The IMF’s Concerns Regarding Household Debts In the UK

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization that advances financial stability and monetary help, internationally. It promotes international trade, employment, and economic growth. This organization is run by a 189 membership from different countries.

Lately, the IMF has announced a surge in household debt which could very well lead to a financial crisis worldwide. They have stated that this crisis could lead to a negative economic impact.

A recent report said “higher household debt is associated with a greater probability of a banking crisis, especially when debt is already high. A sudden economic shock, such as a decline in home prices could trigger a spiral of credit defaults and debt that shakes the foundations of the financial system.”

This warning from the IMF was first announced after discovering the rising debt that has incurred in the United Kingdom. Since 2007, the levels of household debt dropped in the UK from 150% to 130% but have since risen to 137% over the past few years.

The most recent figures coming from the Bank of England has discovered that British households have unsecured debts of approximately £203 billion from car loans, credit cards, overdrafts, and other types of loans. There is a rising concern that lenders in the UK could lose well over 30 billion due to borrowers who are in debt and having a hard time paying these loans back.

Economist Claudio Raddatz, from the IMF, stated: “Growing debt levels signal risks down the road”. Although some economists believe that extra spending can actually help the economy but over time, spending and debt will lead to risks in the economy.

Economist Nico Valckx of the IMF said “Debt greases the wheels of the economy. It allows individuals to make big investments today, like buying a house or going to college, by pledging some of their future earnings to pay the debt incurred. That’s all fine in theory. But as a global financial crisis showed, rapid growth in household debt, especially mortgages, can be dangerous”.

The IMF has continually warned lenders that the increase in spending and debt is getting well out of control. More households are heading into debt once again which is a reflection of past financial crisis.

They are afraid that lessons of the last financial crisis and the negative impact it had on the economy has obviously not been learned by spenders. Consumers must become more astute regarding their spending and borrowing habits. If households continue on this slippery slope, it will show that people just have not gotten the message.

The IMF’s latest concerns remain to be seen but the increase in household debt could lead to another crisis within the country.

The Impact of UK Departure From The EU On Family Law

As everything keeps changing with connections between the UK and EU, legislation is taking quite a hit. Who has jurisdiction over who, what decisions will be affected by new legislation both in family law and other financial and personal areas that will be on everyone’s minds. Only time will tell what the final outcome will be.

While the country is still reeling from the EU referendum, we need to take a much closer look at how departure from the EU will impact family law in England and Wales.

Family law is not a stranger in the sense of taking steps to move away from the EU which will take quite a bit of unraveling from the EU legislation. The same can be said regarding many of our other laws. Without a doubt, this will take quite some time and the process will probably drag out for quite some time. Although the long-term impacts of Brexit, or departure of the UK from the EU, may not be fully felt for quite awhile, there are many consequences in regard to future divorces from the EU.

Nigel Shepherd, chair of the family law organisation Resolution, spoke after the referendum was announced. He stressed that the results have created a period of great uncertainty. This has emphasized the uncertainty arising from the fact that family law is essentially linked to the referendum and other jurisdictions.

The EU Legislation

Being in force since 2001, Brussels IIa has been an important part of the EU legislation and offers uniformity and a certainty in recognizing the divorce proceedings in various jurisdictions of the EU. With its absence, Family Court in the UK will need to adopt new avenues for addressing some important areas that will continually pop up in matrimonial proceedings.

As a perfect example, the most significant problem in issuing divorce proceedings will be to consider whether the court you are applying to actually has jurisdiction to accept your proceedings. Even more crucial could be involving multinational couples trying to figure out which court will hear their divorce petition. This is very important because different jurisdictions have to decide financial cases in different ways. Some courts could be seen as more favourable to one party over another. In many cases, there will be a mad dash to issue the petition first to the country that will be most favourable to the spouse. What country has jurisdiction is still governed by the EU legislation.

Bear in mind, in the absence of this important EU legislation, this will lead to even more uncertainty regarding who has the jurisdiction to hear the case. It has been iterated that the courts will have to fill the vacuum with something that would be similar to Brussels II in order to address the situation.

Adding to this, the Brussels IIa allows an order that was created in England to recognised and is enforceable in other jurisdictions. Orders that are commonly affected by the EU legislation includes child custody, other arrangements and matrimonial orders that need to be addressed by the new legislation in order to stay enforceable across the borders.

Keeping agreements made between multinational couples in a divorce are governed by Brussels IIa which allows for a more uncomplicated approach for enforcement across different jurisdictions. The enforcement of these agreements will need to be addressed in light of any new legislation and will have the greatest impact on matrimonial property and who owns what in different countries.

Other Arising Issues

Although family law is not the leading victim of departure from the EU (or Brexit), there will still be a great deal of uncertainty leading up to the formal Brexit while negotiations continue with the EU and this could take a number of years.

In a time of great uncertainty for couples divorcing, there will be even greater anxieties and fears that will arise. On a broader scale, the possible impact of Brexit could lead to an increase of interest rates, a fall in pension values, and the outcome of the property market. All of these situations will also add to many more concerns in what has become a very stressful time.

What’s In The Future

That said, some analysts have suggested that while breaking away from the EU will cause a period of uncertainty, there might be an opportunity to embrace change. By drafting domestic legislation that can provide better laws than what currently exists with the EU might be a positive solution.

The final outcome cannot possibly be known at this time. Couples who are dealing with difficulties are strongly advised to seek out guidance as soon as possible. They need to fully understand the complexities of Brexit and understand the impact that they may experience both on their personal and financial circumstances.

In Conclusion

With the changes of Brexit, there will be many challenges ahead and what courses will be the most positive for family law and many other legislation. Time will tell the final impacts and outcomes and how much anxiety and stress lies ahead. Family law has many challenges yet to be seen. Couples looking for divorces should get counsel in order to understand the changes and how they will be impacted.

New Changes Within NHS Trusts That Protect Whistleblowers

The NHS is an institution that the British public is very proud of and should be lived up to. Everyone involved from doctors to nurses and other professionals within health care perform a tremendous service looking after and caring for those who are injured or ill. As of this year, in order to improve confidences within NHS, there are new policies and procedures guidelines that support whistleblowers that each National Health Service had to review.

Deliberations were concluded in May of 2016 and the final guidelines were released this year. The new policies were introduced after an intense period of discussions and after reviewing the reluctance of NHS staff to step forward with their concerns regarding the safety of patients and inadequate funding.

Many of the leading healthcare workers have long believed that speaking up had many consequences including:

They worked within a small team and feared the backlash they would get from their colleagues. They were also afraid of losing their jobs if they raised any concerns to their employer. Workers in ancillary and non-clinical positions felt they had fewer options because they did not have access to a prominent group of leaders or a union.

The National Health Service Director for Patient Experience strongly believes that in order to have the safest health system takes listening to their staff and taking action where needed. Should a staff member discover something that is putting patients at risk, they should feel safe in expressing these concerns without repercussions.

The new guidelines have been put in place to create good practices, provide primary care staffers more options in order to share their concerns, and allows employers to handle these concerns correctly. In order to have a safe NHS, there must be open and honest communication in order to routinely learn from their past mistakes. They should take these mistakes and learn how to improve their patients’ safety.

Whistleblowing can help point out bad practices going on within an organisation. That said, these claims must be honest because the final outcome could lead to criminal actions against an organisation while unveiling cover-ups that are dangerous and not in the best interests of patients.

In 2014, an independent review board, chaired by Sir Robert Francis, revealed that whistleblowers within NHS were intimidated, bullied, ignored, and, in many cases, fired. During an interview, Sir Francis stated that approximately 30% of those raising concerns felt unsafe after speaking up.

He went on to point out that 18% of staff employees did not trust the system and therefore would not speak up. Another 15% stated they were afraid of being victimised if they were to say anything at all. This climate of fear was created by a number of people losing their jobs because they chose to speak up. These people have lost their jobs, their livelihood, and have found it very difficult to find new employment. Sadly, some cases have felt suicidal tendencies or became seriously ill in the aftermath. Before releasing his report, Sir Francis said nurses, in particular, had raised many concerns regarding intimidation and bullying within NHS Trusts.

A survey conducted in 2013 of 8,262 nurses revealed that 24% had been warned against making any public statements regarding their concerns. Approximately 45% of the participants said their employers took no actions regarding their concerns and 44% were very concerned about suffering from repercussions or being fired. Other threats made them think twice about whistleblowing about dangerous or negligent practices they had witnessed.

Based on the recommendations of Sir Francis’s report, the foundation for establishing a new NHS guideline regarding whistleblowing was born. The new policies offer steps to protect the safety of NHS employees who speak up.

Each NHS Trust should appoint a Freedom To Speak Up Guardian. This individual should not be within the chain of command management group. He or she will provide support to staff members who have genuine concerns. There should be further steps taken to prevent inappropriate behaviour including harassment, discrimination, or bullying toward staff members who speak up.

All NHS primary care providers were required to review and update their policies and procedures by March of 2017. The principles of the agreed upon guidelines were then incorporated.

Last year in 2016, Dr. Henrietta Hughes, medical director for NHS England’s North Central and East London region, was named National Guardian for Safeguarding of Whistleblowers. Paraphrasing a statement after her appointment, she believed it takes a lot of courage, honesty, and selflessness to be a whistleblower. She also said that no one should ever be afraid to come forward for fear of punishment when speaking up for the safety and care of patients.

Along with her office, their national partners, and anyone who wants to support and protect staff members who speak up will help her drive a new agenda of openness. “Ultimately, these new policy guidelines will make for a safer NHS.” Staff members will have a great deal of support and gain confidence in speaking up especially for the public’s interest in safety.

The Case Of Dr. Hayley Dare – Feb 11, 2015:
Dr. Dare had a perfect 20-year reputation for helping patients and excellence within her field. Her entire career was damaged when she chose to speak up about concerns for patients’ safety to the CEO of the West London Mental Health NHS Trust. Absolutely no one should ever have to go through such a horrific experience like she did.

The NHS Trust spent £130,000 fighting Dare’s accusations, even though they understood that her claims were accurate. She was harassed, called “A Very Disturbed Women”, bullied, and then fired. After losing her job, based on a legal technicality, the Judge said her disclosure was not made in good faith (which did not exist at the time) and a provision that no longer has to be satisfied. The NHS Trust went after Dr. Dare for £100,000 in court costs.

In Conclusion:
Things have changed thanks to Sir Francis’ report, the creation of the Freedom To Speak Up Guardianship, the network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS Trusts, and others who support and protect those who speak up. No one should ever go through this again.

About Sir Robert Francis:
He is a British barrister who specialises in medical law, treatments for mental and medical issues, clinical discipline and negligence. He has chaired various independent investigations.