WE MUST AVOID THE PREVIOUS ERRORS OF SOCIALISING LOSSES AND PRIVATISING GAINS

A guest blog from the Radix think tank which raises some important questions about how we get back some of the money which the Government is spending in the Coronavirus crisis.

Radix are a think tank of which I thoroughly approve. Existing to service the intellectual processes of the radical centre it continually produces thought promoting stuff.

This is a guest blog that they have written to start us thinking about how we recoup the vasts sums of money that the government is rightly putting out to both public and private sectors. We need to learn the lessons of past bail outs where the Government stood the losses and the private sector moved on to enhanced profits. I can be contacted as usual at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk. Radix can be contacted via the buttons given at the end of the Blog.

Once again, vast amounts of taxpayer money are to be made available to bail out companies struck by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is right that governments step in to mitigate the economic meltdown effects of the crisis. The nature and scale of the economic support being provided is to be commended. As is the action by a number of businesses to mobilise their resources to help combat the pandemic.

The government also has a duty to ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly; that we do not have a repeat of the 2008 crisis where taxpayers carry the downside while others benefit from any eventual upside.

Yet, unlike others, the UK government has, so far, not attached much conditionality to any bailouts.

Here we put forward five suggestions:

1.     Stock ownership not debt

The UK government has already hinted that any bailout will likely be in the form of taking equity positions in bailed out companies rather than debt. We believe that this, or similar alternatives such as convertible bonds, is crucial.

2.     Employment Conditionalities

Some governments have already announced that support for companies will be conditional on companies not letting any workers go during this period. We believe that similar conditionalities should be applied in the UK.

3.     Tax Avoidance

A number of larger companies that are now hoping to be bailed out by taxpayers have, for years, built tax avoidance structures to minimize their UK tax liabilities. It is time to have real conversations about dismantling such tax structures and ensuring that bailed out companies have a meaningful effective UK tax rate.

Solidarity has to be a two-way street
4.     Blocking Takeovers

The meltdown in equity markets has the potential to drive a surge in wealth inequality.

As private equity firms and those with private wealth leverage that wealth at near zero interest rates, they have the potential to scoop up many companies at bargain basement prices with large subsequent gains.

In Europe, governments have already indicated that they will not let their industrial base be taken over.

  “I say to all those people in hedge funds and elsewhere who are looking forward to acquiring one or the other [German firms] on the cheap — make no mistake, we are determined to stand by our companies.”

Peter Altmaier
German Minister for Economic
Affairs and Energy
We believe the UK government should be committed to doing the same?

5.     Stock Buybacks

At RADIX, we have long argued that large scale stock buybacks should be banned – as they were in the US until the 1980s.

Many corporations are in the poor financial state they are in today because they have blown all financial reserves on stock buy backs. The US airline industry spent an astounding 115 per cent of their free cash flow on share buybacks since 2014 (apart from their regular dividends). Many corporations are now left financially naked and dependent on taxpayers to make up for their lack of financial resilience.

The European Central Bank has already instructed European corporations to stop all dividends and stock buybacks until October. We believe it is time to stop large scale stock buybacks permanently.

RADIX is a think tank for the radical centre of contemporary politics. We exist to challenge conventional wisdom; to be provocative enough to shake institutions out of their complacency; to translate the dynamism, creativity and human potential of our age into practical policy solutions.

We are not affiliated to any particular political party and welcome independent-minded people from all parties and none.

We are a UK registered educational charity
(Registration Number 1167393)

Contact us by email or visit our web site
   
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Looking into the future – How will Coronavirus change our way of life?

This picture, courtesy of the Liverpool Echo, shows our wonderful city. Do the right things now and we can build on coronavirus changes to create a strong future for our City. Do the wrong things and our City will suffer for a long time.

In my last blog I looked at the environmental improvements that we might make if we learn the lessons of the coronavirus lock down. In this blog I am trying to begin to think through what this might mean in the ways that we live our lives as individuals, families and communities.

 Behavioural scientists tell us that if we stop doing a bad habit for 21days we are very likely to break that habit. If we keep to a new good habit for 21 days, we are likely to keep it up and for it to become a new part of our lifestyle. Our habits, good and bad are going to be broken for a lot longer than 21 days and the likelihood is that many will want to continue with the ‘good’ things that they have started doing and not do the ‘bad’ things they have been prevented from doing.

Work in the future

I suspect that many people, having been given the opportunity to work from home will want to carry on doing so. This should be supported because:

They will be more productive if they are not facing long and nasty commutes;

They will be more family oriented and strong families are a corner stone of our society;

There will be a huge environmental saving as people cut down on travel although there will be some environmental losses as more individual homes will need to be heated etc during the day.

Not everyone will have a job which can easily be done at home and not everyone has a home that can easily be worked from. I can do it because I have a relatively large house with only two of us in it and my wife always socially distances herself from me by working from her play room while I work from mine!

I also suspect that we will move much of our spending focus from making things to doing things. There is a huge need for more social carers. We will perhaps be wanting more stuff for gardens and hobbies which can be undertaken quietly at home. We will want more education and interest activities. Hasn’t it been marvellous the way places like Chester Zoo and other places which cannot stay open for people have been doing streaming of animals and setting up quizzes and other things which have kept kids occupied?

Doing more from home will involved structural changes in investment particularly in the field of IT. Companies will have to pay more for home kit and there is a clear problem with Wi-Fi bandwidth in some areas.

Pleasure in the future

So, we now can’t get smashed until 05.00 in the morning. I’ll miss this terribly (not!)

But it’s not only pub and club users that will be subject to a culture shock but many other areas of our none work lives. Retail therapy will be hit for a long time. Even if the shops open again after 3 months, they won’t necessarily be running properly because of the discontinuation of long supply chains many of them from China. We already know that there won’t be as many toys in place at Christmas time because of that lead in from design to production to delivery. Similar issues with clothing.

We cannot fly to the Sun in Spain or Italy for months and are beginning to learn the benefits not only of our own localities but also of our regions and country. Will we use our own facilities more? It’s years since I have been to the Lady Lever Gallery in Ellesmere Port and 3 or 4 since I went to Sudley House which I can walk to in 30 minutes.

Last Summer Erica and I had a great 5 days in Llandudno where we basked in sun as hot as Spain but got there in an hour. Have we just got into the habit of going to Spain etc and can we now rediscover and holiday in nearby venues.

On the plus side many people are finding new, cheap and local things to do. People are being encouraged to go to parks providing they don’t mingle with other people. I saw a Tweet yesterday from someone who said they hadn’t been in Calderstones Park for years and had forgotten how beautiful it is.

There is an upsurge in reading and music appreciation. I know this partly from Twitter but partly because I have set up a book and CD exchange at my front gate and it is proving to be very popular.

Many people have also started to do remote learning on a range of subjects. Some of these are subjects from scratch; some are refreshing school work and some are picking up learning dropped aside because of the pressure of life.

At the moment although there is a huge problem in the hospitality industry our local restaurants near Penny Lane are continuing to do well because although they have no diners, they have either expanded or initiated a takeaway service and these are proving to be very popular. People say they will remember this localised service and the relationships they have created into the future.

Of course, I don’t expect this idyllic way of life to continue. The Clubs will reopen; the shops will fill with imported rubbish and we’ll fly out to the Costas. But will we want to drink, eat, shop and holiday in the way that we did. On the 21-day rule will we learn to spend at least some of our time and money differently?

What will that mean to council thinking?

It’s obviously too soon to tell but the longer that the disruption lasts the more profound the changes will be. If more people do work from home what will happen to the city market not only for offices but also all the social and support infrastructure which support offices and their workers. If people work from home more what investment will be needed in their communities to enable them to do it properly.

If we won’t be going to town and city centres for leisure as much what will we need to provide in our suburbs and small towns to give local facilities, pleasures and opportunities.

What is the future of our High Streets if we do less in town but still want to buy less stuff? What will they look like in a few years’ time given the changes that were already in place? Are suburbs and ‘none’ city centres like Allerton Road and Old Swan the place to invest for a range of new opportunities to meet changing times? Has the swing to the ‘big’ been replaced by a move to the ‘small’?

Of course, neither I nor anyone knows the answers to these questions and there are many more questions to be asked. Before the crisis struck Mayor Anderson and I had talked about the establishment of some sort of Liverpool Futures Commission which would look at trends in all areas and work out what our response should be to them. We agreed that this should be done and were going to look at this in coming weeks. I think that the need to do that is now urgent. There are changes going on which could sink our City. Alternatively, we can understand those changes and work out how to use them to the advantage of our City to create employment and prosperity.

We cannot do anything in the very near future except think what we can do, how to do it and who to do it with as soon as life starts to get back to normal. I hope that is what the Council, in our new spirit of unity will be prepared to do.

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas on this and other issues at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk.

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Could the Coronavirus save the World?!

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we learned our lessons from the close downs and working from home practices caused by Covid-19 to change our ways of living and working to save our planet.

This may seem a peculiar thing to say whilst globally we are fighting a virus which is now, and will be until a vaccine is produced, a killer. I am not hoping, as some clearly do, that this will kill off loads of the elderly. I am of retirement age myself! What I hope is that it will change our behaviours and we will be in a world which is much more apart of social values of society, community and family. I will deal with these in a future blog.

However, today I want to concentrate on the environment. I reproduce below an article from the Guardian on 24th March. I have ‘paid’ for this by making a donation to their funds.

What is clear is that the virus shutdowns are having a huge effect on global warming. Far fewer noxious gases are produced as we stop going to work, with more of us working at home, and factories and offices shut down. Of course, I want people to get back to work; I want our society to be productive; I want people to share in the beauties of our Country because we share the resources out more fairly.

We have plenty of time to think so can I just put some questions on the table about things we could be thinking about:

  1. Will more of us decide that working from home rather than commuting is a good idea? That would mean vast reductions in the infrastructure required for transport.
  2. Will we decide to have fewer long-haul holidays and either just travel in Europe or even better travel in our own glorious Country. That would help our economy and make a massive reduction in the fuel we consume on air trips.
  3. Will we buy less stuff and better-quality stuff as buying cheap clothes, for example, has a huge impact on our environment?
  4. Will we decide to do more in the localities that we live in using inexpensive but healthy facilities like parks and libraries?
  5. Will we either but smaller cars than the ‘Chelsea Tractors’ which adorn our car parks or can we move quickly to electric cars?
  6. Will the wide, open roads that exist at present help us move to cycling more or even encourage to walk to places nearby instead of automatically getting into cars?
  7. Will we learn to accept that where it exists it is good for us and the planet to sue pubic transport?
  8. Will we devote more of our money to draughts, wind and rain proofing our homes as the heating and lighting of homes is a major cause of environmental degradation.
  9. Will we ask all retail and commercial premises to turn their illumination signage off at night as they wastefully consume fuel?
  10. Will we grow more of our own food both domestically and as a Country to save the food miles that cause such pollution.

Any elected members, such as me, should be asking these questions and working within our Councils, Assemblies and Parliament to create a great national debate on the environment and then, even more importantly, a great national set of actions which all of us can participate in.

As ever let me have your ideas at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk

Article from the Guardian Newspaper on 24th March

The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows.

One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.

Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that over the past six weeks, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year.

Pollution levels in China are markedly lower than last year

Nitrogen dioxide is produced from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes and is thought to exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

While not a greenhouse gas itself, the pollutant originates from the same activities and industrial sectors that are responsible for a large share of the world’s carbon emissions and that drive global heating.

Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, predicted there will be important lessons to learn. “We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen,” he said. “Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy? Not to denigrate the loss of life, but this might give us some hope from something terrible. To see what can be achieved.”

Monks, the former chair of the UK government’s science advisory committee on air quality, said that a reduction in air pollution could bring some health benefits, though they were unlikely to offset loss of life from the disease.

 “It seems entirely probable that a reduction in air pollution will be beneficial to people in susceptible categories, for example some asthma sufferers,” he said. “It could reduce the spread of disease. A high level of air pollution exacerbates viral uptake because it inflames and lowers immunity.” Agriculture could also get a boost because pollution stunts plant growth, he added.

The World Health Organization describes NO2 as “a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways” at concentrations above 200 micrograms per cubic metre. Pollution particles may also be a vector for pathogens, as well as exacerbating existing health problems. The WHO is now investigating whether airborne pollution particles may be a vector that spreads Covid-19 and makes it more virulent.

One of the largest drops in pollution levels could be seen over the city of Wuhan, in central China, which was put under a strict lockdown in late January. The city of 11 million people serves as a major transportation hub and is home to hundreds of factories supplying car parts and other hardware to global supply chains. According to Nasa, nitrogen dioxide levels across eastern and central China have been 10-30% lower than normal.

South Korea

NO2 levels also dropped in South Korea, which has long struggled with high emissions from its large fleet of coal-fired power plants but also from nearby industrial facilities in China.

The country has avoided putting entire regions under lockdown but is meticulously tracing and isolating suspected coronavirus cases.

Italy

The changes over northern Italy are particularly striking because smoke from a dense cluster of factories tends to get trapped against the Alps at the end of the Po Valley, making this one of western Europe’s pollution hotspots.

Since the country went into lockdown on 9 March, NO2 levels in Milan and other parts of northern Italy have fallen by about 40%. “It’s quite unprecedented,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Service. “In the past, we have seen big variations for a day or so because of weather. But no signal on emissions that has lasted so long.”

The source is not yet clear. One possibility is a slowdown of activity in Italy’s industrial heartland. Another factor is likely to be a reduction in road traffic, which accounts for the biggest share of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Europe.

Peuch said satellites were now starting to pick up similar signals in other European cities that are entering into lockdowns, though the data needs to studied over a longer period to confirm this is a pattern.

United Kingdom

Although the UK is more than a week behind Italy in terms of the spread of the disease and the government’s response, roadside monitors already show significantly reduced levels of pollution at hotspots such as Marylebone in London.

Road traffic accounts for about 80% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the UK, according to Monk. For the average diesel car, each kilometre not driven avoids 52 milligrammes of the pollutant entering the air.

“What I think will come out of this is a realisation – because we are forced to – that there is considerable potential to change working practices and lifestyles. This challenges us in the future to think, do we really need to drive our car there or burn fuel for that,” said Monk.

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This is the advice given by NHS to GPs which explains what they are doing

We can all help this GP and every GP by understanding what they are doing, why they are doing it and cooperating with them and the whole of the NHS in the ways that they have been asking us to

This is the advice from the NHS that our local GPs are working to. It explains why they are working in the way they are working. They need to keep themselves safe so that they can serve us all properly and, as they are in the front line of fighting the coronavirus, are often the first to become ill. You can help all our GPs and other medical services by following all advice from the NHS about social distancing and only contacting your GP having first taken all other advice and self-help steps

  1. Advice and guidance on coronavirus
  • Anyone who is unwell should go to NHS111 online first for advice, rather than approaching their GP practice.
  • If a case comes to the surgery or extended hours hub:  
    • If the patient is WELL then: – they should go home immediately and self-isolate – use nhs.uk/coronavirus for advice and guidance.
    • If the patient is UNWELL then:
      • use PPE as per current PHE guidance for possible cases 
      • isolate the patient
      • if acutely unwell treat as appropriate 
      • if not then ask them to use NHS 111 online or ring NHS 111 from home or the isolation room
      • decontaminate as per the standard operating procedure (SOP).

2. Service implications and priorities

Responding to COVID-19 is already necessitating major immediate changes to how general practice works. 

Right now, all practices and their commissioners are asked to focus on six urgent priorities:

  1. Move to a total triage system (whether by phone or online). This does not mean not advising/treating patients for other health issues, where there is clinical need, or unilateral closing of practices doors, rather ensuring that patients are appropriately triaged to the right health professional setting. The upsurge in telephone calls to general practice means that providing a reliable and timely response for patients has already become a vital operational priority.
  • Agree locally with your CCG which practice premises and teams should be used to manage essential face-to-face services.
  • Undertake all care that can be done remotely via appropriate channels, guided by your clinical judgement.
  • Prepare for the significant increase in home visiting as a result of social distancing, home isolation and the need to discharge all patients who do not need to be in hospital
  • Prioritise support for particular groups of patients at high risk. Next week the NHS will be writing directly to all patients in this category, and you will receive further advice shortly
  • Help staff to stay safe and at work, building cross-practice resilience across primary care networks, and confirming business continuity plans. 

The NHS are doing their bit to help us but we must do our bit to help them.

  1. Don’t go out unless it’s essential;
  2. If you do go out keep 2 metres away from anyone else
  3. Safely check on elderly relatives and neighbours to see they have food etc.
  4. Keep everyone’s morale up with phone calls, face time, skype. I got some stamps in so we will even be sending people letters and cards.
  5. Keep an eye out for changing Government advice and do what they say!!

This will come to an end and society will return to a normality which may be different from the normality of only two weeks ago. Being patient, helps you, your family and your neighbours. Above all it helps our front-line workers in the NHS, food supply chains etc. Lets all buy time for the NHS.

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Advice to Church Ward residents from your local Councillors

Andrew, Liz and I will be keeping our assistance to our residents going in all sorts of ways, none of which involve face to face contact. If you need us our details are below.

Some Coronavirus Advice from your Local Councillors Andrew Makinson, Liz Makinson & Richard Kemp

To assist our residents, we have looked around at the best advice available on how to live our lives for the next few months. Most people understand the situation and are doing what health authorities suggest. Regrettably, there are, as always, some people out to take advantage of the situation. This advice is the best advice that we can give at present. The advice is changing constantly so listen carefully to what the NHS is saying on social media and normal media channels.

In accordance with advice we are not undertaking any public activities. We are however available by email, phone or letter and our details are at the end of the leaflet:

  1. Listen carefully to what the NHS is saying and follow any advice they are giving.
  • If you have a particular medical condition such as diabetes your GP should have contacted you with specific advice. 1,250,000 have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks and it may be longer. You may need particular help in the current circumstances. Get in touch with them if they have not contacted you.
  • Avoid all social contact wherever possible. Going out for a coffee and a natter even with a close friend and certainly not with strangers is not a good idea.
  • Going out to the Park or a solitary walk is, however, a good idea. Walk but don’t mingle. Talk but don’t get more than 2 metres close to people you are talking to.
  • Do not touch or shake hands with people. You could pick up the virus from their hands or clothing.
  • If you go out try and avoid touching things as the virus can last more than 24 hours on some surfaces. When you get back wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands even more than you normally would do. 20 seconds with soap or hand sanitiser is now a must.
  • Phone a friend. Many people will be lonely and would love to get a call from you even if it’s only a quick, “how are you doing?” Even better if you can use modern social methods such as Skype or Facetime.
  • Check up on people you know either in your community or street who you haven’t seen and see if they need any help with getting shopping or medicines.
  • Don’t go into other people’s houses and don’t let people, especially strangers, into your house.
  • Only give small amounts of money for the purchase of necessities to people that you know. Never hand over cash to strangers.
  • Never give your credit card details to anyone unless it’s your immediate family and only then if you trust them!
  • Always check the identity of people offering to help you. If you have any doubts just say, “no thanks”.
  • A lot of people have been using their own initiative to set up some help schemes to get supplies in and to help with boredom. Thanks for that and its great but the Council has set up a help line for people who want to help. Sign up and you will be properly supported to provide proper and informed help. The number is 0151 233 3068. There are a lot of people volunteering so please be patient.
  • If you need help the Council is also ensuring that volunteers and staff are directed to help you. The number to get help is 0151 233 3066. Again, demand is high so please be patient.
  • We are increasing our electronic emails to keep residents in touch with events and opportunities. If you live in Church Ward email Andrew with details fo your address and you will be put on our e-mailing list.

Your councillors can be contacted at: andrew.makinson@liverpool.gov.uk (07939 220336); liz.makinson@liverpool.gov.uk. (07939 119402). They can be contacted at 35, Mapledale Road; richard.kemp@liverpool.gov.uk and lives at 16, Dovedale Road and can be contacted on 07885 626913

The information contained here can be useful for any Liverpool Resident and most of it can be applied by any reader of this, anywhere in the World!!

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Why is 70 the trigger age for the Coronavirus?

We silver surfers will just have to take it easy and moderate our contacts for the foreseeable future and that might mean many months

Three things have been making me think about the ageing process lately. Firstly, I’m getting old myself. Although this is at the standard rate of 24 hours a day, I have got a fair number of days under my belt (24,539 if you want to know!). Secondly, I keep getting asked why is 70 the key age for the coronavirus? Thirdly, I gave a talk about three weeks ago to a joint Centre for Ageing Well and Local Government Association event in Manchester.

Why 70? Well it is a fairly arbitrary number. As we all know there are people who are extremely unhealthy at the age of 60 and people who are extremely healthy at the age of 80. The fact is that the stronger and healthier you are the less likely that you will not easily or at all recover when, and there is almost an inevitability about this, the coronavirus reaches you personally.

What is killing most of those unfortunate to die because of the coronavirus are the underlying health issues that they have faced. Their bodies, and especially their respiratory systems are already weak and the response and immune systems are just overwhelmed. Of course, our bodies do become weaker as we get older. Bits and pieces give up or are slowed down. 70 is just an age when more and more people have some elements of debilitation. I listened to Dr Clare Gerada on the Today programme this morning. Clare is an East End of London GP and the former President of the Royal College of GPs. She really does know what she is talking about.

She has had the virus and believes she is now immune. Her description is that it was like the worst Flu she had ever had for 4 days. She dealt with it with paracetamol, lots of fluids and plenty of sleep. Others, particularly young people, may already have felt ‘a bit of a cold.’ But be warned this is neither flu nor a bit of a cold although that may be what it feels like. This is a virus that has a far higher death rate than either of those. It doesn’t kill everyone or even a majority but it is more likely to kill than any other virus we have seen probably since the Spanish Flu which killed so many people in 1918/20.

But you don’t try and stay healthy through your life because you want to avoid a virus that you had never heard of. You stay healthy throughout your life because you want to be fit and healthy because that makes you feel mentally and physically fit. The opposite of that, of course, is that if you are not fit you are prone to all manner of diseases, ailments and problems throughout your life and for many the key decisions about fitness have been made many years before.

In my talk to the Centre for Aged I started with the fact that the 3% of 11-year olds who are morbidly obese are almost certain to have poor health outcomes throughout their life and an early death. Their muscular/skeletal systems just won’t have formed properly. In fact, it starts earlier than that. If you are born to a Mum who drinks, smokes or takes drugs you will be born underweight with consequences for you throughout your life.

So is this all about the inevitability of ill health and early death. Not at all. There are two ways in which we can collectively and individually stave off the grim reaper.

Collectively it is the responsibility of central and national government to ensure that every one of our citizens, in what is a relatively wealthy country, should live in accommodation which is appropriate to their needs; is warm and weatherproof and set in a nice environment. The fact that not one government since 1973 has lived up to its own new build housing targets is a scandal which all politicians should take responsibility for. A good home provides the basis for a good life; for good education; for good jobs. We could, if we chose provide all these things.

Local Government can, if it were resourced and supported properly, do far more than that. It is the level of government which interacts with every single citizen and does so in a context not of big, high flying policies and programmes but at a human level to which all of us relate. We can, if supported, provide the basis in which people and their families can work together to build the self-supporting communities which enable people to thrive. Local councils manage to do much of this already. Look at our parks, bus passes, libraries, community centres, fitness centres, community grants and many other things. Relatively they don’t cost very much but millions of people every day take advantage of them.

Every single one of us can take lifestyle decisions that will improve their own fitness. If you go to the Park you will see many people who are physically and mentally fit; the libraries are used by people keeping their brains active. Both places (well not for the next few months perhaps) are places where people can chat and natter and engage in the type of social intercourse which keeps people active and feeling a part of a wider society.

It has been estimated that loneliness has the same health effect as smoking 25 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is something that we can all do something about individually and as a community.

So, I close by making a special coronavirus plea but one that I hope will not be forgotten when we pass though this terrible phase in our nation’s health history. Don’t let anyone in your street or community be lonely. In the short term make sure that they do have the essentials of life which appear to be food and bog paper!  You don’t have to embrace them but just watch out if single people are about and more importantly when they are not. Just the simplest human interaction and kindness can have a huge effect on people’s lives.

When we have got through this let’s take it a stage further. Take people for a walk in the park with you. Pop round to their house for a cup of tea. See if they want a library book. See if the reason they don’t go on a bus journey is that they have no-one to go with. If we are invoking a war time ‘blitz’ spirit that is surely for all of us the key message. Remember your neighbours, be part of a community and everyone, including you, will benefit from your actions.

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Government must announce public health grant amidst Coronavirus crisis

If our Councils are to undertake our work of fighting underlying health problems in light of the Coronavirus Crisis the Government must end the 6 month delay in announcing our Public Health grant for the financial year which starts n 2 weeks time.

Today I have joined fellow Liberal Democrats in calling on the Health Secretary to announce the public health grant for 20/21 amidst the Coronavirus crisis.

I have done this both as Leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, and Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson at the Local Government Association and have written to him calling on him to announce the funding to ensure councils could fulfil our role as a “key part” in containing the virus.

In my letter to him I said:

“Having failed to tell local councils how much the public health grant will be, the Government has made it all but impossible for councils to ensure our communities have proper healthcare.

“Even if it was business as usual this would be shameful, but with the Coronavirus it is nothing short of an abdication of duty. 

“Public health information is vital to lowering the Coronavirus peak, but even more alarming is the inability for local councils to try and address the inevitable gaps in our social care sector getting worse.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

Whilst the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are happily touring the TV studios, they are utterly failing at the most basic level to support councils in our vital work. A six month’s delay in getting our grant details is a disgrace at any time but in the present circumstances means that Councils are unable to do as much as needs to eb done to protect the underlying health of our communities.

ENDS

Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913

Notes to editors


The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to urge you to immediately announce the public health grant for local authorities for 2020/21.

The unacceptable delay has made it extremely difficult for local government to plan health services in the community such as sexual health services, the NHS Health Check programme and public health advice to NHS Commissioners.

With the coronavirus, this delay has become even more serious.

Public Health funding is a crucial component for ensuring public services work together to issue advice and information, but also plan for knock on effects on the social care workforce for example.

The delay has also compounded the severe reductions in local authorities’ public health grant funding – over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20 – which has left councils under incredible pressure to deliver vital community health services.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

The Government has said on various occasions that the best way to reduce the peak of Coronavirus is to contain and delay it – public health information is a key part of that strategy and it must not be neglected by this government.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Health & Social Care, Local Government Association

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