State funded elderly care declining, Labour figures suggest.
The number of elderly people in England getting council-funded care has fallen by 11% in the last two years, figures obtained by Labour suggest.
Freedom of Information responses from 121 councils showed they provided free care to 59,056 over 65s in 2011-12, down from 66,342 in 2009-10.
The drop comes despite the rise in over-65s due to the ageing population.
Nick Tiggle | BBC | 16th May 2012
Ministers face grilling over plans to downgrade law which helped reveal MPs expenses scandal
Ministers face a grilling from MPs today over claims they are planning to downgrade Freedom of Information laws.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and justice minister Lord McNally are due to appear before the Justice Select Committee.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham lashed out yesterday over the Government’s decision to veto publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms, despite a tribunal ruling that it should be released.
London Evening Standard | 16th May 2012
B&B action group in Treasury ‘subterfuge’ claim
Cabinet Office and Treasury refuse to supply documents under Freedom of Information Act.
Shareholders in Bradford & Bingley have been denied documents from several UK government departments on multiple occasions under the Freedom of Information Act, David Blundell has said.
Mr Blundell, chairman of the Bradford & Bingley Action Group which is spearheading fair compensation for roughly 1m shareholders affected by the demise of the UK bank and building society, said officials at the Treasury and the Cabinet Office have declined to provide documents requested because of the costs or that the information was not available.
He said: “Relevant government departments and regulatory bodies have ignored prime minister David Cameron over granting documents under the Act.”
Roger Aitken | Financial Adviser | 16th May 2012
The Justice Select Committee will review the Freedom of Information Act later this year and is likely to recommend changes to the current legislation. This may improve the Act but some public bodies are expected to call for new exemptions and cost-based restrictions.
The committee is currently calling for submissions for evidence until the the 3rd February and the Campaign for Freedom of Information is holding a briefing meeting for those who are considering submitting on January 18 at 2pm.
Requesters’ experiences are essential to the review process, and are being sought after. The Ministry of Justice says there is currently “limited evidence” about requesters’ views.
Lord McNally and the Deputy Prime Minister pledged to begin the process of post-legislative assessment of the Freedom of Information Act last December. As part of this process, a parliamentary select committee has been set up and is likely to recommend changes to the law concerning the Freedom of Information Act.
Government has already submitted its assessment of how the Act has worked in practice, including how it is used and its impact on public authorities. This memorandum specified some areas of concern in increasing request volumes, the cost to public authorities; and the level of protection given to cabinet papers.
Public authorities concerned about the cost of dealing with FOI requests pile on the pressure and could lead to increased restrictions.
The Ministry of Justice has just increased the scope of the FoIA to include three new bodies, its official website announced this week.
Justice Minister Lord McNally, who signed the order on November 1, said: “The public clearly deserves a Government that is open and accountable for its actions, but I strongly believe that this should also apply to any organization exercising public functions.”
According to Lord McNally, all three bodies were open to the idea of being brought under the FoIA umbrella while the government plans to invite a range of other bodies to join them.
MoJ has also announced plans of post legislative scrutiny to find out how the Act operates.
Doctors are allowed to work despite serious malpractice
Of the 102 doctors the General Medical Council wanted to erase from the register last year for malpractice, only 40 were finally struck off, as an FoIA request to the regulator reveals. The Times reports this is because these cases are examined by independent adjudication panels the GMC has no right to appeal. The doctors who remained registered include a doctor who slept with two mentally ill patients and Gideon Lauffer, a doctor the regulator recommended to be struck off after the deaths of two patients.
Scotland sees 20 per cent rise in FoIA appeals
The Herald reports a 20 per cent rise of appeals to responses to freedom of information requests during the first three months of 2011. Three-quarters of those appeals came from members of the public, whose use of the law has increased while MSPs are responsible for just 1% of the applications to the Scottish Information Commissioner.
EEAS paramedics take almost a month off sick
Members of the East of England Ambulance Service have missed 23,000 days sick since 2009, a FoIA request has revealed. The Daily Telegraph reports that this is the equivalent of all staff taking 25 days off per year. The service has paid £37.5m in overtime payments in the last four years and was the only trust in the country to fail meeting the target of answering 75 per cent of the most urgent calls within 8 minutes during July.
Commons Speaker squanders public money in lavish suits
The Daily Mail and the Sun report today on Commons Speaker John Bercow’s lavish lifestyle. Mr Bercow, who has a £146,000 salary, spent £3,700 of public money on just two suits, a FoIA request revealed, bringing his vow to restore public trust in Parliament into question.