Monday, 17 December 2012

Charity Commission Apologise For Misleading Statement - Still Refuse Investigation



The Charity Commission have apologised to Social Investigations, following a complaint made about the free market think tank, Reform.

The complaint, which centred around Reform's links to the Conservative party, was met with the extraordinary response that ‘
there is no evidence to support the allegations that the Reform Research Trust has links with or promotes the aims and objectives of any political party.’

I replied saying that ‘
I must admit, I am rather baffled by this part of the response because the links to the Conservative party are extensive and as far as their powerbase goes, is almost total. I attach the full list of their connections to the Conservative party.’

Friday, 14 December 2012

Reform: A Full Account of a Free Market Think Tank

This is a roundup of all the research carried out by Social Investigations on the free market think tank, Reform. They are increasingly influential, listened to by the neo cons and promote the dismantling of public service into the hands of corporations that fund them and so many of our parlimentarians. This has been the most indepth look at the think tank thus far with some more to come in the future.

1. The Telegraph, the Think Tank and a Very Dodgy Business: Click "And the whole sequence of Telegraph articles and editorials on the importance of the Government not going soft on public service reform, including some strong pieces on health, is something I have been orchestrating and working with Reform to bring about.’

2. Reform - Setting the Agenda with Unknown Others  - Click - Chatham House Rules are a useful tool for discussions that hide the attendees. Reform, regularly use it for meetings that should be in the public domain.

3. Reform - a voice for corporations (series) - Reform has many corporations who are partners. They pay Reforn, and in return get to be in the same room as our lawmakers, lobby, contribute papers policy ideas that aim to persuade MPs. Policies that will benefit big business. Aviva, BMI Healthcare, G4S, Bupa.

4. Reform: A Charity or a conduit for privatisation? Click - Reform were at the conferences with sponsored corporations in tow, providing access to decision-makers.

5. MPs and Lord's Financial Links to Free Market Think Tank - Click - A well connected think tank, with multiple companies who also pay our Lords and MPs

6. Privatising Probation: What Reform says – Government does - Click - If you want to know what future government policy is going to be, don’t bother asking your government because they won’t tell you until it’s too late. Instead, turn your eyes to a right-wing think tank masquerading as a charity.

7. Reform think tank and their links to the Conservative Party - Click - they are a charity yet they have a clear bias towards the Conservative party - here are all their links to the right.

8. Complaint Over Think Tank 'Charity' Sent to Charity Commission - Click - based on the evidence, Reform appear to be in breach of the Charity Commission rules, so Social Investigations sent in a complaint.

9. Charity Commission Refuses to Investigate Complaint Regarding Charity's Links to the Conservative Party - Click The Charity Commission said there was 'no evidence to support the allegations that the Reform Research Trust has links with or promotes the aims and objectives of any political party.' They clearly are not bothering to look, despite being sent the clear links. Another organisation with a set of rules that are not fit for purpose. 

10. Charity Commission apologises for misleading statement on Reform's connections to the Conservative party - Click

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The case of Baroness Cumberlege: Why the Lords Rules Need Changing


Disappointingly since joining the alliance Cumberlege Connections has not earned any income through the alliance.’ Baroness Cumberlege  26th November 2012

Rules that fail to prevent our Peers from voting when they have a financial interest are not fit for purpose. There were many such culprits who helped pass the Health and Social bill into Act, however, there was one Baroness in particular, who exploited this deficiency in democracy more than most.

Monday, 3 December 2012

2012 Awards List of Most Powerful Private Healthcare Individuals and Their Links to Lords and MPs


It's that time of the year again when the HealthInvestor magazine announces who they consider to be the most powerful individuals in the private healthcare market. The annual backslapping is less about care and more about power, influence and money. Is this the future of healthcare in this country? I hope not.

Seven of the top Fifteen or just under 50% of the top 15 have links to Lords or MPs - the full list is below.
There may be more but for now this is the list and their connections. Please let me know if you know of any other connections these companies have to our beloved public servants; lest we forget their role.
A list was produced earlier this year for the HealthInvestor awards for the most favoured companies of 2012 - you can see that here.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

David Cameron is accused of a 'sham listening exercise' on NHS reform after links to lobbyist are revealed

This article appears in the Observer. See Archive in July and August for more details on this research.

The coalition has been accused of presiding over a sham "listening exercise" on NHS reform last year, as a leaked document reveals how the private health lobby worked with Downing Street behind the scenes to ensure that the new legislation went ahead.

David Worskett, the industry's chief lobbyist, cleared his group's public statements with officials and was personally thanked by No 10 for arranging the publication of a letter from clinicians in support of the reforms during the key "pause" period last year, called to reflect on the proposed reforms.

A series of phone calls between the lobbyist and Downing Street's health adviser was followed by a welcome "addition" to a major speech by the prime minister, according to a five-page document written for members of the private healthcare lobby group. The government claimed at the time that it would call a temporary halt to its efforts to introduce more competition within the NHS through its controversial health and social care bill. The prime minister told doctors and nurses: "We are taking this time to pause, to listen, to reflect and to improve our NHS modernisation plans. Let me be clear: this is a genuine chance to make a difference."

Friday, 23 November 2012

Reform – a voice for corporations – Bupa



Reform are a free market think tank who promote privatisation of public services. They have charitable status despite being heavily linked to the Conservative party, which is denied by the Charity Commission who recently chose to refuse to investigate the connections and denied they existed.

Social Investigations is producing a series of articles which looks at the corporations who fund Reform through a corporate partnership that exists because according to Reform:

'We are keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.’

Dictionary definition of a charity:An organisation set up to provide help and raise money for those in need’.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Charity Commission Refuses to Investigate Complaint Regarding Charity's Links to the Conservative Party


The Charity Commission have refused to investigate further a complaint placed by Social Investigations into connections between the Charity Reform and the Conservative party, which brings into question their independence. 

The refusal stated that: 'In 2007, the Commission considered a complaint about the charity from a Member of Parliament that contained information which is very similar to the information provided in your email. 

We considered the evidence provided by the MP and undertook a thorough investigation. Our findings were that there is no evidence to support the allegations that the Reform Research Trust has links with or promotes the aims and objectives of any political party. We therefore decided not to take any action in regard to these matters.'

The idea that Reform does not have links with the Conservative party are absurd.

  • All of the co-founders have links to the Conservative party.
  • Reform is recognised as part of the Conservative party movement by multiple medium including the Conservativehome. 
  • Two MPs to emerge from Reform both belong to the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees have provided money to individuals in the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees and a director have advised two Conservative MPs
The full list of links to the Conservative party are here, and highlight clearly the entire powerbase as being linked to the Conservative party. The free market think tank, which promotes, privatisation and the outsourcing of public services to the private sector, are partners with many corporations who gain from the outsourcing and which are linked to many of our Lords and MPs. 

In fact, the only people who do not seem to recognise Reform as part of the Conservative party is the Charity Commission itself, whose reputation is damaged by allowing such organisations to remain as charities. 

A further complaint will be sent to the Charity Commission about their decision and how they can possibly come to the conclusion that they can find 'no evidence' of links to the Conservative party.



Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Article Roundup - Attacks on Society, Deceit and Dirty Business


Every now and again I do an article roundup to bring together key articles from a couple of months work.

The first roundup focused on the Lords research and the healthcare takeover of parliament
More...

The second roundup was dedicated to  lobbying following the discovery of a document from a healthcare lobbying group that told the tale of how Sir Stephen Bubb played his part in changing the face of the NHS. In addition it looked at the daily Telegraph’s role in helping promote the message of ‘competition’. More...

This roundup looks at the political connections of two Think Tanks that silently go about producing policy that the government so readily take onboard to leverage public resources into the private companies that fund them. Reform, the BBC, Policy Exchange, Wonga are all in here, as is David Cameron and how the government accepted the recommendations of the ‘Choice and Competition’ working group of the NHS Future Forum before they received the final report. Democracy in this country is in a fragile state.

Please pass on this blog to anyone you know.

1. ‘Just as I was signing off our Panel's report on " Delivering real choice" I get sent a copy of the PM speech announcing he is accepting many of our key recommendations (although we haven't actually given him the report yet!) More

2. Sir Stephen Bubb was a key figure in ensuring private healthcare remained in the Health and Social Care Act following the so-called ‘listening period.’ Read about how he bumped in Lansley and got briefed before appearing on the Health and Social Care bill Committee. More

3. Policy Exchange Links to the Conservative Party. They are a think tank with charity status, but predominantly dream up ideas for privatising. They are meant to be politically ‘independent’, but are linked solely to the Conservative party. More here

4. Reform are according to their website 'keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.’ – See why this is a lie with reports on Aviva, BMI Healthcare, G4S and see why this makes them a conduit to privatisation. You can also see which of their corporate partners are linked to Lords and MPs. More

5. The BBC failed the people of the UK for whom they are meant to inform. A new report analyses the key stories they missed including the Lords and MPs research. How the BBC betrayed the NHS. More

6. A Complaint was sent to the Charity Commission over the free market think tank Reform. The complaint focused on their political independence and their links to the Conservative party. The second part of the complaint looked at misleading statements made on their website. We await their response. More...

7. The government want to privatise probations, and it is all linked into the Police Commissioner elections, which will act as an opportunity to pressurise local leaders to outsource other areas such as the fire brigade, the police, ambulance services, of which Reform suggest Police Commissioners should be in charge. More


8. It takes a certain kind of person to run a company that takes advantage of people in desperate times, to squeeze money out of them when they have nowhere else to go. The kind of person who would do such a thing, should be admonished by society for preying on the needy however, this government, who receives money from one of their main funders, sees him as a person to go to for advice and to send senior advisers to lobby on the company's behalf. More

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Policy Exchange links to the Conservative party


Policy Exchange is a right wing free market think tank who provide policy ideas for the Conservative party. They promote privatisation and are funded in part by corporations, although which ones and how much are largely unknown.

They are a charity, and claim political independence, which is absurd. The charity status they have makes a mockery out of both the meaning of the word and the rules of the Charity Commission, which allows such organisations to become a charity in the first place.

The list below is of the think tank trustees with some collected from other sources and some new up to date research. The donations the trustees have given have only gone to the Conservative party.

The current trustees of Policy Exchange are:

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Mucky Business of Wonga

It takes a certain kind of person to run a company that takes advantage of people in desperate times, to squeeze money out of them when they have nowhere else to go. The kind of person who would do such a thing should be admonished by society for preying on the needy. However, this government sees him as a person to go to for advice and to send senior advisers to lobby on the company's behalf.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Complaint Over Think Tank 'Charity' Sent to Charity Commission

Over the last month Social Investigations has researched the free market think tank, Reform, which to the discredit of the Charity Commission rules, is also a charity. The findings led to the conclusion that a complaint to the Charity Commission was justified under both misleading the public and questioning their political independence.
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Reform are important because they dream up policy for selling off our public assets like the NHS and the police and the Conservative party make policy based on their research. Their corporate partners are major global and UK corporations and scooping the financial rewards from the privatisation dreamed up by Reform.

Reform is seen by many organisations on both sides of the political spectrum as being an arm of the Conservative party, everyone recognises this except it would seem, the Charity Commission.

The Research revealed:

·      All the founders are linked to the Conservative party
·      Three out of the five trustees have direct links to the Conservative party
·      There are multiple companies who are Reform’s corporate partners who are linked to Lords and MPs
·      They were involved in lobbying to maintain ‘competition’ in the health and Social Care bill
·      They promote privatisation in all public sector areas
·      They make a claim on their website that is misleading
·      They hold meetings with ministers and corporations where no minutes are held using Chatham House Rules
·      The Conservatives have launched two policies at Reform

The Complaint sent to Charity Commission
Reform Research Trust – Charity Number: 1103739

The complaint against Reform centre on two areas:

·      Misleading the public
·      Political independence

1. Misleading the public

Misleading statement
Reform state on their website: 'We are keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.'

I am providing a selection of files on three companies that are corporate partners to Reform in order to provide evidence that Reform’s statement on their site regarding the above statement is at best misleading and at worst deception.

In addition to the same point above, I am providing a list of the corporate partners with their links to MPs and Lords and a list of what area each company influences government policy.

The companies I have selected are:
·      Aviva
·      BMI Healthcare
·      G4S

I chose three simply because I didn’t want to inundate your organisation with files on all the companies that make up their corporate partners to make the point. The files represent those companies only, although the same would apply to all the other corporate partners and I would be happy to supply more if required.

Reform currently has 31 corporate partners; many of them represent some of the most powerful companies in the UK.

Current members are:  ABI, Aviva, Balfour Beatty, Benenden Healthcare Society, Bevan Brittan, BG Group, BVCA, Cable & Wireless, Capita, CH2M Hill, Clifford Chance, Citigroup, The City of London, Ernst & Young, GlaxoSmithKline, G4S, GE, General Healthcare Group, HP, ICAEW, KPMG, Maximus, McKesson, MSD, Optical Confederation, PA Consulting Group, Serco, Sodexo and Telereal Trillium.

These companies are not left our of Whitehall policy. As the files will show, they are often involved at various levels helping to develop policy.

Many of these companies are financially linked to Lords and MPs from all parties, although largely the Conservatives and in many cases they are in leading positions: Please see File titled Reform MP company links.

In one particular case, the director Andrew Haldenby specifically speaks up for and on behalf of G4S as it mentions in the G4S file.

Reform receives money from donations and sponsorship. Companies often sponsor an event so that they can lobby. The policy that these companies influence ends up creating more wealth for the companies and is not for the charitable aims of delivering economic prosperity to the people it claims to do. Not once in their summary return do they mention promoting privatisation, and yet through their corporate sponsorship, and work, this is exactly what they are doing.

2. Political independence.

The next complaint looks at their political independence.- See links to Conservative party here.

‘The guiding principal of charity law is that charities should be, and be seen to be, independent from party politics.’

Based on the statement above, Reform is not within charity law as their powerbase is almost totally towards the Conservative party.

I have produced a separate file for this titled: ‘Reform links to the right’.



Sunday, 28 October 2012

Reform think tank and their links to the Conservative Party


Reform calls itself independent. However the research below brings this claim into question in what appears to be the breaking of the Charity Commission rules for all charities to remain politically independent. Download as PDF

The 'charity’s' claim to independence is based on having one Liberal Democrat (Jeremy Browne) and two Labour members (Lord Warner and MP Frank Field) and a Conservative MP, (Julian Smith) on their advisory team. These however do not represent the overall dominance of the organisation towards the Conservative party, which can be seen by the powerbase, of the founders and trustees. The bullet points below represent a list of these connections.

  • All of the co-founders have links to the Conservative party.
  • Reform is recognised as part of the Conservative party movement by multiple medium including the Conservativehome. 
  • Two MPs to emerge from Reform both belong to the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees have provided money to individuals in the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees and a director have advised two Conservative MPs

Monday, 22 October 2012

Privatising Probation: What Reform says – Government does




If you want to know what future government policy is going to be, don’t bother asking your government because they won’t tell you until it’s too late. Instead, turn your eyes to a right-wing think tank masquerading as a charity.

In February 2011, Reform, a free market think tank, produced a brochure based on a meeting held at global law firm, Clifford Chance, titled: ‘21st century justice’. The meeting in large part discussed the probation and prison service and the need for change. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Response from NHS Commissioning Board on NHS Brand Vacancy


I sent an FOI request to the NHS Commissioning Board in relation to the vacancy they announced for a NHS Brand manager as part of a team. The vacancy was originally highlighted by Roy Lilley. I almost feel like apologising for asking you to read it, but please do. The response below is utterly bewildering and my comments are at the bottom.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Reform - a voice for corporations – G4S


G4S are the most powerful security company in the world, so why do a 'charity' need to offer them further support?

Bringing the activities of the think tank Reform to the public eye, Social Investigations is producing a series of articles which looks at the corporations they partner, and their claim that they are excluded from Whitehall policy. So far, the corporations covered have been Aviva and BMI Healthcare.
Reform's claim is this: 'We are keen to involve corporate organisations in our research because their expertise is often left out of the Whitehall policy discussion.’ – Reform website – corporate partners page

Thursday, 4 October 2012

MPs and Lord's Financial Links to Free Market Think Tank

As part of a series of investigations looking into the free market think tank Reform, the financial links between our so-called public servants, corporations and Reform has brought into question whether Reform should be stripped of their ‘charity’ status.

Now Social Investigations has revealed the list of companies that give money to Reform in either donations or sponsorship who also are employing or have financial connections to our so-called public servants in key sectors of our society.

Friday, 28 September 2012

New report: How the BBC betrayed the NHS


‘The BBC has failed in its responsibilities to inform the British public about one of the most important pieces of legislation of the 21st century.’

This statement comes from a new report written and researched by OurKingdom, a democracy news website project of Open Democracy. The 8,000-word document, highlights a catalogue of failings by the corporation in its coverage of the Health and Social Care Act that include:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reform: A Charity or a conduit for privatisation?


Conference season is upon us, and this year as with every other, the three main parties of the UK political system will each be taking to the stage in an attempt to define their centrist differences. ‘Tis the season to be lobbying, and one organisation in particular will be on the fringes, acting as the go between for their corporate partners and the MPs they hope to persuade; their name is Reform.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Choice and Competition Chair briefed by Lansley and SPAD before appearance on Health and Social Care Bill Committee


Just when you though the so-called ‘listening exercise could not be more of a sham, a new quote from Sir Stephen Bubb has come to light that reveals he was briefed by Lansley and his Special Advisor, Bill Morgan, before an appearance before the Public Bill Committee meeting on the Health and Social care bill.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Reform – who do they represent? BMI healthcare



As part of an ongoing analysis of Reform as a ‘charity’, this time the focus is on BMI healthcare.

Articles in relation to Reform already exist here on the meetings with senior officials using Chatham House rules which are an affront to transparency. Another article looked at their role in supporting the aims of Aviva, one of their corporate partners. This time the focus is turned to BMI Healthcare.

Reform - a voice for corporations - Aviva


As the TUC held their conference, Reform produced a ‘briefing’, which made a series of suggestions on how to weaken the public sector and their workforce conditions. In response to this, the GMB union wrote an article that claimed Reform as being a ‘fake charity’, calling on the Charity Commission to recheck their criteria that allows organisations like the think thank Reform to exist as a charity.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cameron Accepted NHS Future Forum’s Recommendations before the Report was Finished

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Just in case you were left with any doubts that the so-called ‘listening period’ was a genuine attempt to er…listen, then another dose of evidence has come to light, that will surely cure such crazy thoughts.

The evidence comes in the form of a post written on the blog by the head of the ‘Choice and Competition’ working group of the NHS Future Forum, Sir Stephen Bubb.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Attacks on the NHS article roundup

This is the second time I have compiled a list of some of the articles I have put on here. The last time was June so I thought it was time for the next one.

For the June list please see here.

These last two months have seen a slight change in direction from specific MPs to the process of manipulation during the Health bill ‘pause’. In addition the research into the parliamentarian links was wrapped up revealing 60 MPs with financial links to companies involved in private healthcare, bringing the total of all parliamentarians with these links to 200.

I hope you find the list interesting and useful.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Reform - Setting the Agenda with Unknown Others

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Reform is a right-wing think tank that claims to be ‘independent’. Like many think tanks they have charity status, although when you look at their work, it is hard to see where the charitable part exists. They are setting the agenda for our public services in meetings that only they know who was in attendance.

Reform has and continues to be influential in the attacks on the NHS. A document written by the health lobby group the NHS Partners Network revealed Reform’s involvement in setting up meetings with key players of the NHS Future Forum and Monitor during the ‘health bill ‘pause’.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Telegraph: Pushing Circle’s Agenda


Hitchingbrooke Hospital
If we are to believe the content of the Daily Telegraph’s recent editorial, titled ‘Hope for the NHS’*, then we can all breathe a sigh of relief, pack up your placards, the NHS it would appear, is saved. At least that’s the message being propagated in an extraordinary campaign being run by a so-called ‘quality paper’ on behalf of Circle Health.
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