Thursday, 21 October 2010


The debate on Spending Review seems to be centered around who is most effected. The Very Rich, The Rich, The Middle Earners and The Poorly Paid. I think these classifications do not fully explore what has been done to whom. I have always thought of my financial situation in terms of my disposable income. I have only once been in a group that might be described as Rich when any employer determined he had to directly employ me to supervise something I had advised him on as a consultant. My time in HM Forces in the middle NCO ranks were times when the pay was low. In those days there was food on the table, clothes on the children's back and the Sergeants' Mess for entertainment. We didn't run to a car and would have been in difficulties had something unforeseen needed money thrown at it. In the halcyon days we ran two new cars, were up to date with London theatre life and entertained others quite well. It all came from the money remaining after our essential needs and consequent expenditure had been met. I cannot really say that I enjoyed one of the two life styles more than the other. I had the funds to do what I wished to do.

The group now described as poor may not be in that position - I say may - it is not intended as censorious or denigrating but I seem to see a lot of cigarette smoking and quite a few of the guys in the local pub seem to be there at both lunchtimes and evenings. The infants ride in buggies that cost quite a few pounds. The announced changes that are referred to as unfair to the poor will certainly reduce their income; I wonder if it will effect their lifestyle? But, is it fair to expect them to change where those with some positive balance of income over outgoings may not need to economise - are we not all entitled to our 'luxuries' however these may be defined?

The Chancellor's idea of rich or poor may be responsible for what I see as a potential waste of money. The idea that a child aged two needs subsidised education. "There will be funding for 15 free hours of early education and care for all disadvantaged two-year-olds as part of a "fairness premium" which will extend from toddlers to undergraduates. The existing entitlement of 15 hours a week for all three to four-year-olds will be maintained." The 'education' a two year old requires is more socialisation than 1+1=2. Will 'disadvantaged' classification be assessed - and by whom? This all smacks more of 'child-minding' than child education. There used to be much coffee-morning debate about how cruel and hard it was for a child starting at five years. "It is going to put tremendous strain on very young children who haven't reached that stage of development," she said. "We are left with about three years of being able to call our children our own. After that, the Government will dictate what you are allowed to do with your child — when you can go on your holidays, when you can't, what you have to do for homework. That will go on for the rest of their childhood from four years onwards. It is an extremely sad day." If a parent is deemed unable to bring up a young child it must be questionable as to whether they can guide and mentor their offspring until university beckons. If their 'disadvantage' is low family income, they will see and experience little that might make them realise the benefits of education. Not all ugly ducklings grow up to be swans.

I have concerns about those who receive disability benefit. The disability is likely to cause them to live a circumscribed life and they have no real opportunity to improve their lot by working in the black economy. More and more Service personnel are likely to end up classified as disabled - what is there for a guy with both legs and an arm left in the corner of some foreign field? The Government made much of what it was going to do for these but it was all based in greater integration with the NHS. "I have said for some time that mental health will be my welfare priority if I am the next defence secretary, so I am delighted today to announce that a Conservative government will establish a new mental health screening service for all service leavers, including reservists. Together with my colleagues in our Health team, we have agreed funding for a PTSD treatment programme within the NHS. I hope that together we can defuse the potential time bomb of mental health problems, and I am very grateful for the support that Combat Stress has offered us."patient care is at risk. "Research by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland found that more than half of nurses (54 per cent) said they were prevented from providing dignified care to patients to a standard they were happy with.Of these, 76 per cent blamed a lack of staff for the lower standards they felt they were able to deliver. It comes as the NHS in Scotland is cutting staff numbers by almost 3,800, including more than 1,500 working in nursing and midwifery. Research by The Scotsman shows that more than 1,200 out of the 3,800 posts have already been cut, with the rest expected to go by the end of the financial year" So, what chance there for some poor Tom who meets up with an IED tonight?

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