Minister urges firms to tap disabled talent pool

first_imgMinister urges firms to tap disabled talent poolOn 23 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Disabled staff can prove more reliable than other employees because theytake less time off sick and remain in their jobs for longer, according to theMinister for Disabled People. Maria Eagle, talking exclusively to Personnel Today, said people with disabilitiesare an under-used resource in the UK labour market and stressed it is inemployers’ interests to make the most of their skills. She said the Disability Rights Commission estimates that of the 8.5 milliondisabled people in the UK, 400,000 could find work with a little help from moreprogressive organisations. “Employers are missing a trick because they are falling foul of oldattitudes instead of taking a new look at what their businesses need, who canprovide it and who is out there. They need to be more broadminded. We oftenhear that companies are looking for skilled employees and complaining about[staff] turnover. “Disabled people are less likely to take time off sick and more likelyto stay in a job longer than non-disabled people.” Research shows that a third of organisations believe disabled staff willhave high sickness absence rates and be expensive to employ because of the costof altering buildings or providing specialist equipment, said Eagle. “Employers must think more widely than jumping to conclusions that seemobvious – but are often inaccurate,” she added. Eagle told employers to look closely at their HR policies and practices tosee if they can be adapted to incorporate disabled staff in the organisation.She cited flexible working arrangements as an example. “It is a lot easier than employers think to make adjustments for staffwith a disability. Often the adjustments are cheap or cost nothing –flexibility in hours, for example, so an employee with a disability is not tryingto get to work in the middle of the rush hour,” said Eagle. She demanded employers take the lead in changing employee attitudes todisabled staff. She said: “Internal disability awareness training forstaff is an obvious and valuable tool. Strong signs from above about how peopleshould be treated is a good start.” Eagle confirmed that the Government is committed to including staff with HIVand cancer – including those in remission – under new disability legislationtreatment. She also said the Government will extend disability legislation to ensureequal treatment in the workplace to all of the public sector, including policeand the fire service, but not the armed forces. “I do not think it is right for us to lecture the private sector iflegislation does not cover the public sector. We shall extend the reach of thecurrent legislation to cover most of the public sector, armed forces apart,within the lifetime of this parliament,” she said. By Paul Nelson Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Security deposits to be capped at five weeks’ rent, government confirms

first_imgHome » News » Security deposits to be capped at five weeks’ rent, government confirms previous nextRegulation & LawSecurity deposits to be capped at five weeks’ rent, government confirmsNew measure will be introduced as amendment to the Tenant Fees Bill along with tighter rules on what default fees can be charged by letting agents.Nigel Lewis5th December 20182 Comments3,121 Views The Government has confirmed that it is to cap security deposits at five weeks’ rent for tenancies under £4,166 a month or £50,000 a year.Default kind of default fees chargeable to tenants will also be limited, now to just the costs of replacing lost keys or recouping late rent.These amendments are to be made to the Tenant Fees Bill as it passes through the Lords this month, before it becomes law in April next year.The amendments were leaked to the press on Thursday and, as we reported yesterday, prompted a furious response in a joint statement from the National Landlords Association and Residential Landlords Association. In it they predicted that a cap of five weeks would persuade more landlords to exit the private rental sector.Housing secretary James Brokenshire (left) says the new measure will affect approximately one in three renters and save tenants £64 million during the first 12 months after the legislation becomes law.“[These] amendments will make renting a home of your own more affordable, fairer and more transparent – enabling tenants to keep more of their cash and stopping unexpected costs.“Everyone deserves a home to call their own. Yet for some renters, moving to a new house can be difficult due to high upfront costs and letting fees,” says Brokenshire.“This is unacceptable. I want to see a housing market that truly works for everyone, and one which provides a better deal for renters.”Tenants paying more than £50,000 a year will still have to pay a security deposit of six weeks’ rent. The Tenant Fees Bill is due to be debated during its Report stage in the Lords next week before going to a final reading and then Royal Assent. James Brokenshire Residential Landlords Association National Landlords Association rental deposits security deposits default fees December 5, 2018Nigel Lewis2 commentsGuy Charrison, Mr Mr 5th December 2018 at 11:35 amI would not be surprised in a year or so if a 5-week deposit becomes the norm rather than a months deposit which is currently standard for most AST’s. Yet again government good intention will, rather than James Brokenshire thinks, reduce tenants costs by £64 million will probably increase tenant deposits by 25%.Log in to ReplySteve Trigg, Trigglets Estates Ltd Trigglets Estates Ltd 5th December 2018 at 11:17 amThis is yet another outrageous decision by a government totally out of touch with reality. I cannot see any justification in this ruling, providing our tenants ‘do what they are supposed to’ and comply with the tenancy laws then they would have the bond returned in full!! The comments from the housing secretary just don’t make any sense – why does a cap on bond add transparency or make the renting process ‘fairer’. Obviously, the only view that is being considered by the government is that of the Tenant. I wouldn’t blame any Landlord for selling up and leaving the Government to ‘pick up the pieces’! If everyone deserves a home ‘to call their own’, I would suggest to them that they should consider buying their own and approaching the mortgage lenders and paying them the astronomical ‘Admin fee’s’! Or would the government consider stopping mortgage lenders charging buyers Admin fee’s etc also?Log in to ReplyWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021last_img read more

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11% of new homes buyers reject living next to affordable homes neighbours

first_imgHome » News » Housing Market » 11% of new homes buyers reject living next to affordable homes neighbours previous nextHousing Market11% of new homes buyers reject living next to affordable homes neighboursResearch by Jackson-Stops and Crest Nicholson highlights how many people have yet to embrace ‘inclusive’ approach to community living.Nigel Lewis5th July 201903,126 Views Eleven percent of new homes buyers would prefer not to live in developments that include both affordable homes and open-market units, new research has revealed, underlining how a sizeable minority of buyers are still resistant to mixed developments that include ‘social’ housing.The worrying figure is within a wide-ranging research document jointly produced by Jackson-Stops and Crest Nicholson and launched at a gala event last night in central London.Scott Black, Managing Director of Crest Nicholson Regeneration, told those attending that: “We are working closely with our partners to ensure that we have a wide mix of affordable, rental, shared ownership and open market housing in a range of sizes so that anyone can choose to live in the new communities we build.“We are already seeing the success of this model reflected in our regeneration developments.” This includes its Bath Western Riverside development (pictured, above).Affordable homesJackson-Stops’s Ben Babington also revealed that Phil Spencer’s much-repeated mantra that ‘location, location, location’ is at the core of many people’s buying decisions is no longer true.This echoed the research’s findings that only 6% of the respondents in the survey said moving to their ‘desired postcode’ was important to them.Other surprising results from the research include how ‘home technology’ such as surround-sound audio systems and mood lighting were only important to 9% of respondents.But the ‘green message’ does appear to be tugging at buyer’s purse strings; 95% of those quizzed said they wanted their new home to be sustainable, although only 9% said they wanted their homes to have access to an electric car charging point.Scott Black Jackson-stops Crest Nicholson July 5, 2019Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021last_img read more

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Press release: British Prime Minister appoints Trade Envoy for Sri Lanka

first_imgBritish High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, James Dauris said: Mr Jayawardena’s role as trade envoy will be to support and enhance the development of Britain’s trade and investment with Sri Lanka.Mr Jayawardena will be visiting Sri Lanka from 15 to 17 February to meet with senior members of the government and engage with British businesses working in Sri Lanka.Following his appointment, Ranil Jayawardena said: For centuries Britain has been a global trading nation. Today we have one of the world’s largest economies and strong commercial relationships with countries around the globe. As the Sri Lankan economy grows we are seeing an encouraging increase in the number of British companies wanting to do business with Sri Lanka. Mr Jayawardana’s appointment will help us to encourage more UK firms to look at options for doing business in and with Sri Lanka and to boost bilateral trade. Given the shared history and close bonds of friendship between Britain and Sri Lanka – and with my family ties to Sri Lanka – I am looking forward to serving as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy at an exciting time for both our countries. There’s lots of scope for further trade and investment between Britain and Sri Lanka. I recently visited ‘Port City’, one among many initiatives that the Sri Lankan Government is pushing forward that demonstrate its commitment to creating the right conditions for economic growth. Port City will provide a range of opportunities for UK-based professional services to work with Sri Lankan partners to take forward our shared ambitions to develop international business. I am confident that engagement by the UK’s professional services sector will help Port City to attract international investment and build its reputation. Further informationJayawardena was elected as MP for North East Hampshire in May 2015 and was re-elected in 2017. He has a degree in government from the London School of Economics. In Parliament he is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sri Lanka. Mr Jayawardena’s father is of Sri Lankan origin.last_img read more

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New dean for Faculty of Medicine

first_img Produced and edited by Joe Sherman/Harvard Staff Daley has been professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at HMS since 2010 and has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2008. In July he became the Robert A. Stranahan Professor of Pediatrics at HMS, having previously held appointments as professor of pediatrics at HMS and as the inaugural Samuel E. Lux IV Chair of Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital.A former chief resident in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (1994 to 1995), Daley maintained an active clinical practice in hematology/oncology at MGH and then at Children’s Hospital until assuming his administrative role as director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program and associate chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s and at Dana-Farber in 2009. He also serves as associate director of the broader Stem Cell Program based at Children’s, which he helped launch in 2004.He has served since 1995 as a member of the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), since 2004 as a founding member of the executive committee of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and since 2009 as an associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and a core faculty member of the Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research at Children’s.Daley’s research focuses on the use of mouse and human disease models to identify mechanisms that underlie blood disorders and cancer. His lab aims to define fundamental principles of how stem cells contribute to tissue regeneration and repair and improve drug and transplantation therapies for patients with malignant and genetic bone marrow disease.Beyond his research, Daley has been a principal figure in developing international guidelines for conducting stem cell research and for the clinical translation of stem cells, particularly through his work with the International Society for Stem Cell Research, for which he has served in several leadership positions, including president (2007 to 2008). He has also testified before Congress and spoken in forums worldwide on the scientific and ethical dimensions of stem cell research and its promise in treating disease.After earning his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard in 1982, Daley went on to earn his Ph.D. in biology (1989) at MIT, working in David Baltimore’s laboratory at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1991 with the rare distinction of summa cum laude. He then pursued clinical training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and was a clinical fellow at Brigham and Women’s and Children’s hospitals. While running a laboratory as a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute, he joined the HMS faculty as an assistant professor in 1995, was promoted to associate professor in 2004, was named to an endowed chair at Children’s Hospital in 2009, and became a full professor at HMS in 2010.His teaching efforts include serving as course director for the “Molecular Medicine” course at HMS and for an undergraduate course on “Stem Cells in Disease” in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Earlier, for more than a decade, he led the “Research in Health Sciences and Technology” course in the HST program. He has trained dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and is a frequent participant in seminars and grand rounds at schools and hospitals both locally and beyond. In 2012 he was recognized with HMS’s A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award.Important contributions from the Daley laboratory have included the creation of customized stem cells to treat genetic immune deficiency in a mouse model (together with Rudolf Jaenisch), the differentiation of germ cells from embryonic stem cells, the generation of disease-specific pluripotent stem cells by direct reprogramming of human fibroblasts, and demonstration of the role of the LIN28/let-7 pathway in cancer. In past research, he demonstrated the central role of the BCR/ABL oncoprotein in human chronic myelogenous leukemia, work that provided critical target validation for development of Gleevec, a highly successful chemotherapy.Daley was an inaugural winner of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for highly innovative research (2004). His numerous honors include the American Philosophical Society’s Judson Daland Prize for achievement in patient-oriented research, the American Pediatric Society’s E. Mead Johnson Award for contributions to stem cell research, the American Society of Hematology’s E. Donnall Thomas Prize for advances in human-induced pluripotent stem cells, and the International Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Foundation’s Janet Rowley Prize for outstanding lifetime contribution to the understanding and/or treatment of the disease. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, among other professional societies.In announcing Daley’s appointment, Faust and Garber jointly expressed their gratitude “to the many people across the Harvard medical community who offered their perspectives and counsel on the deanship — and on the important opportunities ahead for Harvard medicine, both on the Quad and across our peerless array of affiliated institutions. We owe special thanks to the members of the search advisory committee, who came together across the preclinical departments, the affiliates, and the larger University to help us arrive at an excellent outcome.”Faust and Garber recognized and thanked Barbara J. McNeil, the Ridley Watts Professor of Health Care Policy and professor of radiology at HMS, who became acting dean of the Faculty of Medicine on Aug. 1.In addition, they renewed their gratitude to Jeffrey S. Flier, who stepped down as dean on July 31 after nine years of distinguished leadership. “In a domain energized by the interplay of scientific rigor, innovative thinking, and humane concern for others,” Faust said when Flier first announced his plans, “Jeff has not only affirmed those qualities but embodied them.”“Harvard Medical School is the epicenter of biomedical research, a revered alma mater to innovators in science and medicine, a magnet for talent, and the home to many scientific and clinical firsts,” said Flier. “George Daley embodies the spirit and the values of this institution. He is a consummate physician-scientist, a passionate researcher, and a clinician known for his empathy and acumen, a beloved teacher and a proven leader. He is perfectly suited to lead HMS in the next phase of its quest to generate new knowledge and alleviate human suffering.” George Q. Daley, an internationally recognized leader in stem cell science and cancer biology and a longtime member of the Harvard Medical School (HMS) faculty who spans the fields of basic science and clinical medicine, will become the next dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard President Drew Faust and Provost Alan Garber announced today.A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School with a Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Daley currently serves as professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology and as the Robert A. Stranahan Professor of Pediatrics at HMS, as well as director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He will take up his new duties on Jan. 1, 2017.“George Daley is an eminent scientist, a dedicated educator, an adept bridge-builder, a compelling advocate for scientific discovery, and a person of remarkable leadership qualities and thoughtful judgment,” said Faust in announcing the appointment. “From his work at the forefront of basic science to his focus on combating disease, from his role in developing international guidelines for stem cell research to his activities at the crossroads of medicine and biotechnology, he brings to all that he does an energetic and imaginative commitment to advancing discovery and improving lives.”Said Daley: “I am honored to have been asked by President Faust and Provost Garber to serve as dean. The people across the Harvard medical community embody one of the world’s great resources for broadening scientific understanding and realizing medicine’s promise to enhance the quality and longevity of people’s lives. I feel humbled by the prospect of leading so talented a community with so essential a mission — a community whose dynamism, growing diversity, and shared concern for the well-being of others are a deep source of strength. It will be a singular privilege to work with people across the Quad, our extraordinary affiliates, and the University to sustain and elevate Harvard’s leadership in academic medicine.”Added Garber: “George Daley knows Harvard, he knows our affiliated hospitals and research institutes, and he fully appreciates the Harvard medical community’s vital role in shaping the future of biomedical science and education at a time of transformative changes in medicine and the life sciences. He also understands the challenges facing our healthcare system and the importance of assuring care for those most in need. He is a remarkable scientist and an equally remarkable person, as humane and collegial as he is intelligent and accomplished. I am confident he will do an outstanding job leading Harvard medicine forward.”last_img read more

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SMC dining hall reboots composting program

first_imgSince Feb. 8, yellow bins have sat next to the tray disposal area, where students can drop their napkins, food scraps, condiment cups and other compostable items in Saint Mary’s Noble Family Dining Hall as part of a new composting program.A sign next to the bins outlines what can and cannot be composted, and on the first few days the bins were in use, students involved in the program sat next to the bins to educate their peers on the importance of composting.Student groups Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC) and Sustainability SMC implemented the initiative.“Composting was one of the main goals that Sustainably SMC tried to accomplish this school year,” Sustainability SMC co-president Kristhel Torre said. “The need to spread knowledge and procreate positive change drove this mission.”SMEAC president Mikhala Kaseweter, who studies sociology and also has a self-designed environmental studies major, said other students started a composting program in the dining hall two years ago, but it died out after they graduated. The goal of the clubs was to restart the program and make it permanent.Kaseweter said the process was difficult, and that they have worked on implementing the program for the entire year. Kaseweter said Judith Fean, Saint Mary’s vice president for mission, guided her through the process. Kenneth Acosta, head of dining services, was also helpful.“He provided the bins, table, information signs and a set of wheels,” Carolyn Arcuri, the other co-president of Sustainability SMC, said. “That’s right, a golf cart.”Initially, students dumped food waste into the woods, but now there is a bin near the College campus, which is what the golf cart is for. Students take food waste to the bin at the end of each day.“Carrying out the composting is quite the chore, but students have been very enthusiastic, so we hope to recruit more helpers,” Arcuri said.Kaseweter said the groups hope to build a farm on campus in the next few years.“Ideally we’ll make a more permanent bin when we get the farm,” she said.The composted waste will help provide nourishment for the upcoming campus farm, and according to Arcuri, it is currently helping to fertilize the campus Community Gardens.Kaseweter believes composting is important for the community at large.“It makes sense from a practical standpoint, aside from any environmental needs, because it recycles the nutrients while also eliminating waste,” Kaseweter said.According to Kaseweter, composting also reduces landfill waste. Instead, waste can be turned into rich humus that feeds plants.The presidents sit by the composting bins to help students learn about the program.“We hope that the students can adjust and fully participate in this sustainable practice,” Torre said.Kaseweter said she was excited about students’ enthusiasm.“When I’m at the bins and directing students, so many people thank me for starting this and say they’re excited about it,” she said. “Random students even ask me how they can also get involved.”Arcuri said she was surprised at how little students knew about composting before the initiative, but happy that they have shown interest in learning more.“Surprisingly, many students did not know you cannot compost plastic, but that is why we sit at the bins,” Arcuri said. “Sitting there, I realized how many people were into sustainable practices. It was obvious that girls cared about the environment and were happy to help. The only thing the community is lacking is convenience.”Sustainability SMC co-presidents Torre and Arcuri are juniors, so they will be available to continue the program into next year, and said they believe the enthusiasm of the students will help it last even beyond their graduation.Tags: composing, dining hall, SMEAC, Sustainability SMClast_img read more

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Pine bark beetles

first_imgBlack turpentine beetleBTB are reddish brown and are the largest of the bark beetles, measuring about a quarter of an inch long. They normally attack the lower 8 to 10 feet of the tree trunk. To check for a BTB infestation, look for pitch that has come out of a boring hole and hardened into a clump that resembles a wad of chewing gum. This is a result of the tree’s natural defense of using sap to push the beetle out. The galleries usually flow downward with the grain. Large groups of larvae feeding side to side result in a ‘feeding patch’ under the bark.Ips/engraver beetleIps beetles (of which there are several species) range in size from an eighth to a third of an inch in length. Their galleries are shaped in a rough Y or H shape and are usually free of boring dust. The small Southern pine engraver prefers the bark on cut tree limbs and tops, but can attack and kill groups of young, vigorous trees and the tops of large, living trees. Unlike SPB that move across a planting killing all the trees in their path, Ips beetles tend to fly from one tree to another in no set pattern or predicted path. Trees killed by Ips beetles are seen sporadically in the stand. Ips beetles also carry the blue stain fungus that infects trees where they feed.Many effective beetle sprays, like Lindane and Dursban, have been taken off the market. If the tree damage is caused by SPB or Ips, a commercial tree sprayer should be hired to spray the tops of grown trees. If a young stand is attacked by Ips or if you detect BTB, a pyrethroid (bifenthrin) can be sprayed on the trunks. It is sold under several names such as Onyx (the forestry name) or Brigade (the cotton name). Mix the chemical according to instructions and add a half pint of kerosene or diesel fuel per gallon of spray as a sticker. Spray completely around the trunk of the affected tree and all trees within a 50-foot radius. Wet the bark to the point of runoff from as high as you can reach down to the ground. White sawdust on the ground near the tree trunk indicates a dead tree where secondary woodborers are at work. My friend Tony Otis, a tree removal specialist, has been busy lately cutting down dead pine trees.Pine trees aren’t the ‘cash cow’ they used to be when many landowners planted them for a ‘nest egg.’ It’s still tough to see them die, be hauled away and burned. Homeowners are affected too as they lose landscape value when pine trees die and have to be removed. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening all too frequently after the drought of 2011 stressed pines and hardwoods. Many of these trees are still trying to recover from the ice storms of last winter.Three collective speciesPine bark beetles is a collective name given to three races of pine beetles that can be devastating on a few or several trees in a stand or yard. The first thing to understand about these insects is that they are not prone to attack healthy, vigorous trees. They tend to select trees that are already suffering from stress. Stress, in a tree, is usually weather-related although trees damaged from lightning or mechanical injury also succumb to beetles. This past summer’s high heat and very dry weather caused extreme stress in trees. Bark beetles enter the tree through the bark and eat the soft cambium layer all the way around until they girdle the tree, killing it by cutting off nutrients from the top. Landowners are often unaware of beetle attack until they see browning foliage in the crown. Bark beetles are primarily Southern pine beetle, or SPB, black turpentine beetle, BTB, or Ips/engraver beetle. Owners should determine which species is doing the damage. All three species bore through the bark of pine trees and feed on the living cambium layer of wood just under the bark. Southern pine beetleSPB are about one-eight of an inch long, have rounded abdomens and are brownish to black. They are the most important pests of pines and attack every type of pine grown in the south. Shortleaf and loblolly are the most susceptible and slash and longleaf are more resistant. SPB make fairly small (less than half an inch in diameter) pitch tubes normally in bark crevices. The galleries (tunnels seen on the backside of the bark) are S-shaped and usually packed with brown frass, or feces, and boring dust.They infest trunks of trees from the base to the crown, usually attacking at mid-trunk or lower crown to start. After the initial infestation, these insects emit pheromones alerting hundreds more to the location. After a 35- to 60-day life cycle, the young bore out leaving small emergence holes. SPB carry blue stain fungi and introduce it to the tree. This alone is deadly and ruins the commercial value of the lumber.last_img read more

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A handshake deal on taxes, budget and jobs bills

first_imgby Anne Galloway, www.vtdigger.org(link is external) May 5, 2011 After several days of intense negotiation, leaders of the House and Senate agreed to a  tax package last night that the Shumlin administration can apparently live with.The proposal raises $27.48 million in new taxes to help fill the state’s $176 million budget gap. The agreed upon increases include $5.85 million in new taxes on hospitals; a 38-cent hike on cigarettes (bringing the total tax per pack to $2.62); and a new 0.8 percent ‘claims assessment’ on the number of medical claims processed for Vermonters that will generate about $11 million. The miscellaneous tax bill does not increase income, sales or property taxes.Sen. Jane Kitchel, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. VTD/Josh LarkinThe handshake deal that was struck last night at about 9 p.m. opened up a logjam of bills that got clogged in the Senate Finance releases all the other bills that have been on hold ‘ the budget, the jobs bill and the recidivism bill. The capital bill is also ready to go. All four will be signed early Thursday morning.The three parties ‘ House Speaker Shap Smith, Senate President pro Tem John Campbell and Gov. Peter Shumlin and their surrogates ‘ spent hours wrangling over the big ticket items on the tax bill in closed door meetings at the same time that the Miscellaneous Tax Bill conferees wallowed in the weeds of the miscellaneous tax bill. The chairs of House Ways and Means and Senate Finance trooped up to the governors’ office, the senate president pro tem’s office or the speaker’s office, a half dozen times over the course of the day.Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell said each party had to make some compromises. ‘I think we’ve reached an accord that will be acceptable to Vermonters,’ Campbell said.House Speaker Shap Smith said: ‘This is a difficult bill to resolve. Everybody had a number of issues they cared a great deal about and everyone on the conference committee had to give on particular items they didn’t want to give on. I’m grateful conferees and admin able to come to agreement on the revenue and the substance of the bill.’Talks broke down numerous times over the cigarette tax, TIF districts and the so-called ‘Amazon’ tax, that would assess the sales tax on Internet sales.The Shumlin administration opposed the Amazon tax altogether and was unwilling to negotiate the cigarette tax any higher, according to several sources. Officials were not available for comment after the deal was struck.Smith and his committee conferees pushed back. The House got two of its priorities in the end-game negotiations ‘ a tax increment financing plan for the city of Colchester and an Internet sales tax plan that would be triggered when 15 other states have imposed taxes on Web retailers.‘We stood firm even when we did compromise,’ Smith said. ‘I think when we see an erosion of the sales tax because of online sales, at some point you have to take a stand. It’s not being addressed at the federal level so unfortunately we have to address it on the state level.’The deal was so tenuous last night that Smith and Campbell sat on either end of Senate Finance as lawmakers from the House and the Senate committee continued to find fault with the details of each others’ proposals during the final review of the draft of the miscellaneous tax bill. Both leaders stepped in to mediate disputes as they arose.One of the sticking points included property tax breaks for recreation centers and hockey rinks. The Senate introduced the tax expenditure; the House won its case to wean the groups off. It proposed a 50 percent reduction in the tax break next year.The cigarette tax, however, appeared to be the most difficult negotiating point. The Joint Fiscal Office passed out a spread sheet in the late afternoon that solidified the number at 38 cents. At that rate, the cigarette tax would generate $4.63 million in revenues. The House started at 27 cents, while the Senate pushed for a $1 per-pack tax, which the governor negotiated down to 53 cents in behind-the-scenes meetings.‘It was difficult because the governor didn’t want the cigarette tax,’ Smith said. ‘The legislature would have been willing to have a higher one.’Nicole Lukas, a lobbyist with the American Heart Association, said Shumlin refused to meet with anti-smoking groups. She described the unwillingness to meet the Senate halfway with a 55 cent tax was a ‘missed opportunity.’ The lower rate will not prevent Vermonters, especially teenagers, from smoking.‘It feels like this is taking sides with big business and big tobacco over the health of our kids because we know high cigarette taxes are the best way to curb smoking,’ Lukas said. ‘Thirty-eight cents is a revenue grab, and not much revenue at that.’Lukas said Shumlin’s approach ‘ keeping cigarette taxes low and increasing hospital taxes ‘ doesn’t make much sense as public health policy. Smoking, she said is the No. 1 preventable cause of death. The $1 per-pack tax would have raised $10 million in revenues, including $3 million from New York State cigarette buyers who would still take advantage of Vermont’s lower cigarette tax rate, according to figures from the Joint Fiscal Office.‘Every time the governor talks about the Joint Fiscal Office projections, it has been suggested we’ve been smoking something other than tobacco,’ Lukas said.Provider taxesThere were also changes to the way the state will assess taxes on hospitals. The tax rate goes down a bit, from 6 percent to 5.9 percent, and the base rate is derived from a more conservative total revenue figure for hospitals for fiscal year 2011.The hospitals will be required to pay $5.852 million in unreimbursed Medicaid pass-through money, according to a conference committee report spreadsheet. Shumlin had proposed a $17.39 million increase in assessments on hospitals; both the House and the Senate agreed to $7.39 million. They were able to lower the tax to $5.852 million by increasing the state’s Medicaid payments for medical treatments.The tax bill also includes increases in a claims assessment, or tax on medical care claims processed by insurers. A 0.199 percent assessment is already being used to fund health information technology improvements. The new tax is .8 percent, which brings the total to 0.999 percent. The tax, which will also be imposed on dental insurance claims in the coming fiscal year, raises $11.82 million.The Colchester TIFA tax increment financing designation was reauthorized for the city of Colchester as part of the late-night deal. Rep. Jim Condon, D-Colchester, was at the center of the secret negotiations between the House and Senate leaders.The designation enables municipalities to forgo 75 percent of what is owed in property tax payments to the state’s Education Fund for development projects.The Senate Economic Development Committee had originally included tax increment financing designations for South Burlington, Barre, Milton, Williston and Hartford, according to the chair, Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R/D-Essex-Orleans.The reauthorization of the TIF for Colchester was an anomaly, according to Illuzzi. He preferred an all in or all out approach. The senator pushed for the all in tack because ‘it’s the only economic development the state offers towns.’‘Those other communities are going to feel they got thrown overboard by one community and I think that’s a real shame,’ Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Burlington, who was on both the tax and jobs bill conference committees.There was no explanation in committee deliberations or in conversations with Smith and Campbell about why Colchester was made the exception to the rule.Slight budget changesThe House appropriations conference committee members agreed to the Senate’s proposal, which included $200,000 for Choices for Care, a program that provides home care for elderly Vermonters, and $319,145 for high school substance abuse counselors.The Choices for Care program still, in theory, could see a $800,000 cut, but Rep. Martha Heath, chair of House Appropriations. The program has saved $10 million so far this fiscal year, and Heath said some of that money will be used to restore services. The remainder, she said, will go into the human services caseload reserve fund.The overall budget included a 2.5 percent cut to mental health services and programs for developmentally disabled Vermonters. Anne Galloway is editor of vtdigger.orglast_img read more

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COVID-19 shines spotlight on Southern Tier’s existing childcare crisis

first_imgWhile the decreased demand the crisis has caused may have eased the daycare shortage, it certainly hasn’t helped the day care centers themselves. Perney added that if you need help finding care for your child or are interested in caring for children in your home to contact the Family Enrichment Network. Jennifer Perney leads childcare services at The Family Enrichment Network of Greater Binghamton. She says up to this point the crisis has eased the shortage in day care slots in the area because it has kept parents at home with their children. Perney says these additional costs alongside fewer available spaces will likely put some daycare centers under extreme financial stress, while leaving many parents with no where to turn. “Each child has their own basket of supplies with things like crayons and scissors so they aren’t having to share and we’re coming up with activities that lend themselves to social distancing,” she says. She says new guidelines from the CDC limiting classroom sizes are also likely to contribute to the shortage with fewer spaces available. Additionally, she says the center has had to implement changes inside the classrooms as well. “Now that businesses are going back I’m assuming that the children who were previously enrolled will be attending so we may be seeing a crisis again,” she says. “We’ve had to have extra staff available to do health checks and health screenings, temperature taking, extra cleaning extra sanitizing,” she says. At the Discovery Center’s daycare program, Director Kristy Wales says new requirements have been costly for centers like hers. (WBNG) — Local childcare leaders are warning of a worsening childcare crisis in the Southern Tier as businesses reopen and parents head back to work. “They’ve seen enrollment drop. So there’s actually a lot of open spots in our child care programs,” she says. With the Southern Tier now in phase two of reopening, she expects this trend to be short lived. “The groups that are recommended are ten and under,” she says. “When you have a preschool classroom that had fifteen children and then some teachers on top of that then that’s not following those recommendations,” she says, adding that with many summer camps not opening this year, the shortage is likely to hit parents with older kids the hardest. “The finances of a childcare center is so hard to balance anyway so it’s just going to exacerbate that problem while adding to the childcare shortage out in the community,” she says. last_img read more

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EC delays alternative to PIP until year-end

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

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