Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and prime minister Theresa May have led tributes from across government to Lord Heywood after it was announced that the former cabinet secretary and head of the civil service died yesterday.
Heywood, who retired on 24 October following treatment for cancer, made an “an immense contribution to public life”, Sedwill, his successor as cabinet secretary, said in a statement.
“He joined the civil service in 1983, advising and supporting governments through some of the most challenging episodes of the last 30 years. Jeremy was the exemplary public servant. We will miss him more than we can say, and will be the poorer without his advice, leadership and extraordinary insight,” he said.
Heywood “set the highest standards and challenged us to meet them,” Sedwill, who had been acting cabinet secretary after Heywood took a leave of absence in June until his retirement last month.
“Jeremy was always looking to move difficult problems forward, restlessly confident to deliver a better way. He was a champion of innovation and embraced change while consolidating and protecting the best of history. He promoted a diverse and inclusive civil service, fit to meet the digital, commercial and policy challenges of the future,” Sedwill added.
“Jeremy also considered it a privilege to lead the hundreds of thousands of civil servants up and down the country, and across the world, who work day after day to make people’s lives better. We offer our condolences and best wishes to Jeremy’s wife Suzanne, his three children, the rest of his family and their friends.”
May, who is the fourth prime minister Heywood advised, said the many retirement tributes paid to Jeremy from across the political spectrum in recent weeks demonstrated his extraordinary talent supporting and advising prime ministers and ministers, and leading the civil service with distinction.
“I will always be grateful for the support which he gave me personally and will remember his achievements across his career as we regret that he did not have the chance to offer his talents for longer in retirement,” she added. “Jeremy will be sorely missed and I send my deepest condolences to Suzanne and the children and to all his family and many friends.”
Suzanne Heywood said that her husband had “crammed a huge amount into his 56 years”.
In a statement, she said: “He loved his work as a civil servant and was hugely proud of his colleagues while always believing that they – and he – could and should do more, that there had to be a better way, a new way of looking at things or a fresh approach which would bring differing sides together. Those who worked with him found it a challenging, inspiring and rewarding experience.
“He saw it as a huge privilege to work so closely with four prime ministers and two chancellors and was unwavering in his efforts to help each of them reach their goals. He was always conscious of the need for civil servants to see the world through ministers’ eyes while at the same time respecting the boundaries between politicians and civil servants.”
She said there would be a small private funeral in the coming weeks and a memorial service open to all at a later date.
“A brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country”
Among the others to offer tributes to Heywood were former prime ministers David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, all of whom Heywood worked with at Number 10 as either cabinet secretary, permanent secretary at Number 10 or principal private secretary.
Cameron said it was “desperately sad news”
He added: “He was an amazing man, brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country. It was a privilege to work with him. All our thoughts and love are with Suzanne and the children.”
Brown said that the country had lost a leader of exceptional ability, unquestioned integrity and remarkable courage
“Jeremy Heywood was a unique civil servant who may not always have agreed with ministers’ proposals but always offered a positive and often better alternative. He will be sorely missed for the remarkable contribution he has made to Britain,” he said, while Blair said Heywood had been “a quite outstanding public servant and someone I came to have enormous respect for both as a professional and as a person”. He said Heywood had been “dedicated, smart, and with a rare small ‘p’ political skill which made him such a formidable Whitehall operator.”
Heywood’s predecessor Sir Gus O’Donnell said Heywood was “a great, dedicated civil servant who worked tirelessly for his country, his political masters and his colleagues”.
Among the colleagues to offer tributes was Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs perm sec Clare Moriarty, who called him a “civil servant and public servant extraordinaire”.
“He held the civil service through exceptionally challenging times and set a path that it will be our honour and privilege to follow. We will miss him greatly,” she tweeted.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government perm sec Melanie Dawes said Heywood’s contribution was immense. “His leadership and friendship were a privilege and we will continue to follow his example.”
Department for International Trade perm sec Antonia Romeo said it was “an incredibly sad day”, calling him a mentor, inspiration, and friend. “I’m proud to have served on his permanent secretary team. We will miss him hugely,” she added.
Home Office perm sec Sir Philip Rutnam said Heywood was “the outstanding public servant of his generation, and a very humane and kind man”.
He added: “We have lost a great leader of UK civil service but the greatest loss of all is to his family.”
Stewart Wood, a No 10 special advisor under Gordon Brown
The Conservative government is facing a possible backlash and vote of no confidence from its voters in the coming elections over its treatment of migrants and their children who historically came to that Britain from the Caribbean in the 1940s and who later became to be known as the “Windrush Generation” of Britain.
After the current Prime Minister, Theresa May had as home secretary said she would be tough on immigration and Amber Rudd the current home secretary has been accused of making up immigration policy ‘off the hoof’ to defuse the situation following the embarrassing debacle that saw hundreds of citizens being faced with deportation following home office rights to remain investigations into migrants living in Britain. More than 200 MPs have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for government promises to Windrush migrants to be written into law. Labour MP David Lammy, said concerns over compensation, housing, and legal rights had not been settled and Diane Abbott MP for Hackney has called for a full inquiry into whether the home secretary has breached ministerial code from the Government’s immigration targets.
The Home Office said Amber Rudd would speak in Parliament on Monday The home secretary is accused in the letter of making up immigration policy “on the hoof” to defuse the situation.
The letter addressed to Theresa May, said any promises made by the government in response to the Windrush crisis should be enshrined in law “without delay”.
But what was the effect of the Windrush Generation – let us look at just how important this migration was and look back at the benefit to Britain from that the Windrush generation of black afro-Caribbean Britons who settled in the United Kingdom.
The Empire Windrush voyage from the Caribbean to Tilbury took place in 1948.
If it hadn’t been for the Second World War, the Windrush and her passengers might not have made the voyage at all. During the war, thousands of Caribbean men and women had been recruited to serve in the armed forces.
When the Windrush stopped in Jamaica to pick up servicemen who were on leave from their units, many of their former comrades decided to make the trip in order to rejoin the RAF. More adventurous spirits, mostly young men, who had heard about the voyage and simply fancied coming to see England, ‘the mother country’, doubled their numbers.
Windrush was an important landmark in the history of modern Britain
June 22nd, 1948, the day that the Windrush discharged its 492 passengers at Tilbury, has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain; and the image of the Caribbeans filing off its gangplank has come to symbolize many of the changes which have taken place here. Caribbean migrants have become a vital part of British society and, in the process, transformed important aspects of British life.
In 1948, Britain was just beginning to recover from the ravages of war. Housing was a huge problem and stayed that way for the next two decades. There was plenty of work, but the Caribbeans first clashed with the natives over the issue of accommodation. But alongside the conflicts and the discrimination, another process was taking place.
Excluded from much of the social and economic life around them, they began to adjust the institutions they brought with them – the churches, and a co-operative method of saving called the ‘pardner’ system. At the same time, Caribbeans began to participate in institutions to which they did have access: trade unions, local councils, and professional and staff associations.
By the start of the seventies, West Indians were a familiar and established part of the British population, and they had achieved more than mere survival. One indication of their effect on British life is the Notting Hill Carnival. the carnival took place in the same streets where West Indians had been attacked and pursued by baying crowds, but it began as a celebration, a joyous all-inclusive testimony to the pleasure of being alive. As it developed, it became clear that there was a British festival where everyone was welcome, and everyone who wished to had a part to play.
Throughout the seventies, the children of the first wave of post-war Caribbean migrants began to develop a ‘black culture’ which is now part of a black British style shared by Africans, Asians and white young people alike.
The people of the Windrush, their children and grandchildren have played a vital role in creating a new concept of what it means to be British. To be British in the present day implies a person who might have their origins in Africa, the Caribbean, China, India, Greece, Turkey or anywhere else in the spectrum of nations.
The now-familiar debate about identity and citizenship was sparked off when the first Caribbeans stepped off the Windrush. Alongside that debate came the development of arguments about the regions within the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The British national self-image has been thoroughly remodelled in a very short time. Seen against the deadly agonies associated with ethnic conflicts in other European countries, Britain offers the example of a nation, which can live comfortably with a new and inclusive concept of citizenship. In a sense, the journey of the Windrush has never ended.
This is Una Cooze, (b. 1929 – d. 2001) a woman I had the pleasure of meeting and working closely with as she briefly worked for Ken Livingstone during 1991-1992 when his own secretary was on maternity leave. Una was the constituency secretary for Michael Foot for many years dealing with the correspondence on behalf of both MPs — writing to local authorities, government departments such as the home office, foreign office, department for work and pensions (the benefits agency as it was then known) and always writing diligently to each and every constituent that met both MPs initially having discussed their individual situations.
I met her in the offices of Norman Shaw South, which along with the Norman Shaw North Building is part of UK Parliament buildings and were, of course, more famously the seat of the Metropolitan Police as Old Scotland Yard.
She was a long-standing member of the Labour Party and an active T.U.C member and a lifelong socialist, this is probably why she remained an asset to the late great Michael Foot.
I have fond memories of talking with her and was amazed at her ability to recall each and every constituent in the Willesden (London Borough of Brent) area.
24 October 2016 2:48 pm | By Carl Brown courtesy : Inside Housing Journal)
The government will support the Homelessness Reduction Bill, the communities secretary has announced.
Sajid Javid, in parliament today, confirmed ministers will back the bill, which would impose duties on councils to prevent homelessness. Ministers had previously said they would consider options, including legislation, to prevent homelessness but until today had stopped short of supporting the bill.
Mr Javid said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets. We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”
The bill, tabled by Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman, has been supported by homelessness charities. It is made up of 12 measures (see below).
A new version of the bill was published last week following negotiations with bodies including the Local Government Association.
The original bill included a new duty on councils to provide emergency temporary accommodation for 56 days to people with a local connection but who are not in priority need and who have nowhere safe to stay.
Councils have said that such a duty would place too much pressure on local authorities, which are already struggling to keep up with spiralling homelessness demand. This duty has now been removed from the bill, on the basis that it would be too costly.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “In backing Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, the government has shown its continued determination to tackle homelessness. I am also grateful for the personal tenacity and commitment shown by Department for Communities and Local Government ministers in helping get to this important milestone.
The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday. It still needs the support of 100 MPs to protect the bill from risk of being ‘talked out’.
Mr Sparkes said: “While we warmly welcome today’s announcement, there remains a real risk that unless MPs offer their support at the bill’s second reading on Friday, this historic opportunity could easily be lost.”
AT-A-GLANCE: THE HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION BILL
The bill is made up of 12 measures:
1. A change to the meaning of “homeless” and “threatened with homelessness”. Each household that has received an eviction notice is to be treated as homeless from the date on which the notice expires, and the period at which a person is threatened with homelessness is changed from 28 to 56 days.
2. All homeless people have access to free advice and information.
3. Local authorities are required to carry out an assessment of what led to each applicant’s homelessness, and set out steps to remedy this in an agreed, written plan.
4. Local authorities are required to help to secure accommodation for all eligible households who are threatened with homelessness, and at an earlier stage.
5. Local authorities are required to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation.
6. Local authorities are able to take action to help to secure accommodation under the new duties to help homeless households.
7. Households in priority need who refuse to co-operate with prevention and/or relief activity will be offered a minimum of a six month private rented sector tenancy. They will not progress to the main homelessness duty. Households not in priority need who refuse to co-operate would be provided with advice and information only.
8. All young people leaving care will be deemed to have a local connection in the area of the local authority that is responsible for providing them with leaving care services under the Children Act 1989.
9. Applications are provided with the right to request a review in relation to the prevention and relief duties.
10. The Bill introduces a duty on specified local agencies to refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams
11. The Secretary of State has a power to produce a statutory Code of Practice to raise the standards of homelessness support services across the country.
12. A local housing authority must satisfy itself that specific requirements are in place where it secures accommodation for vulnerable households in the private rented sector.
The Methodist Church in England fears that people with mental health problems are experiencing sanctions on their benefits at a possible rate of 100 people a day, more than claimants suffering other conditions, according to figures presented to them by the DWP.
In March last year 4,500 people who are claiming Employment and Support Allowance due to mental heath issues were sanctioned, this figure was not the total amount as it did not include overturned decisions. The concern the Methodist Church had from these findings is that those with mental health conditions who failed to attend the Work Programme interviews and other appointments were being unfairly treated, or even discriminated due to their lack of cognitive ability and general condition of mental heath. DWP records also revealed the most common reason for being sanctioned is a person has been late or not turned up for a work programme appointment.
Public issues policy adviser , Paul Morrison for the Methodist Church, said: ‘Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping.’ adding, ‘The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed.’
The 100 a day figure was an average from data stretching back to January 2009 obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to the Department for Work and Pensions, released yesterday.
The “Work Programme” was set up 2011 at a cost of £5 billion, with it’s aim to ‘encourage’ and provide access to people with disabilities a opportunity to find work and enter the job market but since it’s inception it’s continually been cited as a failure with homelessness charities and housing associations even being among those who have abandoned it. It’s failure has been down to lack of employment in areas, the reduction of hours and wages in-line with the increased cost of living, and also the lack of commitment from the majority of employers to take on people with mental or physical disability.
Today in the House of Commons; MPs reacted angrily to news that the inquiry led by Sir John Chilcott into the 2003 Iraq War is not expected to reach it’s full report until after the general election
The inquiry said it did not see any “realistic prospect” of it’s publication of the report before elections are due to be held on the 7th May 2015 and the inquiry will probably face being questioned about it’s delay by a committee of MPs, while the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway asked Sir John Chilcott to explain why the publication of the report has been delayed.
The inquiry was initially set up in 2009, under Gordon Brown to examine not only Britain’s involvement and it’s initial decision to go to war but also any cases of misconduct of British troops amidst claims of torture by both US and British allied forces against Iraqis forces and civilian. The report was expected to reach it’s conclusion within about three years and held it’s last hearing in 2011, following an unprecedented call for Tony Blair to give evidence to the inquiry in 2010.
There was even speculation by many political observers and even MPs that delays of the reports findings may have occurred due to involvement or intervention from the former Prime Minister Tony Blair or those close to him pointing to a cover-up of the findings of the report following the invasion of Iraq by British and American forces after Tony Blair’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and after his decision to ignore, many people believe unlawfully, the United Nations Resolution 1441 in November 2002 that offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein one last final opportunity to comply with disarmament obligations.
Leaders within coalition British Government have expressed concern over the delays with Nick Clegg saying that the delay was “incomprehensible” and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith saying the delay was “disappointing”. Sir John Chilcott had written to the David Cameron informing him that “substantial progress” had been made but that those criticised by the report needed an opportunity to respond to the criticism so far provided in the report. Mr Cameron in reply to Sir John has said he would have like to have seen the publication already and has criticised the former Labour Government for it’s delay in being published.
Cicero Lounge has a link to the Aitken Report (National Archives – MOD) which documented and examined allegations of the British Army’s conduct against the allegations of abuse against Iraqi soldiers and civilians loyal to Saddam Hussein
See also the War Report for information on other reports issued following the Iraq and Afghan wars
MPs will debate a motion to approve the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 in the House of Commons on Wednesday 21 January 2015.
Proceedings on the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 will follow the conclusion of today’s Opposition Day debate on the NHS.
The draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 was laid on 20 January 2015 under the affirmative procedure. The instrument must be approved by the House of Commons and House of Lords before it can come into force.
Once approved the instrument will add ‘Jund Al-Aqsa (Soldiers of Al-Aqsa) and Jund al Khalifa–Algeria (Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria)’ to the list of proscribed organisations in the Terrorism Act 2000.
The Public Accounts Committee today ordered the DWP to report back within six months with a clear plan on how it would is tackling housing benefit fraud after MPs launched a scathing attack on its current spending in preventing housing benefit fraud and error calling the departments current actions as ‘completely nonsensical’.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee said that billions of pounds were being lost from the taxpayer as a result of a failure to tackle HB fraud effectively. She said today ‘Around £12.6 billion has been spent on housing benefit overpayments since 2000/01 — money that could have been used to improve the system.’
Last year alone it’s estimated that £1.4bn was overpaid in housing benefit, which is 5.8% of the total budget. This was due to claimant error which accounted for £900 million pounds and £340m where there was evidence of claimant fraud, however it was found that £150m of overpayments was due to official errors made by the Local Authorities and DWP. This was a rise of £600m from the figure of £980m when the current government took over in 2010/11. The DWP however expect the losses to be lower when local authorities manage to recoup some of the money that was paid out.
Commenting on the DWPs performance, Mrs Hodge said they had still not “effectively targeted” the major sources of fraud and error after the Public Accounts committee reported the over-spend and ‘sounded the alarm’ years ago and said that it was ‘nonsensical’ that the department only spends 8% of its budget on fraud and errors on Housing Benefit even though HB overpayments account for 42% of the overall overpayments across all DWP benefits. She also criticised the government for the DWP failing to encourage legitimate take up of benefits and where claimants were, in fact, underpaid which she said was due to the cutting of local authorities financial budgets when administering the Housing Benefit scheme which resulted in local authorities reducing their work in recovering overpayments as a result of reduced local authority budgets.
The committee reported local authorities faced disincentives in uncovering fraud, as the current system means they are penalised when higher levels of HB fraud is discovered.
Changes to legislation concerning
rent arrear recovery through universal credit will claw 20% from non-housing increment of UC and could mean tenants seeking loans from loan sharks and the problem of mismanagement of remainder of their benefits and debt housing and social housing providers warned .
The Government is today initiating a historic agreement with Switzerland to tackle offshore tax evasion in an effort to resolve the long-standing abuse of Swiss banking secrecy by those who seek to conceal the proceeds of tax evasion, this measure is expected to secure billions of pounds of unpaid tax for the UK exchequer starting from 2013.
Under the terms of the agreement, existing funds held by UK taxpayers in Switzerland will be subject to a significant one-off deduction of between 19% and 34% to settle past tax liabilities, leaving those who have already paid their taxes unaffected. As a gesture of good faith Swiss banks will make an up-front payment from Switzerland to Britain of CHF 500m.
From 2013, a new withholding tax of 48% on investment income and 27% on gains will ensure the effective future taxation of UK residents with funds in Swiss bank accounts. This will be accompanied by a new information sharing provision which will make it easier for HM Revenue and Customs to find out about Swiss accounts held by UK taxpayers. The new charges will not apply if the taxpayer authorises a full disclosure of their affairs to HMRC.
Source : http://nds.coi.gov.uk
The Treasury has today published an unaudited summary of the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) for the year 2009-10. The Government made available the key balance sheet analysis contained in this summary to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to enhance their analysis of the sustainability of the public finances in their first ever Fiscal Sustainability Report, also published today.
This is the first ever set of publication of information for the whole of the public sector, covering over 1,500 public bodies, and has been 10 years in the making. The full, audited accounts will be published in the autumn and will be the most ambitious in scope produced in any country.
The publication of this summary represents a leap in the transparency of reporting the Government’s future liabilities. It represents a snapshot of the Government’s financial position on a commercial accounts basis. Its aim is to enable Parliament and the public better to understand and scrutinise how taxpayers’ money is spent.
While the new information it presents does not affect the fiscal position, the analysis it includes on, for example,Private Finance Initiative (PFI ) and public service pension liabilities makes clear the scale of the fiscal challenge the Government faced before the June 2010 Budget.
The Accounts show that the public service pension liabilities as of 09/10 were £1.1 trillion pounds.
They also show that PFI capital liabilities as of 09/10 were over £35 billion. The OBR’s assessment in their Fiscal Sustainability Report is that these liabilities relate to about 90 per cent of all operational PFI assets, which suggest the total capital liability was closer to £40billion. The difference arises due to the internationally recognised accountancy standards used in WGA.
Source : Central Office of Information – News Distribution Service