Episode 40 – Tiernan interviews money expert Jasmine Birtles (@Jasmine) about what the Autumn Statement really means, plus a look at so-called health tourism.
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Hello and welcome to Partly Political Broadcast episode 40! I’m Tiernan Douieb, and I am a professional health tourist. By that I mean I was once given a tour round a gym. I bought a Lucozade at the gift shop and no, no one seemed happy about me taking photos.
It’s been yet another week of standard 2016 politics as written by Joseph Heller, with many Eurosceptics describing Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn statement as gloomy even though gloomy is pretty much autumn’s key character trait. Of course critics actually thought it was gloomy not just because Hammond constantly looks like he’s not seen any sunshine since 1984, but due to the economic forecasts that Brexit will cost the UK about £60bn in lost growth. Apparently this is all nonsense according to one nameless hard brexiteer minister because forecasts said there’d also be a recession once we exited Europe and that hasn’t happened so yeah, unlikely anything else will. The big problem with that statement of course is that we haven’t left the EU yet, so unless they’ve been reading tea leaves to predict the future it’s entirely wrong. Of course if they were reading tea leaves they’d know the cost of buying them had gone up & so they’d really have to try hard to not already realise things won’t be great. Meanwhile Theresa May stated in an interview with The Sun that her faith in God will guide her to the right path for Brexit, which seems fitting that as there’s no proof that either God or any Brexit plans actually exist.
The big news was that Cuban politician and revolutionary Fidel Castro died on Saturday at the age of 90, proving, among other things that cigars and rum really can’t be that bad for you. Castro was controversial figure in global history as he was seen as being an anti-imperialist hero who secured Cuba’s independence from America and a sporter of hipster beards long before it was cool, but also as a dictator who oppressed the Cuban people and was cause of a number of human rights abuses and had a terrible taste in tracksuits. I went to Cuba a few years back and I left as confused by the situation as I’d been before I visited. The people had great healthcare, amazing education and kids played in the streets looking happy and healthy. But they were in extreme poverty, the buildings were collapsing and tourists had a different currency to locals, which is always a very bad sign. Also as a side note, as a veggie I was baffled by how they didn’t think ham was meat. So the menu would have a salad or a ham salad and the salad would come with ham but less ham than the ham salad. Crazy. Anyway, what I mean to say was that as per everything like this, no one in politics is allowed to have a nuanced view that says ‘well great for Cuban independence and everything he did for South Africa but the fact he had people arrested in the 60’s for being homosexual was horrific, and I did like his beard but those tracksuits, ick.’ So instead Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn made a statement about Castro being a champion of social justice because I guess being beaten up by police for speaking out against your leader isn’t all bad when you’ve got a sweet free national healthcare system to patch you up after right? Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t make a statement at all about Castro’s death because he was an oppressive leader who believed in free healthcare and wouldn’t buy weapons off the Conservatives so why bother to pretend to like him like they do other dictators?
Theresa May won’t be attending his funeral though it’s possible a deputy foreign office minister for the Americas might attend, because its worth remembering that when there’s a divisive revolutionary leader who fights against capitalism & imperialism but also has some really, really dodgy oppressive policies & implements torture, but is in a second world country no one from the first world needs to pretend to like them, whereas when one who’s just like that but without any of the good bits becomes President elect of the US, we all just have to be civil and give them a chance. Now that there, is the sort of rum do Castro wasn’t a fan of.
Thank you podbeasts for listening in once again and thanks to everyone who sent in nice comments about the interview with James Patrick last week, he is a very interesting man indeed and do make sure you grab his book. As always if you enjoyed last week’s, or at the end of this week’s think ‘ooh I loved that but in this era of almost entire communication blackout, how can I convey my thoughts and feelings of enjoyment to everyone else?’ Well fear not, you could give us a review on iTunes and in fact, if two more of you do it, we’ll hit the big 50 which will give us 9 more reviews than Michael Gove’s Celsius 7/7 on Amazon which includes someone saying ‘at least him writing this kept him away from our children.’ I believe that was written during his stint as Education Minister, because since then, he just seems to leave children unattended at hotels. Well his own anyway. So yes, please give the show a review and you can also sponsor me to do this via our patreon page www.patreon.com/parpolbro and if a few more of you join up there I’ll add a couple of bonus things to it including the extended full version of the new US jingle from last week, which, I’ll be honest, is more of an incentive not to donate anything ever.
Right, on this week’s show I talk to TV money expert, the brilliant Jasmine Birtles about what the Autumn Statement actually means, which sort of includes the Brexit fallout for this show, and there’s a teeny bit on the d health tourism. But first:
The Digital Economy Bill is the government’s attempt to modernise the economy and who better to do that than a ton of out of date politicians in a building built in 1835? The idea is that the bill will make it a legal right for all household to have decent broadband, which sounds great if only for the idea of telling BT they have to come round and fix it asap or you’ll take them to court because it’s your legal right to tell them to fuck off on Twitter. However along with this part of the bill, the government want to implement lots of online safeguarding policies too. These include companies having to get consent from customers before they blast you with promotional emails like they did with me all Black Friday – yeah nice try but I prefer to go out to real shops for my Black Friday deals as then I get to see the violence live and use it as an appropriate test for the apocalypse. You think people fighting over tvs is bad? Wait till they have to fight over water. Sorry, I mean consent from customers and the need for age verification for all internet porn sites which seems sensible. Except along with the age checks to protect children, the Culture Secretary has announced that the bill would be amended to include powers to block non-compliant websites which means adult sites will have to comply with censorship rules and won’t be able to show non-conventional sexual activities. The thing is what is determined ‘non-conventional’ will be decided by the BBFC and it’s likely to include things such female ejaculation which is not illegal in any way and instead by banning it just appears sexist. Other acts that may be on the list include urination, menstruation, spanking, whipping or caning. I find this really weird as judging by their policies sleeping with a member of the government would probably involve them punishing you and making sure you get no benefits at all, before taking the piss and then you’d wake up the next morning covered in cuts.
UKIP have selected their new leader, in the shaved testicle shape of Paul Nuttall, a climate change denying, pro-NHS privitising, Islamaphobic, pro-lifing, hunting fan. So yeah, a progressive step forward for the party after Nigel Farage.
Nuttall’s victory speech involved him pointing out that he wants UKIP to replace the Labour Party, though presumably he just means in the UK and not in their role as observers of the Socialist International or membership of the Party Of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance unless Paul is really gong to surprise us. Nuttall says that Labour are more interested in ‘dinner party topics’s such as climate change and ignores working people, whereas former leader Nigel Farage prefers to emit his own gasses while dining at the Ritz. But actually UKIP could now pose a threat to Labour with many Labour MP’s backing remain but sitting in mostly leave constituencies. Labour MP Dan Jarvis has commissioned research that found if just one in every 50 Labour voters votes UKIP instead, they could lose 14 seats. This has prompted Jarvis to suggest Labour should stop being so pro-immigration because he clearly doesn’t remember those mugs back in 2015. On the other hand, with only 30k members and one MP who doesn’t like his own party, if every newspaper and TV station stopped pretending UKIP were big sharks & ignored them like the lichens they are, they might wither away with possible fines for fishy misspending of EU money and without Farage’s blob fish face at the helm anymore.
INTERVIEW PART 1
Last week Chancellor Phillip Hammond gave his first and apparently last Autumn Statement in the commons. Not because it does now seem that this bleak political winter will last forever but because the autumn statement will now be an autumn budget with the spring budget becoming and autumn statement and really all you need to know is that the boring way in which the government tells you things are getting worse will happen at exactly the same times of year anyway. The government priority with the statement were JAMs. Not innovative ones, or ones we wish to export but Just About Managing people for whom the acronym works perfectly as this statement suggests they’ll continue to be in a sticky situation for some time. Most of Hammond’s statement was about dealing with post Brexit forecasts but there were also a couple of things to look out for including his promise that there will be no more welfare cuts in this parliament, presumably because there’s no point continuing to cut something when it’s already dead.
This week, I spoke to financial expert, TV presenter and creator of moneymagpie.com Jasmine Birtles who can often be seen and heard across TV and radio explaining how money things actually work. So who better to actually explain the ins and outs of the Autumn Statement and I’m pleased to say Jasmine makes it all very clear indeed, even if the outlook is still gloomy.
Chris Wormald, the most senior official at the Department Of Health told MPs last week that he was looking into hospitals checking patients papers to check if they should have to pay for NHS treatments. I don’t know if you, like me, have ever struggled to get your Tesco clubcard or nectar points card out of your wallet in time to give the cashier without holding everyone up, but I assume trying to scrabble for the two forms of ID you’ve been asked to bring while bleeding out in A&E is damn sight more tricky. Slimy Wormald wants ID checks in hospitals in order to curb costs of Health Tourism, the idea that people travel to the UK just to revel in our wonderful waiting times and lack of beds in wards because that’s oh so appealing. A National Audit Report from last month said that the UK government paid out £674m to other European countries for the treatment of British people abroad, while only receiving £49m in return for NHS treatment of EU citizens from 2014-2015. And at the time of recording this, the Evening Standard has reported that eight major NHS trusts across the country have lost a total of £15m to health tourism. That sounds pretty unfair when you hear it like that right? Like people are just flocking over from Spain in their thousands, walking passed reception and taking an X-ray machine home because your family really want to know if you digest a soup as food or a drink.
Well firstly the National Audit report states that the figures of £674m that the UK pays to other European countries for Brits healthcare and the £49m it claims back for European citizens treatment here, isn’t comparable. In particular this is because far more British citizens retire abroad than vice versa and about 80% of the UK’s EEA healthcare bill relates to state pensioners and their dependants. EU law, which we’re still under until we actually leave, means that any Brits travelling in the European Economic Area and Switzerland get emergency treatment the same as any other EU citizen, and a second scheme means that when Brits retire on a state pension in the EEA the UK government pays for their healthcare bills. Similarly, when Europeans retire in the UK, their government pays for their medical bills too but who the fuck wants to spend their dying days in Croydon or wherever when they can stay where they are in a hot country by the beach? No one. Sorry oldies, but like the last two votes, stats say you’ve once again you’ve ruined it for everyone, especially as when the UK leaves the EU, these heath care agreements may be lost meaning it’ll cost even more to pay for ex-pats treatment in Europe, and it’ll be even harder to reclaim healthcare costs for Europeans over here because we’ll have to get it from 27 individual countries. And when our department of health can’t even read a national audit report properly, that seems unlikely.
The report also says it’s quite hard to accurately actually work out how much health tourism costs the UK each year and that’s because health tourism can be split into two categories. There’s normal use, which is people who are taken ill while in the UK or have an accident, and In 2015, that was around £1.8bn a year. But only some of that is recoverable as much of it is A&E which is covered under our EU agreement and some is for foreign residents in England who pay tax so charging them again would be super shitty as they’d then be contributing more for an ingrowing hair removal than David Cameron’s family ever has. Around £500m should be recoverable but in 2013/14 only £100m was, because for some reason with all the NHS staff and cost cuts they can’t seem to employ people just to threaten to break people’s legs if they don’t pay up. Which actually would just create more need for hospital use and generally be far worse.
Then there’s deliberate use which is people who so specifically travel to the UK for treatment because they hear how much fun it is to be seen 4 hour later than your appointment time with only a coughing man and boring pamphlets for company until someone finally says your name wrong 15 times. There’s no real way of finding out who deliberate users are but estimates reckon it costs the NHS somewhere between £110m and £280 a year. So altogether about £500m could be recoverable, though it will cost at least £18m to get the resources to do that. There are surcharges which apply to students and temporary migrants from outside the EEA which generate over £150m a year and that surcharge applied to people from New Zealand and Australia as of April this year. And none of this looks at how much money the NHS brings in from medical tourists which an independent government report says is apparently a growing market. And really when you look at the fact the NHS has a debt of £2.45bn but the UK spend a lower percentage of our GDP on health than France, Germany, Sweden or Greece, really you wonder if the priority should be demanding a tourist get out his passport because they thought our national speed limit sign just meant wear a seatbelt, or you know, not dismantling the NHS in the first place.
You can view the full National Audit report on recovering costs of NHS treatment for oversees patients of at nao.org.uk
INTERVIEW PART 2
Many thanks to Jasmine for speaking with me. Jasmine is on Twitter as @jasmine. Yes I know, how did she nab that name? Jasmine’s website is jasminebirtles.com and she also set up MoneyMagpie.com which is a great website full of info on how to save and manage money, all the things that I’m terrible at. In fact there’s probably a page on there somewhere that just says ‘don’t do whatever Tiernan does’ and suddenly you’re a millionaire. Do check out moneymagpie.com
As always if you have anyone you’d like me to try and interview or a subject you’d like me to find someone to interview about, drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, parpolbro on Facebook or email@example.com
QUESTION OF THE WEEK – US President Elect and troll king Donald Trump tweeted last week that he thought that constantly unelected Nigel Farage would make a great UK Ambassador to the US. Sure and why not make Bez from the Happy Monday’s the UK’s Ambassador for the Organisation of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Actually, while I joke, Bez would be great at that as he’d probably sniff them out from miles away. As far as I’m concerned the only good reason for Nigel Farage becoming the UK’s Ambassador to the US, is it’d mean he’d have to get a lot more flights, so fingers crossed we get a repeat of 2010 really soon. Obviously the US president doesn’t get to pick who the UK send as Ambassador and we already have Sir Nigel Kim Darroch. But I thought it’d be fun to ask you who you think should be the UK’s ambassador to the US?
@BryPot Nov 27
@ParPolBro @TiernanDouieb anyone, doesn’t matter, I’ll do it. They won’t have anything to do, US heading for an insular decade.
@life_academic Nov 27
@ParPolBro Steven Gerrard. Experience of both countries, and of recovering from a disastrous slip to lead–oh, wait.
(This is a kickfootsport joke; you may need it explaining, Tiernan.)
@technige Nov 27
@ParPolBro Brian Blessed.
Would love to see Trump try and interrupt him
@TheAshPreston Nov 27
@ParPolBro It should be an expert… HAHAHA AS IF THEY’D LISTEN TO AN EXPERT!!!
@gvpowell64 Nov 27
@ParPolBro anyone who knows what they are doing, guess that excludes Farage.
@al_vimh Nov 27
@ParPolBro Danger Mouse. Fuck it, embrace the madness.
20 hours ago
@ParPolBro Nigella Lawson. She would do a good job of distracting people. E.g. “ooh I normally go for a firm but supple brexit” *licks lips*
react-text: 169 Rob Skene /react-text Basil Brush. Trump seems like he might think Boom Boom is an acceptable answer to every question.
react-text: 214 Steve Pretty /react-text Stop fishing mate, we all know you think it should be you
(for the record, I think you’d be ace)
In related news, I am now describing my instrument as a ‘Hilaryet’
react-text: 427 Matt Kinson /react-text Julie Andrews. Who can say no to her? It would be a British colony again in a week
Sound of music – good at dealing with Nazis
react-text: 472 Lee Morgan /react-text Al Murray at this rate
Also ran in Thanet – 318
react-text: 52 Richard Barnes /react-text A new Sacha Baron Cohen character, because they’d never even notice.
react-text: 97 Philip Alexander /react-text Sam Allardyce
@sonotfunnysarah Nov 27
@ParPolBro @TiernanDouieb The bloke who’s already doing seems to be doing a good job. Lets just leave it as it is.
Or Gary Lineker
And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast. I’m still planning on restarting the Partly Big Society section, probably in the New Year now so if you have any local issues that you think we can all find a fun way to protest about, please do drop me a line @parpolbro on Twitter, parpolbro on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you just want to drop me a line about anything really. Maybe your thoughts on Ed Balls strictly come dancing departure? which I think proves he’s now not good in a seat, or on his feet and should spend the rest of his life either lying down or suspended just about the ground.
I’ll be back next week when it’ll turn out that Theresa May’s Brexit path as dictated by God only require the UK sort out trade tariffs for wine and those crappy bits of wafer bread.
This week’s show was brought to you by the letters JAM combined with numbers that keep their current low income state preserved while being overall fruitless.