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Now MPs are told they can claim the cost of Remembrance Day poppy wreaths on expenses 

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MPs have been encouraged to claim for Remembrance Day poppy wreaths on their expenses, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The Commons watchdog, set up in the wake of the expenses scandal, emailed MPs last week to say that the cost of commemorative wreaths laid as part of their role in Parliament can be claimed back from the taxpayer.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) told The Mail on Sunday: ‘As there are a large number of new MPs elected in December last year, this was an opportunity, in advance of Remembrance Day, to let MPs know the position.’

But John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said last night: ‘Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for such ridiculous expenses claims from any public servant, let alone already well-paid politicians. No one in their right mind would ever ask their boss to pay for a Remembrance poppy or wreath.’

MPs have bee criticised for claiming for the cost of memorial poppy wreaths, such as Marsha de Cordova, pictured, who suggested her £17 claim was an 'administrative error'

MPs have bee criticised for claiming for the cost of memorial poppy wreaths, such as Marsha de Cordova, pictured, who suggested her £17 claim was an 'administrative error'

MPs have bee criticised for claiming for the cost of memorial poppy wreaths, such as Marsha de Cordova, pictured, who suggested her £17 claim was an ‘administrative error’ 

MPs have been told the can claim the cost of memorial poppies on expenses if they wish

MPs have been told the can claim the cost of memorial poppies on expenses if they wish

MPs have been told the can claim the cost of memorial poppies on expenses if they wish

And Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart – a retired Army officer – said he too disagreed with the IPSA guidance. He said: ‘I have never done it myself. I just think it’s one thing that we shouldn’t actually be charging the state for.’

In response to IPSA’s email, Labour Party whips ordered their MPs to ignore the advice. The message said: ‘You have been contacted by IPSA in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday to say that members may claim for the cost of commemorative wreaths. It is our strong advice that it would be extremely unwise to do so.’

The news comes following anger at IPSA after it announced plans to reward MPs with an inflation-busting 4.1 per cent pay rise.

In response to that, the TaxPayers’ Alliance will this week call for MPs’ pay to be linked to Britain’s GDP.

Claiming for commemorative wreaths has been allowed at the ‘discretion’ of MPs since 2017, and is taken out of their office costs’ budget. Last year Labour MP Marsha de Cordova apologised after claiming £17 in expenses for a Remembrance Day poppy wreath, blaming an ‘administrative error’.

And Tory MPs Jo Churchill and Rachel Maclean have repaid previous claims made for wreaths.

This year’s 11am Remembrance Sunday service will be closed to the public for the first time in the Cenotaph’s 100-year history. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that only a limited number of people will be permitted to attend.

It said: ‘The service is expected to go ahead with representatives of the Royal Family, Government and the Armed Forces, and a small representation from the Commonwealth, other countries and territories, all laying wreaths at the Cenotaph.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Post Office to scrap a THIRD of its 2,000 ATMs in new blow to elderly and vulnerable

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post office to scrap a third of its 2000 atms in new blow to elderly and vulnerable

The Post Office is scrapping nearly a third of its 2,000 free-to-use ATMs in another blow for community access to cash.

The taxpayer-owned operation is retaining 1,400 machines and has promised to invest £16million to equip them with the latest technology.

Customers will still be able to withdraw cash over the counter at 11,500 post offices thanks to a deal with major banks. But many do not know the service exists or are put off by long queues.

Around 8,500 free-to-use ATMs have been lost around the country over the past three years and many more are expected to be removed in the wake of the pandemic.

The Post Office is scrapping nearly a third of its 2,000 free-to-use ATMs in another blow for community access to cash (file image)

The Post Office is scrapping nearly a third of its 2,000 free-to-use ATMs in another blow for community access to cash (file image)

The Post Office is scrapping nearly a third of its 2,000 free-to-use ATMs in another blow for community access to cash (file image)

Campaigners have regularly raised concerns about access to cash, saying vulnerable groups rely on coins and notes to buy everyday essentials.

The 1,400 ATMs being retained by the Post Office include nearly 60 which are not commercially viable but are in locations where the next free-to-use machine is a significant distance away.

Martin Kearsley, the company’s banking director, said: ‘Our estate of Post Office-owned and operated ATMs will see postmasters operating some of the most modern and secure ATMs in the market.

‘In the areas where we have been unable to sustainably operate the existing ATMs, customers can still withdraw cash over the counter free of charge and in a secure manner. Many of our branches are open long hours and at weekends, ensuring continued access to cash.’

Customers will still be able to withdraw cash over the counter at 11,500 post offices thanks to a deal with major banks. But many do not know the service exists or are put off by long queues (file image)

Customers will still be able to withdraw cash over the counter at 11,500 post offices thanks to a deal with major banks. But many do not know the service exists or are put off by long queues (file image)

Customers will still be able to withdraw cash over the counter at 11,500 post offices thanks to a deal with major banks. But many do not know the service exists or are put off by long queues (file image)

The Post Office said it had reviewed each ATM and considered factors such as weekly usage and the proximity of other free facilities. The 600 machines that will close will be shut in a phased approach by March 2022.

The Post Office does not own or operate any ATMs at its branches. They belong to its partner, the Bank of Ireland, which is exiting this area of the market in the UK.

Towards the end of 2021, the first ATM will be migrated to the Post Office estate, with all machines transferring by April 2022.

Cash use declined sharply at the start of the pandemic, with some retailers asking customers to pay by alternatives such as cards. But many people still rely on cash and there are concerns that rural and deprived communities face being cut off.

The Government has said it would legislate to protect cash and one option is for cashback to become more widely available.

Proposals also include beefing up the Financial Conduct Authority’s role in overseeing the cash system to ensure it benefits consumers as well as small and medium- sized businesses.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Hospital patients will be able to order food 24 hours a day following review led by Prue Leith

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hospital patients will be able to order food 24 hours a day following review led by prue leith

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food.

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith.

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day, for example allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night.

Digital menus will also be introduced across the NHS by 2022, meaning patients could order meals and snacks on phones or iPads at their bedsides.

 

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith (pictured)

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith (pictured)

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith (pictured)

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night (file image)

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night (file image)

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night (file image)

The review was commissioned by Boris Johnson last August after six patients died from listeria which they contracted from hospital sandwiches and salads.

Miss Leith, 80, and other advisers visited catering managers, staff and patients across the country between September and March.

The review team last night issued a wide-ranging series of recommendations, some of which will be implemented immediately.

Miss Leith said: ‘Food is not only important to health, but to morale. Hospital mealtimes should be a moment of enjoyment and a pleasure to serve. They should inspire staff, patients and visitors to eat well at home.’

The Government will today establish an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward the recommendations and decide on next steps.

Other key recommendations include introducing digital menus and food ordering systems, which can factor in a patient’s preferences and nutritional needs.

National standards for NHS chefs will be introduced, while nurses and dieticians will have a greater role in hospital food services.

The NHS serves 140million meals to patients every year, and has a further 1.25million members of staff who require food and drink on shift. However, four in ten hospital staff say that catering facilities in their workplaces are poor. Campaigners have found that some hospitals spend as little as £2 a day on feeding each patient.

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day (file image)

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day (file image)

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day (file image)

Hospitals also rely on pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, but these are particularly susceptible to food poisoning and were responsible for the six listeria deaths last year.

Rachel Power of The Patients Association said: ‘Good food is essential for patient recovery so this review could be game-changing. But only if the recommendations are implemented in full.’

n Miss Leith has reportedly quit the Tory party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law after Brexit. She is said to be unhappy at the prospect of Britain being flooded with inferior food as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with America.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Half of women fail to check for breast cancer

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half of women fail to check for breast cancer

Half of women fail to regularly check their breasts for signs of cancer, a study has found.

And one in ten have never looked for changes at all, according to a survey for the charity Breast Cancer Now.

One in five check only every six months and one in eight do so less than yearly.

One in five also said they were ¿not confident¿ about what they should be looking for. Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment [File photo]

One in five also said they were ¿not confident¿ about what they should be looking for. Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment [File photo]

One in five also said they were ‘not confident’ about what they should be looking for. Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment [File photo]

Experts said the figures were ‘deeply concerning’ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong.

They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks.

‘That one in ten women have never checked their breasts really shocked me,’ said Manveet Basra, public health chief at Breast Cancer Now.

‘It is quick, easy, and can help detect any breast cancer early, giving treatment the best chance of working.

‘There’s no special technique – just get to know your breasts and what’s normal for you, so you can spot any new or unusual changes. Remember to check all parts of your breasts, your armpits and up to your collarbone for changes.

‘Making this part of your routine – such as in the shower or when you apply moisturiser – can help you to do it regularly.’

Experts said the figures were ¿deeply concerning¿ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong. They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks [File photo]

Experts said the figures were ¿deeply concerning¿ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong. They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks [File photo]

Experts said the figures were ‘deeply concerning’ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong. They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks [File photo]

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov, found that almost half of women said they simply ‘forgot’ when asked what stopped them from checking their breasts more regularly.

One in five also said they were ‘not confident’ about what they should be looking for.

Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment.

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘It’s worrying that almost half of women don’t check their breasts regularly for new or unusual changes.

‘A woman noticing a potential symptom and getting this checked by the GP are often the first steps that lead to diagnosis.

‘Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment, which can prevent women from dying of the disease, meaning the importance of regular breast checking cannot be underestimated. The pandemic has thrown us into unprecedented times, but one thing remains the same – all women must get any potential symptoms of breast cancer checked by a GP.’

Sarah Manley, a teacher from south London, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 after discovering a lump by chance.

The 47-year-old said she would go months or years without checking herself, but following her treatment has completely changed her habits.

She said: ‘I was completely shocked to be told I had breast cancer, I’d always been so healthy. My diagnosis has definitely changed my behaviour and checking my breasts is now part of my routine.

34833764 0 image a 30 1603670177810

34833764 0 image a 30 1603670177810

One in ten have never looked for changes at all, according to a survey for the charity Breast Cancer Now. One in five check only every six months and one in eight do so less than yearly [File photo]

‘I was checking so infrequently that I didn’t know what was normal for me and wouldn’t have recognised a new change.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Although some people will understandably have had reservations about coming forward during the first wave, essential cancer care was maintained and now the number of people getting treatment for cancer is back to pre-pandemic levels, so our message is to come forward for care and help us to help you.’

Symptoms can also include discharge, dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast, inflammation and swelling in the upper chest or armpit.

The UK has around 55,200 cases of breast cancer a year, with 11,400 deaths.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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