Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Concerning Discount Rates and a Donald Trump moment!

I have to confess to having a Donald Trump moment last night. And you won’t hear that very often!

I was so incensed on reading an article in the Guardian that I headed straight to Twitter.

Before I go on, here is the link to the offending piece –

This was all about the discount rate which came into effect yesterday. This is to do with the process for calculating how much compensation a severely injured victim will require to ensure that their care needs are met – often for life.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago and explained why it was so important to disabled people –

For many years, victims faced a real risk that their compensation would run out. This was because of the assumed return of 2.5% on investment of damages at a time when interest rates have been historically low. This situation could not continue and was rectified when the MOJ announced that the rate would be -0.75%.

The first problem with the misleading Guardian article is that it fails to explain any of this. They briefly quote the victim’s lawyers but then spend far more time bemoaning the impact on public finances. They do not mention at all, that the burden of care will fall back on the state if the damages run out.

The article then goes on to complain about the cost of motor insurance! So a person’s care package can run out years ahead of time, so long as drivers can get a small reduction in their insurance costs – a reduction that no one realistically expects to happen.

But what is most offensive is the lack of any information at all about the poor victim. We are told that she is a 10 year old with cerebral palsy. That is it. We know nothing about the extent of her disability, about what level of care she needs, about what her life expectancy is, about her level of intelligence – none of these merits a mention. But we get 7 paragraphs about the impact on car insurance.

The victim herself is irrelevant. She is not treated as a real person. She is just a statistic used for the venting of journalistic outrage.

Proper compensation can change a person’s life. I shared this true story two years ago –

This is the problem with justice. It is ultimately about real people.

These changes are designed to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

It is alarming that the mainstream media fail to or refuse to understand any of this.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Saving workers' lives is not 'red tape'

On December 2014, 25 year old Benjamin Edge was working on a roof in Ramsbottom near Bury. He fell from the roof, suffering catastrophic injuries from which he died shortly afterwards. He had been working at height, in windy conditions without any safety equipment.

Following the incident Benjamin’s work colleague placed harnesses nearby so that it would look like the fall was Benjamin’s own fault. His bosses James Brown and Chris Brown later forged Risk Assessments to make them look that they has been done earlier.

Some justice was done yesterday when the Browns were jailed for 20 months perverting the course of justice. The work colleague was given a 4 month suspended sentence.

Mr Edge’s accident was avoidable. If his employers had paid more than lip service to Health and Safety Regulations he would not have fallen to his death. This is why these regulations exist. They are there to save lives and to avoid workers suffering injuries whilst doing their job.

Some politicians and the media continue to refer to Health and Safety as if they are dirty words. Back in 2012, former Prime Minister, David Cameron pledged to kill off the health and safety culture for good. He declared the regulations to be 'out of control'.

The reality is that many lives have been saved because of a shift in thinking which has put workers safety at the top of the agenda. Those who criticise Health and Safety confidently quote fictional stories to try and show that regulation has gone too far. Following Mr Cameron’s comments, the Health and Safety Executive published the Top 10 Myths – stories that regularly appeared in the media but which were entirely fictitious –

Protecting workers from injury is an expensive exercise. Steps have to be taken and costs have to be incurred which can impact on profits. But in a modern society the safety of those who go out to earn a living must be a priority. A young father should be able to go to work in the knowledge that he will be safe. Employers who flout the regulations should be punished.

I hope that as a result of this tragic case, the message is heard loud and clear.

Health and Safety Regulations are not simply inconvenient red tape. 

They exist to save lives.