POLITICS

9 Damning Reports By MPs Buried By The Election

Ambulance times, GP numbers and even the size of the army were all criticised

01/05/2017 17:29

Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election didn’t just catch the public unawares, it also surprised MPs working away on scrutinising Government policy.

More than 30 reports and announcements have been published since Parliament broke up, and while some - such as how social media companies are failing to crack down on terror videos and child abuse images - have received attention, others have been largely ignored.

Here are nine findings which deserve wider attention.

  • Farm workers are in short supply, and the Government doesn’t seem to realise how serious it is.
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    A report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warns the agricultural and horticultural sectors “are facing considerable difficulties in recruiting and retaining labour.” 

    It goes on: “We are concerned that the industry has such different experiences to those reported by the Government. It is apparent that the statistics used by the Government are unable to provide a proper indication of agriculture’s labour needs.” 

    Brexit could, unsurprisingly for a sector so reliant on migrant labour, make the situation worse: “It is vital that the labour supply available to the agriculture and horticulture sectors does not suddenly dry up as a result of any uncertainty caused by the new immigration arrangements instituted following the UK’s exit from the EU.” 
  • A fund set up to help pump cash into social care is “little more than a ruse” to move money out of the NHS.
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    The Public Accounts Committee ruled that the Better Care Fund – established in 2013 – was an “overly bureaucratic initiative” that merely plugged the gap in funds caused by cuts to local council budgets.
  • GP surgeries aren’t open when patients need them the most, leading to a rise in A&E visits
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    Core hours for GPs are defined as 8am to 6.30pm, but it is not clear what service patients should expect during this time, according to the Public Accounts Committee. MPs also discovered that “patients registered to practices with fewer opening hours attend A&E departments more often on average.”  

    Additionally, despite vowing in 2015 to increase the number of GPs by 5,000 over the next five years, “the number has fallen in the last year, from 34,592 full-time equivalent doctors in September 2015 to 34,495 in September 2016.”
  • Emergency patients are waiting too long to be transferred from an ambulance to a hospital, and it’s getting worse
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    Just 58% of patient transfers from an ambulance to an emergency department were completed within the 15 minute target in 2015–16, compared to 80% in 2010–11. 

    The Public Accounts Committee also reported that “ambulance services have struggled to recruit and retain staff, and staff shortages are exacerbated by many trusts having high sickness absence rates.”
  • Government plans to deal with the housing crisis “do not even come close” to solving it
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    The Department for Communities and Local Government plan to build a million houses over the next five years, but 1.38million homes are actually required.

    “We are highly concerned by this lack of urgency and ambition, most of all in view of the rising costs, both human and financial, of homelessness,” said the Public Accounts Committee’s report.
  • The house building industry could be severely affected by Brexit.
    PA Wire/PA Images
    Another housing report, this time from the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, had a particular focus on the skills needed for large-scale construction work.

    The report concluded: “While the level of EU-born workers will vary across the country, London undoubtedly faces the largest challenges both in terms of required development and the numbers of EU workers. We are therefore concerned that large numbers of an already stretched workforce face an uncertain future. 

    "The importance of EU labour to the construction industry should be taken into account by the Government in setting priorities for the Brexit negotiations.” 
  • The Army is not large enough to deal with a “sudden unexpected threat”.
    umdash9 via Getty Images
    A Defence Committee report contains a sobering warning over the readiness of the UK’s Army: 

    "The target establishment of the trained Regular Army was for 82,000 trained soldiers by 2015. However, despite the fact that this target was lowered from 95,000 in 2012, the strength of the Army remains below 80,000.

    "Although the MoD asserts that the current level of personnel is sufficient for the Army to meet current operational demands, we do not believe this figure is adequate to counter a sudden unexpected threat. The MoD has to address this shortfall.

    "An Army which falls below the already historic low target of 82,000 makes itself dangerously vulnerable to external aggression."
  • Supermarkets should be forced to reveal how much food they waste.
    maerzkind via Getty Images
    The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee praised Tesco for “publishing its food waste data from across the supply chain,” and also concluded: “Sainsbury’s is moving in the same direction”.

    However: “The fact that no other retailers have followed their lead shows that a voluntary approach is inadequate. We recommend that the incoming Government requires food businesses over a particular size to publicly report data on food waste. This would create much more transparency.”

    The Committee also called for schoolchildren to have lessons on food and food waste from “an early age.”
  • Even thinking about a Citizen’s Income is a waste of time.
    ljubaphoto via Getty Images
    The Work and Pensions’ Committee delivered a blunt and brutal assessment of calls for a Citizen’s Income: “It risks being a distraction from workable welfare reform. We urge the incoming government not to expend any energy on it.” 

 

 

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