Category Archives: Coastguard

News – Coastguard SOS

The fight to save UK Coastguard rescue coordination centres is not over. We are urgently seeking volunteers who would be interested in becoming a local liaison officer or supporters to campaign as an extension of the National Coastguard SOS Campaign in local areas. If you are interested in learning more please email your contact details and information to info@coastguardsos.com

The truth about under staffing at stations.

The Government and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been forced under FOI (Freedom of Information) requests to reveal the number of HM Coastguard staff on shift at Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC’s) around the UK.

The truth is that the figures are truly alarming.

Find the truth here;

News – Coastguard SOS.

The Crucifixion Cycle

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

2015

“What’s so special about 2015?”  you may ask. It’s just a number, just another year, a bit like 1984 maybe.

2015 is the proposed date for the next General Election, but 2015 is so much more than that.  The next election is almost an irrelevance, no-one knows who to vote for any more any way.

In April 2015 the Civil Service Pension Scheme will change;

For those civil servants who move to the new 2015 scheme, the main features are:

  • A move to a ‘career average’ scheme, rather than ‘final salary’ for those currently in classicclassic plus and premium schemes. This means your benefits earned after April 2015 will be calculated in a different way. They will be based on an average of your earnings for each year you work until you leave or retire rather than the last salary you are on. nuvos is already a career average scheme.
  • A new ‘accrual rate’ of 2.32%. An ‘accrual rate’ is the percentage of your salary that the scheme puts aside each year towards your pension. The current rate for nuvos is 2.3%.
  • A new ‘Scheme Pension Age’ in line with your ‘State Pension Age’ (due to increase to 68 over time). This is the age at which you can draw your new scheme benefits in full. You would be able to retire earlier but your Civil Service pension would be reduced to reflect that it would be paid out for longer. The current Scheme Pension Age for nuvos is 65.

The current final salary police pension schemes will close from April 2015, with future accrual based on the new CARE model.

In a final salary scheme, your pension is typically worked out as a fraction of your final salary for each year of service. The ‘final salary’ used is generally the highest paid level of your last few years. For instance:

  • if you are in the Police Pension Scheme 1987, you receive a pension calculated as ((1/60th x the number of years up to 20) + (2/60 x the number of years served between 20 and 30 years)) x final pensionable pay
  • if you are in the New Police Pension Scheme 2006, you receive a pension calculated as 1/70th x final pensionable pay x years (up to a maximum of 35 years)

In a career average scheme, each year you build up a ‘slice’ of pension based on your salary in that year. At the end of each year, the slice is increased in line with the revaluation rate used for that scheme – typically either prices or earnings increases – to maintain the value of the pension earned. When a member finally retires, their total pension is calculated by adding up the slices of pension they have built up each year throughout their career.

April 2015 was also scheduled to be the date for implementing the new State Pension Scheme, of a Flat Rate Pension of £140 per week.  Reforms were expected to be introduced in 2015, however Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the reforms to be re-examined, according to the Financial Times, calling the expected deadline into question.

The Teachers’ Pension Scheme is also scheduled to change (not for the better perhaps) on 1st April 2015.

April 2015 also sees changes to the Firefighters Pension Scheme; another Career Average Scheme, much along the same lines as other Public Service Pensions.

David Cameron originally assured us that Coastguard Stations would begin to close in 2015, but now seems to have forgotten that promise and the closures have already begun. Rest assured though, I’m sure all scheduled closures will have happened by 2015.

The existing 35 local probation trusts are to be scrapped and replaced by a single, smaller, national probation service. They will also be replaced by 21 “government-owned companies” covering England and Wales that will invite bids from the private and voluntary sectors, including G4S and Serco, to take over existing probation work as well as the new rehabilitation programme for released short-sentenced prisoners. The plans are to be in place by the next general election in 2015.

From 2015 GCSE’s will be graded eight to one, instead of A* to G, and the pass mark will be higher.

There’ll be a move towards essay-based exams at the end of two years, instead of coursework and assessments during the course.

The content will be harder too – for example, English will require studying a 19th-Century novel and a whole Shakespeare play.

The armed forces budget is not safe from cuts after 2015, David Cameron has publicly admitted for the first time.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, is preparing a Spending Review for 2015/16 that has raised the prospect of more cuts in the Ministry of Defence budget, on top of those made by the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010.

Mr Cameron has previously insisted that “defence can’t be exempt all together from difficult decisions”.

Citizens Advice Bureaux may be forced to close if plans to change the system of civil legal aid go ahead. The Government’s proposals are intended to cut the legal aid bill by £350 million a year by 2015. Funding for a wide range of disputes – including some divorce, clinical negligence, and immigration where the person is not detained – would be axed.

Independent Living Fund

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) – which provides money to help people with disabilities live an independent life in the community – is to close in 2015.

Funding will be incorporated into local social care arrangements – through local councils in England and the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales.

People who already have ILF care packages will have to transfer to new local arrangements.

October 2015, Personal Independence Payment, Claimants aged 16-64 still receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will start to be contacted to claim Personal Independence Payment instead.

NHS Reform, to be completed by 2015, the reforms are partly designed to encourage greater involvement from the private sector and charities. In total, £1 of every £20 spent in the NHS goes to a non-NHS provider. The cost of the reform programme is £1.4bn.

Most of that will come in the next two years as more than 20,000 management and administration staff are made redundant from health authorities, PCTs and the Department of Health.

It could cost as much as £1bn to make redundancies. Another £400m will be spent on things such as IT and property in setting up the new consortia.

But the government claims the cost will be more than offset by savings.

The reduction in staff alone will save £5bn by 2015, according to the government’s own costings.

So, do you still think that 2015 is just a number like any other, or could it be that our wonderful ConDem Coalition government have completely lost sight of ethics and principles, and are in an indecent haste to reform everything in sight prior to the next election in 2015.  Bring on the Monster Raving Loony Party I say.

Cynical? Me?

Now I’m a cynical, sceptical old soul, but there are things going on (some may say many) in the world of government that I don’t understand.

Police Service – As much as possible seems to be in the process of being identified by privatising, probably to G4S. Budgets slashed by 20% and thousands of Police posts have to go across England and Wales.

Armed Forces – Too many Strategic Defence Reviews, servicemen being laid off, Armed Forces now at their lowest strength for decades.

NHS – Again, ripe for privatisation. Just look to see who the directors are of the companies in line to benefit.

Who is destroying our NHS

Who is destroying our NHS

And I don’t understand why, at a time when demand on Accident and Emergency Units has never been greater, A&Es across the country are being closed down. Does that make any kind of sense?

Target time to be seen in A&E is apparently now 4 hours. Nobody should have to wait 4 hours to be seen in A&E.

Probation Services – Being Privatised, again to G4S amongst others, and a Social Media Gagging Order imposed upon Probation Officers by Chris Grayling just in case they’re upset by what’s going and might want to Tweet about it, so I’ll do it for them, he hasn’t managed to gag me.

Coastguard Service – Coastguard Stations being closed down, service streamlined, Search and Rescue operations Privatised to an American Company.

Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Stations closed down, Fire Engines sold off or mothballed, jobs at risk or been lost.

Education – Schools turned into Academies, judged by complex League Tables. We nearly had to ditch GCSEs and create an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC), but Gove backed down on that one.  The National Union of Teachers has also warned that 2015 will bring an “unmanageable level of change which could lead to a collapse of the system.”

G4S are now teaching and looking after our children. Are we all mad?  A Blog by Tom Pride, read the full article Here

Banks – Apparently responsible for a lot of the mess this country now finds itself in, making huge losses still, some of them, but still manage to pay out millions in bonuses. How does it work that you get paid a bonus for making a loss?  And still they are not lending enough to ordinary folk to kick-start the economy and get the housing market moving again.

My first question is ‘Are they changing too much, all at the same time?’ This is a government that seems hell-bent on reforming everything in sight before the next election and its inevitable result. Naive? Arrogant? Greedy? Self-Serving? All of the above?

My second question is this; Why, in times of austerity when ‘We’re All In This Together’ are we laying folk off, privatising public services that have served us well for generations, closing down public buildings, letting foreign companies come in and run certain aspects of the service, all because the country cannot afford to maintain these services at their existing levels, why then do the government then reduce Income Tax for the richest people. Those who earn the most now pay less Income Tax, 45p in the pound instead of 50p.

This might not sound much, but is it going to provide an incentive for the richest folk to spend more? I don’t think so. Is it going to give you and I the incentive to go out and spend more? I don’t think so.

Why not consider having a two tier VAT system like certain European countries do; 20% for most things, but 5.5% for Restaurants, Bars, Home Improvements etc etc, giving folk the incentive to eat out more, employ builders more because the VAT bill is nothing like so big, and that’s just the beginning.

Raising Taxes is never going to be a Vote Winner, never has been, but we’re seldom in the pickle we are now.  Once these services are Privatised they are very unlikely to be unpicked and put back into National ownership again.  As long as it was fair I think I personally would prefer to pay a modest sum more each year in taxes and keep British Public Services in Public, British, ownership. There is nothing wrong with making these services as efficient as they can possibly be, but Police, Fire, NHS, Teachers, Armed Forces etc etc are NOT BUSINESSES. They cannot be run like businesses, they should not be treated like businesses. They are not for profit, but if G4S, amongst others, come in, make no mistake their first priority will be to make a profit for their shareholders, anything else will be secondary, less important.

Lobby your MP, sign all the petitions you can find, demonstrate peacefully when the opportunity arises, make your voice heard. The government are getting away with this massacre because not enough people are standing up to them. they are behaving like playground bullies, and we don’t like bullies do we?

If we don’t these services will be irrevocably changed and some may disappear forever.

Let’s All Pull Together

I am indebted to @Cate_a_Moore of Twitter fame for raising this issue today.  Thank you Cate.

There have been several marches, demonstrations, petitions and arguements at various conferences over the future of so many public services.  Police, NHS, Teachers, Coastguards, Armed Forces, Probation Officers, Lawyers, Firemen, Ambulance they are all under attack by this coalition government in the name of Reform.

Only today my old friends Policy Exchange seem to be promoting further privatisation of public services, although I must admit that I haven’t yet summoned up the enthusiasm to read beyond the synopsis.

What is needed, in my humble opinion, is ONE Campaign, similar to the #DoItRight campaign promoted by the Police Federation in tandem with one, co-ordinated campaign to raise public awareness of the threat to public services and the British way of life.  Once they are gone it would take a miracle to restore them.

Make no mistake this government doesn’t give one hoot what happens beyond 2015 because they will no longer be around, they are making themselves unelectable and they don’t care.  All of their (and Policy Exchange’s) ideas for Reform are being rushed through before 2015 with scant disregard for the consequences and long -term catastrophes.

Short term profits for shareholders is all they seem to be interested in together with feathering their own nests for their retirements.

I don’t really have an opinion on who heads up such a campaign and takes the ‘Lead’, but please Britain, why can’t we try it?  Can anyone think of something better? This arrogant ConDem coalition HAVE to be stopped before they disassemble Great Britain plc forever.

At the Big Picture we have blogged before on the various disasters that are being perpetrated by this government in the name of Reform, and it really is time to see The Big Picture. The future is out there and it really isn’t very bright.

Join in, do your bit, Retweet this blog far and wide, make suggestions as to how we can move forward, but above all Stop This Government before they destroy everything that we have worked hard for and can still be proud of.

Privatisation of the Coastguard Service Has Arrived

American firm to operate Portland Coastguard helicopter

I have warned about this before.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard Service has warned of this many, many times.

Now it is here.

Apparently American company Bristow is due to be announced as the winning bidder in the fight to take over the Coastguard Helicopter at Portland with a bid worth £3 Billion.

The rescue service is currently run jointly by the RAF, the Royal Navy and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Portland Coastguard helicopter faces the axe in 2017 under government cost-cutting plans to relocate it to Lee-on-Solent.

More than 18,000 people have signed an e-petition to Save Portland Helicopter.

This is the thin end of a very thick wedge. Be under no illusions. Private companies exist to serve their shareholders. Their primary objective is to make a profit.

Public sector services do not work like that and it’s about time the government realised it. Coastguard, Police, NHS, Fire Service, Prison Service, Teachers, Armed Forces.  They all exist, and were set up, to serve the public in one way or another. They were never set up to be money-making industries, but HM Government doesn’t see it that way.

The way I see it is like this; I pay my Gas and Electric bills to ensure the smooth running of my household.  The government should be paying its public sector services to ensure the smooth running of its household, i.e. our country.

They can be run efficiently, I have no problem with that, but they cannot (in my opinion) be run to make a profit without something being sacrificed.

An alternative might be those dreaded words ‘Sponsorship’ or ‘Partnership’

Well take a look at my first recollection of ‘Sponsorship’

harrods

It’s an old picture I grant you, but I assure you that it hasn’t been doctored, underneath the Met’s Corporate Identity it does actually say ‘Sponsored by Harrods’ in the well-known Harrod’s font.

Is this the future? Is this what we want from our public sector services?

It may well cost us individually a couple of quid more on our Income Tax bills, but did anybody ask us if we wanted our public sector services slashed to the bone and/or sold off?  Well no-one asked me, and within reason I would be prepared to pay a modest amount more to keep our fine services doing what they do best, and not making a profit for their faceless shareholders.

What say you?

 

The Coastguards Are Still In Crisis

Coastguard staffing in crisis

1 March 2013

The PCS Union  have warned that lives will be lost if coastguard stations continue to lose experienced staff.

Following the government’s flawed decision to close half the stations in the UK there are currently almost 90 watchkeepers short nationwide.

At least one station, Liverpool, faces a summer with half as many staff as it should have, making safe 24 hour cover impossible.

The government had pledged that no station would close before the new national operations centre was up and running.

But two stations, Clyde and Forth in Scotland, have already closed and Yarmouth is due to shut on Monday (4 March).

We have called on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to urgently address the staffing crisis and honour promises on upgrading jobs and improving pay.

via Coastguard staffing in crisis – PCS Comment – PCS.

So, that’s 90 (NINETY) less Coastguards guarding the coast of our Islands.  Is that right?  Do you feel comfortable knowing that the Coastguard Service is being slashed alongside just about every other Public Service you can imagine.  What this arrogant government fail or refuse to recognise is that once these proud services have been dismantled (including the Armed Forces, they’re due for more cuts soon) it won’t be easy to build them back up again, all the experience will have drained away.

 

Remember the Brain Drain of the 90’s (I think it was then)?  Well, this is like the government has got a big old plunger and is forcing folk down the drain.

 

Make your voice heard, if you are reading this blog then you can just as easily email your MP, of whichever party, and voice your displeasure.  Last time I looked Britain was still a Democracy, it just doesn’t feel like it.