Ministers stand accused of trying to bury an alarming amount of bad news as dozens of announcements were rushed out on the final day of Parliament before the Christmas break.
With many MPs already having left Westminster, a total of 36 written statements were pushed out with government departments taking the opportunity to flood news channels with controversial announcements on issues such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the bedroom tax, cuts to green energy projects, fracking, police funding and an expansion to the badger cull.
When asked to respond to allegations that they had just dumped a load of bad news a Downing Street spokesman said:
This is a Government which has a very busy agenda and we’re delivering on a large range of commitments.
The Independent have put together a list of just seven of the announcements that the Government tried to hide from everyone on Thursday.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss announced that the badger cull will be extended again despite the success of vaccine trials that could make further killing unnecessary. The expansion will go ahead even though an independent analysis warned ministers last year that the policy was both ineffective and inhumane – so what is the point in commissioning independent studies?
David Cameron has finally published the long-awaited report into the Muslim Brotherhood – even though the study was completed in the summer. The Government has been accused of withholding the report to avoid upsetting allies in the Middle East. The Prime Minister said in the report that members of the group should be considered ‘potential extremists’ however stopped short of banning the organisation.
This is one of the most controversial topics under discussion at the moment, with protests taking place at hundreds of sites across the UK. So in a bid to slip it through the net, ministers granted licenses to explore fracking at 159 blocks of land across the UK. The decision has been attacked by environmental campaigners, who claim the practise will now be allowed to take place under three national parks and five ‘areas of outstanding natural beauty’ in the UK.
Solar Panel Subsidies
After the ‘step forward’ that was made at the Paris Climate Summit the Government have now said they are cutting subsidies for rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines and taxpayer-funded support for large scale solar projects will be scrapped – leading to a loss of between between 9,700 and 18,700 jobs in the solar industry. Great stuff.
A report on the effects of the ‘bedroom tax’ was quietly released on Thursday. It found that the unpopular tax has increased hardship among those affected, with nearly half reporting that they had to cut back on food spending to cope whilst 75 per cent of people affected by the changes now regularly run out of money by the end of the week or month. It also reveals that only a third of people affected who applied for emergency support to pay the rent received any help.
Cost Of Government Spin Doctors
Another report sneaked out revealed that the bill for the Government’s team of 96 spin doctors had hit £8.4m. A third of those special advisers, known as spads, are employed by Mr Cameron, with his director of communications Craig Oliver earning £140,000 – only £2,500 less than the Prime Minister himself. The statement also revealed that George Osborne employs 10 spads – five times more than usual for heads of departments. It’s almost like they need all these extra guys to make them look good…
In last month’s spending review George Osborne said “the police protect us so we will protect the police,” when he announced there would be no cuts to their budget. A Home Office report, released on Thursday, has revealed that old Gideon may have been telling porkies as it outlines plans to cut central Government funding to the police by 2.3 per cent a year – roughly £41 million. Any shortfall will now have to be met by local government – already suffering from the Chancellor’s austerity policies.