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During the compilation of this just-recently released report, I was asked to contribute my concerns. Well before the report’s authors did so, I also met with the Norfolk Coroner about the issue of unexpected mental health deaths.

I have yet to read the final report but I know it will be scant consolation to the friends and families who’ve lost loved ones to find out in the press that their loss may be within some ‘national average’. 

As it stands, there’s nothing in the coverage of the report that says that much has materially improved for patients and families. It seems to be a tale mainly of the stats maybe telling us that things may not have been as bad as we thought (but even that is subject to all kinds of caveats about how valid the research is).

Let’s be clear about this. Every ‘unexpected death’ is not just a statistic. It means misery, anguish and grieving for real people. And any avoidable death is one death too many.

I will also hold judgment on the recommendations until I read the report in full. When I do I will judge it as much by what it omits of the concerns I raised as what it says about the ones that I did.

While it’s good to see that other local (Lib Dem and Tory)  MPs were consulted for this report, I find it gobsmacking that their record while in charge of local mental health services doesn’t warrant a mention. 

The much campaigned against deterioration of local mental health services has happened on the watch of a local Lib Dem Care Minister, his Coalition government and subsequently the current Tory government. This deterioration did not happen in some kind of local vacuum - in the end the buck has to stop somewhere. And in this case it stops with the politicians who are - or were - in charge and could have done things differently.

Of course, local NHS management should be held to account when they get things wrong as Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trusts (NSFT) has so often in the last few years. But the reality is that we are in the midst of a national emergency in mental health made in Downing Street.

National Tory and Lib Dem decisions have had disastrous consequences locally. NSFT has had to make cuts of £40million, is now in the red by £11million and there are still £36million of cuts to come. Since the Tories came to power in 2010, local mental health services now have 32% fewer doctors and 12% fewer nurses.

EDP article: Mental health: Investigation finds number of unexpected deaths at Norfolk and Suffolk trust is not above national average

 

Unexpected mental health deaths: one is too many and the buck stops with the Tories and Lib Dems

During the compilation of this just-recently released report, I was asked to contribute my concerns. Well before the report’s authors did so, I also met with the Norfolk Coroner about...

A report released earlier in the year by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has highlighted Norwich to be the second worst of all authorities in the country when it comes to helping young people from poorer backgrounds progress in life.

The Social Mobility Index is calculated using indicators based on educational attainment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as outcomes achieved by adults in the city - such as average income, job availability and affordability of housing.

To help find out why Norwich scores so poorly on this index, Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, has surveyed numerous charities and other organisations in the city who work to support young people and improve their prospects.

The responses received show that professionals in the sector consider factors such as education, aspiration and funding to be key issues when it comes to furthering social mobility.

Failing education in deprived areas of Norwich was repeatedly flagged up as being a significant contributor to the results, with one youth charity CEO adding that “academisation certainly hasn’t helped, despite ostensibly improving results in the short term”.

Several organisations highlighted low aspiration as a limiting factor for young people achieving well in school and beyond; a youth charity CEO said: “Low aspirations, and a lack of understanding of the value of education amongst parents and families has a knock on effect in terms of young people’s engagement in learning and long term personal development.”

Lack of funding for services and activities which help to build youth confidence and aspiration is also strongly felt to be holding back improvements social mobility in Norwich. Charities highlighted how the funding that is currently available can be restrictive, and how the application and progress-reporting process can be needlessly time consuming; as a result, long-term planning can be difficult.

Commenting on the findings, Clive Lewis MP says:

“I'm proud of the fact there are so many charities and organisations in Norwich doing fantastic work to make sure our city’s young people have the best chances in life. I hope we can continue to work together to strengthen and expand this work.

However, it’s a shame these charities are still needed to such an extent. They offer vital community-level support to young people in Norwich, but it is clear there are many national issues which need to be addressed in order to make real progress.

With there being no conclusive evidence that academisation will improve quality of education, I do not believe the Government’s plans for all schools to become academies will see the positive changes in standards that Norwich needs - quite the opposite. 
In adulthood, substandard and insecure housing, unemployment and poor mental health can all result in low aspiration; this is passed down through generations and fuels a cycle of deprivation. I will continue to press for improvements in these areas so that the welfare and confidence of young people can be improved.”

Councillor Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, comments on how the Council hopes to see social mobility improvements in the area:

“Norwich City Council is committed to moving towards a fairer city with greater equality for all its residents. We work with others to promote opportunities for residents to live in secure sustainable housing, with fairly paid employment and access to opportunity.

Specifically we:

  • Provide a significant number of low cost affordable secure housing to support residents on low incomes.

  • Channel council spending where possible into the local economy, maintaining and supporting local employment

  • Pay the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage to all our employees and contractors to support fairly paid local jobs.

  • Are supporting the creation of a new ‘early help hub’ based in city hall which opens next month

  • Maintain a council tax reduction scheme which takes pressure off the poorest residents

In short, everything we do is with fairness in mind to support residents, keep them in secure low cost accommodation, provide or campaign for fair wages and opportunities that increase the possibility of social mobility.”

Social Mobility Index reveals Norwich to be social mobility ‘coldspot’

A report released earlier in the year by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has highlighted Norwich to be the second worst of all authorities in the country when...

Never in parliamentary history has the chancellor accepted an amendment to a budget resolution... until yesterday when George Osborne was forced by the Labour Party into accepting two.

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The first on tampon VAT and the second from Clive Lewis, Shadow Energy Minister (and Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Treasury exchequer secretary) on the planned VAT hike to 20% on renewables and energy efficiency including solar panels.

The Solar Trade Association say this VAT change would have cost the renewables and energy efficiency sector approximately £200m. For the solar industry alone this would have meant thousands of job losses, many across the Eastern region. It would also have cost the average family looking at home solar installation an extra £1,000.

Labour's Shadow Energy Minister and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said:

"The Chancellor's shambolic climbdown on the solar tax shows the government are in complete disarray. We will keep up the pressure to ensure this promise is honoured in the Finance Bill so that clean energy jobs are protected and families aren't punished for doing the right thing by installing solar panels to reduce carbon emissions for future generations.

This a rare bit of good news for solar after the Tories have spent the entire parliament clobbering the industry - cutting solar farms and trying to slash the Feed in Tariff to homeowners by 83%.

In the most ridiculous move, the Tories have extended the Climate Change Levy (a special tax on dirty energy) to cover electricity produced by solar - ridiculed by Friends of the Earth as ‘like putting an alcohol tax on apple juice’”

Norwich South MP part of historic Treasury U-turn benefiting women and the battle against climate change

Never in parliamentary history has the chancellor accepted an amendment to a budget resolution... until yesterday when George Osborne was forced by the Labour Party into accepting two.

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