45. The NHS Plan in 2000 sets out targets to ensure no patient spends more than four hours in an accident and emergency (A&E) department from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge.

46. Foundation trusts were first introduced in 2004. There are now 112 across the country.

47. The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme introduced in 2006 was one the first cancer screening programme in England to include men as well as women.

48. Around 50,000 people develop an irregular heartbeat each year. It’s a major cause of strokes and heart attacks.

49. Babies were first given vaccinations against pneumococcal meningitis in 2006.

50. British pensioner Kenneth Crocker, 70, was the world’s first patient to have heart surgery using a fully remote-controlled robotic arm. The operation took place at Glenfield Hospital, Leicestershire, in 2010.

51. Teenage girls aged 12 to 13 were offered vaccinations against human papilloma virus (HPV) to help prevent cervical cancer for the first time in 2008.

52. The amount of people enrolling at medical school rose by 58.7% between 1997/1998 and 2011/2012.

53. In comparison with the healthcare systems in Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA, the NHS was found to be the second most impressive overall by the Commonwealth Fund in 2010.

54. The NHS deals with more than 1 million patients every 36 hours.

55. Over the past 10 years, the number of calls resulting in an emergency team arriving at the scene has almost doubled.

56. The average life expectancy for men in the UK is 78.2 years, for women it’s 82.3 years

57. Hospital admissions linked to alcohol rose to 1.22 million in 2011/2012, a 51% increase from nine years earlier.

58. Latest NHS statistics show that 26% of women and 24% of men were obese in 2011.

59. The Care Quality Commission was launched in April 2009 to regulate the quality of services in health, mental health and adult social care.

60. Consultant otolaryngologist Mike Pringle fitted the UK’s first single cochlear implant capable of giving sound in both ears.

61. In April 2011, researchers from Cambridge University successfully demonstrated for the first time, the potential of an artificial pancreas in preventing night-time hypoglycaemia in adults with diabetes.

62. Matthew Green, 40, became the first UK patient to receive an artificial plastic heart implant at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, in August 2011.

63. More than 600 real-life NHS nurses and other healthcare workers took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony

64. On 27 December 2012, a surgical team at Leeds General Infirmary carried out the UK’s first hand transplant operation on Mark Hill, 51, from Halifax.

65. In March this year, Ian Christie, 62, became the first person to receive a transplanted liver kept alive on a machine outside the body at King’s College Hospital.

NHS1

The People’s Assembly 2013

The peoples assembly 2013 – an account by Natasha Allen
Why Austerity is a Concern to us All

Over 4000 people, united against austerity joined together at Westminster Hall on Saturday for a day of discussions and ideas on how we can involve more people in our fight against planned poverty, oops sorry, austerity.

Illustration by Stew - ART

I attended a talk on how we can get the message out about what our government is doing to us with these so called austerity measures and what we can do about it. We need to get people to come together, the cuts affect us all and we have to protect our children and our grandchildren from the consequences of these cuts. We need to “give up on the differences and look towards what we agree on”, we are part of a community who are meant to care about each other, we are all suffering so we need to come together and fight for change, when did people stop caring? What’s happened to community spirit? We should be looking out for each other and loving our neighbours, not just walking on by without a thought for anyone else. Have people made a conscious decision to be selfish?

I thought I would get the answer on how to bring us all together at the People’s Assembly, but then I realised there isn’t one. I believe the only answer is with the people; all coming together to fight against austerity that we know is only affecting the vulnerable, weak, poor and disabled. Its way past the point of ignorance now, everyone knows what is going on. It all comes down to whether you care. If you don’t care – why not? Are you that important that you will never need to use the NHS, the schools, the roads etc and obviously your bin never needs emptying!

Another discussion I attended was about immigration and how the media portrays Muslims. It has been said that if immigration continues we would need to build 17 more cities which is just an example of the rubbish that gets said. The left has been far too quiet on immigration and the bile being spouted. Immigration control is class based and only about money. If you’re not rich enough, you can’t come in, only the brightest and the best are welcome. If you get married outside of the EU you have to pay £18,600 for your spouse to enter the UK. Theresa May has now put a price tag on love!! Immigrants are treated as victims who have no rights.

There are 2.5 million Muslims living in the UK, they are peaceful people who want to live in the wider communities and be a part of society, but the media don’t want to see the good, and it’s caused a backlash against the Muslim community. The police call hate crime against Muslims anti-social behaviour, which has caused mistrust in the community and against the police. Muslims are living in fear and don’t want to go out on the streets, this can’t be right. Its 2013 and we all have a right to go about our daily lives in peace without any fear of being attacked. There are a small minority who cause trouble, as there are everywhere, but to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few is the same as blaming all white British people for the actions of the EDL. Don’t judge people, go and see for yourself.

History proves that when we are in a recession you will see a rise in racism. In WW1 when Germany had an economic collapse there was a rise in Nazi’s. We should not be surprised, it is no coincidence, it is just a classic way of dividing and weakening the working class. There is nothing to be gained about conceding to myths, all it does is feeds the likes of UKIP. Immigrants haven’t caused low wages, it’s the predatory employers who have. Without successive immigrants there would be no NHS, they take far less out of the system than they put in.

We will not let racism and fascism divide us, and we stand out and oppose any racist and fascist groups. WE are the majority and we oppose any attempts to demonise and destroy us. Islamophobia is the cause of the right wing groups and we must stand united against them. We are not going to ignore the EDL coming to our town, when Muslims are under attack we all are. We remain united against Islamophobia and racism, it’s not welcome in our town!

Protests are really good fun, we are a family friendly group at bpacc.co.uk who protest peacefully. We use a lot of creativity and humour in our demonstrations and it’s a great day out for a very important cause. You really feel like you are doing something for the good, you know that you’re making a difference and you are representing the people that are unable to protest for themselves. Someone has to help them, I know I can’t sit and watch and do nothing, to me it’s morally wrong and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing how much people are suffering everywhere. The time for doing nothing is over, it’s time for action!

See you on the streets.

Friday 5th July – NHS 65th Birthday Celebration – Poole Hospital

Meet on the pavement by the main entrance steps to Poole General Hospital from 6pm on Friday 5th July.

The NHS will be 65 years old on the 5th July 2013. Take some time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our NHS over the last 65 years. And to highlight it’s biggest threat since its founding.

The NHS has given us improved life chances, security in times of need, pioneering treatment, and care, life without the NHS is hard to imagine. Three years of this coalition government has seen the dismantling, the selling off, the privatisation of the NHS… and the next 65 Years could look very different. Help be part of the celebration of what we have had, and show our intentions to defend it against government cuts.

Bring a banner, placard, cake, flask, balloon,flowers, tributes, and highlight our NHS for the good it’s done and the threat it’s under.

Facebook Event Page

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Bournemouth Council give no assurances not to evict for Bedroom Tax rent arrears

Shown below is a public question submitted to Bournemouth Borough Council full council meeting on 18th June and the council’s response. BPACC are currently considering the council’s response and will be responding soon.

Public Question from Mike Cracknell

“The Government has introduced the Welfare Reform Bill which limits the total amount of Welfare benefits with an increase capped at 1%. This coincides with the introduction of the Social Housing Size Restriction policy equating to a reduction of 14% for one spare bedroom and 25% for two spare rooms which is monetary terms equates to circa £14/15 per vacant bedroom in Housing Benefit for tenants occupying social housing. Will the Council give an assurance that if the rent debt is accrued because of these factors there will be no eviction of tenants?”

Reply from the Leader of the Council, Cllr John Beesley

Tenants who are affected by the Social Housing Size Restriction policy (also referred to as the “Spare Room Subsidy”) will be of working age, receiving Housing Benefit and here in Bournemouth will be either local authority tenants or housing association tenants.

There are 577 Housing Benefit recipients affected in Bournemouth, of whom 328 are Local Authority tenants and 249 are in Housing Association properties.

All those who are affected and are Local Authorities tenants were written to twice by the Housing Benefits team with an explanation of how their Housing Benefit could change. The Council’s Housing Management team has been most proactive in contacting these tenants in order to discuss their options. They have been provided with information and advice on downsizing, applying for Discretionary Housing Payment, maximising income, returning to work and taking in lodgers. The Housing Management team is working closely with the Allocations team to ensure that all tenants wishing to downsize are placed on the ‘gold band’, significantly increasing their chances of winning a bid on a suitable property. tenants who wish to downsize will also be encouraged to arrange a mutual exchange of tenancies with other social housing tenants.

The Council is currently reviewing the incentives that it pays to tenants who wish to downsize to smaller properties in order to provide more assistance with the costs associated with moving, such as replacement of carpets, removals and decorations. The Council is also considering the level of practical assistance that it can provide, such as help with the connection and disconnection of white goods.

One of the Council’s 8 Housing Strategy priorities for Bournemouth is to ensure that we are making the best use of all our existing housing. The Social Housing Size Restriction policy forms part of this strategic priority by freeing up much needed family accommodation to help meet the housing needs of many who are on the Council’s waiting list. In April this year there were 3,177 households on the waiting list. 933 of these needed 2 bedroom accommodation and there were a further 645 who needed 3 bedrooms or more. We have reduced the waiting list from the 9,425 who were on it a year earlier through a much stricter allocations policy and are doing all we can to increase the number of new properties available to those most in need. It seems only fair therefore that we use our existing and future housing stock to best suit the needs of tenants, through downsizing where appropriate, in order to free up larger homes for those who need them and who are included on the revised waiting list, in the main through having a Bournemouth connection.

The Council’s policy in dealing with tenants who fail to pay their rent is available on the website. The policy is flexible enough to ensure that each case is dealt with on its own merits by specialist and experienced staff. They will become involved in cases of non-payment quickly in order to provide assistance and advice and have been successful in helping tenants who experience problems in paying their rent. However, if a satisfactory arrangement to manage the rent account cannot be agreed, the Council would take action to recover the property, nut only ever as a last resort.

In the Budget statement, the council recognised that Welfare Reform would be likely to cause hardship for some. Although there is no direct requirement by the government for us to do so, in Bournemouth we made provision in the Budget of £1.0 million for this year (2013/14) to establish a Local Welfare Assistance Fund. Bournemouth residents can apply can apply for emergency one-off payments through this fund to help with their living expenses where they are struggling financially. This fund is therefore very much targeted to those who are are most in need of support. In addition, the Council has also created a new earmarked reserve of just over £500,000 to further address the impact of the changeover to Universal Credit as the next stage of the governments Welfare Reform programme. This will provide an additional safety net for the most vulnerable local people here in Bournemouth. It should be stressed that neither of these additional funding streams are required by the government to be provided by the Council, but were nevertheless contained in our Budget Statement in February. They were introduced because we wanted to protect the most vulnerable local people and because it was simply the right thing to do.

Poole Council give no assurances not to evict for Bedroom Tax rent arrears

Shown below is a public question submitted to Borough of Poole full council meeting on 18th June and the council’s response. BPACC are currently considering the council’s response and will be responding soon.

Public Question from Kevin Smith

“The Government has introduced the Welfare Reform Bill which limits the total amount of Welfare benefits with an increase capped at 1%.  This coincides with the introduction of the Social Housing Size Restriction policy equating to a reduction of 14% for one spare room and 25% for two spare rooms which in monetary terms equates to circa £14/£15 per vacant bedroom in Housing benefit for tenants occupying social housing. Will the Council give an assurance that if rent debt is accrued because of these factors there will be no eviction of tenants?”

Borough of Poole Response from, Leader of the Council, Cllr Ms Atkinson

Response in respect of properties where the Council is the Landlord

The Council and it’s partner Poole Housing Partnership (PHP) are working hard to address the issues raised by the governments welfare reform programme. Planning for these changes has taken place over a long period and a package of assistance is now offered to residents effected by these changes. Everyone in a PHP property who has lost benefit because of the under occupation penalty and the benefit cap regulations has been contacted by PHP and offered assistance. Advice has been given about how tenants can move to more appropriate sized accommodation either by way of a transfer or by exchanging their home with another social housing tenant. We have also changed our transfer incentive scheme to give a greater emphasis on people effected by welfare benefit changes. In addition we offer tenants advice about how to maximise their income by either accessing the jobs market or ensuring that they are receiving all the benefit to which they are entitled.

We are committed to working with residents affected by these changes to ensure that they retain access to appropriate secure accommodation. We are not able to give an assurance that no one will be evicted because of arrears that have arisen as a result of welfare benefit reform, each case will be considered on it’s merits.  However we can confirm that tenants will be offered every possible assistance to deal with such problems and that eviction will always be the very last resort.

Response in respect of properties where the Council is not the Landlord

Again we are not able to give an assurance that no one will be evicted because of arrears that have arisen as a result of welfare benefit reform as the decision will be made by the respective private sector landlords. However the Council has a Discretionary Housing Payment fund, that is limited by Government grant, which it is using to help mitigate the impact of several welfare reforms taking place in 2013. Any claimant on housing benefit who is unable to meet the reduction in award can make a claim for additional financial assistance from this fund.

The Government grant is not enough to meet every claimant’s housing benefit shortfall and to prioritise awards from this fund payments are made in accordance with the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment policy. The Council’s policy is designed to support the implementation of the Government’s welfare reforms whilst making sure we have a process in place to protect our most vulnerable residents, sustain tenancies where we can and prevent homelessness.

Where an application is made and it is established that the claimant cannot afford the housing benefit shortfall awards may be made to financially support claimants whilst they take action to change their circumstances so they can afford their accommodation in the longer term. Each application is considered on a case by case basis, and the length of award will vary. The policy expects claimants who make applications for the additional financial support to engage with relevant support services, such as work programmes, budgeting and debt advice agencies, health programmes etc. and, where appropriate, take steps to be able to afford their accommodation in the future.

Bournemouth Council response to open email about Bedroom Tax

BPACC recently sent an open email to Bournemouth Borough Council about the Bedroom Tax following an article in the council’s Spring edition of Home News that stated some people were ‘protected’ and we asked for clarification.

We also expressed our concerns that Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) were not a viable long term solution as they fail to give people with disabilities the assurance that their housing needs are secure and asked the council several questions.

Shown below are BPACC’s questions and the council’s response received this week:

1) Question: Is Bournemouth Borough Council exempting all people stipulated in the Home News article from the ‘Bedroom Tax’?
Council response: No. Unfortunately, the article gave the impression that disabled people are not affected whereas, in fact, they are not exempt from the under-occupation rules.

2) Question: Where it is determined that people are entitled to DHP, will funds be made available for all cases irrespective of whether the money allocated by central government is exhausted?
Council response: The DHP fund is being carefully managed so that funds are available for all cases where it is determined that help should be given. The Council has the option to top up the fund to a “prescribed limit” if the central government funding should become exhausted but cannot go beyond that limit.

3) Question: Will DLA income be taken into account when assessing a family’s income?
Council response: Not for assessing entitlement to Housing Benefit but would be taken into account when deciding whether to award DHP.

4) Question: Where parents or guardians of children receiving DLA no longer live together, will both households will receive DHPs?
Council response: DHP can only be awarded if someone is receiving HB. So if no parent received HB no DHP would be considered. If only one parent received HB, DHP could only be considered for the parent who received HB. However, if both parents received HB each DHP application is judged on its own merits so there might be circumstances where both parents could get a DHP.
The child will normally be taken into consideration in the household where child benefit is payable and that is the household where the DHP would be normally be considered for if a disabled child was the reason for the application.

Following these responses we have asked follow up questions, below are the council’s replies:

1) What steps are Bournemouth Borough Council planning to take to make this clear to residents?
Council response: The under-occupation rules only affect those in local authority properties and housing associations. All affected residents have been written to at least twice by Housing Benefit staff. The Council’s Housing Management Team has been proactive by contacting their tenants to discuss the options open to them. It is understood that housing associations have done the same.

2) What are the criteria for making an application for DHP and determining whether help should be given; and what is the level of the “prescribed limit”?
Council response: Please see the relevant page on the Council’s website. The prescribed limit is 2.5 times the Government contribution which for Bournemouth equates to a limit of £1,256, 630

The Bedroom Tax is a cynical attack on the poorest in our society. Questions have been submitted to both Bournemouth and Poole Councils asking for assurances that no residents will be evicted due to rent arrears accrued through the Bedroom Tax. These assurances were not given click here for Bournemouth’s response and click here for Poole’s response.

The Great Train Robbery

Rail privatisation has failed to deliver for rail users and taxpayers; has brought in little private sector investment and private train companies are heavily dependent upon the public purse to enable them to run services, according to a new TUC- commissioned report, The Great Train Robbery – written by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change (CRESC) at the University of Manchester.

And when train companies do make a profit, barely any of it is re-invested in the railways, says the study. It reveals that those firms receiving the largest state subsidies spend, on average, over 90 per cent of their profits on shareholder dividends.

This contrasts sharply with the East Coast Mainline, which is currently state run and which re-invests all of its profits into improving the service.

great train robbery network rail private investment

The Great Train Robbery looks at many of the key objectives behind the decision of John Major’s government to privatise the railways in 1994. The report questions whether any of these have been achieved:

  • Cost effectiveness – train operating companies are entirely reliant upon public subsidies to run services. The top five recipients alone received almost £3bn in taxpayer support between 2007 and 2011. This allowed them to make operating profits of £504m – over 90 per cent (£466m) of which was paid to shareholders.
  • Extra investment – the report shows how the average age of trains has risen since rail privatisation, from 16 years in 1996 to 18 years old today. Just £1.9bn was spent on rolling stock between 2008 and 2012, compared to £3.2bn between 1989 and 1993 (the four years before privatisation.)
  • Over 90 per cent of new investment in recent years has been financed by Network Rail (the taxpayer funded body responsible for rail infrastructure), and comes mainly from taxpayer funding or government-underwritten borrowing, says the report.
  • Significant upgrades to infrastructure, such as the development of the West Coast Mainline, have been paid for by Network Rail.
  • Passenger comfort – the report says while there has been a 60 per cent increase in passengers since 1994/95, there has only been a 3 per cent increase in new carriages, resulting in serious overcrowding on many routes.
  • Innovation – even where there has been private sector investment in new technology, such as Virgin’s tilting trains, it has been underwritten by the state through subsidies to train operating companies and guarantees to rolling stock leasing companies.
  • Added value – The Great Train Robbery shows how train operating companies paid Network Rail just £1.59bn in track access charges in 2012, compared to £3.18bn paid to its predecessor Railtrack in 1994. This represents an ‘indirect subsidy’ from taxpayers as train companies are getting track access on the cheap. It also means that the full extent of taxpayer subsidy is far greater than is often reported.
  • Investment in infrastructure has largely been funded through borrowing by Network Rail which now has debts of over £30bn, and is spending more on repaying this debt than on railway maintenance, says the report.
  • Competitive fares – the UK has the most expensive rail fares in Europe. Long distance, day return and season tickets are all around twice the price of similar tickets in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, which have publicly-run rail systems. Average train fares in the UK increased at three times the rate of average wages between 2008 and 2012.
  • More passengers – the report dismisses claims that privatisation has helped increase the number of people travelling on the railways.It says that passenger growth has mostly been down to rising GDP and changes in employment patterns rather than because of privatisation.

Great train robbery net profits dividends

Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This study explodes the myth that rail firms are bringing added value to our railways. In reality they rely upon taxpayers to turn a profit, virtually all of which ends up in shareholders’ pockets, rather than being used to improve services.

‘Rail privatisation has not brought the improvements its cheerleaders promised – the average age of trains has increased and most new investment is funded by the state.

‘The claim that private train operators are responsible for more people using the railways must also be taken with a huge pinch of salt. Passenger growth has mirrored changes in the wider economy and is not the result of creative marketing drives by companies.

‘The government must accept that the current model is broken. Its determination to impose franchising across the network – even on the East Coast Mainline which is performing well as a nationalised service – shows ministers are ignoring the evidence of 20 years of failure.’

CRESC Director Professor Karel Williams said: ‘The privately owned train operating companies have hijacked the government’s rail reform agenda which is all about ‘getting franchising back on track’.

‘Our research shows how the franchising system allows them to distribute profits at low cost from public subsidy.

‘It would make sense to abolish the train operating companies and it would cost the taxpayer nothing if it were done as the franchises expired.

”Train and track operation could then be integrated under a new publicly-owned National Rail, operating within defined budgets over sustained funding periods.’

The Great Train Robbery says that:

  • Train operating companies should be abolished as a crucial first step. This could be achieved within the next ten years as companies have relatively short leases with contract termination points and there is no requirement for shareholder compensation when the franchises expire.
  • Train and rail infrastructure should be organised by a new not for profit company, National Rail, built around the core of Network Rail.
  • Just as with Crossrail in London, the government should introduce a business levy to raise extra funds for the railways. The report estimates this could generate £21bn a year.

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The People’s Assembly: Draft statement and proposed action plan

The declaration below represents the beginning of a democratic process leading towards a second People’s Assembly in early 2014. This declaration represents the views of all those who initially called for the People’s Assembly. We hope it will be endorsed by the People’s Assembly on 22nd June. It will then be open to the local People’s Assembly’s, union bodies and campaign groups who support the People’s Assembly to suggest amendments, additions, or deletions. These will then all be discussed and decided upon at the recall People’s Assembly in 2014.

The plans for action are simply the most obvious rallying points for a national anti-cuts movement for the remainder of 2013. They are not intended to supersede local or sectional action by existing campaigns or trade unions. They are intended to be focus national, collective action by the whole anti-austerity movement.

The People’s Assembly, meeting in Westminster Central Hall, declares:

We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.

We do not accept that government’s austerity programme is necessary. The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources. Austerity does not work: it is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth. It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.

We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on ‘golden pensions’, or of ‘scroungers’, or the ‘undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.

We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.

We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far: in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.

We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.

We have a plain and simple goal: to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.

We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.

Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.

Proposed actions:

  • The People’s Assembly will support every genuine movement and action taken against any and all of the cuts. We support all current industrial actions by the unions. We encourage and will help to organise the maximum solidarity action with the PCS and teaching union members taking strike action the week after the People’s Assembly, as well as with other action by unions planned for the autumn.
  • Peoples Assemblies against the cuts should be organised in towns and cities across our nations, bringing all those fighting the cuts together into a broad democratic alliance on a local basis.
  • The national and the local Assemblies, in partnership with Trades Unions, Trades Councils, campaigning and community groups, can unite our movement and strengthen our campaigns. Local Assemblies will help us to organise a recalled National Assembly to review our work in the early spring of 2014.
  • We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government. We will continue to welcome support from all who fight the cuts.
  • We will call a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity.
  • We will call a day of co-ordinated local demonstrations in the early autumn.
  • We will work with the trade unions and others to call a national demonstration in November.

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Save Our Royal Mail

Not everything in life should be defined by its monetary value. Royal Mail is part of the fabric of the nation but it is under threat of being ripped apart. If the Royal Mail is sold off:

  • Prices will go up
  • Business will be squeezed
  • The countryside will be isolated
  • Services for the blind will be scrapped
  • Free post for HM Armed Forces will be stopped
  • Heritage will be lost

Save Our Royal Mail are campaigning to persuade politicians that they must act now and guarantee that these vital services do not disappear. They have the support of groups and individuals representing the countryside, the blind and partially sighted, the elderly and small businesses. You can help them by getting involved. Use the social networking tools on their site to promote the campaign and most importantly write to your MP setting out your concerns. As the campaign grows so will their site. So please return to them regularly to keep updated on news and other campaign developments.

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