Smoke & Mirrors ? A Government Speciality ! Promise One Thing Deliver Another

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Grenfell Tower ... 6 months on :


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho ... 02711.html


Government 'failing' Grenfell Tower victims six months after fire.

'We need answers from the Government and we need action'.


Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Prime Minister of “failing” Grenfell Tower survivors, most of whom remain homeless six months on from the blaze.

Labour rounded on the Government for the slow progress in rehousing displaced families despite early pledges to have everyone out of hotels within three weeks.

In a letter to Theresa May, shadow housing minister John Healey sets out five areas where he claims Grenfell survivors and tower residents more widely continue to be let down.

He backed calls made in a petition for the Grenfell Tower public inquiry to be overseen by a diverse panel of experts, rather than just one judge.

Safety concerns in other high-rise blocks were still not being properly addressed, he said, after a nationwide audit found hundreds wrapped in flammable cladding.

Mrs May, widely criticised for her response in the aftermath of the fire, was also urged to hasten an overhaul of building regulations and properly fund work to make tall buildings safer.

Mr Corbyn said in a statement: “Six months on from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government is failing to learn its lessons and, more importantly, failing the survivors.

“It is a disgrace that the majority of Grenfell residents have still not been given homes and that tower blocks across our country have still not been made safe.

“We need answers from the Government and we need action.”

The party's intervention comes as survivors and bereaved relatives prepare to mark six months since the tragedy, which left 71 dead, on Thursday.

Currently only 42 households from the tower have moved into permanent new homes and 118 remain in emergency accommodation, including 103 in hotels.

Mr Healey pointed to the Prime Minister's words on June 17 when she said she had fixed a deadline of three weeks “for everybody affected to be found a home nearby”.

He asked why more families had not been rehoused and how many would be in emergency rooms over Christmas.

His letter continued: “Why has the Government failed to provide any funding to build new homes, or to acquire existing empty homes to help survivors?”

Survivor's confidence and willingness to participate in the public inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “absolutely vital” to its success, the Labour MP said.

This meant that a petition launched by around 50 victims' families and the main survivors' group calling for experts from a diverse range of backgrounds to sit alongside him should be considered.

The shadow minister also weighed in on a continuing tussle between councils and central Government about funding for the safety installations recommended by fire chiefs.

It is “essential” that cash was set aside to finance the improvements, including £1 billion for the retro-fitting of sprinklers in older tower blocks, the Labour MP said.


Grenfell Tower ... not the last article to feature this debacle ... regreatably.

The buck will stop ... depending on just how many will be " Sacrificed. "

More news will follow as the present pantomine unfolds.
More on the illusion of " Free " 30 hour child care ... a Government incentive ... with a rather large sting in the tail :


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42639258


Parents shelling out for 'free' nursery scheme.


Parents are subsidising a new flagship "free" nursery scheme for three- and four-year-olds in England from their own pockets, a survey suggests.

Nurseries are making up losses by upping fees for younger children and charging for meals and nappies, a survey of 1,662 providers suggests.

The survey, by the Pre-School Learning Alliance, suggests only a third are delivering the hours totally free.

The government says it is investing £6bn in childcare by 2020.

It added that any charges to parents on the scheme must be voluntary.

The poll of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders is the first to be carried out since the 30-hour free childcare scheme came into effect in September, and has been shared exclusively with the BBC.

Families where both parents are working more than 16 hours a week, but earning under £100,000 each, qualify for the scheme. It expands the number of free hours childcare for this age group from 15 a week.

'Making losses'

But nurseries and pre-schools have long warned they will struggle to make ends meet because the hourly rates they are receiving from the government are too low.

Nurseries and pre-schools have already been cross-subsidising the previous entitlement of 15 hours a week with fees from non-government funded children.

According to the survey, conducted online among alliance members, over a third said they were making up losses by upping fees for younger children.

And charges for items such as meals and nappies are also being made at a third of the settings that responded.

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Most said the hourly rates they were receiving from the government were below what they charged parents not on the scheme and failed to cover their costs.

And a fifth thought they may not be financially sustainable by next year.

And numerous local authorities are no longer promoting the scheme as "free", instead referring to the hours as "funded" in their advertising instead.

One nursery told the alliance: "Funding rate not increased for the seventh year, coupled with cost of increased pension contributions and increase in living wage and minimum wage, we are seriously concerned about our future survival."

More than three-quarters (some 77%) said if the funding stayed the same next year, it would have a negative impact on the business - 44% described that negative impact as "significant".

Another provider said: "It does not currently seem financially sustainable. If the funding rate does not increase, the only way we can still offer the places is by charging for extras, [in other words] charging for the gap in underfunding."


'Funding crisis'

Chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance Neil Leitch said: "It's clear from these findings that the government's flagship childcare policy is failing both providers and parents.

"Respondents have laid out in black and white that the 30 hours policy is simply not working, with a continued lack of adequate funding leaving many with no option but to pass the funding shortfall on to parents.

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"This has left parents to pay the price for government underfunding through often unexpected charges for things like nappies, food and trips, while the government continues to claim that it's delivering on its promise of 'free' childcare."

He said that since the policy had been announced, the childcare sector had repeatedly said the scheme would not be sustainable in the long term.

"Thousands of parents and providers have now joined our Fair Future Funding campaign to demonstrate their concerns.

"The government should not have needed more evidence of a childcare funding crisis - but here it is."

He added that if ministers did not want to leave parents picking up the tab, or more nursery closures, they needed to increase funding urgently.

The National Day Nurseries Association chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: "These are extremely worrying findings and sadly echo our own research over the last year.

"The government needs to be honest with providers and parents that 30 hours funded childcare is not 'free'.

"There is a significant shortfall between government funding rates and the cost to nurseries of providing childcare."

For example, in Suffolk the funding rate is £3.87 per child, per hour, compared to the £5.20 per child, per hour it costs to deliver a place.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We are investing a record amount of around £6 billion every year by 2020 in childcare and have doubled the free childcare available to working parents to 30 hours a week, saving them up to £5,000 a year per child.

"Providers can choose whether to offer 30 hours and what pattern of days and hours they offer parents. We have always been clear that government funding is not intended to cover the costs of meals or additional services.

"However, while providers can charge parents for additional extras, this cannot be a condition of the child's place."

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The costs and benefits of the Child Care scheme yet again :


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho ... 30431.html

Cost of childcare surges to £122 a week leaving parents 'treading water', report finds.

Families with two working parents in London having to shed out more than £7,600 a year for child under two to go to nursery, which campaigners warn is 'locking' more people out of work.


The cost of childcare in Britain has surged to double the rate of inflation leaving many families “just treading water” as parents struggle to afford the rising costs in order to go to work, a new study shows.

The average cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has soared by seven per cent in the past year to £122 a week, or more than £6,300 a year, according to the report by the Family and Childcare Trust.

Following the roll-out of new government support schemes in 2017, most parents are now entitled to some help with childcare costs – but the Trust says a “confusing hotchpotch” of seven different types of support means families are at risk of missing out on the help they need.

Many working parents using the new tax-free childcare scheme – which offers £2 for every £8 parents pay for childcare up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year – and the 30 hours of free childcare offered for three- and four-year-olds, which was rolled out in 2017, will be spending less on childcare this year. But their savings are likely to dry up if prices continue to rise at the same rate.

The highest prices for childcare are for youngest children between the end of paid parental leave and when the child turns three. This is the period when the least financial support is available to parents.

A household in inner London where both parents work, meaning they are not eligible for any out-of-work benefits but receive tax free childcare, has to shed out more than £7,600 a year for their child under two to go to nursery. The cost of a childminder for this family would amount to £7,238 for the year.

Parents with children under three on lower incomes will not be receiving additional support this year through tax-free childcare and so are likely to see their childcare costs rise, the report warns.

Lower income families also risk being worse off working more hours. They can get help with childcare costs through the benefits system, but the average cost of a full-time nursery place significantly outstrips the maximum support available by £60 each week.

Prices also vary significantly across the country. In inner London – the most expensive region in the UK – the price of a part-time nursery place for a child under two is £184 per week before tax-free childcare – 80 per cent higher than in the North West.

Even families that are eligible for the 30 hours offer for three- and four-year-olds may not receive the support they were expecting, as just half of local authorities in England report having enough childcare places for working parents to access their free 30 hours place.

Ellen Broomé, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads, it supports parents to work, boosts children’s outcomes and provides our economy with a reliable workforce. Too many parents remain locked out of work by high childcare costs and low availability.

“New government investment is welcome, but this year’s childcare price surge shows that without root and branch reform, many families will be left just treading water.

“The Government need to streamline the current hotchpotch of childcare support schemes. We need a simple and responsive childcare system that makes sure every parent is better off working and childcare quality is high enough to boost children’s outcomes throughout life.”

The report comes after analysis published last year by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) revealed that in England the cost of childcare for young children had risen more than four times faster than wages since 2008.

It found the average wages of parents with a one-year-old child rose by 12 per cent in cash terms in the eight-year period, while their childcare costs shot up by 48 per cent in the same period.

In some parts of the UK the cost of childcare had risen by even more, increasing 7.4 times more quickly than pay in London, seven times more quickly in the East Midlands and 4.8 times more in West Midlands.

Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary, accused the Government of refusing to give local councils the investment needed to give families the support they need.

“The Government’s failure to provide free and high-quality childcare to those who need it most will keep many mothers locked out of the labour market, as rising childcare costs mean it doesn’t pay to work,” she added.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils remain concerned that the funding levels available for the free entitlements are not sufficient, which could potentially lead to fewer providers offering places, reduced quality, or increased costs for children using hours outside of the entitlements.

“We support the Family and Childcare Trust’s suggestion that spend on childcare could be reformed to create a simpler, more efficient system. As it stands, different schemes have different aims, and it can be difficult for parents to know the best option for their family.”

He added that reviewing early years support in its entirety would help to identify whether investment was helping to “reduce inequalities, improve social mobility and get better results for children and their families”.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Thousands of families are accessing high-quality, affordable childcare and the most pleasing finding in the Family Childcare Trust’s report is that parents are now spending less of their wages on that childcare as a result of the steps this government has taken.

“There are always challenges when implementing any new policy but we are investing record amounts in childcare – around £6bn a year by 2020 – and are working with the sector, which has responded well to the 30-hour rollout, to address them.

“Our 15 hours offer for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds is giving these children access to early education and we know that take up of this offer is increasing.”


An article that leaves very few questions ?

To end , a question I have raised periodically for the past 15 years or so ?

Child care ... fine ... what about Parent care ???

And why no challenge to clear discrimination in favour of the young over the old ???

Couples choose to have children ... children have no choice other than to be " Saddled " with parents ???
Now , the Government's policy on childcare is called into question :


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/busi ... 70841.html


Government should stop trying to get more parents to return to work, say MPs.

Treasury has made little effort to calculate the economic impact of free childcare, select committee says.


The Government should stop trying to encourage more parents back into work, instead of staying home to care for their children, the Treasury Select Committee has said.

In a highly critical report, the influential group chaired by Conservative MP Nicky Morgan said it had seen no evidence that the Government’s various schemes for funding childcare increased UK productivity, as Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has claimed.

The report rubbished both the aims of current childcare policy and the methods employed to deliver on those aims. The Treasury has made little effort to calculate the economic impact of financial support for childcare, the committee said.

Under the current policy, parents receive up to 30 hours per week of free childcare.

Ms Truss told the committee that this assistance increased employment rates and economic activity, but the report said there was little evidence of any marked effect in these areas.

Until further analysis is carried out, “it is impossible to determine whether the cost to the taxpayer of childcare support is outweighed by the economic benefits,” the committee said.

It said it had received evidence highlighting other, non-financial, factors that influence parents’ decisions about returning to work such as poor part-time opportunities, lack of flexibility, and family-unfriendly workplace culture.

It said the Government’s approach to the issue of childcare ignored the economic value contributed by parents who choose to care for their young children at home, rather than returning to the labour market.

“This is a legitimate choice that the Government should take care to respect in setting its objectives for childcare policy,” the report stated.

“In particular, the overriding policy objective should be to support parents who decide to return to the labour market, rather than to increase labour force participation among those who choose to stay at home to care for their children."

The annual economic value of childcare carried out by stay-at-home parents is £320bn, according to a 2016 estimate by the Office for National Statistics. If the Government paid parents an hourly rate instead of encouraging them to return to work by paying for childcare, this work would be brought into the formal economy, the committee said.

The committee also said it received evidence that the stated aims of overall childcare policy were not clearly articulated, and that individual schemes could sometimes come into conflict.

“The Government’s 11th-hour decision to postpone the discontinuation of the childcare voucher scheme by six months is no way to manage childcare policy,” the committee said.

If the Government wants to increase productivity through its childcare policy, parents of all ages should be given support when they are training to return to work, the committee recommended.

This would allow parents to re-enter the labour market at the appropriate skill level, it said. Currently, only parents aged 20 and under qualify for free childcare during training. These allowances should be expanded to parents of all ages, the committee said.

It also accused the Government of misleading the public by claiming that it provides £4.94 per hour to fund free childcare when the actual average rate passed on to providers for 2017-18 was £4.34.

The Department for Education’s own statistics on the costs of childcare are out of date, and fail to take into account increases to the national living wage, national insurance and pensions auto-enrolment, meaning that some providers are being paid less than the cost they incur.


Oh dear , back to the drawing board ?
Another one that falls into this thread ... " The National Living Wage " :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... d-up-to-be

Government's Easter pay rise is not all it's cracked up to be.

The Tories finally deliver on Osborne’s living wage promise, but this is a masterclass in political deceit.


When George Osborne promised Britain a pay rise in the summer of 2015, fresh from electoral victory over Ed Miliband, he pledged a “national living wage” in an attempt to steal a march on his defeated opponent.

Three years later, his promise means more than 2 million workers received an inflation-beating pay rise of 4.4% on Easter Sunday as the living wage rose for the second time, from £7.50 per hour to £7.83 for those over the age of 25. The increase amounts to more than £600 per year for full-time workers on basic pay.

Combined with steps to raise the personal tax threshold, taking more low-income families out of paying tax altogether, it makes for a powerful political message: the Conservatives are the party of the workers, not Labour. Trust us, we’re putting more money in your pocket.

But the policy was a masterclass in political deceit. Even though the promise has been kept, and is in some small way a sign of progress, the average pay of British workers remains 6% below its pre-financial crisis peak. Britain hasn’t had a real pay rise in almost a decade.

As for the language used to make Osborne’s argument, the government’s national living wage does not deserve the name. The term belongs to the Living Wage Foundation, which has campaigned for better pay since 2001 – well before the then-chancellor used the term to rebadge the national minimum wage first introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour.

The foundation warned last week that a worker on the new government minimum will receive almost £1,800 less per year than they really need for basics such as housing, transport, childcare and food.

The government’s own official number cruncher, the Office for National Statistics, also warned the new government minimum falls short of average family spending. It reckons mums and dads working full-time would earn £212 per week less than the average amount spent by all households with two adults and two children last year.

Put simply, the living wage rise is not what it says on the tin. Osborne stole the term for reasons of political expediency, in a sleight of hand that must not be forgotten over the coming weeks when Tory ministers boast of raising workers’ pay.

The Conservatives have pledged to increase the living wage to £9 an hour by 2020. Labour has trumped that by saying workers, including those under the age of 25, should be paid £10 an hour by the end of the decade.

But it’s worth remembering earnings are not the only source of income. Tax credits, benefits and investments can also be counted – although the latter rarely applies to the lowest earners.

Analysis from the Bank of England last week showed the bottom 10th of earners take home less in wages from hard graft than those at the top of the pile make sitting on their investment portfolios.

Herein lies another policy change set in motion by Osborne three years ago, but one his successor, Philip Hammond, is less keen to talk about.

While the chancellor happily mentioned the living wage rise at the spring statement last month, he glossed over some other significant changes that also take effect from the start of this week. The “non-event” status given to the spring statement was, again, far from the truth.

A massive £2.5bn of working-age benefit cuts will take effect from the start of this week, as part of the £10bn of cuts earmarked by Osborne in 2015. A further £2.7bn savings must be found in the year from April 2019, just as the UK leaves the European Union.

According to the Resolution Foundation, those cuts will mean “just about managing” families in the poorer half of Britain in terms of income – the very households Theresa May pledged to help on the steps of Downing Street when she took power almost two years ago – will lose about £1,000 per year on average by the early 2020s. As a result, the thinktank reckons Britain is set for the largest rise in income inequality since the 1980s.

The freeze on benefits under way since 2015 means most of the support for working-age adults won’t increase with inflation this month as usual. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, this will take £200 per year on average off 10.5m households – a great many more than the rise in the living wage will help.

There are some signs of hope. Rising real wages – when average pay growth beats the rate of inflation – are in sight after the ONS reported that pay in the three months to January was rising at the fastest rate in two years. With inflation also now beginning to fall, that could mean pay begins to outstrip rising prices within the coming months.

Many employers choose to pay the Living Wage Foundation recommended hourly rate of £8.75 and £10.20 in London, viewing it as a selling point to attract and reward good employees. Manchester city council, for one, recently moved to pay home care workers in the city the real living wage to help retain staff.

Other bosses are concerned that higher statutory pay could prompt rising unemployment, as firms are faced with the prospect of paying more money to fewer workers. But that discounts the idea that raising the minimum wage can boost the spending power of consumers, lifting demand in the economy and therefore helping create the conditions for more jobs to be created.

There are already clear signs about the dangers for the economy when British households have too little money in their pocket to spend. Several retailers – including Maplin, Toys R Us and Bargain Booze owners Conviviality have gone bust, while others are teetering on the brink.

Fresh figures from the ONS last week showed households became net borrowers, rather than savers, for the first time since 1987. Meanwhile, the households savings ratio, which measures outgoings and incoming money, is at its lowest level since 1963.

With the Brexit countdown clock having now reached a year to go until the UK leaves the EU, this should be a warning that Britain needs the pay rise Osborne promised more than ever.


Enough said ?

Smoke and ... mirrors ... smoke and mirrors !
Second day running ... an article from the Daily Chuckle !

Low earners and the new " Auto enrollment " pension schemes :


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/pensio ... -cash.html


Secret scandal means low earners are losing pension cash, and no one is bothered enough to fix this injustice, writes ROS ALTMANN


Former pensions minister Ros Altmann is campaigning for low earners to get the same Government cash received by all other savers into their pension pots.

Auto-enrolment has been a huge success with millions of employees now saving in a pension scheme at work. Confidence in pensions is at last being rebuilt, but a secret scandal could derail the project.

Pensions are a brilliant deal – they offer ‘free money’.

Pension contributions are deducted automatically from salary, and workers should get at least an extra pound for every pound they put into their pension - their employer pays in too and they are entitled to at least a 25 per cent bonus from Government tax relief.

This ‘buy one, get one free’ deal helps them build up larger pension funds.

But, disgracefully, the lowest earners – mostly women - are being forced to pay over the odds for their pension.

Most large pension providers use an administration mechanism called 'net pay', which does not enable those earning between £10,000 and £11,850 a year to get the taxpayer bonus.


Instead, the scheme charges them an extra 25 per cent instead. But nobody tells them – the extra charges are totally hidden.

This month, all workers’ auto-enrolment pension contributions have tripled, so the money these low earners is losing has also tripled.

Some pension 'mastertrusts', which manage worker' retirement savings for large numbers of employers at once, use a 'relief at source' system that does not disadvantage people on low wages.

The Government-sponsored NEST scheme and a few others make sure low-paid workers get the same taxpayer bonus as everyone else.

But most mastertrust providers use the 'net pay' system because it is more convenient for top-earners – and more profitable for the pension firms involved.


Higher and additional rate taxpayers earning £46,350 or more a year can avoid having to fill in a tax return to get their Government bonus, and the pension provider gets more money to manage and higher fees.

Hundreds of thousands of low-paid women (and many men too) are being penalised without knowing because this suits higher earners and pension firms.

Even worse, there is no mechanism for the low-paid workers to recover the money.

This is a huge injustice in our pension system, not just because of the people it affects – the low-paid for whom saving in a pension is a big sacrifice and who need as much help as possible to achieve a good pension – but also because those who have known about the issue for years have not bothered to sort it out.


Pension providers, Government officials, Ministers, industry bodies and even the Pensions Regulator are allowing this injustice to continue.

Ministers have told me in response to House of Lords written questions ‘the Government appreciates the concerns for low paid workers enrolled in net pay schemes. However, it has not been possible to identify any straightforward or proportionate’ solution.

It may be difficult, but that does not excuse failing to sort this out.

Astonishingly, the Government’s recent review of auto-enrolment ignored this issue.

The Pensions Regulator’s ‘mastertrust assurance framework’ set up to identify ‘good schemes’ ignored this issue.

The current consultation on how mastertrusts should be made safer for customers ignores this issue.

Even the PLSA industry body’s mastertrust committee, designed to help savers in mastertrusts achieve a better income in retirement, has allowed this scandal to continue.

All those supposedly responsible for sorting the scandal out are passing the buck, claiming it is someone else’s responsibility.

The Treasury says the Pensions Regulator is responsible for auto-enrolment, while the Pensions Regulator says the Treasury is responsible for tax relief.

The Regulator also says the Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the mastertrust framework and employers are responsible for choosing the scheme.

Meanwhile, more and more workers lose money. The bottom line seems to be that these low earners just don’t matter. But the buck has to stop somewhere.

If or when they discover they have been forced to pay so much more for their pensions than they needed to, what will they do? Who will they blame and claim redress from?

They had no control over the choice of auto-enrolment scheme. It was arranged by their employer.

But employers are not pension experts, and pension providers and the Regulator should surely have refused to allow low earners to be automatically enrolled into net pay schemes, unless they are reimbursed for the money they lose.

I will not let this go. I have asked to meet Ministers and am writing to the Pensions Regulator calling for new rules that ensure low earners do not lose out like this.

I am also trying to find a technological solution - perhaps an administration system that enrols low-earners into NEST or relief at source schemes, while others can stay in a net pay scheme.

Government officials have told me workers are only losing small amounts of money, so it does not really matter. That is indefensible.

Most low-earners need every penny they can get. The money should be theirs, but they don’t know they are losing out. They are being misled into believing their pension scheme is suitable for them and have no chance to protect themselves.

I have no wish to undermine the successful auto enrolment initiative, but I fear this issue will end up harming people's faith in it. Until this is addressed, the injustice will only get worse.



Even something as fundamental as pension contributions can be manipulated to ensure that those with low pay are worse off ?

Whichever way one looks , the dice are loaded !!!
From today's regular feature ... Number Crunching ... from Private Eye :

Number Crunching

£50m
Fund available for grammar schools expansion because government wants ‘more children from disadvantaged backgrounds to access that education’

£500m
Annual cut in funding since 2010/11 for Sure Start centres, which improve the chances of children from disadvantaged backgrounds
Could not resist this one !

Not as bad as some already posted on this thread but ... :


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44903471


Smart meters to cut energy bills by just £11, say MPs.


Customers who get smart meters installed are expected to save just £11 a year off their energy bills, a group of MPs has found.

It was originally thought that the new meters would save consumers at least £26.

In one of the most critical reports yet on the £11bn programme, the MPs also said the government was now likely to miss its own deadline.

As many as 53 million of them are due to be installed by the end of 2020.

Grant Shapps, the chair of the British Infrastructure Group of Parliamentarians (BIG), said the programme had been "plagued by repeated delays and cost increases, with suppliers now almost certain to miss the 2020 deadline, and programme benefits likely to be slashed even further."

The government said smart meters were putting consumers in control of their energy use, and were already benefiting millions of homes and small businesses across Great Britain.

Smart Energy GB, which is promoting the roll out of the smart meters, said: "All smart meters mean an end to estimated billing and give people a greater understanding of their energy use.

"Smart meters are also making prepay cheaper and more convenient, bringing the way we pay for our energy up-to-date, enabling customers to top up online or over the phone."

Customers have financed the smart meter programme by paying a levy on their energy bills, while suppliers have frequently blamed the levy for rising costs.

However the report claimed most of the eventual savings would be made by energy firms, rather than consumers.

"The roll-out is consequently at serious risk of becoming yet another large scale public infrastructure project delivered well over time and budget, and which fails to provide energy customers with a meaningful return on their investment," said Mr Shapps.


'Going dumb'

The MPs also said some suppliers had been engaging in "scare tactics" to convince customers to have a meter installed, in order for targets to be reached.

Such tactics included firms telling customers that their bills would go up unless they agreed to have a meter, or that their old meter was dangerous.


The report also said that:

Obsolete meters, which don't always work when a customer switches supplier, will continue to be rolled out until next year

More than half of smart meters "go dumb" after switching, meaning they stop communicating with the supplier

Up to 10% of smart meters don't work, because they are in areas where mobile phone signals are not strong enough

By the end of the year only 22% of households will have the meters installed, meaning the 2020 deadline is certain to be missed
The eventual cost of the programme could even outweigh the benefits


Response

The report was signed by 92 MPs.

However the government said it was wrong to call dumb meters "obsolete".

"It's simply wrong to say first-generation meters are 'obsolete' as they offer smart services now and will continue do so as they are enrolled into the smart metering network, " said a spokesperson for the Business and Energy Department.

"However we welcome ideas on how to ensure the ongoing success of the smart meter roll out and are already working with Ofgem on issues raised in the report."

The National Audit Office is already investigating the economic case for the roll-out of smart meters, and is due to report sometime this summer.


The MPs said the government should now plan for the roll-out to be completed by 2022, and that supply of the new generation of smart meters should be sped up.

They also said customers should be automatically compensated for each day their meter malfunctions.



There you have it folks !

Rolled out ... for whose benefit ?

According to the article , not us the consumers ... FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ENERGY SUPPLIERS ( WHO HAPPEN TO BE OWNED BY PRIVATE CAPITAL !!! )

Another classic con trick for which we have to pick up the bill.
Just a headline ... housing :
Help to Buy mess as taxpayers subsidise thousands of homes for couples earning more than £100,000.

Thousands of wealthy families are taking advantage of the taxpayer scheme.

More than 6,700 households with incomes over £100,000 bought homes.

The scheme provides taxpayer cash to people seeking a mortgage.

The original aim was to help people who could not afford to save up for a deposit.
Ground zero ... free childcare ?

Free childcare scheme " Closing nurseries " , education charity says.

Since 1 September 2017, most working parents in England have been entitled to the free care for children aged three to four during term time.

But the Pre-School Learning Alliance (PSLA) said some childcare providers were struggling to remain open because of increased running costs.