- 20 April 2018
- Posted in: Education, Healthcare
This week we added two more events to our 2018 conference calendar; Bridging the Skills Gap: Apprenticeship Levy and the Northern Economic Summit. The events look to address burgeoning economic issues in the UK, Bridging the Skills Gap will address the swathes of people entering an evolving job market with inadequate skills, resulting in a career of low-paid, insecure work to the detriment of their livelihood and the national economy. The Northern Economic Summit will bring together leading figures from domestic and international industry, representatives of local, regional and parliamentary governance, as well as economists, investors and innovators to engage with a collective vision of the North’s economic future; reviewing different economic models currently implemented across the region, scrutinising their impact on the region and forecasting for the future.
NHS patients to be given personal budget
Under a new scheme, patients will be given more personal allowances to spend on what best suits their medical needs, with doctor’s approval. It is aimed at people with social care needs including whose with mental health issues, dementia and physical and learning disabilities. For children and people unable to manage the money, parents or carers will be able to manage the budget.
There are currently 23,000 on the scheme – it will be expanded to approximately 350,000. Some budgets are worth tens of thousands of pounds. It will be set up later this year when the government announces changes to health and social care. The programme has received support from both the Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS.
The scheme has been subject to debate due to different ways in which the money has been spent by patients in the past. However, it is argued that the vast majority of money goes towards medically helping patients, such as employing personal assistants or carers, buying equipment and enrolling in exercise classes. The NHS forbids the budget being spent on alcohol, tobacco, gambling, debt repayment and illegal activities. It is believed that the policy will also help reduce the number of patients needing emergency care.
It may not be welcomed by all as Caroline Abrahams of Age UK explained to the Times: “Older people in declining health with social care needs generally tell us they are not very interested in getting involved in organising the services they receive. They just want them to be effective and joined up, and delivered by kind and skilful professionals.”
Firms advertising their standard jobs as apprenticeships
According to a recent Reform report, large firms have been relabelling low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships and receiving subsidies for training. These include fast food chains, coffee shops and retailers. The study reported that these companies have ‘rebranded existing roles after being obliged to contribute cash to on-the-job training’. This refers to the Apprenticeship Levy policy which requires firms whose annual payroll is over £3 million to contribute 0.5% of overall wages to a fund which they can then claim back.
The roles being advertised as apprentices are low-paid and involve standard front-of-house and catering staff roles such as serving customers, cooking basic foods and cleanliness maintenance. If the report is to be believed, this will likely add to the evidence that the levy is not being used properly and is lacking effectiveness.
The Museum of Brexit
A group of veteran Eurosceptics connected to UKIP and the wider Leave campaign have launched a website setting out their intention to ‘establish a museum that tells the history of what we know today as Brexit’.
The Museum of Brexit is seeking donations of memorabilia spanning four decades of British Euroscepticism that began before the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973 and culminated with the Brexit vote in 2016. Drafts of significant campaign speeches, pro-Brexit pamphlets, mugs, photographs, rosettes and street stalls are all welcome at collection centres in Liverpool, Cambridge, London, Nottingham, Lyminster and elsewhere; with groups like The Freedom Association, Democracy Movement and Bruges Group signed up to collection schemes.
Dr Lee Rotherham, former Chief of Staff to the parliamentary delegate to the Convention on the Future of Europe as well as one-time London mayoral hopeful is one of those spearheading the project. Speaking on the launch of the website, Rotherham noted: “It’s going to be a long, slow business… It’s too early to move onto the legacy side of Brexit now, but unless we start the process now, some of the material will potentially be gone.”
Despite the pro-Brexit predisposition of the project, the museum is also seeking contributions from supporters of the European Union, as a means of resisting the label of a triumphant memorial to Brexit and representing both sides of the debate in the interest of history. Rotherham touched on the idea that “if somebody wants to donate one of Ted Heath’s hats, I’m sure it would have pride of place. That’s part of the narrative as well.”
Head of the anti-Brexit campaign group Open Britain, James McGrory seemed unconvinced by the project: “It is a shame that this initiative did not come earlier, because some things have been lost forever to future generations, like Boris Johnson’s moral compass.”