Category: 2016 notices

Reporting back from the NPC Pensioners Parliament in Blackpool

The meeting heard three reports, one from Janet Shapiro – delegate from London Region NPC,

then Hornsey Pensioner delegates – Lourdes Keever and Argyros Arghyrou

Find the reports in the July 20th notice

There was a march with banners on Tuesday June 14th to the Winter Gardens. Beforehand the NPC banner had been taken to British Homes Stores in Blackpool to be photographed in support of those BHS employees whose pensions are at risk.

A brass band led the way to the opening rally that was opened by Blackpool’s deputy Mayor Gary Coleman. President Ron Douglas presided.

There were excellent speeches from John Hilary from War on Want, our very own Judy Downey of Relatives and Residents Association, Anthony Curley, youngest speaker National Youth Coordinator for Unite, Gary Fitzgerald of Action on Elder Abuse, Richard Burgon MP, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury who stood in for John McDonnell.

Dot Gibson, NPC General Secretary, gave her usual rousing speech, pointing out that this Parliament’s slogan was “Standing up for all generations”. She listed the issues that we want to be   included in the Commission for Older   People promised by Jeremy Corbyn.

Janet attended the Public & Communications and Services Fringe meeting, the Women’s Working Party Fringe ‘Home Alone’, Wednesday sessions on ‘Pensions, intergenerational fairness and the baby boomers’, and ‘Is Digital exclusion age discrimination?’.

Janet Shapiro

Lourdes Keever reports as a delegate    Wednesday morning session ‘How Healthy is the NHS?’

I attended the above session. It was chaired by Jan Shortt with Dawne Garrett older People and Dementia Care Professional Lead RCN and Clive Peedell Leader of the National Health Action Party on the platform.

The session focused on the quality of care delivered to the elderly and what improvements are required to deliver an effective service. An additional focus was to look at the affects of privatisation and to consider what campaigners can do to defend the NHS. The session was extremely critical of what is currently happening in the world of Health. Diane Garrett pointed out how 62% of the hospital beds are taken by people over 65 years , delayed discharges are also higher within this category of patients. In terms of improvements she was able to point to the amazing developments in technology and pain management However there was little else. She also pointed out the huge variation in outcomes in different parts of the country. Quite clearly deprived areas have poorer outcomes. Targets have often aggravated the problem. The private sector can often start afresh and therefore can often present as being capable of delivering more effectively.

She strongly recommended that any solution should be based on a whole team approach especially for the elderly .

Clive Peedel referred to the work of   Professor Marmot and went onto describe how austerity can drive up demand within the NHS. He identified the huge problems in A&E and the cuts in Social Care as having an extremely negative impact upon delivery of an effective service. He drew attention to the influence of the free market economy and deregulation brought in by Thatcher. This was later developed further by the Labour Party with the introduction of PFI, purchase provider spilt and payment by results. The latter has all been made worse by Lansley’s reorganisation. The focus from the platform was that health care investment should be seen as a stimulant for the economy. Integration of Health and Social Care was seen as the way forward in terms of developing new structures. The latter was enhance by a presentation from a representative of the National Pharmacy Association. He pointed to the document of Community Pharmacy and Beyond that focuses on the importance of delivering a face to face service , a package of care rather than pills. If access to the latter is diminished he warned that there would be consequences for both GPs and A&E.

The discussion that followed in the hall was very much centred on the failure of the present NHS to run an effective service and cope with the increase in demand for services. Very little hope was presented and no real evidence of solutions was presented.

Our delegates outside Blackpool Library

Wednesday Afternoon session : ‘The state of the social care sector and where the money goes’

This session was chaired by Dot Gibson with Matthew Egan Unite and Dr Diane Burns University of Sheffield as speakers. The session was due to consider the problems facing social care and to consider what steps are required to improve standards and access to social care services for all.

Matthew Egan referred to a survey that was carried out with regards to Adult Social Care. Results from paid carers include the following :

* 74% of workers did not have sufficient time

* 61% said that there was not enough time for the 90 plus

* 24% said that they had no time to take people to the toilet

* 49% did not have time to provide   nutritional meals

* 85% do not have time for conversation

* 96% said that they were often the only person visiting.

The general conclusions was that the care was delivered like a conveyor belt, no dignity for anyone concerned. Recently, £2 billion has been taken out of the system and this from a sector that has always suffered from underfunding. The present service is predominantly run by the private sector . With regards to   commissioning , very little attention is given to the monitoring of the contracts created. Also, there was a clear statement coming from the speaker as to how we fail to value our care workers. How this could be changed was posed. The use and value of the Ethical Care Charter was suggested as a start in the process.

Dr Burns is a lecturer in the School of Management at Sheffield University. She has done research on the quality of care existing in residential homes. She pointed out how care provision has evolved over time and now 90% of care provision is run by private companies. There is presently, a crisis in residential care as a result of the financial squeeze and several       companies believe that they are in danger of going bust. The sector has always had its problems but these have been aggravated by the following :

  1. LA’s have frozen the rate willing to be paid for a bed and this has led to a 5 to 7% fall in real terms
  2. Introduction of the national minimum wage
  3. Providers have increased the rate for self funders in response to the cuts made by LAs.

It was suggested that Care homes will certainly be closing as a result of the above and some have already done so. There was also reference to the issue of the financial business model adopted by the sector as having a damaging impact. Apparently, the model that is used is one where care homes are bought and then leased back. The model is a debt based financial form of engineering. Tax is not paid on debt so this model of sale and lease back is deliberately adopted to increase return on capital. Furthermore, following such forms of implementation we end up with a standardised product. The model usually includes fifty to sixty rooms , everyone eats together etc. Three questions were asked by the presenter :

  1. What is the place of this debt based model and the implications ?
  2. Should the fifty to sixty bed model be the template ?
  3. How do we mobilise political attention ?

With regards to integration the presentation raised concerns including the idea that the NHS could suffer. There also was an argument put forward for the increased use of social workers within the field of Adult Social Care. Other than that there was very little put forward that would help us work to change the model. The conclusion was that we needed to concentrate on the politics of change working for a properly funded health and social care system free at the point of delivery. More investment is required to build more provision . The idea of collectives was suggested where people sell their own homes and then buy in. The Green House project was mentioned. Also if any new model is created training has to form a fundamental part of the process as well as a culture of respect for the elderly.

The question and answer sessions in both sessions raised more problems than solutions. There also was little discussion about how we can campaign for change. Maybe the NPC needs to consider how we campaign in this area and work for more effective models to be put in place.

Lourdes Keever

Janet Shapiro comments: In relation to Lourdes’ last point, the NPC has a Fair Care Campaign, with its own booklet.

Delegate Argyros Arghyrou gives his own opinion about to the conduct of sessions.  To clarify – Pensioner Parliament is held in order to glean the experiences of pensioners from all over the UK; enough time is allowed so that attendees to get a chance to speak. This informs both NPC officers and the speakers.

On Wednesday there were six sessions and on Thursday one: each lasting 2 hours. In the morning and afternoon we had the choice of three sessions, each with a chair and two to four speakers.

It was a democratic structure; the chair introduced the subject; after the speakers gave their presentations the audience were invited to ask questions or make brief statements. Speakers had to take notes and attempt to take notes on a multitude of questions.   In my opinion this ‘democratic structure’ failed. Why did it fail ?

Primarily because too much time was spent on allowing too many of the audience & participants to ask their individual questions, leaving little time for the speakers to make considered       answers. Two hours is not a long time when the subjects are of intense social, pragmatic and philosophical content.

What then is the pragmatic solution ?

Have a strict timetable (announce this to the audience from the beginning):

introduction 5-10 minutes,

15-20 minutes questions. Answers : 30 minutes.

Chair : comment 5 minutes. Then repeat as above.

By this means a BALANCE is achieved. Democracy in a balanced disciplined structure. When Teaching one is also Learning.

Argyros Arghyrou





July 20th Meeting ‘Interests Bazaar’ and report back from NPC pensioners Parliament at Blackpool

Report back from the NPC Pensioners Parliament in Blackpool

by delegates  Lourdes Keever and Argyros Arghyrou

‘Interests Bazaar’ 

Retired Yes! but we are busy with hobbies, clubs and campaigns.

Bring your interests and hear what others are doing.


Time and date:         WEDNESDAY 1.30 pm July 20th 2016

Venue:                         Hornsey Parish Church Hall,

                                      Cranley Gardens, N10 3AH

Entrance on Cranley Gardens through car park. Served by buses W7 W3 144 stop nearby.  Doors open from 1pm.

Notice July 20th Download


Report of June 15th meeting

Summary of talk at HPAG public meeting 15th June 2016

My Library My Right: what is happening in our local libraries?

Mark Taylor Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

Mark began by explaining the purpose of CILIP and highlighting its campaign ‘My Library My Right’ for the public to have full access to libraries and information. Libraries are very well used with 225 million visits p.a. – more popular than football or tourism. 190 million books are lent each year with 27million hours of free access. But 340 libraries have shut since 2010 and 8,000 library jobs have been lost – if that was the steel industry it would be big news. In Haringey no libraries have been shut but the workforce has been halved.

Libraries have the power to bring together knowledge from disparate sources and make it accessible. The origins of scholarly libraries stretch back 4,000 years to ancient tablets in Iraq and the famous Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt 3rd Century BC that was burned down.

The first public libraries emerged within the Roman Empire. Later religious and monastic libraries were developed. When the technology of paper emerged from China many more libraries were established. During the later Enlightenment period libraries were established for the public good. Manchester Library was built in 1653, the British (Museum) Library 1753. Later miners in Leadhill, Scotland established a library for their children.

In 1850 the first law was passed for local authorities to raise money to erect buildings for libraries. Then philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie purchased the books to furnish them. These laws raised issues like how much to rise from taxes? how much to charge? Would there be damage to commercial business ? e.g. booksellers. In 1850 it was proposed that all good university libraries should open their doors but very few still do.

Circulating libraries like those of WH Smith, Boots and Harrods developed but gradually closed by the late 1950’s.

The 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act specified that the establishment function of libraries was a statutory duty of both national and local government. Libraries should be comprehensive, efficient and accessible. The Secretary of State responsible for libraries is John Whittingdale and the Minister is Ed Vaizey.

The Internet has dramatically changed the way we store and access knowledge and information. It has opened up many opportunities for those with digital skills. But an estimated 11million people are offline yet 90% of future jobs will require online skills. In 2016 99% of libraries make Wifi available, children are being taught how to code, 3D printing is being used innovatively e.g. to assist hip operations. The ethos in the UK has always been that collecting     information is to enable people to benefit from it – thus recognising the statutory obligation.

However now library staffs are being reduced, budgets are cut, library buildings repurposed. The government eliminated quangos in its early days including those that were active on behalf of libraries. Austerity has been introduced with no thought of its impact on local communities.

Have libraries modernised? Was CILIP ready? Has it done enough to persuade people how important   libraries are? Libraries can improve people’s health, and provide them with opportunities for learning and development.

Some politicians have said that Libraries are like parks – they are nice but you don’t have to have them! Central government has forgotten its duty to oversee libraries. CILIP has worked with Conservative politicians and sought legal advice about the 1964 Libraries Act. Are local authorities and central government failing in their duties?

CILIP has used the threat of legal action to institute its campaign My Library My Right. This has received a lot of support. It is monitoring press reports about libraries, helping people to lobby their MPs and bring pressure on the Minister, Ed Vaizey with some success.

When libraries have consulted locally on proposed changes they have not always informed central government. When they do the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)t can intervene as they did when West Berkshire proposed closing 8 of its 9 libraries.

The Independent Library Report for England (18.12.2014) called for a national strategy to articulate what public libraries in England are for and why they are a force for good for us all. Then at the request of the DCMS the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce developed a draft Ambition document that was consulted on between March and June this year. A national strategy is due to published in July this year which is expected to include regional coordination.

What do people want from libraries? good books, friendly staff, events, family history, nice buildings, Wi-Fi, open at accessible hours, lending eBooks. The USA is ahead of us in this respect. Michel Obama has actively promoted libraries.

Despite the problems of the last 6 years many libraries are still working effectively. If they work with museums and schools to modernise they can survive.


  1. What does CILIP think of Community Libraries with volunteers?

A: A difficult q. for CILIP because they work to       professional staff. Volunteers can have a role but only to complement staff and not replace skilled and trained professionals. Haringey has not yet gone down this route. Lewisham is trying to sell off its   libraries.

  1. Has CILIP included users in its campaigns.
  2. CILIP has not in the past included users of libraries in its campaigns. However the new campaign central government team is doing that.
  3. Barnet has closed most of its libraries and the   remaining ones are run by volunteers. How can the people of Barnet get their libraries back?

A: Libraries might work as community trusts to give them more freedom and independence.

Q: Is it true that some libraries use algorithms (computer programmes) to select and buy books?

A: It would be possible to do that but very unusual.

Q: I sit in on lots of general local discussions about libraries and a lot of time is spent talking about giving more space to Customer services. What should a   library look like?

A: It’s not good if e.g. you have to walk through a children’s library to get to a C.A.B.

Q: Libraries are places for signposting. What services should they provide and where? Does the Libraries Act specify how many books there should be per 100k population?

A: It depends on how you define a library. What are statutory and non-statutory libraries? Are libraries in the right places? Many library buildings were erected in the Victorian era and localities have greatly changed since then.

Mark was thanked for his talk and presented with a small gift.

Kathryn Dean

(Clive Evers produced a full transcript; ask if you want this.)


June Meeting and report of May meeting


‘What is happening in our local libraries?’

  Mark Taylor, Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals

Time and date: WEDNESDAY 1.30 pm June 15th 2016

Venue: Hornsey Parish Church Hall,

Cranley Gardens, N10 3AH

Entrance on Cranley Gardens through car park. Served by buses W7 W3 144 stop nearby.

Doors open from 1pm.

The talk on May 18th was

“The EU Referendum: what is it all about?”

Speakers  were:  Angela Pollitzer who had  worked for 22 years at the European Commission and Steve Jefferys, Emeritus Professor in Employment Relations

page 1 May

A well attended meeting at Hornsey Parish Church Hall


Angela Pollitzer began by briefing us on how to vote on June 23rd; this is only 5 weeks away. One can register to vote by midnight of June 7th, and request a postal vote by 5pm on June 8th.

There is only one ballot paper, on which we put a cross beside ‘Remain a member of EU’, OR beside ‘Leave the EU’

She brought a large number of booklets; these covered all aspects of how the EU affects our lives such as over fifties, families etc.  The main one was ’How the European Union works’ that is very comprehensive and includes contact details for getting in touch with the EU.

A summary sheet was also provided to explain terms and organisations. It included the historical origins; in 1950 France and Germany wanted economic collaboration to establish peaceful relations and in 1951 six founding nations signed the Treaty of Paris. The current European Union has 28 Member States. The summary sheet is included with the newsletter.

Angela pinned a map on the wall showing the current Member States of the EU.

Six years ago, the Coalition government launched consultations with interest groups, experts, business communities; the published report covered every aspect of the EU (2013-14).  This was called the UK Government’s Balance of Competences Review.

The review did not recommend transfer of competences to the national level


Angela Pollitzer - speaking at the May 18 meeting

Angela Pollitzer – speaking at the May 18 meeting

Angela explained the procedure if the UK leaves the EU. A period of 2 years is available to negotiate a “Withdrawal agreement”.

If a Member State leaves, it would need to reapply as if for the 1st time, if it changes its mind

Essential issues to negotiate include Security (especially for Ireland), Single Market, Acquired rights of nationals

The European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland,  Liechtenstein) would have to agree whether to admit a new member.

The following information was not included in her talk.

Angela’s personal experience was several years as a Social Worker in Personnel for staff problems, then 13 years as a Desk Officer in ECHO, EU’s Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department. ECHO aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Find out more at  – Daily Flash, Press Releases, Fact Sheets, Field Blogs, Funding Decisions

Emergency Toolbox – Epidemics, Small-scale Response, Support to IFRC (Int. Fed. of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies) DREF (Disaster Relief Emergency Fund)

In 2014 EU provided emergency assistance for 121 million people in over 80 countries via EUR 1.2 million (less than 1% total EU budget)

Angela answered questions that included:

The European Court of Justice- this has a judge from each Member State,

Financial aspects– UK contributions are small compared with what we get back in the form of environmental and regional support,

Democratic balance– the European Parliament can now question all prospective Commissioners, approving or disapproving of their nomination, and can even dissolve the whole Commission” .

Steve Jefferys was the next speaker; his research has focussed on employment relations. His talk examined how the EU has been affecting employment patterns and what would change if the UK left. He used slides; ask if you would like these.

Referring to the title, “The EU Referendum: what is it all about?”, Steve indicated that a pledge to hold a referendum on EU membership was in the Conservative manifesto in order to fend off political challenge from UKIP.  He suggested the issue of migration is the underlying issue.

Data on the movement of people shows that over the last five years more UK citizens emigrating than those coming in. One million UK citizens now live in Spain. Steve examined various impacts of migration.

About 16% of those in employment are now immigrants. What is their impact on low-skilled workers’ wages? Steve’s scattergrams showed that the effect on UK low-skilled varied according to county, but net effect was not significant.

Steve examined various impacts of migration.

About 16% of those in employment are now immigrants.

What is their impact on low-skilled workers’ wages? Steve’s scattergrams showed that the effect on UK low-skilled varied according to county, but net effect was not significant.

His data showed that migrants are mostly working in low-skilled jobs in food processing, domestic service, clothing, restaurants, accommodation,  buildings and security, but also in high-skilled jobs in air transport, research and computers. Migrants are more likely to live in private rented accommodation than British-born workers. Extreme rises in property   values was not associated with large proportions of EU migrants.

Steve considered that leaving the EU would not abate overall immigration levels, but it could remove some protection given by the Health & Safety directives and Discrimination directives for workers. The European Convention on Human Rights could also be lost and with it the right to form and join a trade union

Steve answered questions on democratic transparency, freedom of speech, unfair treatment of refugees, and possible effects if the UK left the EU.

There was enthusiastic thanks for Angela and Steve. They also helped with the raffle and joined us for  refreshments and further informal discussion.


For supplementary information on the EU please  CLICK HERE 

Click here for more information



June 15 meeting

‘What is happening in our local libraries?’

Mark Taylor,

Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals

Time and date: WEDNESDAY 1.30 pm June 15th 2016

Venue: Hornsey Parish Church Hall,

Cranley Gardens, N10 3AH

Entrance on Cranley Gardens through car park. Served by buses W7 W3 144 stop nearby.

Doors open from 1pm.