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It’s a publicity stunt

THE government announced a £20 billion funding ‘increase’ for our NHS. This announcement has been cleverly timed around the 70th birthday of the NHS in an attempt to see off the anti-Tory sentiment that is quite rightly rampant around our NHS and their sustained and significant lack of funding.

This news is nothing more than a gesture. Well below what is required, it only seems half decent when viewed against a backdrop of one per cent increases over the last eight years. All leading think tanks and experts maintain that at least four per cent is what is needed in order to keep pace with demand, however only 3.4 per cent has been offered.

Crucially Social Care is not included in this budget and not to be financially addressed at all until 2020. It is no secret that the NHS and social care is inextricably linked. Thus there is no sense in supporting one without the other.

If the government is serious about retaining our NHS it needs to get serious about funding this area too to give the NHS room to do what it was designed for without constantly having to pick up the pieces for a collapsed social care system.

How is the government proposing to pay for this supposed increase? Along with a somewhat sketchy idea about raising taxes, something called the Brexit dividend is apparently the answer to our prayers. More smoke and mirrors (or an outright lie according to several leading economists). Clearly the NHS will be much worse off after Brexit and Theresa May has done what we all thought impossible; not only resurrected that big red bus but given it a fresh coat of paint and filled up the tank in order to parade its message far and wide. Even some within her own party such as Sarah Wollaston are already calling the plan “tosh”.

It is therefore questionable not only how much money we will receive, but rather if we will in reality receive any at all. In 2016 £10bn was promised, however after various factors had been taken into consideration that figure was reduced to less than £1 billion. The £20bn has also been ringfenced only in England which may mean in reality that other public services swallow up NHS finances in other parts of Britain, there are no guarantees.

Theresa May says she is indebted to the NHS for administering to her diabetes and for looking after the victims of the London and Manchester terror attacks with such grace. However, lies, electioneering and empty rhetoric will do nothing to appease campaigners, staff and frankly anyone who bothers to dig even slightly deeper. At the moment this incentive is merely words and without a firm and credible plan in place serves as nothing but a sticking plaster to try and repair the damage inflicted on the service over the last decade.

Our NHS is 70 but this isn’t a celebration, it’s a PR stunt.

Samantha Wathen, Chair, Keep Our NHS Public, Swindon

We need alternatives

The internet is beneficial to numerous organisations and individuals. However, there are still many people who do not have access to the internet and consequently are denied the use of services which are available only through that medium.

There is currently a “consultation” on the topic of internet use (SA June 15, “Council asks for views on digital access”) but, despite the reference to a strategy that lets residents make contact in a way that suits them, it is not clear how one may read the draft strategy and give an opinion other than by visiting the Council website.

If there are alternatives, please could someone tell us what they are? It is vital that all Council policies and procedures should take account of the fact that there are folk who are less affluent, less articulate, less healthy, less mobile, less dexterous and, in many other ways, less fortunate than the majority of the population.

Yes, there are advantages to the Council in adopting the digital route. At the same time there are many good reasons why some residents cannot comply with that preference. The lack of digital access must not result in their exclusion from any Council service or function.

Iain Critchley, Eastcott Road, Swindon

Replying to the reply

To reply, to Mr Smith’s reply, he says he doesn’t write about things he hasn’t mentioned. If he reads my original reply to him, those points he didn’t reply to were put as questions to him, so no surprise when he didn’t reply, as the truth hurts as they say.

He once again goes on with the global problems of the recession, he doesn’t mention how the RBS tried to take over the world banks, and so caused their crash, or how Lloyds Bank, on the advice of Mr Brown, took over HBOS, which brought about their demise and government intervention. He also now follows the current thinking of saying what Tony Blair and the rest did, was not our policy.

When Blair let in nearly four million immigrants without any restrictions, did his party complain, or were they too busy looking for houses for these people, not to mention nhs treatment, education etc?

He needs to join up with the current council leader, who thinks a debt of £300 million is not bad for a town of our size, and ask about Forward Swindon using tax payers’ money to give incentives to get firms to come to Swindon, and you’ll get no comment at this juncture.

Can I also add that I vote for a UK controlled by itself, not EU remoaners or the like?

TD Reynolds, Wheeler Avenue, Swindon

Life on the road

A recent letter from a Mr Les Fox brought back many memories for my husband who also came to Swindon as an HGV driver in 1961. He worked with a Les Fox at Linton and Hurst, possibly the same man.

Although long retired, our families never tire of hearing about his time as a driver. Many an amusing tale has been told along with the hard work of repairing and sheeting, often in inclement weather.

We have often said he should write a book about his exploits, it would make interesting reading. Many of his friends and work mates have sadly passed on but are well remembered in stories told.

Pat and Wally Bradford, Stratton

Despair over rent

Martin Wicks (June 15) was right to highlight that the housing affordability crisis is still getting worse in Swindon.

In the private sector the monthly rent for a three bedroom family home is now £850. This has gone up 17% in the last four years.

Recent changes to Housing Benefit regulations have reduced the help that is available to the young generation.

The outlook for the future in quite bleak. High house prices have put buying properties out of reach.

This means that more and more people will find themselves in the private rented sector because so many council houses have to sold off under the Right to Buy legislation.

Steve Halden, Beaufort Green, Swindon

Clean and tidy city

We recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of days in the delightful city of Budapest. Walking around near the river, along main roads and side streets and in parks, not a scrap of litter was seen. We also saw wonderfully post-war restored buildings.

What a contrast to this town which has more filth and litter on its streets than seemingly ever before.

Does our council leader ever walk the filthy pavements?

I believe it was Walt Disney who said (to paraphrase his words) “give people clean and tidy, somewhere to take pride in and they will respect it”.

Rodney J M Wirdnam, Whilestone Way, Swindon

Young at heart

Theresa May’s government treat old codgers like me comparatively well because her research shows we are the age group who turn out to vote at general elections. Well, yes Prime Minister, but I never vote Tory. So perhaps you should give young people a better deal because they are the future and they need a helping hand.

Max Nottingham, St Faiths Street, Lincoln

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