John Redwood's Diary
Incisive and topical campaigns and commentary on today's issues and tomorrow's problems

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My Interview with BBC Radio Berkshire’s Andrew Peach – Hospital Beds

I was pleased to hear that NHS England will pay for 5,000 more beds and 800 extra ambulances. I have been running a campaign to get more capacity into the NHS, pointing out we are short of beds and the staff to help patients. 6 million people read one of my tweets asking for more beds last December.

I discussed this with Andrew Peach of Radio Berkshire yesterday morning. You can find my interview at 1:15:40 on BBC Sounds attached in the link below:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0dwmlgd

My Intervention on the Building Safety Debate to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – New Construction Companies

Building Safety Debate – 30 January 2023

John Redwood

(Wokingham) (Con):
What actions will the Government take to make it more likely that people will set up new construction companies and grow smaller companies, since we clearly need more capacity and more competition to get high-quality work done?

Michael Gove
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities:

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and many of the provisions in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill are designed explicitly to aid the entry of new small and medium-sized enterprises into the construction sector. Many of those provisions follow on from the excellent work of my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon), who as a champion of self and custom builders has done more than anyone else in this House to help to ensure diversification in housing supply.

Go for growth Telegraph article from Monday

What is it about cutting tax rates that drives the Treasury mad? Jeremy Hunt says rightly that he wants inflation down, yet his department blocks cuts in VAT, fuel duties and other direct tax charges on activity that would do just that.

They opted for subsidies to help us with energy costs instead of taking VAT off domestic energy, or reducing the extortionate carbon taxes on business energy. They chose any way they could find to keep inflation and public spending high. They are itching to put fuel duty up again to make pump prices higher.

And why do they think putting up tax rates is the way to cut state borrowing? In the latest November budget they put up tax rates and nevertheless announced a massive 75 per cent increase in public borrowing this year.

In part, the borrowing went up because the higher tax rates slow the economy. They lead to less revenue as rich people and companies divert to lower tax places, and those who are stuck here rein in spending and investment. Overall, total revenues are always damaged by these recession inducing policies.

These officials don’t understand growth, either. In 2021-22 the government forecasts of state borrowing were more than £100 billion too high because they underestimated growth. This year they were £75 billion too low because they overestimated it. Official models have for years misjudged how crucial growth is to borrowing levels. Every extra pound of income and turnover is highly taxed, so revenue rises strongly with growth and falls away just as rapidly with recession.

This is why we need a growth strategy now to get inflation and the deficit down. High tax rates, with interest rates too high from an erratic Bank of England, will mean more borrowing. Selective tax cuts which cut energy costs, promote business investment and encourage more self employment will directly lower prices and bring more supply.

Going for tax cuts rather than clumsy subsidies will also help control spending better. The energy-money-go-round with price controls, consumer subsidies, windfall taxes and higher corporation taxes is bound to fail. It means less tax revenue as we will be forced to import more foreign energy whilst stopping investment in our own home produced supplies. It is self-defeating, a stand on your head and fall over economics.

The authorities also got their inflation forecasts hopelessly wrong because they clearly do not understand what causes it. They blame Ukraine, refusing to see that China, Japan and Switzerland also import a lot of foreign energy but did not get the high inflation, because they controlled money and credit. Now government is in denial about how inflation will fall because the Bank has lurched from too easy money to tight money, thinking they need to do more with sky high taxes as well. Inflation will fall, but they want to kill off growth too.

The Treasury and Bank advice which wrecked our economy with membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in the 1980s, with boom bust, did it again with the banking crash of 2008 and wants to do it again after their great bond-buying inflation.

Ministers should say “No!” and go for growth. We cannot afford their high taxes and recession. We need affordable tax cuts, alongside the rolling back of subsidies to avoid the danger of higher unemployment.

However, it is clear that ministers are frightened about spooking the government debt market, after the Bank showed it could get bond prices rising when it wanted. The Bank could help the country it serves more by working out why it got inflation so wrong and getting it right this time.

It need not go on selling so many bonds at a loss and sending the bill to the taxpayer. Its current policy of doing so seems to be another way to make the Treasury do the wrong thing and intensify the recession. The European Central Bank which made the same mistake of buying too many bonds at high prices to trigger inflation is not selling bonds to make big losses.

I want to  believe the Chancellor is earnest in his ambition to reduce taxes and inflation. But to do both effectively, he must reject groupthink.

Written Answers from the Department of Health and Social Care – Reasons for leaving NHS

I asked this question to get NHS management to concentrate on high rates of turnover and loss rates from NHS employment. The easiest source of expanding the workforce must surely be to persuade more people to stay?

 

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123841):

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the main reasons given by nurses and doctors are for leaving NHS employment. (123841)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Will Quince:

Data is collected from staff leaving service in National Health Service trusts and commissioning bodies through the Electronic Staff Record on reasons for leaving but has a high percentage of instances where reasons are unknown, 39% for doctors and 41% for nurses and health visitors. Where reasons are provided, the highest number of NHS trust and commissioning body doctors left those bodies due the end of fixed term contracts. This is high as it covers junior doctors moving out of those settings to others, such as general practice, on rotation. This was followed by voluntary resignation reasons and retirement. For nurses and health visitors, the highest proportion of staff recording a reason, left due to voluntary resignation and reaching retirement age. A table of the reason of leaving and the number of staff is attached.

The following documents were submitted as part of the answer and are appended to this email:

1. File name: FORMATTED PQ123841 Leavers by reason for leaving and specified staff group, Jun21 to Jun22 (1).xlsx
Description: Attachment

 

Reason for leaving Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) doctors Nurses and health visitors
Bank Staff not fulfilled minimum work requirement 16 14
Death in Service 35 209
Dismissal – Capability 17 202
Dismissal – Conduct 23 109
Dismissal – Some Other Substantial Reason 16 83
Dismissal – Statutory Reason 3 7
Employee Transfer 65 254
End of Fixed Term Contract 3995 340
End of Fixed Term Contract – Completion of Training Scheme 1299 32
End of Fixed Term Contract – End of Work Requirement 196 62
End of Fixed Term Contract – External Rotation 1433 2
End of Fixed Term Contract – Other 466 84
Flexi Retirement 57 304
Has Not Worked 9 10
Mutually Agreed Resignation – Local Scheme with Repayment 0 24
Mutually Agreed Resignation – National Scheme with Repayment 2 4
Pregnancy 0 5
Redundancy – Compulsory 8 8
Redundancy – Voluntary 5 30
Retirement – Ill Health 44 287
Retirement Age 1016 5490
Voluntary Early Retirement – no Actuarial Reduction 43 361
Voluntary Early Retirement – with Actuarial Reduction 50 191
Voluntary Resignation – Adult Dependants 30 197
Voluntary Resignation – Better Reward Package 61 574
Voluntary Resignation – Child Dependants 40 413
Voluntary Resignation – Health 61 879
Voluntary Resignation – Incompatible Working Relationships 17 204
Voluntary Resignation – Lack of Opportunities 35 233
Voluntary Resignation – Other/Not Known 1437 3495
Voluntary Resignation – Promotion 220 1496
Voluntary Resignation – Relocation 798 3536
Voluntary Resignation – To undertake further education or training 268 380
Voluntary Resignation – Work Life Balance 380 4231
Unknown 7743 16681
Total of leavers 19846 40365
Source: NHS Digital NHS Hospital and Community Health Service (HCHS) workforce statistics.
Notes:
1. Leavers data are based on headcount and shows staff leaving active service, this would include those going on maternity leave or career break, for example.
2.Data are calculated on an annual basis in this analysis so leaver figures for 30 June 2021 to 30 June 2022 for example represent staff records that are present in June 2021 but are not present in June 2022.
3. Leavers records are linked to a separate ESR Reasons for Leaving dataset. In many instances the Reason for Leaving record has not been completed, which accounts for the Unknown records.
4. Totals for NHS leavers that are different to the sum of constituent parts indicate where staff have left the NHS in more than one post.
5. ”-‘ denotes zero

 

The answer was submitted on 24 Jan 2023 at 10:19.

Funny numbers paint a bad picture and constrain the Chancellor

In the long run up to the March budget we have had a stream of bad  numbers from the Treasury and Bank and a leak of a bad forecast from the OBR.

The dreadful December borrowing figures were designed to alarm, showing a massive £27.4 bn borrowing figure for the month. It had two main components. The first was  £17.3 bn of so called debt interest, up by £8.7bn. This was the result of insisting on including the extra costs of the indexed debt where no  cash payments are made so no actual increased borrowing took place for that purpose in December. It is true the government owes more devalued pounds to the holders of indexed debt. They will be repaid in full by rolling over the debt in due course, often many years away, when it falls due. Why is this muddled up with genuine bills paying cash for actual  interest on debt?

The second was £7bn on subsidies, another large rise, reflecting the temporary energy payments. As the government is rightly phasing most of those out this spring it is not a serious worry.

The figures also reveal that the Bank of England which had been sending cash to the government when it was making running profits on printing cash and buying bonds will create a painful negative £8.7bn turn round this year as it starts losing money on bonds. Unlike other leading Central Banks the Bank of England will add to the government’s misery by selling bonds at a loss which it does not have to do, and requiring payment for the losses from the government. In the USA the Fed is also selling bonds but does not charge the taxpayers for the losses, taking the hit on its own balance sheet. In Euroland the Bank is not so far selling bonds to avoid this problem. The ONS says that end December the Bank was sitting on £106bn of unrealised losses on its bond portfolio.

To cap all the red ink this puts into the figures we read the OBR may lower the long term growth assumptions to give us more debt and deficits in future years. it is important this does not become self  validating. Force the Chancellor to impose high taxes and then you will get a lower growth rate and worse debt and deficit figures.

The PM’s five aims and the Chancellor’s 4 E s

I strongly agree with the Chancellor’s speech when he said “High taxes directly affect the incentives which determine decisions by entrepreneurs, investors or larger companies about  whether to pursue their ambitions in Britain”. This was in tune with his own support for a 15% Corporation tax rate when running for Leader last summer. The UK does need to  be tax competitive, and has just lost its better place in the table of national tax levels with large recent hikes to Corporation Tax, windfall taxes, IR 35 toughening and other measures.

The Chancellor did not reinforce the PM’s wish to end the illegal migrants by boat, though that would of course help control spending where the figures are running away on escalating hotel bills. I am sure he supports the PM, and needs to help him bring it about as quickly as possible. Nor did  he reinforce the aim of getting Health waiting lists down. Again with his wish to control spending so  taxes can be lowered he needs to take an interest in the 3,500 extra managers and 115,000 extra  non medical staff recruited in under 3 years mentioned on this site.

He did reinforce the PM’s wish to halve inflation, and spent the rest of the talk discussing the fifth aim, restoring growth. He proposed better education, adding literacy to the PM’s stressing of maths. He rightly took up the  case of why 1.4 million people say they wish to work yet they cannot get some of the 1m plus job  vacancies and we still hear employers wanting to invite more migrants instead. More people already living here getting jobs would be a huge win all round and I wish him and the rest of the government all speed and success with the improved programmes to get more people into work.

He wants the prosperity and jobs to spread everywhere, which is a great ambition. He said he backs the full cost HS 2 project just hours after it had been suggested the government was considering cutting back on the very expensive last few miles in central London. One of the problems is London has enjoyed large capital investment only recently in the Elizabeth line, and many feel railway investment should now do more for the North. It is ironic that a so called levelling up large spend on HS 2 is wholly concentrated in London and the south for this Parliament for a line which will not reach the North this decade.

Above all he backs enterprise, remembering his own success setting up and growing a company before becoming a Minister. He will find this much easier if he does cut taxes on business and investment in what is now a  very competitive world to attract footloose money and talent.

I will look in a future blog at the inbuilt pessimism in Treasury, Bank and OBR figures which is being used to discourage him from cutting taxes,.

Written Answers from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The answers below show the government is offering substantial support for the energy using industries, but some of this support is a strange money go round to pay the higher taxes and carbon prices in the UK than competitors face. Surely it would be cheaper and better to cut the collection of taxes and the distribution of subsidies?

 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123845):

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will reduce the cost of carbon for large energy using industries to ease cost pressures for domestic production. (123845)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Graham Stuart:

The Government recognises that UK industrial electricity prices are higher than those of other countries and will act to address this.

The Government has already extended the Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Scheme for a further 3 years through to 2025, and doubled the budget for the scheme in the process.

The Government is also actively considering other measures to support business, including increasing the renewable obligation exemption to 100%.

This builds upon extensive support that the Government has provided in recent years including more than £2 billion to help with the costs of electricity and to protect jobs.

The answer was submitted on 24 Jan 2023 at 12:04.

 

 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123844):

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he make a comparative assessment of average (a) energy and (b) carbon costs in the (i) steel, (ii) ceramics and (iii) building materials industries in (A) the UK and (B) other comparable countries in the latest period for which data is available. (123844)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

This Government will always be on the side of business and is providing an unprecedented £18 billion of support through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. The newly announced Energy Bills Discount Scheme will continue support for a further year from April 2023 and includes additional support for eligible energy and trade intensive industries, including the Steel sector.
Furthermore, this Government is determined to secure a competitive future for our energy intensive industries for the long term. We have provided extensive support, including more than £2 billion to help with the costs of electricity and to protect jobs.

The answer was submitted on 24 Jan 2023 at 12:05.

 

 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123843):

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what his forecast is for UK steel output in 2023. (123843)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

The Government does not publish or produce forecasts for UK steel output.

The answer was submitted on 24 Jan 2023 at 12:07.

Brexit wins

We voted for Brexit because we once again wanted to live in an independent country. We want our laws and taxes settled in Parliament by MPs that we can vote out of office if they do not please. Elections empower voters to get change. A sovereign Parliament can do what it takes to promote the freedoms and prosperity of the British people.

 

In 2019 we had to vote again to get Brexit through owing to the obstructions of all too many MPs. The voters showed they knew the way to get their will done by removing many of the MPs who were thwarting Brexit. Now we are legally out of the EU the government needs to do more to exercise the Brexit freedoms we have gained.

 

There have already been some good wins from exit. We  no longer have to make large contributions to the EU. As promised NHS spending has increased, by  more than the savings from Brexit so far. We no longer have to accept the accumulating debts and liabilities of the EU. Since we left the EU has started to borrow large sums in its own name to spend mainly in the financially stressed  countries of the Union. All that debt becomes a burden on the taxpayers of all  the member states, the only source of money to pay for it.

 

Out of the EU we were able to pursue our own vaccine and covid strategy, getting to a vaccine earlier than the EU and allowing us to get out of lockdown before many continental countries. We are pressing ahead with different approaches to the regulation of science and medical advance, to assist in the development of UK excellence in those fields like gene editing. Faced with a shortage of drivers over lockdowns, we were able to flex our regulations temporarily  to help solve the problems. We cancelled VAT on female hygiene products and suspended it on green investments for five years. 

 

The wild pessimism of Remain forecasts for the economy did not come true when we voted to leave. We did not see a rise in unemployment, a fall in house prices, a rise in interest rates in 2016 on the vote nor in 2020 on departing. Our trade with non EU countries is expanding, and we have completed a series of new trade deals with non EU countries. We may well soon join the  very large Trans Pacific Trade Partnership,something we could not do as members of the EU.

 

We have been able to rebuild old valued friendships and alliances. The UK damaged important ties with Australia, New Zealand and Canada on joining the EEC. Today we are building a wider relationship on the back of our 5 Eyes Intelligence grouping and with new trade and investment links  possible.

 

Many of us are far happier now we are out. We are impatient to show more Brexit wins by changing laws and repealing taxes the EU imposed. Our happiness resides in the knowledge that our Parliament can  now make the right decisions and laws for us if it wishes, and we can change the Parliament if it refuses.

 

 

 

Written Answers from the Department of Health and Social Care – Criteria for hiring NHS medical staff

This is a non answer

 

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123842):

Question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what main criteria are considered when hiring NHS medical staff other than their medical qualifications. (123842)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Will Quince:

Local National Health Service trusts are responsible for managing their own staffing levels, making recruitment decisions and recruiting the number of health professionals with the appropriate skills and qualifications required to meet local service need.

The answer was submitted on 23 Jan 2023 at 17:55.

Written Answers from the Department of Health and Social Care – Administration records

This Answer is not very informative at a time when there are issues over how much record keeping and form filling is needed.

 

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (123840):

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will review the administration and record keeping hospital doctors need to do to ease their jobs whilst recording important information. (123840)

Tabled on: 16 January 2023

Answer:
Will Quince:

Administration and record keeping are overlapping but slightly separate matters. Some hospitals employ doctors’ assistants to help with administrative work, especially for doctors working on wards. There are varying practices across different National Health Service organisations regarding who records information in records. The Records Management Code of Practice for Health and Social Care 2021 is a guide to the practice of managing records. All health and care employees are responsible for managing records appropriately. Records must be managed in accordance with the law and each organisation should have a designated member of staff who leads on records management.

The answer was submitted on 23 Jan 2023 at 17:59.