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How To (And How To Not) Call Time on Excessive Pay.

January 16th, 2017

The city of Portland in America, which has recently passed a law raising taxes for businesses whose CEO-to-workers pay ratio is over 100-1.

If you watched the news last week you can’t have helped but have noticed the furore that the Leader of the Labour Party kicked off when he suggested that there should be some kind of cap on high earnings.

Excessive pay is more than an economic problem. At a time where salaries and job prospects for those on the lower end of the scale are getting more precarious by the day it becomes a moral problem as well. I agree with Corbyn insofar as he says that inequality, especially income inequality, is harming our society and our public services. It’s no secret that levels of pay at the top of business and industry have skyrocketed far beyond anything resembling sanity. The High Pay Centre, an independent think-tank, estimate that FTSE 100 CEOs are now paid 130 times more than the median pay of their staff, compared to 45 times more two decades ago.

Where I disagree with Corbyn is on what should be done about it. I am, and continue to be, against a hard cap on earnings. It’s a crude and blunt instrument, the financial equivalent of performing heart surgery with a sledgehammer. It also runs the risk of incentivising behaviour such as hiding pay through share options and payments-in-kind.

I’ve always made it clear that I have no issue with people reaping the rewards if they work hard and are successful. What has happened in recent years is that CEOs and executives are receiving colossal pay packets for just getting by or, in some cases, even failing completely. The example I highlighted the last time I wrote about this subject was Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP, who received a 20% pay rise last year despite the company recording the biggest operating loss in its history under his watch. When we also start seeing massive pay ratios between workers and executives the question has to be asked if their performances could ever justify it. You could potentially make an argument that a top notch chief executive is, say, responsible for 20 times more than an average employee and therefore deserves to be paid 20 times more, but can you make the same argument for 50, 100, 150 times more?

So if I think something needs to be done but I’m against a hard cap, then where does that leave me?

Luckily we already have a way to move money around society to benefit us all, a way that has been proven to work for centuries across the world. It’s called the tax system. That’s why I’m interested in an experiment conducted by the city of Portland in America, which is introducing tax increases of 10% and 25% for business whose CEOs are paid more than 100 and 250 times more than the median employee respectively. This “inequality tax” would help pay for basic public services in the city, such as housing and police/firefighter salaries. If Portland can pull off a long-term shift in cultural change towards executive pay while raising money for public services at the same time, then why can’t they do the same thing here in the UK? Its questions like this that I’ll be asking the Prime Minister over the next year.

Inequality is not inevitable, but it will take serious action to turn around a ship that has been allowed to get out of control for far too long. The fightback must start here. A fair society is a stronger society, and I will do everything in my power in Tameside Council and in the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to make it happen.


Major progress on Vision Tameside

January 13th, 2017
The steel signing ceremony in December last year

The steel signing ceremony in December last year

Late last year I had the pleasure of visiting the site of the former TAC in Ashton-under-Lyne, now demolished to make way for a new state of the art joint public service centre. The visit was an opportunity to see the progress that had been made in laying the foundations for the new building and ceremonially sign the first part of the steel framework that will support the building.

Something that struck me when arriving in the compound was just how large a site the former TAC occupied.  Built in 1981 to replace a range of offices across the Borough, TAC brought together Tameside Council staff and facilities under one roof. By the end however the building was half empty and costing more to keep open then was either justifiable to local taxpayers or affordable in the age of austerity. Whilst TAC was an innovative idea and facility when constructed, the 1980s specifications it was built to were unsuitable for the 21st century, and architecturally it’s unclear whether the design was ever consistent with any fashions.

When we commissioned the new building we were determined that we wouldn’t repeat previous mistakes. The new public service centre currently under construction will meet the highest energy efficiency criteria possible and cost significantly less that the £1.7 million per year that TAC cost to run. It will be shared with Tameside College and house their advanced skills centre, further reducing the costs to local taxpayers whilst providing our young people with the skills they need to be successful in life in a first class setting. There will be space for Wilko to return to the site from their temporary home in the Arcades and the historic stone façade, behind which the Co-operative Bank and the Cheshire Building Society were housed, will be retained.

At the time of my visit in December only one staircase had been constructed. Having been in Ashton this lunch time significant progress has been made since. It’s clear that 2017 will be where the building will really begin to take shape and residents will see major changes even from outside the site barriers.

There has been significant progress on site since last year

There has been significant progress on site since last year

Whilst the signing ceremony itself was a major milestone in the beginning of construction work, the more significant milestone will be the completion. The regeneration of Ashton Town Centre and wider Tameside that this project has kick-started is more significant than anything else since the formation of the Borough in 1974. Jobs have been, and continue to be, created as ‘Vision Tameside’ progresses, and the local economy has been boosted by the money these workers spend locally and the increased footfall in to the town centre.

As I look back at the Council reports that were considered to agree the construction of this building I recall one of the reasons listed as making TAC’s replacement necessary was its £2 million maintenance backlog. Whilst I could spend time wondering how and why it was allowed to get to that point I am more minded to think that we were fortunate not to have spent that money keeping up to date with the maintenance of a building that had not been fit for purpose for some time.



Caring Together for Tameside’s Mental Health

January 11th, 2017


Over the course of their lifetime one in four people will develop some kind of mental health issue. As things stand, few of them will go and see a doctor about it and even fewer will get the treatment they need. Levels of self-harm among young people have increased by more than 50% between 2010 and 2015. In 2015 alone there were over 6,000 deaths recorded as suicide. It’s estimated that mental health issues cost the country up to £15 billion a year in lost productivity.

I usually try to avoid so stark an opening in my blogs, but in this case I think the severity of the situation justifies it.

How on Earth did it come to this? The sad fact is that for many the stigma against being open and honest about mental health remains strong. Far too often people who (quite rightly) would go straight to the doctor if they broke their leg would never do the same thing if they felt depressed or anxious. At the same time the rapid changes in the society we live in, particularly globalisation and the rise of social media, have created stresses and strains on our mental health that governments and health services are only just beginning to understand. While progress is being made in both these areas, there’s still a way to go.

And as always when I talk about issues like this, we can’t ignore the impact of austerity. Although it can be definitely argued that mental health has been historically underfunded, the last half a decade of cuts have undermined improvements to mental health services at a time where it has never been so vital to make them. The Prime Minister may have announced this week that her government will make mental health a priority, but at the same time national newspapers were reporting that hospitals were using hundreds of millions of pounds earmarked for children’s mental health to plug gaping holes in their budget left by government cuts. I know I sound like a broken record when I say that actions speak louder than words, especially with this government, but one speech does not undo the damage that has been done.

All this means that we’ll need to take matters into our own hands if we want to see serious changes made in how we deal with mental health. Fortunately, our work on integrating health and social care allows us to do just that, bringing together hospitals, communities and employers to create well-rounded treatments for both mental and physical health, tailored to individuals and the local area. As a council, we’ve also made mental health a priority through pledges such as signing the “Time to Change” mental health pledge and supporting national events promoting good mental wellbeing. In 2017, wtimetochangejpge’re going to build on both of these, transforming the way we do health in Tameside and Greater Manchester.

In the 21st century, access to high-quality mental health services is not a nice-to-have. As people become more open about the mental health challenges that they face, it falls to us to make sure that the help they need is available whatever and whenever they need it. At both the local and national level, we must take a stand and say that these people will no longer fall between the cracks in our healthcare systems. The hard but necessary work starts here.


New Year’s Resolutions

January 6th, 2017

one-you-localised-postNew Year, new you, or so the saying goes. We’re now a few days in to 2017 and all but a very small number will likely have managed to stick to any New Year’s resolutions so far.

I’ve heard a few from friends and family about giving up particular foods, drinks and even social media. Though if, like millions of others, your resolution relates to improving your health and fitness then the Council, in partnership with Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health England, will be able to help.

Public Health England has launched a national campaign to mitigate the impact of modern life on the nation’s health. Research has found that the effects are particularly acute amongst the middle aged. 87% of men and 79% of women aged 40-60 are overweight or obese, exceed the Chief Medical Officer’s alcohol guidelines or are physically inactive. Obesity was found to be the biggest problem for this group with 77% of men and 63% of women overweight or obese, an increase of 16% in the past 20 years. `These problems, if not tackled, can lead to more serious illnesses, such as diabetes, later on. Since the mid-90s the number of middle aged people being diagnosed with this illness has doubled.

But help is at hand. The experts at Public Health England have devised a quiz that asks a few simple questions about diet and exercise and offers advice at the end based on your responses. There are also a range of smartphone and tablet apps available to help guide you. They’re all very easy to use and I can strongly recommend them.

Here at the Council we’re doing our bit too. This time last year I was writing about the £20 million investment in our leisure facilities that would see Tameside’s sports facilities drastically improved with new centres being opened and upgrades to existing ones. The first, which opened in Novemeber last year, was the conversion of the Active Longdendale gymnastics centre in to trampoline and soft play centre Total Adrenaline. This is a facility that will encourage young Tamesiders to get active from a very early age.

Total Adrenaline opened in November 2016

Total Adrenaline opened in November 2016

Later this month will see the opening of iTrain gym in Dukinfield. Making use of the old Dukinfield Baths, which had reached the end of its life, the gym will offer 24/7 access plus a crèche, café and meeting rooms for use by community groups. It will be a true community hub.

In the longer term Hyde leisure pool will be extended to house a regular swimming pool alongside the existing leisure pool, Ashton leisure centre will be refurbished or rebuilt and Denton will have a new state of the art ‘Wellness Centre’.

I have long believed that the success of a place is about more than just shiny new buildings or ‘physical regeneration’ to use the technical term. It’s about the health and wellbeing of the people who live there too. Our partnership with Tameside and Glossop CCG, Active Tameside and Public Health England and this investment demonstrates that, under my leadership, Tameside Council is committed to this agenda. As the year progresses many more plans and projects will come forward that will back this up and lays the foundations for the success of Tameside, as a place, long in to the future.


Avoiding the Christmas hangover

January 4th, 2017
£1.5 billion was borrowed by households this year to pay for Christmas

£1.5 billion was borrowed by households this year to pay for Christmas

For this first blog of 2017 I want to talk about ‘catching up’ after the festive period. Not the catching up that thousands of Tameside residents are doing at work or school this week, but the financial catching up following the cost of Christmas.

With families wanting to make the most of the time with their loved ones that the Christmas period affords, many will have gone the extra mile to make the celebrations special. Whether that’s the new smartphone craved by the teenage son or daughter, the piece of jewellery for a partner or just keeping the fridge stocked with food and drink, all of this adds up.

Clearly though this is not something that anybody would want to be thinking about at the time, and that’s sadly why many will have a ‘Christmas hangover’ when overdrafts are maxed-out and credit card bills arrive in mid-January. It’s for this reason that debt charities Citizen’s advice and National Debtline are expecting January to be a busy month.

Citizens advice offers support to those in financial difficulty

Citizens advice offers support to those in financial difficulty

But where’s the news in that? People spending more money at Christmas – that’s nothing new is it? Though what is new is that the two debt charities are predicting that not only will this January be a busy time, it will be their busiest January in years. As well as having to pay for festive indulgence, in 2017 residents are set to be met with higher prices, rising utility bills and wages that are failing to grow at the same pace as inflation. It’s no surprise then that social research charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that 55% of people classed as in poverty are from working households. This is a figure that, on the current trajectory, is only set to grow.

And so what is the solution? In my view it’s not simply extending the credit fuelled consumer boom with more personal and household debt. It’s about creating more well paid jobs.

We do that through the investment in infrastructure that I’ve long championed as both Leader of the Council and Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. By building the decent homes that the thousands on housing waiting lists are crying out for. And by training people to do the well paid, skilled jobs that will allow them to put food on the table for their families and not have to worry about money when Christmas or a birthday comes around.

National Debtline offers advice to those in debt

National Debtline offers advice to those in debt

The Council, with our jobs and employment pledges, and the Pension Fund, with our infrastructure investment pot, have shown that we are more than prepared to play our role in building an economy that works for everyone, though we cannot do this alone. Only a clear change of direction in government policy from austerity to investment will end the precarious existence of what Ed Miliband termed the ‘squeezed middle’ and Theresa May calls the ‘JAMs’.

I hope that, for the sake of those who could be described by these terms, in 2017 more effort is expended in pursuing policies that we improve living standards than in coming up with jargon to make the description of their decline more accessible on the six o clock news.


For those in need of debt advice or otherwise, visit the website of Tameside Citizens Advice.

Alternatively, the contact details of debt charity National Debtline can be found on their website.


Merry Christmas Tameside!

December 23rd, 2016


It’s that time again. On behalf of Tameside Council I would like to take this chance to wish you, your family and your friends a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year.

As I do every year, I would ask you to keep those who are less fortunate than us in your thoughts over the Christmas period. The strength of a community is judged not by how they treat their best off, but on how they treat their worst off. A simple donation of time or money could make all the difference to somebody alone, homeless or vulnerable at this time of year.

Let’s also keep on our thoughts everybody for whom Christmas is another working day, particularly those in the armed forces, the NHS, our health and social care workers and the police and fire services. While we sit down to enjoy our turkey and crackers they will be working hard to make sure that we can do so in safety and comfort.

The Christmas holidays are always a good time to take a step back and take stock of the year that has just passed. It would be fair to say that there is a lot more to reflect on in 2016 than there has been in any year I can remember. From the passing of so many people who have enriched our lives and culture to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, I wouldn’t blame you if you felt that 365 days is too short a time to cram in everything that has happened.

It’s been a significant year in Tameside as well. On a sombre note, it began and ended with floods. Tameside is not an area that many would associate with such flooding, but we faced one of the wettest Januarys on national record and then a month’s worth of rain falling in a few hours at the end of November. I’d like to thank the efforts of our communities and council employees during both incidents, many of whom went far above and beyond the call of duty to help residents and clean up after the deluge had subsided. Unfortunately, given what we know about the effects of manmade climate change, we will almost certainly have to prepare as a borough, as a country and as a planet for more and worse events in the future.

But let’s focus on the positive as well. Our plans, announced at the start of the year, to invest £20 million in our leisure centres are beginning to bear fruit. New facilities have opened at Total Adrenaline in Mottram, and next year will see both the opening of Dukinfield’s iTrain gym and the work beginning on a new swimming pool for Hyde and the Denton Wellness Centre. We’re continuing to make good progress on our trailblazing work on health and social care integration, working together to help people live longer and healthier lives while saving money at the same time. We have completed many of our pledges for 2016, such as Dementia Friends, Woodland for Wildlife and Do More Together, and work on other pledges such as Honour Our Fallen, Lots More Lighting and Every Child a Coder will continue into the New Year and beyond.

Despite very difficult global and financial circumstances, I feel confident that we’ve made Tameside a better place to live at the end of the year than it was at the start. Next year, we’ll build on that success, working with our residents and partners to move the borough we all love onwards and upwards.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2017.


A Successful Year at GMPF

December 23rd, 2016


Some of you might know that as well as serving as the Executive Leader of Tameside Council I am also the Chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. I’ve written a little bit about pensions in this blog in the past, but as we come to the end of the year I want to take the chance to put a little more focus on what has been a truly momentous year in the world of local government pensions.

With 352,292 members and over £20 billion in assets the Greater Manchester Pension Fund is by far the largest local government pension fund in the country. Though as a fund with even higher ambitions, at the start of the year we reached an agreement to team up with fellow pension funds in Merseyside, Lancashire and West Yorkshire to create a £40 billion combined pension pool.

All well and good, you might say, but what does that actually mean? I’ve written a lot this year about some of the problems Tameside and Britain faces, the most relevant ones here being our productivity crisis and the fact that a small minority of businesses are still getting away with not meeting their obligations to their employees and society. Getting pension funds, in Greater Manchester and elsewhere, to combine their resources is the way we are starting to create our own solutions to these big national issues.

The way we’re going to do that is quite simple. £40 billion is a lot of money, and we can use that money to invest in projects that are good for the pension fund and good for our society and economy as well. Pension funds are uniquely placed to make this happen. We’re embedded in our local communities, we have the sheer financial muscle needed and we’re an investor for the long term. Governments and private companies will often not touch an investment that will only start providing a return years or decades from now, but that project is perfect for a pension fund which needs to find ways to pay out to members years and decades from now. We’re already doing this to a certain extent, but the plans that we have started to put in place this year will allow us to do this quicker, better and on a larger scale.

Investing in infrastructure is not the only thing we can do, we can also invest in businesses as well. That gives us the opportunity to influence their board of directors and management by exercising our rights as shareholders. If we think a company executive is being paid too much for the job they are doing, we can do something about it. If we’re unhappy with a business using zero-hour contracts and tax havens, we can do something about it. This is something that is already happening. To give just one example, companies that had to backtrack over pay increases for executives due to shareholder opposition in the last year alone include betting company Paddy Power, online gambling firm PlayTech and the Foxtons estate agency. Next year we’ll be working together on ways to make sure that the voices of pension funds are heard further in all the places in which we hold assets.

There’s no doubt in my mind that 2016 will go down as a milestone year in pensions. If you’re a member of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, rest assured that your retirement is safe in our hands. If you’re a resident of Tameside, rest assured that we all supporting investment that will make the borough is better place to live, work and do business in. If you’re concerned with how some businesses run things, rest assured that those concerns are shared by us as well. Roll on 2017, and the next step.


A Greener Borough

December 20th, 2016
Cllr Quinn thanked countryside volunteers who have planted thousands of trees in Tameside

Cllr Quinn thanked countryside volunteers who have planted thousands of trees in Tameside

‘Think globally, act locally’ is the motto of environmentalist groups around the world. Quite literally it means that each of us can collectively rise to the global challenge of climate change by beginning at home and make small changes to our lifestyle or behaviour. This could be stopping eating meat for one day per week as encouraged by the celebrity-backed meat free Monday campaign, cycling to work a few days per month instead of driving, or turning over part of the garden for vegetable growing to reduce food miles.

Each of these small actions, if replicated by all 220,000 residents of Tameside, or all 65,000,000 people in the UK, can make a huge contribution to reducing the damaging greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for many of the extreme weather events we’ve had recently.

Large organisations like the Council clearly have a role to play too. This can either be as an enabler that makes it easier for residents to do the right thing or by taking action ourselves. Our pledges for this year contain examples of both. The ‘Get Tameside Growing’ pledge has been led by our excellent greenspaces team. They’ve worked hard throughout the summer with local schools and a range of voluntary groups to build capacity for communities to become more self-sufficient with respect to food. As an example, the two allotments cared for by mental health charity Mind have not only produced local, organic food but provided therapy for people with learning disabilities too.

Our decision to expand recycling facilities in public buildings and town centres is another case of where we’ve provided the means for others to be greener. As everybody living in Tameside will know already, the way domestic refuse is collected was changed some time ago in an effort to improve recycling rates. Clearly the home is not the only place where waste is generated, and so if we wanted to divert even more of Tameside’s refuse away from landfill then we had to do something else too. At the last count our recycling rate was over 55%, an increase of more than 15 percentage points compared to two years ago. The savings on landfill tax are also going a little way towards offsetting the impact of the enormous government cuts we’ve had to face.

Two of our pledges for this year fall in to the category of ‘direct action’ where the Council has made green choices itself. Firstly, the street lighting replacement programme is well in to its second year and over 8000 lanterns have been replaced with super-efficient LEDs so far. The savings on electricity usage have been enormous, and the reliability of this new type of lamp means that money will also be saved as a result of fewer repair callouts needing to be made. Secondly there is our pledge to plant at least 2016 trees for 2016. This target has been smashed at relatively little cost to the taxpayer. The trees have been provided free by Ovo energy or bought using contributions that developers have made for environmental improvements following a construction project, and the planting work has been carried out by conservation volunteers. It is hoped that, as well as punctuating our urban landscape and improving air quality, they could help to reduce the impact of flooding in the future by breaking up the soil with their roots and increasing its capacity to hold water.

And so Tameside is doing much to tackle climate change. It could be argued that we are setting an example for others to follow. It’s for this reason that I’ll continue to talk up this Council’s green credentials in the hope that they do. It is, after all, in all of our interests.


Railway privatisation – haven’t we been here before?

December 19th, 2016

railwaysThere’s a popular saying, apparently coined by Albert Einstein, that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.

I’ve written about this in the past, but for those who missed it last time here’s how I summed up how the UK runs its railways. It’s an expensive joke; privatisation has led to the consumer paying some of the highest costs in Europe for the worst levels of service while railway operators rake in ridiculous profits. The result of this price gouging and mismanagement has been that support for renationalising our railways crosses geographical, social and party political lines. People who agree on literally nothing else; Labour or Tory, Leave or Remain, agree that our railways would be better off back in public hands.

So how does our government, in its infinite wisdom, respond to this unprecedented groundswell of popular opinion? They do the exact opposite.

The announcement by the Transport Secretary of a fully privatised railway line from Oxford to Cambridge, the so-called “Varsity Line”, is problematic for a number of reasons. The first one requires a little bit of background. When the railways were first privatised in the 90s, the infrastructure (tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most of the stations) passed into the hands of a private company called RailTrack. The problem with this arrangement was that RailTrack was obliged to deliver a profit while at the same time maintaining the infrastructure required for our trains to run quickly and safely. Following a series of incidents, investigations revealed that the bill to meet the maintenance backlog after years of private neglect ran up to £580 million. That led to RailTrack being shut down and replaced by publically-owned Network Rail (but not before RailTrack used £137 million of public bailout money to pay its shareholders despite making a half a billion pound loss). Bringing back private running of infrastructure on the new Varsity Line makes me fear that this government, having not learnt from the sad history of RailTrack, is doomed to repeat it.

The second problem is that while the government is falling over itself to plough hundreds of millions of pounds into a railway linking one leafy, rich bit of the South to another leafy, rich bit of the South vital projects in the North continue to be kicked into the long grass. We’ve had no further details on what’s happening with the Transpennine and East Midlands electrifications following the announcement that work on them would be “unpaused”, and further afield the electrification of the Hull-Selby line has been cancelled entirely. Modern transport infrastructure is at the heart of every serious plan for making the “Northern Powerhouse” a reality. The difference in age, speed and cleanliness on the railways in the North and the South is one of the starkest illustrations of the divide within our country, and any backtracking on putting the money in to start fixing it is worrying to say the least.

We need to make the North’s voice heard loud and clear when it comes to handing out the money for vital rail projects, and that needs to be embedded in a national rail system that works for the taxpayer and passengers. At the moment we have neither, and all we’ve been promised is more privatisation and more money for the South. The government is doing the same thing over and over again, and I’m certainly not expecting a different result this time.


The social care precept is not the answer

December 15th, 2016

careAt the start of the month I wrote on this blog expressing my shock and disappointment that Adult Social Care received no additional funding in the Autumn Statement. In the face of a funding crisis in one of our most vital services the government seems to have decided to bury its head in the sand. That’s despite Members of Parliament, local government officials and members of the medical profession, of every political colour, warning them of the catastrophic consequences of doing so.

Fortunately, it looks like the government have realised their mistake and are starting to say something on funding for adult social care. Unfortunately, it looks like all they have to say is offering “solutions” that have been tried and found wanting before.

Cast your mind back to around this time last year, when the then-Chancellor George Osborne announced that councils would be allowed to raise their council tax by up to 2% as a “social care precept”. The government have today announced that for the next two years Councils have the option of levying a larger 3% precept.

Putting side the creative bankruptcy of reheating a policy that was barely a year old to begin with, there more than a few reasons why imposing a greater burden on councils to fund adult social care didn’t work then and won’t work now.

The first is the simple fact that a 3% increase in council tax does not raise anywhere near the amount required to plug funding shortfalls. Last time round an overwhelming majority of local authorities took the maximum possible council tax precept, raising around £383 million nationwide. That sounds like a lot but it barely covered two thirds of the sector’s cost increases for the year. Even with the precept the total shortfall in adult social care funding for 2016-17 alone was estimated at £940 million. There is absolutely no reason to think that allowing councils to raise the precept further will improve this situation.

Neither does this take into account the fact that this additional funding was not distributed equally. The amount of money a local authority can raise from the social care precept is determined by their council tax base. For example, here in Tameside our social care precept raised around £1.4 million, but the same level of increase by Oxfordshire Council saw them bring in £5.9 million in additional funding. Local authorities with lower council tax bases are also likely to have a higher demand for social care services. The result is a system where the areas with the highest need receive the lowest funding. It would be hard to find a more unfair way of doing things.

I said last time I spoke about this that a government’s spending commitments are the best way to tell what their true priorities are. Anybody that wants to know if our social care services will be there for them, their parents or their grandparents should be deeply concerned at the fact that the government is passing the buck for funding to cash-strapped councils while they continue to pile billions into things like corporation tax cuts. The government may say that they want a country that works for everyone, but the ongoing social care debacle shows that they have a very odd way of going about it.

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