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The first thing that struck me about the Budget was how little substance it
contained. This was the first Spring Budget of a new Chancellor, so I would
have expected new ideas, but the only headline grabbing change was the
increase in National Insurance for the self-employed.
The second thing that struck me was the disparity between the rhetoric and
the actual tax changes. The Chancellor said that he wanted to address the
discrepancy between the rates of tax paid by employees and workers operating
through limited companies. An employee earning (say) £30,000 a year will pay
tax at 20% plus employee’s National Insurance at 12% and the company will
pay employer’s NI at 13.8%. A worker operating through a limited company
earning £30,000 a year will pay corporation tax at 20% and dividend tax at
7.5%. The first £5,000 of dividends are tax free and the Chancellor
announced that this will be reduced to £2,000 tax free from April 2018; this
will cost the worker in my example operating through a limited company £225
a year in extra tax. The Chancellor also confirmed a cut in corporation tax
to 17% by 2020. This will give the worker in my example operating through a
limited company up to £900 a year in reduced corporation tax. So actually
the discrepancy between the rates of tax paid by employees and workers
operating through limited companies will INCREASE over the next few years.
The Chancellor also said that we shouldn’t be saddling our children with
ever increasing debt, but then announced that government borrowing will be
£100bn higher than predicted at Budget 2016. Government debt now stands at
£1.7trn (nearly double what it was in 2010). The Chancellor criticised
Labour’s plans to borrow £500bn to spend on capital infrastructure projects,
but seems happy to borrow to fund corporation tax cuts!
UK economic growth is forecast to be 2% in 2017 (roughly the same as it was
when Labour left office in May 2010). Growth is forecast to fall to 1.6% in
2018.
The Chancellor announced £100m to put GPs into A&E departments, but he
didn’t explain where the GPs would come from. If the plan is to move GPs out
of GP surgeries then this is going to make it even harder to get a GP
appointment! The underlying problem is a shortage of GPs and the diversion
of GPs away from the core job of seeing patients in GP surgeries.
I was surprised to hear the Chancellor say that ‘Choice is the key to
excellence in education’. I disagree! I think that good teachers and decent
funding is the key to excellence in education. The Chancellor announced an
extension to free transport for those at selective schools. This will jar
with many parents in Cheshire East who have just had their free school
transport withdrawn and are facing major funding cuts to their local school.
Finally the Chancellor said that those with the broadest shoulders should
bear the heaviest burden. A fine sentiment, but it is not matched by the
announcements in the Budget. The corporation tax rate will be cut to 17% by
2020. The Universal Credit taper rate will be reduced from 65% to 63%! Who
has the broadest shoulders? Is it a multi-national company or a low paid
worker who earns just enough to have some of their benefits withdrawn?

Sam Corcorans Budget Commentary

The first thing that struck me about the Budget was how little substance itcontained. This was the first Spring Budget of a new Chancellor, so I wouldhave expected new ideas,...

In January, Labour Councillors complained about the punitive cuts to funding
for schools in Cheshire East. Regrettably, despite a public outcry and
warnings from local headteachers about the impact these cuts will have on
local schools, the Conservatives have not yet backed down.
For many years schools in Cheshire East have been some of the best in the
country. Now that success is threatened by cuts of over a million pounds
across the borough. Only a handful of primary schools have not had their
finances cut. Poynton loses the most at £-165k, followed by Fallibroome
£-156, both in Tory held council seats.

The Conservatives claim that national funding for schools has increased, but
in fact pupil numbers have increased by more than the funding. So the
national funding per pupil has fallen. The badly misnamed new Fair Funding
Formula, does not properly take into account the level of funding that
schools are already getting. So schools in Cheshire East, which are
relatively poorly funded, but still produce good results will lose money and
will become the worst funded in the country. This seems to be a punishment
for success.

Local MP Edward Timpson is the Minister for Children, but has failed to make
any clear statement on the impact the government policy will have on schools
in Crewe. In January, St Thomas More Catholic High School in Crewe was
reported in the Times as the top school in Cheshire East for Pupil Progress.
In March the headteacher of St Thomas More was interviewed on BBC Radio Four
setting out the problems that the cuts would cause!

Following years of Tory mismanagement, the educational system is now
struggling at all levels. The Early Years funding is inadequate, so
providers are in financial difficulties. The Special Education Needs system
is so complex that funding is delayed and children with special needs are
not getting the support they deserve.

Labour Councillors are encouraging parents, school governors and teachers to
respond to the consultation on the new funding formula at
https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policy-unit/schools-national-fundin
g-formula2/consultation/intro/
 There have been complaints about the
impenetrability of the questions in the consultation. It is important for
respondents to state their views on the impact the proposals will have on
their school.
There is a useful resource at
http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org/act-now.html

A march against the cuts has been organised by local residents starting at
11am on Saturday 18 March at Sandbach boys school and going to the Cobbles
in Sandbach town centre.

Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West said, “Before the latest
cuts Cheshire East was 145th, in a league of 150 areas nationally. Due to
the decisions of this Tory Government, Cheshire East is now being relegated
to the Rock Bottom of 150th.  All our children deserve better.
The silence from the Tory voices of Cheshire East is stunning.”

Brian’s fellow councillor for Crewe West, Jill Rhodes, added, “The effect of
these cuts on primary schools is particularly pronounced as their only real
option is to remove classroom support.  Each class has to have a teacher, so
the funding cuts will mean less help for those pupils who need extra
support. That will have knock on effects when those pupils get to secondary
school.”

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East said, " In his
Budget speech the Chancellor said, ‘Choice is the key to excellence in
education’. I disagree! I think that good teachers and decent funding is the
key to excellence in education. The Chancellor announced an extension to
free transport for those at selective schools. This will jar with many
parents in Cheshire East who have just had their free school transport
withdrawn and are facing major funding cuts to their local school. The
Conservatives seem determined to pursue their ideological objective of
promoting grammar schools at the expense of all other schools."


Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, “It's a disgrace
that the Tory government have enough money for new grammar schools at the
expense of struggling schools. One would have thought that the government
would plough some funding into existing schools rather than building " white
elephant " ones to further widen the divide between the haves and have nots
of this country.”


Steve Hogben, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “Yes, the Prime
Minister boasted a few days ago that £320 million was to be made available
for new free or grammar schools.  Since the Chancellor's budget it has
emerged that the true extra funding for free or grammar schools is over
three times that amount at nearly £1 billion.  Even - or perhaps especially
- before the budget the government could not bring itself to admit just how
much money it was really siphoning off from state education. Such unashamed
deceit!  And this is all at the expense of existing schools.
“I wonder how the government plans to punish us plebeians next?

Education funding cuts in Cheshire East

In January, Labour Councillors complained about the punitive cuts to fundingfor schools in Cheshire East. Regrettably, despite a public outcry andwarnings from local headteachers about the impact these cuts will...

Cheshire East has been a black spot for Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC).
Despite recent improvements, DTOC remains a significant issue that results
in unnecessary spend of millions of pounds a year. Nationally it is
estimated that one third of hospital beds are occupied by those over 65 and
that 10% of all beds are taken up by patients who should not be there.

At the Cheshire East Council meeting on 23rd February, Labour councillors
proposed a solution to the problem of Delayed Transfers of Care (bed
blocking).

The problem of DTOC is exacerbated by the structure of the NHS. Patients who
should be at home occupy a hospital bed; it is the hospitals and patients
who experience the problem. The funding for solving the problem is with
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The people with the expertise to help
the patients get back home safely with a proper package of care are employed
by councils. So under the crazy NHS structures the problem, the funding and
the solution are all kept separate. It is now clear that the massive top
down reorganization of the NHS instigated by David Cameron wasted £4bn and
made problems such as DTOC worse.

The solution is obvious. Cheshire East Council should use its expertise to
move patients out of hospital and back into their homes, but the current NHS
structures do not reward such behaviour.

Sam Corcoran proposed “That a review should be carried out into ways to
reduce Delayed Transfers of Care from hospitals (DTOC) which should include
the option of setting up a wholly owned company to provide services on a
commercial basis.”

Cllr Laura Jeuda said, “The Conservatives voted against even carrying out a
review of the proposals. The Conservatives voted instead to stick with the
policies that have failed to solve the problem of DTOC in the past.”

Labour proposes solution for bed blocking

Cheshire East has been a black spot for Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC).Despite recent improvements, DTOC remains a significant issue that resultsin unnecessary spend of millions of pounds a year....

Lancashire County Elections
The elections in Lancashire are fast approaching and we are working hard on doorsteps across the county. If you want to help out please email lancashire.labour.organiser@outlook.com to find out about activities near you. 

Greater Manchester Mayoral
Andy has been visiting towns right across Greater Manchester asking people to help build "Our Manifesto for a Greater Manchester". Now the focus turns to the voters. Sign up to volunteer and we will be in touch with the best way you can help in your area. Count me in

Please help us increase our digital reach by liking Andy's Facebook page and sharing the posts. facebook.com/burnhamformayor

Liverpool City Region Mayoral
We are taking nothing for granted. We need as many members as possible to get involved and there is something for everybody to contribute. We have 1.2 million voters to reach so we need members new and old to campaign for a Labour victory. Please fill in our survey http://www.steverotheram.com/volunteer/ to  find out how you can help.

We are holding a fundraising dinner on the 18th February which is hosted by the comedian John Bishop - we have a handful of tickets left. If you want to have a good night out in Liverpool with good food, wine and company please
 buy your ticket here.

National Policy Forum
Over the next couple of months, we are holding NPF events in Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester. These events are an opportunity for you to discuss issues with you NPF reps and feed into the policy making process. If you can't make it to an event you can contact your reps Facebook.com/npfteamnw
See details of the event near you here. 

International Women's Day
What better way to celebrate International Women's Day on 11th March than to spend the day with fellow Labour party women over afternoon tea. We will be joined by guest speaker Diane Abbott MP. Get your ticket here.

And finally, we are right in the middle of two really important by-elections to the North and South of the region. If you are able to help out at either it would be a huge help. Polling day is 23rd February so the next two weeks are vital. 

Copeland labournorth.com/copeland
Stoke on Trent westmidlandslabour.org.uk/events

Upcoming events in the North West

Lancashire County ElectionsThe elections in Lancashire are fast approaching and we are working hard on doorsteps across the county. If you want to help out please email lancashire.labour.organiser@outlook.com to find out about...



At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr Martin
Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the Air
Quality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council and
explore ways to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion in
Sandbach. However, Conservative Councillor Gill Merry proposed amending this
proposal to remove the reference to traffic congestion. Despite support from
her Conservative colleagues, Cllr Merry's amendment was narrowly defeated
and the working group will look into ways of reducing traffic congestion.
This marks a change from a year ago when Cllr Merry was mayor and used her
second casting vote to defeat a proposal to have a Sandbach Cycling
Champion.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "Traffic is
an increasing problem in Sandbach and we should be looking at ways to reduce
congestion - including promoting cycling. It is a shame that my proposal for
a cycling champion for Sandbach was defeated last year on Cllr Gill Merry's
second vote as Mayor. I believe that establishing safe cycle routes,
especially to the 2 secondary schools in Sandbach, could make a significant
difference to traffic congestion in Sandbach."


Martin Forster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, said, "The
Conservatives don't want to talk about traffic congestion, because it is
their laissez-faire approach to speculative housing developments that has
caused much of the problem in Sandbach. But we have to face up to the
reality that planning permission has already been granted for 3,200 new
houses in Sandbach. We need to plan ahead to make sure that all the new
houses do not lead to traffic gridlock and further air quality problems in
Sandbach."

Sandbach Council to look at Traffic & Air Quality

At the Sandbach Town Council meeting on 9th February 2017, Cllr MartinForster, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Elworth, proposed that the AirQuality Working Group should present views to Cheshire East Council...

In 2010 the coalition government tore up planning rules and introduced the
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This has led to a flood of
speculative housing applications on greenfield sites in South Cheshire. Even
the government now admits that the housing market is broken. But the
government's 'solution' is to relax planning rules and to give even more
power to property developers. Labour would give more power to local
authorities to determine the sites where houses should and shouldn't be
built and to build council houses.

Under the current rules the harm caused by a planning application has to
significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits before it can be
refused. So even a bad planning application will be approved.

The way the Conservatives have weighted the scales in favour of property
speculators is illustrated by the rules on traffic congestion. New houses
create more traffic and it would be reasonable to expect the developers to
have to pay for road & cycling improvements to compensate for any
significant traffic problems they would cause. However, under the Tory
rules, the congestion has to be severe before a planning application can be
refused on highways grounds. Severe is not defined in the rules, but case
law suggests that delays of up to 20 minutes are not severe.
For example, Sandbach residents know that since the new housing in Elworth
has been built, it often takes 10 minutes longer to travel down Middlewich
Road. However, according to the governments highways rules this congestion
is not 'severe' and so planning permission for even more houses in Sandbach
cannot be refused on highways grounds.

Although Cheshire East Council hopes to have its long-awaited Local Plan in
place later this year, the Plan policies will be considered 'out of date' if
the council doesn't maintain a 5-year housing land supply. The Council will
be penalised if less than 1,800 houses a year are built in Cheshire East. If
fewer than 1,530 are built then the requirement is increased by 20%.
Furthermore, under the White Paper proposals, if the supply of new houses
falls below 65% of the required amount then the rules protecting
Neighbourhood Plans will not apply. So the Neighbourhood Plans which many
communities have spent thousands of hours preparing could be over-ruled if
the number of houses built falls below 1,400 a year in Cheshire East.

Nationally, there is a serious problem of 'land banking'. This is a practice
whereby private property development companies do not build the houses they
have been given planning permission for, because they want to restrict the
supply of new houses in the area to keep house prices high in that area.
House builders can also restrict the number of houses they build in areas
such as Cheshire East, so that the Council misses its targets for new
housing. When the Council misses its targets the government rules mean that
developers can demand planning permission for housing on sites where they
wouldn't normally get planning permission. Land with planning permission can
be worth millions of pounds more than land without planning permission, so
by 'land-banking' in this way the developers' land goes up in value and
their companies show large profits.

Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, "I am
pleased to have helped develop Labour Party policy to prevent land-banking.
I would like to see councils given the power to charge council tax on houses
that have not been built years after planning permission was granted. In
addition, councils should have the power to compulsorily purchase land that
has been allocated to housing but where development has not taken place.
Combining these 2 policies would mean that any property speculators who did
not build houses after obtaining planning permission would either have to
pay council tax on the unbuilt houses or waive the planning permission and
risk having the land compulsorily purchased at its agricultural value. These
policies would be effective in stopping land-banking and would encourage
genuine house builders, but strangely the Conservatives haven't adopted
these policies."

Irene Faseyi, Labour Councillor for Crewe Central, said, "The Tories keep
moving the goalposts on planning. The only thing that will stop the Tories
granting planning permission to speculative developers is when they start
losing elections."

Broken Tory Housing Framework

In 2010 the coalition government tore up planning rules and introduced theNational Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This has led to a flood ofspeculative housing applications on greenfield sites in South...

At the Cheshire East Council Environment Committee Meeting on 26 January
2017 the proposed cuts to bus services were discussed. A verbal presentation
was given on the passenger consultation on the proposed 40% (£1.6m)
reduction in the budget for supporting bus services in the borough. No
written report was presented.

A major flaw in the methodology is that only existing users of
council-supported bus services will be consulted.  Labour councillors asked
why non-users were not being consulted and asked why they don't use the bus,
and what would encourage them to do so, but no meaningful answer was given

Improved bus services could help combat the rising levels of air pollution
in our major towns and provide an attractive alternative to the private car
for those working and using the hoped-for growth in the night-time economies
of Crewe and Macclesfield.

Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, said “This is
the start of a process that could well see the end of the remaining evening
and Sunday bus services in Crewe and Macclesfield. The Tories will see the
£1.6million cut as a soft target as it will hurt few of their car-owning
supporters.”

Chehsire East proposes Bus Service Cuts

At the Cheshire East Council Environment Committee Meeting on 26 January2017 the proposed cuts to bus services were discussed. A verbal presentationwas given on the passenger consultation on the proposed...

The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debate
issues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship and
help to other women.
One issue that has come to our attention is the use of food
banks in our area and how women are disproportionately
affected. One area of particular concern to us is that food
banks, homeless hostels, women's refuges etc do not stock
women's hygiene products. Because these items are taxed as luxury items the cost is high which
is problematic for women on low incomes. This has had the knock on effect of women presenting
at GPs with infections and even Toxic Shock Syndrome because they use substitute materials
which are not hygienic. Since 2010, the figures have risen sharply. We would like to address this
problem locally by setting up a scheme called Monthly Gift where local women can drop-in and
receive free hygiene products.
We hope to launch this initiative on 8th March 2017 which is International Women Day. The launch
will be held at The Old Saw Mill, which is a community project in Congleton, and thereafter we will
be testing a one hour drop-in at the Mill every Wednesday morning.
Objectives
1. Raising the profile of the Labour Party in Congleton Town. At the present we do not
have a single Cheshire East Councillor and only one Town Councillor out of 20 seats.
2. Helping women badly affected by Tory cuts. A Labour Women's Forum should strive to
reach out to women in the community especially those in need.
3. Setting up a weekly drop-in centre where women can pick up free hygiene products
and chat with party members over a coffee. This will enable us to find out the main
issues for women in Congleton allowing us to target them more efficiently and identify
other campaigns.
4. A delivery service across the rest of the Constituency.
Although this is very much a women's issue, the whole CLP will benefit from the high
profile we are trying to achieve for the Party locally and we value the help of male party
members in this campaign.
We will be busy fundraising to pay for printing, products and venue and we will be placing
a collecting tin and a collection box at the back of meetings, to enable you to donate
products and/or money.
If you would like to be involved in fundraising activities or have any suggestions contact Susan
Munro - Women's Officer on 07534510841

Monthly Gift Scheme launched in Congleton

The Women's Forum meets monthly to discuss and debateissues that affect women locally, nationally and internationally.Our aim is to reach out into the community offer friendship andhelp to other women.One...

At the Cheshire East Health & Wellbeing Board Meeting on 31 January 2017 it
was revealed that Eastern Cheshire has the lowest level of investment in
mental health amongst comparable areas and is in the bottom 10% nationally.
The Conservatives on Cheshire East Council are proposing further budget cuts
of £4.2m a year in services currently provided by the Council’s in house
provider Care4CE. The draft budget proposals are to move from in-house
delivery to commission all care services from the broader care sector. In
short, the Conservatives are privatising the Council-run mental health
provision and at the same time cutting £4.2m a year from the budget. And
this is being done at a time when mental health is already underfunded
locally.

Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “Having recently met
with representatives of Crewe and Nantwich Open Minds I am very aware of the
crisis in funding for mental health services. Cheshire East GP
commissioners’ recent review showed that the average spend for adults was
£98 per patient; the average spend in an area similar is £139. The cuts
proposed by Cheshire East Council will increase the stress for carers who
are experiencing great difficulties; these are the people who are saving
this country millions and deserve better.”

Mental Health Underfunded in Cheshire East

At the Cheshire East Health & Wellbeing Board Meeting on 31 January 2017 itwas revealed that Eastern Cheshire has the lowest level of investment inmental health amongst comparable areas and...

At the Cheshire East Health & Wellbeing Board Meeting on 31 January 2017
£3.2m of funding that had been set aside for adult social care in Cheshire
East is being paid by Cheshire East Council to the 2 local CCGs (Clinical
Commissioning Groups) because proposals for how to spend the money could not
be agreed.
There is a widespread problem in the NHS of patients remaining in hospital
after they could be discharged because there is no safe place to send them.
This is known as a Delayed Transfer of Care (DTOC). Between 5% and 10% of
all beds in NHS hospitals in Cheshire East are taken up by patients who do
not need to be there. Often this is due to a shortage of adult social care.
Bizarrely the Conservatives on Cheshire East Council have closed the high
quality Council run care homes at Hollins View, Lincoln House and Mountview,
thus reducing the number of care beds available. Now it transpires that
money that could have been used for providing care home places in Cheshire
East has not been used. At a time of a growing shortage, the Conservatives
on Cheshire East Council have been cutting the number of care beds, thus
making the problem worse. The cost is felt by the patients who cannot be
discharged from hospital and the taxpayers who have to pay £400 a night for
a hospital bed, when they could be paying less than £100 a night for a bed
in a care home.
At the Health & Wellbeing Board Meeting the chief executive of the Eastern
Cheshire CCG said that Delayed Transfer of Care was a very, very significant
challenge. Although good work has been done by staff in trying to reduce the
number of patients experiencing DTOC, the average length of delayed
transfers is rising.
The Eastern Cheshire CCG draft deficit for 2017/18 is £17.8m and this is
after program savings of £11.5m! NHS England are pressing for savings of
£20m, but this is simply unachievable.
The chief executive of the South Cheshire CCG painted a similarly grim
picture and complained of the complex and difficult system in the NHS. He
referred to rationing healthcare as the current funding is not adequate to
provide previous levels of service.
Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “David Cameron’s
massive top down re-organisation of the NHS that wasted £4bn, has left us
with complex and difficult structures that seem designed to facilitate
privatisation of the NHS, rather than solving the health and care problems
of the residents of Cheshire East.”
Cllr Sam Corcoran said “The dire financial situation of the NHS means that
money that could be used to help solve the underlying problem of a shortage
of care beds is instead being used to plug the funding gaps in the NHS.”
Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South, said, “The recent
threat to the Accident and Emergency department at Macclesfield Hospital due
to lack of funding has for the present been lifted. But no new money has
been made available, so rationing of NHS services is still on the cards. The
absolute jaw-dropping hypocrisy of Conservative MPs in the area, Bruce,
Rutley and Osborne is breathtaking:  it is their Conservative Government
which has forced our NHS into this disastrous situation.  They all supported
the totally unnecessary top-down reorganisation of the NHS at a time when
public satisfaction with the health service had never been higher. This
government and the previous Coalition have done their utmost to ruin our
health service- did Bruce, Rutley and Osborne honestly believe that the cuts
would not land on their own doorstep and would only affect other parts of
the country?”

NHS Crisis Made Worse by Cheshire East Tories

At the Cheshire East Health & Wellbeing Board Meeting on 31 January 2017£3.2m of funding that had been set aside for adult social care in CheshireEast is being paid by...

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