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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....

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