Posts Tagged ‘economic deprivation’

Only Greece (out of developed nations) has seen a wage collapse as dramatic as the UK

While most of the rest of Europe have experienced some wage growth since 2007, including crisis devastated economies like Spain (+2.8%) Ireland (+1.6%) and Italy (+0.9%), UK workers have seen a catastrophic decline in earning power only matched by workers in the economic catastrophe zone that is Greece (-10.4%).

Ordinary British workers have seen the deliberate decimation of their wages since the Lib-Dems enabled the Tories back into power in 2010. Meanwhile the super wealthy minority have literally doubled their wealth since the economic crisis. 

Aside from overseeing the longest sustained decline in wages in economic history, a reduction in earning power only matched by the crisis stricken Greek economy, a huge upwards redistribution of wealth, and the slowest economic recovery on record, the Tories have also been savagely attacking working rights too.

Just look at the furious way the French have reacted to attacks on their employment rights with continued riots (mostly unreported by UK MSM), and consider that they’ve enjoyed a 10% increase in their earning power since the pre-crisis period.

In Britain we’ve had a 10.4% decrease in our earning power and most people have sat back compliantly as the Tories have repeatedly snatched our employment rights away.

What will it take for the Sheeple of the UK to wake up from their torpor?


Credit to the TUC report below:

UK real wages decline of over 10% is the most severe in the OECD (equal to Greece)

27 Jul 2016, by  in Economics

The decline in UK real wages since the pre-crisis peak is the most severe in the OECD, equal only to Greece. Both countries saw declines of 10.4% per cent between 2007 Q4 and 2015Q4. Apart from Portugal, all other OECD countries saw real wage increases, albeit mostly modest ones.


(NB strictly the Greek decline is 10.41% and the UK 10.37%, but no way are the figures accurate beyond one decimal place.)

These results are derived from figures in the 2016 edition of the OECD’s Employment Outlook (released a couple of weeks ago, but it has taken me some time to get hold of the figures – see endnote for details of calculation). Even though most countries have seen real wages rise, growth rates are generally disappointing – under normal condition you might expect around 2% a year, and so 16% over eight years.

At the time their UK release contrasted a strong employment performance with weak earnings growth. The employment rate is at a record level, some 5 percentage points above the OECD average. On the other hand real wages “fell by more than 10% after 2007”. See the left and rightmost charts below:


The comparison of figures for individual countries therefore gives a fuller context for the wage decline shown on the OECD chart. To be balanced, the same should be done for employment – the OECD also provides figures for the ‘employment gap’ – defined at the top of the next chart:


(The figures are extracted from chart 1.2 in the Employment Outlook.)

The government’s argument is that flexibility on wages has permitted the employment gains. Whatever your view of the theory, the data show this is not obviously the case. In spite of the largest falls in wages, the UK ranks sixteenth (of 42) in terms of job gains (though the employment chart includes some non-OECD countries that have performed well). Any flexibility in Greece was completely pointless. Moreover the countries with the highest gains in real wages were also among those with the highest employment gains.

Plainly the relationship between wages and employment is not as straightforward as notions of flexibility might suggest. The following chart compares outcomes on employment with those on wages (the underlying data by country is in the annex).

The UK is very much an outlier – the only country where a good jobs performance is associated with a bad (terrible) real wages performance.

Employment v earnings, change over 2007Q4 to 2015Q4


Thankfully the UK is not Greece or Portugal in the bottom left quadrant. Taking the low wage road may have helped to keep jobs afloat in the UK; in contrast, in the majority of countries (in this sample) the employment gap was still negative but wages rose (bottom right quadrant). It is possible to think that economies/policymakers face a choice between these two options.  But this would be wrong – other countries have managed to have it both ways (top right quadrant).

These are mainly central European countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland along with Japan and Israel. All these countries have benefited from strong aggregate demand in recent years, in particular through exports and/or government spending.

Plainly this is not a decisive measure of performance, if such a thing exists. My sense is that outcomes in the post-crisis period should be assessed alongside a comparison of performance relative to the pre-crisis period (see for example my examination of the effect of spending cuts cross the OECD – here). On this basis of the countries above, those ‘A8’ countries (that joined the EU from 2004) may have performed strongly over the post-crisis period, but have seen a significant reduction since the pre-crisis days.

Nonetheless the above results offer a valuable perspective on labour market outcomes overall.

We knew already that the UK had endured the longest and steepest decline in real wages since at least 1830. We now know that this decline is matched by no other country apart from Greece. Gains in employment are not adequate compensation.

Endnote: the total wage decline is derived from Figure 1.6, by compounding the separate growth rates for 07Q4-09Q1, 09Q1-12Q4 and 12Q4-15Q4. Note that the OECD derive real wages from national accounts information, dividing total wages by hours worked and putting into real terms with the household consumption deflator. These can differ from those based on average weekly earnings and CPI inflation that tend to be used in the UK.

ANNEX: change over 2007Q4 to 2015Q4


The TORY impoverishment of Student Nurses.

Yesterday was the last day of parliament in a week where the HoC voted with a clear majority to commit to £205BILLION in spending on a Trident weapons of mass annihilation nuclear weapons system, and the new PM used the day, like the coward she is, to announce that bursaries for the education of new student nurses will be cut from 2017. Meaning nurses will face £50,000+ debt for a degree qualification on top of which they already work a 35hr week on top to achieve. Money for Nuclear Bombs / Massive personal DEBT for student nurses!

Tory Bastards, absolute bastards!

This was just one of many “bad news” stories hidden yesterday – The Guardian article:                                          Bursaries for student nurses will end in 2017, government confirms Anger as Department of Health says replacing bursaries with loans will free up £800m a year to create extra nursing roles      


This was just one of many “bad news” stories hidden yesterday.

Britain’s new prime minister is seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’, and many of us are yearning for that at a time of massive political turmoil. But, argues Owen Jones, we should still think about what kind of politician she is. From opposing the convention of human rights, to telling illegal immigrants to ‘go home’, there are things we should know about our new prime minister…


Mark McGowan, The Artist Taxi Driver: “Not only does Theresa May want student nurses to work unpaid for 37.5hrs a week they also want to charge them £10,000’s just to be able to work!”


May is such an appalling threat to any sort of freedom (except that of fraudsters to evade detection)

This Theresa May government will get away with murder… just like the previous Tory administration did with IDS.

This all happened under David Cameron’s watch.

George Duncan Smith: “I’m improving peoples lives, I’m getting them off benefits and I’m proud of my achievements.”

Below are some of his ‘achievements’;

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.

Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.

Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.

Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.

Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.

David Coupe, 57. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.

Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.

Victor Cuff, 59 and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.

Charles Barden, 74. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.

Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.

Iain Hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.

Wayne Grew, 37. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.

Kevin Bennett, 40. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.

David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.

Denis Jones, 58. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.

Shaun Pilkington, 58. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.

Paul ?, 51. Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.

Chris MaGuire, 61. Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.

Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.

Julian Little, 47. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.

Miss DE, Early 50’s. Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.

Robert Barlow, 47. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.

Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.

Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.

David Clapson, 59 years old. A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.

Jan, a lady of unknown age suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.

Trevor Drakard, 50 years old, a shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.”

Stephen Lynam, 53 suffered from anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, a heart condition and musculo-skeletal problems. Found ‘fit for work’ after a WCA. After 22 weeks his mandatory reconsideration was turned down. Facing eviction, not eating properly and getting even more depressed he died shortly after finding out he was allowed to appeal the departments decision.

Malcolm Burge, 66, was left in despair after finding himself more than £800 in debt because of a cut in his housing benefit, drove himself to the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset where he took his own life by setting himself alight in his Skoda Octavia.

Benjamin Del McDonald, 34 took his own life after his benefits were stopped and he was threatened with eviction from his home.

Mark Harper has insisted the Government is right to ignore these achievements.

David Cameron is “proud” of George Duncan Smith’s achievements!

The Bank of England’s dose of honesty throws the theoretical basis for austerity out the window

Retweeted from the Guardian:

Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.
Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy”, co-authored by three economists from the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.
To get a sense of how radical the Bank’s new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. People put their money in banks. Banks then lend that money out at interest – either to consumers, or to entrepreneurs willing to invest it in some profitable enterprise. True, the fractional reserve system does allow banks to lend out considerably more than they hold in reserve, and true, if savings don’t suffice, private banks can seek to borrow more from the central bank.
The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. But it is also careful not to print too much. In fact, we are often told this is why independent central banks exist in the first place. If governments could print money themselves, they would surely put out too much of it, and the resulting inflation would throw the economy into chaos. Institutions such as the Bank of England or US Federal Reserve were created to carefully regulate the money supply to prevent inflation. This is why they are forbidden to directly fund the government, say, by buying treasury bonds, but instead fund private economic activity that the government merely taxes.
It’s this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say “there’s just not enough money” to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending “crowding out” the private sector. What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: “Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits” … “In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money ‘multiplied up’ into more loans and deposits.”
In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit. What’s more, insofar as banks do need to acquire funds from the central bank, they can borrow as much as they like; all the latter really does is set the rate of interest, the cost of money, not its quantity. Since the beginning of the recession, the US and British central banks have reduced that cost to almost nothing. In fact, with “quantitative easing” they’ve been effectively pumping as much money as they can into the banks, without producing any inflationary effects.
What this means is that the real limit on the amount of money in circulation is not how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow. Government spending is the main driver in all this (and the paper does admit, if you read it carefully, that the central bank does fund the government after all). So there’s no question of public spending “crowding out” private investment. It’s exactly the opposite.
Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? Well, one reason is because it’s obviously true. The Bank’s job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well. It’s possible that it decided that maintaining the fantasy-land version of economics that has proved so convenient to the rich is simply a luxury it can no longer afford.
But politically, this is taking an enormous risk. Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.
Historically, the Bank of England has tended to be a bellwether, staking out seeming radical positions that ultimately become new orthodoxies. If that’s what’s happening here, we might soon be in a position to learn if Henry Ford was right.
QC Jolyon Maughan, ripping lying spiv Gideon Osborne’s claims before parliament to SHREDS! The Artist Taxi Driver, Mark McGowan
Osborne has said that reducing the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p raised an additional £8bn from the highest earners in its first year. Speaking in the Commons he said the revelation “completely defies” predictions made by Labour that cutting the rate from 50p to 45p would cost £3bn and give top earners an average £10,000 tax cut. HMRC previously estimated that cutting the top rate from 50p to 45p would cost the Exchequer £100m.
Osborne said:
“Under this government the richest pay a higher proportion of income tax than under the last Labour government. Indeed we have just had numbers out this morning from HMRC which for the first time show the income tax data for the year 2013/14, which is when the 50p rate was reduced to 45p.
And what that shows is that actually there was an £8bn increase in revenues from additional rate taxpayers, which completely defies the predictions made by the Labour party at the time and shows that what we have are lower, competitive taxes that are paid by all.” ( Guardian Reporter )
I don’t have the number to which Osborne refers but it is broadly in line with what was forecast in May 2015 which showed a projected increase in income tax paid by additional rate taxpayers of £7.1bn.
Does this increase vindicate, as Osborne suggests, to the tune of £8bn of extra receipts the decision to cut the 50p rate?
Reader, it does NOT!
Tax receipts were artificially low in 2012-13 (because people delayed receiving income until rates fell) and were artificially high in 2013-14 (when those delayed receipts were received). Combine those two numbers and you may well explain your £7bn jump.
Please Read More here, see graphs included: Jolyon Maughan QC

Report: 100 ways the Tories have failed the NHS (evidence based with links to data)


By Dr Eoin Clarke PhD

You can get a link to the full report by following this link (click here).

GP Services

1. The number of unfilled GP posts has nearly quadrupled in 3 years (2.1% in 2010 to 7.9% in 2013) (evidence)
2. England’s GP to Patient ratio has worsened by 4% as population increases and unfilled GP vacancies grow (evidence)
3. Of 27 EU Countries, the UK is ranked 24th for the number of working doctors it has per head of population (just 2.71 per 1,000 people) (evidence & evidence)
4. 518 GPs surgeries have closed or merged under the Tories. The rate is accelerating with 90 closing in the first 5 months of 2014 (evidence & evidence)
5. GPs spend cash more efficiently than any other part of the NHS. It is sheer folly that the Tories have delivered a real terms funding cut of £987m to GPs (evidence)
6. Despite Cameron’s promise that he will extend GP opening hours to 7 days a day, the number of GPs surgeries offering extended opening hours actually declined by 5.7% (or an extrapolated 477 surgeries) in just 1 year to 2012 (evidence & evidence)

A&E Services

7. Performance at England’s A&Es has fallen to its worst levels since January 2004 (evidence & evidence)
8. 4 million A&E patients have been keep waiting more than 4 hours under the Tories since Cameron became PM, a near tripling on a weekly basis (evidence)
9. Despite promising voters that no local NHS service would close without public consultation, 66 A&E and Maternity Wards have been closed or facing closure as a result of Tory Cuts (evidence)
10. The Tories scrapped Labour’s 98% target at England’s A&Es. This corresponded with an immediate deterioration in A&E waiting times (evidence & evidence)
11. The Tories have shut or downgraded 1/3 of NHS Walk In Centres releasing up to 2million patients a year back in a struggling A&E system (evidence)
12. 16% of A&Es all types have closed since 2010 (evidence & evidence)
13. The North East of England was completed ignored when extra cash was apportioned to deal with the A&E Crisis (evidence)
14. Avoidable admissions of over 75s presenting themselves at A&Es is up 34% since 2008 putting untold pressure on our A&Es (evidence)

Waiting Lists

15. The number of emergency operations cancelled for a second time has climbed 42% in the most recent year compared to 2010-11. The number of cancelled operations, overall, appears to have stabilised (evidence)
16. The average patient is now waiting 1 week longer under the Tories for treatment after referral (evidence)
17. Under Labour, 92.9% of patients were being treated within 18 weeks of referral. That figure has fallen to 89.0% in the most recent month under the Tories (evidence)
18. 3.2million patients are currently languishing on NHS Waiting Lists for treatment. This year’s figures are the highest in at least 6 years (evidence)

NHS ethics & accountability

19. The Tories broke their promise not to have another top-down reorganisation of the NHS. They did so by introducing the Health & Social Care Act that abolished SHAs & PCTS and replaced them with CCGs (evidence)
20. Without permission, or little warning, the Tories have made patient records (anonymised) available to these private health firms (evidence)
21. The Tories defied a Judge ruling & instructions by the Information Commissioner to publish the NHS Risk Register so that people could assess the dangers of the unprecedented NHS Reorganisation caused by the 2012 Act (evidence)
22. 1/3 of the GPs making decisions on CCGs as to who wins NHS Contracts actually has a financial link to a Private Health Firm themselves (evidence)
23. The Tories have handed over billions of pounds of NHS contracts to firms and at the same time exempted them from the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that prying folk such as I will damage the commercial confidentiality of the companies. Labour have introduced a bill to try and change this (evidence)
24. The UK Statistics Authority reprimanded Jeremy Hunt for claiming that median waits at A&Es had halved under the Tories. The reality is that A&E performance is at its worst in 11 years (evidence)
25. High Court Judge & an Appeal Court Judge both found Jeremy Hunt to have acted improperly in downgrading Lewisham Hospital (evidence & evidence)
26. New clauses added to NHS legislation are designed to take power away from the public and concentrate it in the hands of private firms. The Tories have insisted that healthcare will not be exempt from TTIP. They have passed clauses to allow Jeremy Hunt to force NHS closures against the say of the local public, and diminish the court’s role in holding him accountable. He has also passed regulations to push commercial competition in the NHS much more forcefully. All of this is anti-democratic (evidence, evidence & evidence)
27. Jeremy Hunt & David Cameron have taken the ethics of the Department of Health to an all-time low. In particular, he seems hell bent on distorting or exploiting data to smear Andy Burnham. In particular, the use of unreliable hospital mortality data which has been rubbished by all major senior NHS experts has caused offence. Several senior NHS figures, Robert Francis, Bruce Keogh & Baroness Young have had to formally intervene to apologise, or ask Cameron & Hunt to desist (evidence & evidence evidence)
28. The links between Private Health lobbyists at the Tories are extensive. This blurs the accountability and transparency of policy making. For an insight into just how deeply intertwined lobbyists & the Tories have become, see some of this (evidence & evidence)
29. Despite gaining billions of pounds in NHS contracts, Private Health firms are paying very little tax. You can measure the amount of tax each Private Health Firm pays by typing their name into this database (see here). You can also view an investigative report into Private Firms and tax avoidance here (evidence)
30. Tory MPs earn cash, shares, directorships and more from Private Health that firms that are profiting from NHS privatisation. They, mostly, declare this income and you can view it for yourself here (evidence)
31. The Tories are at fault for scapegoating immigrants and blaming them for NHS budgetary pressures. For example, Jeremy Hunt said health tourists cost the NHS £2bn, but evidence shows this was a gross exaggeration (evidence)

NHS Staff Pay & Conditions

32. 78% of Nurses report increased stress levels in the last year, a further year on year increase this time of 5% (evidence & evidence)
33. The number of physical assaults on NHS Staff has climbed 21% under the Tories reaching record levels this year, and there have been ¼ million attacks on staff since 2010 (evidence & evidence)
34. In cash terms, the basic pay of an NHS Senior Manager has grown by 500% more than NHS Nursing & Midwifery Staff under the Tories (evidence)
35. Whilst the mean annual earnings of Senior NHS Managers has climbed £6,556 under the Tories, Trainee Doctors have seen a £2,200+ fall, and Registrars a £1,366 drop in earnings. While the mean basic pay of a Senior Manager has jumped 15% it has fallen 4% for a trainee doctor, and that is before we even consider inflation (evidence)
36. In 2010, 377,000 worked in other Health & Social Care non-NHS roles. Today that figure is just 263,000 (evidence & evidence)
37. There are almost 137,900 Zero Hours Contracts in the Health & Social Care Sector. These contracts have more than tripled (up 270%) since 2010 (evidence & evidence)
38. In 2010, 1.596m worked in the NHS. Today, that figure is 21,000 less (evidence & evidence)
39. The percentage of NHS Staff who feel bullied or harassed has doubled to 28% in just 3 years of Tory rule, 2010-13. This in part can be attributed to another imposed and needless top down reorganisation of the NHS (evidence)
40. The percentage of staff reporting experiencing physical violence from patients has doubled in just 3 years, 2010-13. This is in part due to mental health cut backs and leadership from the very highest accusing nurses of lacking compassion (evidence)
41. The percentage of staff suffering work-related stress in all NHS Trusts has jumped from 28% to 38% in just 3 years, 2010-13. This in part is caused by cut backs and a cloud of negativity over staff (evidence)
42. Jeremy Hunt has subjected the majority of NHS Nurses to a real terms pay cut over 4 years. Nurses’ pay has declined £2,000 in real terms. It is unacceptable that bankers’ pay now grows six times faster than nurses (evidence, evidence)
43. The Tories attempted to force in regional pay for NHS staff, beginning in the South West of England. Although they were defeated after a very strong public campaign, their intention is clear. The deal would have led to less pay, and poorer working entitlements for staff in regional areas outside London, initially in the South West (evidence)

NHS Privatisation

44. Private Firms have been invited to bid for NHS contracts with a value of more than £16bn. On average, these firms say they will make a profit of between 5-8%. The funding pressures on the NHS mean that it has no room facilitate £800m-£1.3bn of profit on the contracts mentioned above, should they go to the Private Sector (evidence & evidence)
45. 33%, 56% or 70% of NHS Contracts tendered are now being won by the private sector depending on which data you read (evidence, evidence & evidence)
46. Number of GPs now advising their patients to take out Private Medical Insurance has more than doubled from 24% to 58% since the Tory NHS Act (evidence & evidence)
47. Tories said Doctors would control GP commissioning but less than 0.5% of GPs are involved in commissioning decisions. The proportion of GPS on CCGs has fallen from 56%, in their shadow format, to 49% and then 43% in the most recent year. Doctors are not even a majority of the people responsible for GP commissioning (evidence)
48. Persons or firms with a financial interest in private health have donated to the Tory Party in various ways. In 2012 the Tory Party passed the Health & Social Care Act which expanded the role of private medical firms. Among the chief beneficiaries of these developments have been firms with donor links to the Tory Party. This causes a blurring that does our democracy few favours. In total, it is possible to link 744 donations from persons with past or present links to Private Health to the Tory Party.
49. There are now 500 hospitals being run by Private Health. The Private Health Sector now enjoys a £40bn share of the market. Its share of the acute sector has grown by £3bn in 4 years according to Laing & Buisson (evidence, evidence)
50. Referrals of NHS Patients to Private Hospitals, especially SPIRE & BMI has jumped 500% since 2010. This drain of cash away from NHS Hospitals is hurting the Trust Sector (evidence)
51. Private Patient Income at NHS Trusts has grown by 12% (£50m) from 2010-2013. We have no official data thereafter but some Trusts have reported an increase of up to 40% from PPI. At a time when hospitals are clearly struggling to manage public demand from NHS patients, it is imprudent that they increase the work they carry out for Private Patients (evidence, evidence, evidence)
52. In 2009, 83.9% of the UK’s Health Sector was in Public ownership. Today, that figure is 82.5% and falling. Experts Laing Buisson, say that Private Health now controls £40bn of the health market, and that this has grown £0.7bn in 2 years (evidence & evidence)
53. Tories often cite their reason for accelerating NHS Marketisation as an effort to improve patient outcomes. That pretence was well and truly exposed when they sold Blood Plasma services to a US Hedge Fund (evidence)
54. The Tories are selling off NHS land at a rapid scale. Already, the Tories have put at least 418 pieces of NHS amounting to 19 hectares up for sale to private property developers. They have set a target to sell off £5bn worth over the next 5 years. When NHS Propco was set up as a private firm, the Tories denied it was to pave the way for a large scale land sell off. Now, plans are indeed afoot for a major sell off (evidence, evidence and evidence)

Wasting Taxpayers’ Money

55. In 2009-10 the NHS spent £1.1bn Agency Staff. That has risen to £3.2bn for 2011-12 (evidence p.193) £3.9bn for 2012-13 and £2.9bn for 2013-14 (Evidence p.20 & evidence p. 193 & evidencep.197)
56. In 2009-10 £13m was spent by the NHS on redundancy pay-outs. That figure jumped to £211m in 2010-11 (evidence p.89) and £426m in 2011-2 (evidence p.118). It was £444m in 2012-3 and a further £196m in 2013-14 (evidence p.125)
57. After spending at least £1.1bn on NHS Redundancies, the NHS then rehired at least 18.7% of those initially made redundant. That includes 2,570 on a permanent basis and 1,380 on a temporary basis (evidence, evidence p.89, evidence p.118, evidence p.125). Other commentators put the figure closer to 40% see (here).
58. The number of delayed transfers of care due to unavailability of care elsewhere has reached a record high in the most recent month. 6.14m bed spaces have been ‘blocked’ since August 2010, at a cost of £1.5bn to the taxpayer. The instances of gaps in Social Care provision being cited as the main reason are now at a record high (evidence)
59. The Top-Down Reorganisation of the NHS has wasted at least £1.1bn of taxpayers’ cash at a time when the funding squeeze it at its worst since 1979 (evidence)
60. The Tories have been dishonest about the claimed savings their reforms have delivered the NHS. The National Audit Office was unable to confirm at least £2.4 billion of the Savings the NHS claims it delivered (evidence)
61. NHS Spend on outside consultancy has climbed from £468m in 2009-10 to £456m in 2011-12 (evidence p.193), £596m in 2012-13 & £584.7m in 2013-14 (evidence p.20 &evidence p. 193 & evidence p. 197)
62. Despite the government’s boasts about savings made from the NHS efficiency drive, a detailed study showed that 40% of NHS Trusts have failed to achieve their QIPP savings (evidence)

NHS Direct

63. The Tories shut down a highly efficient NHS Direct and replaced by a for-profit NHS111 service that botched its initial launch (evidence)
64. 78% of the NHS111 staff who process 111 calls have no clinical expertise. This has caused all sorts of pressures, including additional admissions at A&E (evidence)
65. It has been reported that there have been 22 deaths or serious injuries which were caused by failures in the launch of NHS 111 (evidence)
66. A piloted study of NHS111 showed 40,000+ waiting longer than 1 minute for their call to be answered (evidence)

NHS Finances

67. The Tories broke their manifesto promise (page 45) to deliver real terms increases in NHS Spending every year, says the UK Statistics Authority (evidence)
68. The Tories have delivered the tightest budget arrangements for the NHS since 1979. They are on course to cut NHS Spending per patient by 9.1% by 2018-9. Spending as a proportion of GDP has shrunk considerably (evidence, evidence, evidence and evidence)
69. ¼ of NHS Trusts are now in deficit. 44 new trusts moved into deficit in 2013-14. The total deficit for NHS Trust more than doubled from £297m to £743m in 2013-4 (evidence p.6)


70. Ambulance Response Times for Category A (8 minute) calls has dropped from 75% to 69% in just 3 years (evidence)
71. Ambulance Trusts have made large cuts to their staff and fleet since April 2010. For example, EMAS has cut staff by 13% and its fleet size by 100 (evidence)
72. At the same time as Ambulance Response times have been worsening, the Tories have oversaw the axing of 60+ stations ( here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here & here)
73. Expenditure on Private Ambulances for use in the NHS has doubled in 3 years an investigation revealed (evidence)

A Crisis in Mental Health Provision

74. 1,876 Mental Illness Beds have been axed in little since Q1 2010. At least 7 mental health patients have taken their own lives as a result ((evidence & evidence)
75. 228,000 have spent up to 12 hours in A&E during the past year. This number has more than doubled in 3 years (evidence)
76. Mental Health Nursing has suffered severe cuts. To explain, there has been an 8,737 reduction in the number of Specialist Nurses in Maternity, Disability, Psychiatric and Community services since 30 April 2010. This is only partly explainable in the re-designation of 4,854 nurses into Neo-Natal services. It still leaves a shortfall of c4k staff with Mental Health being the worse affected (evidence)

Social Care Crisis

77. The number of people self-financing their social care has jumped 36% since 2006. This is a failing of both recent governments. 1 million people have had to sell their own homes to pay for elderly care in the last 5 years, thus this a problem that began under Labour but continues to worsen under the Tories (evidence & evidence)
78. In 1 year 530,000 patient admissions of over 65s, 390,000 of whom were over 75s could have been avoided say the CQC. Nuffield trust also say that avoidable admissions are at a record high (1 in 5). Cuts to GP funding (£0.9bn) & Social Care funding (£1.8-£2.8bn funding) are putting causing unnecessary discomfort to elderly patients (evidence & evidence)
79. There has been a 311,000 cut in the number of adults in receipt of Social Care since 2010 (evidence & evidence)
80. Funding for elderly Social Care has decreased 10% in real terms since 2010 & Council spend on Social Care has been cut £2.8bn in real terms (evidence)
81. Elderly users of Social Care are paying £588 more for care than they were in 2010. Some outlets argue the rise has been even higher at £2,400 (evidence & evidence)
82. George Osborne ignored Andrew Dilnot’s plea to fund his Dilnot Report recommendations from a separate pool to NHS funding. The resultant consequence is that an already stretched NHS is being stretched further still and is failing to meet Social Care costs (evidence & evidence)
83. Social Care funding for nursing homes, residential care and community care has been cut by £160m, £331 and £559 respectively from 2010 to 2013. Further cuts are still to come (evidence)
84. At a time when Dual Energy Bills are up 30%, David Cameron scrapped the Warm Homes Health People Fund despite a report’s conclusion that it saved lives (evidence & evidence)

NHS Treatment Rationing & Cuts

85. In the early years of this Tory Government, spending on Cancer Services declined 3.6% in real terms under the Tories (evidence)
86. An early report into the life of this government shows that Funding for Clinical Networks on Chest, Heart & Stroke were cut by 12%+ (evidence)
87. 56% of CCGs are restricting some NHS Treatments for patients who smoke or have a high BMI found the NAO (Page 29)
88. An NHS, free at the point of use, does not exist for many patients. At least 20+ treatments are no longer free at the point of use for patients in 60+ parts of England’s NHS (evidence, evidence)
89. 52,000 patients were denied patients due to cost considerations in just 1 year. This is just one of several examples where the concept of an NHS free at the point of use is in jeopardy (evidence)
90. In 2014, 42% of Maternity Units shut their doors to the public at least once. This is an increase from 28% in 2012 (evidence & evidence)
91. There is a 2,300 shortage of Midwives according to the National Audit Office. This could explain why 42% of Maternity Wards closed their doors last year (evidence)
92. Of the 27 EU Countries, the UK now has one of the worst Bed to Citizen Ratios in the EU (evidence & evidence)
93. 9,746 NHS Beds have been axed since 2010 (Q1) (evidence)

Patient Safety & Satisfaction

94. Labour left an NHS with rising, indeed record, patient satisfaction. Under the Tories it suffered a record fall, and then stabilised a little. We await the most recent year’s data (evidence & evidence)
95. The number of Clinical Negligence Claims made against the NHS has risen 80% since March 31st 2010 & the value of pay-outs has risen £397m (evidence, evidence & evidence)
96. At a time when more is being asked of the CQC it was naïve to cut their staff numbers by 18%, since 2010 (evidence & evidence)
97. It is difficult to make any strong conclusions about Never Events because the definition of a never event changed, and the method of collecting and reporting the data has also changed. What we can say is that there is no sign of them falling. NHS ‘Never Events’ rose from 57 (2009), to 139 (2010), to 294 (2011) (evidence). There were 329 never events in 2012-13 (evidence). There were 338 never events in the NHS during 2013/14 (evidence). There have been 197 never events in the 8 months of this year so far (evidence)
98. There has been a 73% increase in written complaints against the NHS in 4 years. 101k complaints occurred in 2009-10, and this rose to 178k by 2013-14 (evidence & evidence)
99. All of the main Private Health Firms have had reported shortcomings from CQC inspections on at least 1 of the NHS premises that they gained control of under this Tory government. This can be confirmed by using the CQC search bar and typing in the firms name and then checking the CQC reports for the NHS premises for which they are responsible (start here)

100. Tory Privatisation has failed to deliver safer and more cost efficient healthcare. Several private health firms have walked away from NHS Contracts because they do not provide them with the profits they had hoped. The very same Private Health firms have then been allowed to rebid for more NHS contracts (evidence, evidence). Some firms have also been found to have overcharged the NHS (evidence). Contracts were also ended in cases where the private care was so bad it was endangering the health of patients (evidence & evidence)

Article in today’s Guardian online…

Independent review of benefit sanctions urgently needed, say MPs
Cross-party report comes amid concerns that financial penalties have been issued inappropriately and caused hardship and destitution

My thoughts:

How is a job seeker who has lost all financial control and is told constantly (mostly passive aggressively through media and societies controlled perception) that they are useless & worthless, supposed to then find the motivation and self belief needed to sell themselves at a job interview?

The government want to encourage personal responsibility and get rid of victim status (I am all for that) yet at the same time help to strengthen “victim status” mentality by making people feel powerless and depressed.

Surely positive encouragement is needed to motivate people to get help get a job?

Their main priority seems to be punishment for the people abusing the system – which I actually believe are few and far between and is backed up by statistical research – but their current system punishes every person on benefits;

  • The people who have had jobs all their lives and paid into the system only to find through no fault of their own they’ve been made redundant.
  • Graduates leaving University and looking for their first professional job having now experienced the entire GRADUATE PREMIUM Myth!
  • People with genuine disability who have been treated absolutely disgustingly by this government, etc, etc.

You’re always going to get people who abuse the system including those who work within it! Sanctioning just weakens a persons resolve to find work but I can’t help thinking that’s what they want anyway!?

The people who they’re taking the power away from are the same people who have the power to oust them!

It works in the government’s favour to make people as passive as possible their very political survival depends on it.



Please visit IndymediaUK

MHRN speech given outside Maximus’ offices in central London and Balham on 2 March 2015 during the day of action against Maximus

I am from the Mental Health Resistance Network and I’m going to tell you a story.
One day, a friend of mine sorted out all the things that were outstanding in her life. The following morning, she left her home in London and made her way to the train station, checked the platform and times for her destination and boarded a train for Eastbourne. Once there, she asked strangers for directions to Beachy Head.
She seemed calm; didn’t do anything to draw attention to herself, at least not until she threw herself over the cliff onto the rocks below. Until her body hit the rocks, she was fit for work; at least she was according to the rules of the Work Capability Assessment, because she was functioning well, sorting out her affairs, getting up early, using public transport, finding her way around in unfamiliar places and speaking to strangers.This is the nonsense of the Work Capability Assessment and the idea that you can assess someone’s fitness to work by simply looking at how they can function in some situations sometimes. If someone is fit enough to kill themselves, then they are fit enough to work, or at least fit enough to lose their disability benefits, according to the Tories and their henchmen here at Maximus.

The Mental Health Resistance Networks demands an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment. In a recent judicial review instigated by us, the Department for Work and Pensions fought tooth and nail against having to consider medical evidence when assessing people with mental health problems.

The original judgement, upheld at appeal, ruled that the DWP’s failure to obtain medical evidence placed people with mental health problems at a substantial disadvantage.

But still we are being dragged through this cruel, mock assessment, regardless of the disadvantage proven in court and whatever the state of our mental health, an assessment that they refer to as a medical assessment.It is no more a medical assessment than a two-line horoscope in a daily tabloid is a full psychiatric risk assessment. It is quackery, carried out by a bunch of money mad charlatans, first Atos, now Maximus; the same circus, different clowns.

Dr Bill Gunnyeon, the chief medical officer for the DWP provided most of their arguments against us in court.

In one statement, he said that giving consideration to medical evidence was precisely what they were trying to get away from!
It seems an unbelievable thing for him to have said, but it’s true, he said it.
Gunnyeon now works for Maximus. It’s a small world isn’t it?It’s personal for the Mental Health Resistance Network. We are being sanctioned even when we have been found not well enough to work; we are being forced onto Workfare when we are ill; we are threatened with forced treatments, treatments that can be unsafe.

There is the threat from the government that people living with addictions will be forced onto 12 step programmes; to hell with the fact that this compromises the principles of attraction rather than promotion stated in the Traditions of these programmes.
Just like they trashed the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, they are ready to trash the 12 step programmes – nothing is sacred, nothing except profit.More and more of us are being driven to suicide. Coroners have cited benefit loss as playing a part in a number of suicides. Despite requests, the government continues to refuse to release statistics for benefit related suicides.

So it is personal, it’s a witch-hunt against us; they are waging a campaign of hatred against people with mental health problems. But we will never give up fighting. So I repeat, we demand an immediate end to the WCA and we will not give up until we get this. We will fight the government and we will fight the corrupt and greedy Maximus to the end; because it is personal.

And this isn’t about saving taxpayers money; after all, the taxpayers the Tories care about don’t pay tax.

They bank with HSBC and other dodgy financial institutions.
And it’s not even just about forcing people to take out income protection insurance, although Unum, the insurance company that designed the WCA, is no doubt making money from it all.
Certainly pretending to assess people’s fitness for work is a lucrative business too.But, ultimately, it’s about creating a cowed and insecure workforce in Britain who will eventually be prepared to let go of all of the workers’ rights that our grandparents fought for: a workforce that has no safety net when things go wrong and is therefore vulnerable, because ‘vulnerable’ is just how big business and their Tory representatives in parliament like to keep workers; insecure, desperate and submissive.

How are these bastards getting away with it?

Well, we all know that the public has been groomed for years by a propaganda machine that Goebbels would have been proud of.
And we need to be tackling this machine as well as Maximus, which is the mercenary branch of the operation.But forget the Daily (Hate) Mail for the moment because today is Maximus’s special day. Happy Birthday Maximus; we’re here today to let you know that we will be with you all the way. We will never leave you alone.
And we will never forget that Maximus is a very special company, renowned for disability discrimination and fraud; a member of that highly reputable industry, the financial services sector. No don’t laugh!

The very industry that is withdrawing disability benefits is the same industry that stands to gain from insuring people against income loss due to disability.

Maximus, you will be hearing from us again and again and again!

We won’t give up on you, we promise!

We’re all in this together | the legacy of “Call me Dave” Cameron

Posted: March 5, 2015 in Musings
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My apologies for any omissions, this list is by no means complete as I really can’t keep up, please help me by adding to this list.

* Update. This is today’s headline in the TORY supporting Daily Telegraph.

Poorest Areas of UK have lower lifespan than Rwanda

* update, I’m on the same wavelength as Mark McGowan…

Cameron is not a Chicken he is a Rat

Prime Minister Cameron’s legacy in no particular order… ‪#‎toryscum‬

250,000 “shell” (i.e. bogus) oil and gas companies registered to a few addresses in London,
Ideological austerity,
Bedroom tax,
Workfare (slave labour),
Food banks / Hungry Britain,
Zero hour contracts,
Pension retirement age rises,

Pensions sell off,
NHS backdoor privatisation / asset sell off,
Expenses scandal,
Pedophile dossier scandal,
Pedophile investigation cover ups,
Child poverty risen,
Tax cuts for millionaires,
Suicide rates,
Atos / and now Maximus,
Homelessness risen,
Benefit cuts,
Benefit cap,
Massive Cuts to front line services,
Fewer sure start children centres,
Waiting times in A&E up,
Longer waits to see GP ,
Longer waits to receive operations on the NHS,
Energy prices rises,
Food price rises,
Unaffordable mortgages,
£10Bn on Trident nuclear missiles,

£68Bn bankers bail out,
HSBC scandal with collusion of British government,

Attempted outsourcing of public sector workers to Tory donor corporations.
Union busting,

Tripling of University fees,
A United Nations investigation into UK disability human rights abuses.
Cost of living crisis,
Huge rise in inequality,
Pay gap at it’s widest,
Higher private rents,
Pay freezes,
Winter fuel allowance cuts,
Cuts to disability living allowance,
the massive costs of setting up P.I.P,

VAT increased,
1 million food parcels handed out in one year by the Trussell trust,
Decline in living standards,
Higher borrowing,
Higher national debt,
Affordable housing shortages,

social cleansing of London Boroughs,
social cleansing of homeless from Westminster,
squatting made illegal,

Privatization and £1 sell off of some London Fire services,
Cuts to armed forces,
Disgruntled U.K. workforce,
Mass strikes,
A failure to protect the poor and vulnerable,
An increase in people accessing mental health services,
An economic recovery based on the success of the boom on London’s property prices,
Andy Coulson / News International scandal Sell off of royal mail on the cheap,
Sell off of Eurostar on the cheap to Tory donor,

Highest benefit sanction rates ever,
Highest levels of overall poverty and inequality for decades
Fewer doctors,
Fewer police,
Fewer nurses,
Fewer teacher’s,
Attacks on arts & creative subjects in the schools curriculum,
Corrupt Academy schools run by Tory donors,
Increase in bankers bonuses,
0% increase in nurses pay,
Cash for peerages,
Corporate sponsorship,
Corporate tax evasion,
Massive rail fare increases,
Highest EU rates of home repossessions,
Attacks on worker’s rights,
Illegal mass surveillance and data mining,

Resources | The Wales We Want.

The National Conversation will hear directly from the people of Wales about the most important issues for them in improving their lives and those of their families, communities and businesses. It is an opportunity to look beyond the short term pressures of daily life and focus on our long term legacy.
The National Conversation on ‘The Wales We Want’ is a pilot project following the former Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert AM, asking the Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Peter Davies, to enhance our understanding about the long term issues that future generations in Wales might face.
At the heart of the Conversation will be Future Champions – people who can help keep the conversation going locally, regionally, nationally and collectively enable as many voices of Wales to be heard as possible. This summer the proposed Future Generations Bill is being introduced by Welsh Government, and the National Conversation will set the agenda for the action that the devolved public service, in particular, can take.

The Wales We Want Report (launched on 2 march 2015) is the culmination of the year-long conversations with individuals, groups, organisations and communities across Wales. Discussions focussed on a variety of intergenerational challenges including climate change, poverty, an ageing population and health inequalities, and the opportunities available that require collaborative approaches and integrated solutions translated at an individual and community level. The Report distils these key messages from the Conversation and sets out seven foundations for the wellbeing of future generations – the seven values that are most important to you. These values form the foundation on which we can build a better future.

The Seven Foundations for the Well-being of Future Generations

The Seven Foundations for the Well-being of Future Generations

The Wales We Want Report (launched on 2 March 2015) is the culmination of the year-long conversations with individuals, groups, organisations and communities across Wales. The Report distils key messages from the Conversation and sets out seven foundations for the wellbeing of future generations – the seven values that are most important to you.

These values form the foundation on which we can build a better future.

  1. Children need to be given the best start in life from very early years
  2. Future generations need thriving communities built on a strong sense of place
  3. Living within global environmental limits, managing our resources efficiently and valuing our environment is critical
  4. Investing in growing our local economy is essential for the well-being of future generations
  5. Well-being of all depends on reducing inequality and a greater value on diversity
  6. Greater engagement in the democratic process, a stronger citizen voice and active participation in decision making is fundamental for the well-being of future generations
  7. Celebrating success, valuing our heritage, culture and language will strengthen our identity for future generations

If the largest appropriators of the planet’s wealth want to pose as grand philanthropists, should NGOs really line up to take their cash?

I am reblogging this from here:

I thought it complemented a blog item I posted here highlighted by Renzo Martens at this year’s Artes Mundi exhibition – “The Institute Of Human Activities”.

the business of charity



NGOs are no longer seen as the blameless agents of benevolence. By Dinyar Godrej /

Witness the growth spurt in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and you would be forgiven for thinking the world becomes a more caring place every day.

These legions of not-for-profit groupings that fan out across the world, intent on ‘capacity building’, ‘reducing poverty’ and ensuring that the ‘voices of the most marginalized’ are heard, surely reflect an acceptance that too many have suffered for too long, and the tide can turn with the right kind of wind behind it.

History, however, teaches us that the exact opposite may be true.

Whereas organized charities go back over 100 years, the term non-governmental organization is more recent, dating to the formation of the United Nations in 1945, when a select club of international non-state agencies were awarded observer status to some of its meetings. The common factor uniting this group, apart from the fact that they were neither government agencies nor businesses in the traditional sense, is that they would have an avowed mission to work for a social good – whether it was as torchbearers for human rights, the environment or just old-fashioned ‘development’ (a new-fangled idea back then).

Fast forward a few decades and we witness an explosion of NGOs. The spur was the rise of neoliberal ideology, eventually enshrined in the Reagan-Thatcher years. Predatory capitalism and the so-called free market were the answer; government needed to be hands-off with regard to all notions of public provision (healthcare, education, the lot).

Increasingly, governments began looking to NGOs to provide cheap services, a role that continues to grow with austerity policies. However, rarely does government funding to NGOs match the scale of the cuts. Aid to ‘developing’ nations also began increasingly to be funnelled via NGOs rather than through government organs – between 1975 and 1985 the amount of aid taking this NGO route shot up by 1,400 per cent.1

With the fragmentation of the Left under the neoliberal attack, much of the energy that could have gone into fighting the power went into forming the NGO – they became repositories of a residual idealism still reeling from the onslaught.

Arundhati Roy describes the transformation achieved:

‘Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation.’2

Today, 30 new ones are formed every day in Britain; and there are 1.5 million in the USalone.3 Fully 90 per cent of currently existing NGOs have been launched since 1975.4Roy calls them ‘an indicator species’, saying: ‘It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs.’5

Partnership or challenge?

Along with governments and corporations, the two torrents of power in the global landscape, NGOs are seen as a third force. Indeed, the big international ones – the BINGOs – with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars are pretty powerful. But are they a countervailing force, striving tirelessly for social justice and the underdog? Poverty alleviation may be the rhetoric, critics argue, but in practice little that is lasting has been achieved on this front by NGO activism.

There is the compromising nature of their funding to consider – today contributions from governmental and intergovernmental aid agencies and from corporate donors often form the largest chunks of their income. Although some BINGOs will still deny it, this influences their outlook, making them increasingly accommodated to the wishes of their donors. Their language becomes all about forming partnerships with these interests, rather than challenging them. Work within the system, and business will transform the lives of the poor – it’s the Bono school of development, but with taxes.

In a recent article Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, the secretary-general of Civicus, a global network of civil society organizations and activists, wrote: ‘We have become a part of the problem rather than the solution. Our corporatization has steered us towards activism-lite, a version of our work rendered palatable to big business and capitalist states. Not only does this approach threaten no-one in power, but it stifles grassroots activism with its weighty monoculturalism.’6

In a short educational film called ‘Does aid work?’ made by Oxfam (‘produced with the financial assistance of the European Union’) the argument is that increased aid by rich countries will help people lift themselves out of poverty and make it a thing of the past.7 How exactly? By providing health interventions (anti-retroviral drugs for 1.4 million people in the last few years) and education (40 million children being educated). These are excellent things, no doubt about it. But Oxfam fails to mention how a poor, educated person on anti-retrovirals manages to magic themselves out of poverty in a system that is only interested in extracting their labour at the cheapest possible price.

On the other hand its latest report, ‘Even it Up: time to end extreme inequality’, is more to the point, informing us that the world’s richest 85 people have grabbed wealth equivalent to the poorest half of the world’s population.8 It makes an urgent case for progressive taxation, action on tax evasion and for governments to invest in public services. It details some of the violence inequality does, cautiously praises some countries (Brazil, China – but oddly not the more revolutionary Venezuela) for achieving higher wages for workers, and is a model of reasonableness. It makes a series of excellent recommendations – including telling governments to govern in the public interest – but stops short of calling full out for a redistribution of this obscene wealth. Instead it suggests a cap on the income of the richest 10 per cent equivalent to that of the poorest 40 per cent. A fine advocacy document no doubt, but the coalface is elsewhere.

And we have heard such noises before. Indeed, many a campaign to hold transnationals to account has petered out into ‘working with business’ and corporate social responsibility projects. We are at such a pass that some BINGOs actively seek corporate ‘partners’ with the promise to make the latter look good by association (see ‘The company they keep’).

Funding dependency and a hierarchical, corporate culture – many heads of BINGOs come from the business world – are a large part of the problem. According to Sriskandarajah: ‘Our conception of what is possible has narrowed dramatically. Since demonstrating bang for your buck has become all-important, we divide our work into neat projects, taking on only those endeavours that can produce easily quantifiable outcomes. Reliant on funding to service our own sizeable organizations, we avoid approaches or issues that might threaten our brand or upset our donors. We trade in incremental change.’6

Doing it for the donors

NGOs, not just the giants, face huge, entrenched, complex problems; due to donor pressure they are increasingly forced to respond with a discrete project with x number of deliverable outcomes. They reach out to us, too, in this way – ‘your $50 will buy mosquito nets for a family of four’. Social change doesn’t work like that, yet, increasingly, NGOs striving for it are forced to.

On assignment to cover the human cost of the military dictatorship in Burma in 2008, I came into contact with a number of NGOs run by Burmese people operating just across the border in Thailand. I was a bit taken aback by the number of reports thrust into my hands; obviously the funding of reports was popular among donors.

One particular feminist grouping impressed me with the breadth of their concerns. The usual report writing, educational and income-generation activities, were just the tip. Below the radar they were in dialogue with Burmese opposition political groupings, building up everyday feminist values, promoting co-operative social organization within the refugee camps, acting as big sisters to children orphaned by the military, doing their best to shelter other refugees who were in hiding as ‘illegals’ in Thailand. The group was reaching out, undercover, to communities back in Burma and above all keeping alive the flame of active resistance to the military regime, when it would have been all too easy to give up hope.

NGOs come in all stripes:

INGO – International NGO

BINGO – Big international NGO

TANGO – Technical assistance NGO

RINGO – Religious NGO

CONGO – Corporate-organized NGO

DONGO – Donor-organized NGO

GONGO – Government-organized NGO (not really an NGO)

PANGO – Party NGO (set up by a political party, not really an NGO)

Briefcase NGO – NGO set up only to draw donor funds

CBO – Community-based organization

These women seemed able constantly to adapt to new challenges and were respected by the people they worked with. Little of this was fundable. So they also did the conferences and presentations in hotels and labyrinthine project applications that foreign funders required. I couldn’t help thinking that their real achievements were despite what was expected of them.

Most media scrutiny of NGO accountability is of how they use funds, their accountability to donors. But what of their accountability towards the recipients of their interventions?

A common complaint is that the linkages of aid whichNGOs deliver set a predetermined agenda on the kind of services they offer. Historian Diana Jeater writes of her experience: ‘When I first started working in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, I was impressed by how all the NGO workers I met emphasized the need to listen to rural women. I was quickly disillusioned when I realised that “listening” meant “finding out how to present what we want to deliver in ways that make them acceptable to rural women”.’9

More serious are the charges that they NGOize popular resistance movements, acting as unelected spokespersons, deflecting energy away from confrontation with self-help projects and the like, and dividing communities struggling against dispossession. ‘They take sections of people into their fold,’ said one Indian activist, ‘and restrict their concern for these people, while others do not exist. They breed small hopes, solve small issues and take small actions while the movement process is attempting to address the larger issues of displacement facing all our people, NGO beneficiary or not.’10

Indeed, many of the most radical popular movements today refuse any funding fromNGOs, only forming alliances when the NGO could help spread their message.

Do they help?

So, to turn to the question posed at the beginning: do they help?

We could start with Bangladesh, which has the world’s largest national NGOs, effectively operating as a parallel government – they put more money into development activities than the government does. Most of their beneficiaries remain firmly below the poverty line. There is criticism, too, of the market model of development they have followed. This has been over-reliant on microcredit, which produces ‘rational profit-seeking individuals’ rather than community efforts – to say nothing of the debt traps many have found themselves in.

Or we could look at the Philippines, where I had the opportunity to observe first-hand how joined up small radical NGOs were, both with each other and the communities they were reaching out to, unafraid of supporting people’s resistance. Successive governments have actively encouraged NGO participation in government departments and on all kinds of local boards. Has this co-opted them? The successes they have achieved remain localized. They have been able to make no dent in the fundamental problem that has plagued the country – the concentration of wealth and land in just a few hands and continued élite governance. The 25 richest Filipinos continue to grow richer, with assets almost equal to the annual income of the country’s 55 million poorest citizens.11

It is perhaps unrealistic to expect such large structural changes to be delivered by NGOs when governments don’t tackle them either.

When it comes to emergency humanitarian assistance, certain specialist NGOs are the first port of call. Criticism often follows later about duplication of efforts, mishandling of the situation or of not being consultative enough in reconstruction efforts. But no assistance is the worse option in this instance.

On the environmental front we have some of the most activist large NGOs, whose members are unafraid to put their bodies on the line, as well as some of the most corporate friendly and compromised (read about the latter on page 20).

NGOs have achieved much in single-issue campaigning, ranging from the abolition of slavery to the landmines ban and access to HIV medication.

When it comes to defending human rights, whether it be espousing the causes of political prisoners or mounting challenges to the persecution of sexual minorities, they have often invited the ire of governments. It is this kind of work that governments want to shut down when they seek to ban NGOs or to stop them receiving foreign funds.

Sadly, this is not a disinterested field with universal values. Western NGOs can be quicker to condemn human rights abuses in the Majority World than in their own. Human Rights Watch has come under fire for its revolving door with the USgovernment: in 2009 its advocacy director Tom Malinowski, who had previously served as special assistant to Bill Clinton and speechwriter to Madeleine Albright, even justified CIA renditions ‘under limited circumstances’.12 It has also shown bias in its reporting of war crimes committed by Israel and Palestine.13

Even the clumsy, lumbering BINGOs achieve much in material terms, but will they really put their shoulders to the wheel behind the greatest liberation struggle of our times, the struggle of the 99 per cent for greater equality? If the largest appropriators of the planet’s wealth want to pose as grand philanthropists, should NGOs really line up to take their cash? Can they please get beyond donor benevolence – and being delivery vehicles for highly politicized and often harmful aid – to reconnect with people’s struggles for justice?

NGOs are expected to be non-political, but everything they do, operating within highly skewed systems of power, cannot but be political. They might as well get their hands truly dirty.

  1. Ji Giles Ungpakorn, ‘NGOs: enemies or allies?’, International Socialism, October 2004;

  2. In ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’, Outlook, 26 March 2012; 

  3. Paul Vallely, ‘Giving to charity: Are we getting as good as we give?’, The Independent, 10 September 2014; and Wikipedia. 

  4. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, ‘NGOs losing the war against poverty and climate change, says Civicus head’, The Guardian, 11 August 2014. 

  5. In ‘Help that hinders’, Le Monde diplomatique, November 2004. 

  6. ‘NGOs losing the war against poverty and climate change, says Civicus head’, The Guardian, 11 August 2014. 

  7. Oxfam website, film posted on 28 April 2010; 

  8. Posted 29 October 2014; 

  9. In ‘Zimbabwe: International NGOs and aid agencies – Parasites of the Poor?’, 5 August 2011, African Arguments; 

  10. Dip Kapoor, ‘Social action and NGOization in contexts of development dispossession in rural India: Explorations into the un-civility of civil society’, in NGOization: Complicity, contradictions and prospects, edited by Aziz Choudhry and Dip Kapoor, Zed Books, 2013. 

  11. Sonny Africa, ‘Philippine NGOs: defusing dissent, spurring change’, in NGOization, see 10 above. 

  12. Open letter by Nobel Peace Laureates among others, 12 May 2014, AlterNet; 

  13. Jonathan Cook, ‘Shock and awe in Gaza’, Counterpunch, vol 21 no 7, 2014. 

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 478 This special report appeared in the ngos issue of New Internationalist.


The Company they keep

by Ian Brown for

‘We’re at a critical moment for the world’s children,’ warns Justin Forsyth in Save the Children’s 2013 annual report. The chief executive of the British grouping of this international NGO could not be more right. Needless wars, dispossession through climate change, the rise of ugly rightwing politics – the human toll is high. Children and women, as ever, bear the brunt.

‘We face a moment of opportunity, challenge and responsibility,’ Forsyth continues. ‘If we’re going to achieve even more impact for children, we need to work in different, innovative ways.’ Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s boss, echoes such sentiments: ‘Our challenge is not only to continue to do this work, but to scale it up.’ CARE International is no less ambitious, determined to focus even more efforts to empower women and girls.

Despite economic recession, these three international NGOs mustered combined funds of $3.2 billion to spend on the poor last year.1 Save the Children UK managed a 20-per-cent jump during 2012-13, bringing its income up to a record $525 million, due in part to corporate donations, up a third from 2012 to $40 million in 2013.

Partners unlimited

Corporate funding of international NGOs is nothing new. CARE USA has collaborated with Coca-Cola for three decades. ‘We are extremely grateful for the trust placed in us by compassionate donors and partners,’ says CARE in its 2013 annual report. As well as Coca-Cola, CARE counts arms manufacturers General Electric and Boeing, and clothing companies Nike and Gap, among its major donors. Oxfam, too, has embraced the corporate agenda and ‘is proud to be at the forefront of partnerships between the business sector and the NGO community’. Save the Children’s message couldn’t be clearer: ‘Teaming up with Save the Children to market a new or existing product could boost your sales, profile and customer base.’

But do such partnerships offer the win-win solution claimed by the NGOs and their corporate funders, or are there losers? Does Erinch Sahan, an Oxfam private-sector adviser, have a point when he blogs: ‘I want to believe that pursuing profits will result in a sustainable world and the end of poverty’? One such partnership involves Save the Children and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Since 2011 Save the Children has benefited from GSK’s initiative to reinvest 20 per cent of the profits it makes in the world’s least developed countries (a fraction of its global $7.5 billion profit in 2013) back into projects which strengthen healthcare infrastructure and support the research and development of child-friendly medicines. Save the Children’s website claims a million children will be helped as a result of a ‘ground-breaking’ deal signed with GSK to improve children’s health in some of the poorest countries of Africa.

‘Teaming up with Save the Children to market a product could boost your sales, profile and customer base’ – Save the Children’s assurance to potential corporate partners

No mention on Save the Children’s website, however, of one of GSK’s less child-friendly products – the antidepressant Paxil (Seroxat/paroxetine). In 2012 the company was fined $3 billion by the US government after pleading guilty to criminal charges, including bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of Paxil to children, even though the drug was unsuitable and unapproved for this use.2 ‘We would never refrain from speaking out on an issue because we had a partnership with a particular company. That would clearly compromise our values,’ claims Save the Children. When contacted for a response, it admitted it was ‘aware of reports on the historic issues relating to Paxil… but our belief is that the risks are outweighed by the benefits of the partnership.’3

Oxfam’s uncompromising vision of a world where everyone has enough to eat is embodied in the high-profile ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign, which promises to ‘provide people… with the information they need to hold the Big 10 [global food and beverage producers] to account’. One such is Unilever, about whom Oxfam was, until recently, rightly critical: ‘[Unilever’s] record on land rights leaves plenty to be desired’.4 By its own Responsible Sourcing policy, Unilever will not require 80 per cent of its suppliers to consider the rights of women to land ownership until the end of 2017. In the past Greenpeace has accused Unilever of sourcing its palm oil from Indonesian suppliers whose activities included ‘tearing up areas of pristine forest then draining and burning the peatlands’.5 The company was recently fined $120 million by the European Commission for establishing a price-fixing cartel in Europe along with Proctor & Gamble.6

Yet despite all the criticism, ‘Unilever is a vocal advocate for tackling climate change and new business models that benefit poor farmers,’ according to Penny Fowler, head of Oxfam’s private sector team. ‘[W]e will continue to engage with Unilever and other companies because reducing global poverty and inequality is good for business and us all.’ Oxfam currently helps the transnational under its ‘Corporate engagement’ programme ‘to incorporate thousands of smallholder farmers into their [Unilever’s] global supply chain’. But is this really an innovative way of ending poverty or is Oxfam helping a rich company get richer at the expense of poor farmers? Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, is in no doubt of the benefits to the company, giving thanks to ‘partners who are assisting us to deliver this new business model’.

CARE USA similarly waxes lyrical about working with transnationals. ‘[We] believe that dynamic partnerships are critical to solving global challenges. Our partners are committed to developing and supporting socially responsible initiatives that build stronger communities in the developing world while enhancing business and development goals.’ Committed to donating 1.6 per cent of pre-tax profits to good causes, the Nike Foundation is one such partner, working ‘to unleash the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and for the world’. Nike calls it ‘the girl effect’.

In 2000 a BBC documentary uncovered child labour and poor working conditions in a Cambodian factory used by Nike. The documentary focused on 7 girls as young as 12 who all worked 7 days a week, often 16 hours a day.7 Nike has been castigated the world over for its use of sweatshops since the 1990s, yet as late as 2013 Nike stated that a third of its contracted factories, or potentially 300,000 workers, still did not meet the company’s own minimum standards for worker treatment.8

Close companions

Is Nike really a ‘compassionate’ donor to be proud of, as CARE would have us believe? Or have all three NGOs become too close to big, unscrupulous corporations, preferring to mount large-scale, high-profile schemes that deliver food and medicine to the needy and greater profit margins to the transnationals, at the expense of grassroots work to tackle the endemic, structural causes of poverty?

Just how close the corporate and international charity worlds have become is evident from a look at those at the top of the NGOs. Alex Cummings is both treasurer of CARE USA and executive vice-president of Coca-Cola. Save the Children’s director of human resources, Paul Cutler, is a former employee of GSK. Oxfam trustee Dame Marjorie Scardino, a Forbes rich-lister, is a non-executive director of Nokia, an Oxfam donor. Connections to powerful political figures are close, too. Save the Children’s $200,000-a-year chief executive Justin Forsyth and Oxfam trustee David Pitt-Watson are both former advisers to New Labour’s controversial prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown respectively. Much more worrying, however, is the accusation that large international NGOs are helping to legitimize companies like GSK, Coca-Cola, Nike and Unilever, rather than holding them to account for serious malpractice. With transnationals treating corporate social responsibility schemes as little more than a necessary expense to whitewash their reputations, do NGOs really need to get in on the act?

Ian Brown managed aid programmes for 15 years in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia for Oxfam, the Mines Advisory Group and Terres des homes.

  1. CARE International had revenues of $0.7 billion, Oxfam International $0.6 billion and Save the Children International $1.9 billion. 

  2. ‘Pharma overtakes arms industry to top the league of misbehaviour’, 8 July 2012, The 

  3. Statement from Save the Children to the author, 9 October 2014. 

  4. Behind the Brands, accessed on 8 October 2014. The page was updated by Oxfam and the criticism removed on 9 October 2014. 

  5. ‘Palm Oil: Cooking the climate’, 8 September 2007, Greenpeace International; 

  6. ‘Unilever and Proctor & Gamble in price fixing fine’, 13 April 2011, BBC News. 

  7. BBC Panorama, 15 October 2000. 

  8. Nike Inc; 

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