Monday, 31 December 2012
Sunday, 30 December 2012
Last week I posted the Christmas menu.
This is what the food looked like.
Some nibbles to start.
My sprout surprise was a single pasta parcel, filled with sprout, bacon, ricotta and garlic. The plates are smaller than they look.
Then a home made Chicken liver pate. (Clarence the Angel Surprise)
Then we each got a single Avocado Prawn Tempura with a home made dip.
And a mini Spicy Parsnip soup.
I made a sorbet but forgot to take a photo.
Then we had Cheese Cauliflower. Fried Camembert (Panko Breadcrumbs) served with cranberry sauce and a cauliflower sauce.
Then a mini roast with fondant potatoes.
A mini home made chocolate orange mouse served in a little edible chocolate pot.
And finally. Christmas Pudding and Vanilla Ice Cream. I cooked the pudding and mixed with the Ice Cream the day before and put it back in the freezer.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
This year is the first year we are spending Christmas at our own home with George. So it gives me an excuse to do a a different sort of Christmas lunch. What do you think of the menu?
Update: I've now posted some photos of the meal here.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
This week’s announcement of an additional £40 million central Government investment in disabled facilities grants (DFG) is very welcome (1). But unless the investment is properly evaluated, there is a risk that the additional funding will not reach those who need it most.
The DFG provides small grants which support adaptations to the home to allow people to continue to live independently.
These grants seem to be cost effective. Speaking at the announcement of the additional funding, Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb MP noted that “for every £1,000 spent through the Disabled Facilities Grant, the quality of life gains are estimated at £1,723 per year.” (2) The London School of Economics (LSE) Personal Social Services Research Unit, revealed earlier this year that investment in aids and adaptations could result in a net saving of £1.10 for every £1 spend. (3)
Government seems to have recognised the importance of the DFG with funding increasing from £56 million in 1997 to £180 million this year (plus the newly announced £40 million). (4)
Yet demand (and potential demand) far outstrips the funding available. In 2011, the Building Research Establishment undertook analysis of the English House Condition Survey, revealing that the total amount required to cover grants for all of those who are theoretically eligible under the current rules is £1.9bn at 2005 prices (4). In September this year, the BBC reported on delays in payment, with Newport council cited as taking an average of 638 days to pay the grant.(5)
In tight fiscal times, we must welcome the additional investment to a grant which has been relatively protected of spending cuts.
But, and there is a big but, not only does the additional spend barely scratch the surface of the potential demand, the additional funding is not ring fenced. In other words, in the spirit of localism, the funding can be spent as the local authority wishes. And local authorities are strapped for cash. The LGA reacted angrily to last week’s autumn statement arguing that “local authorities already face a possible £1bn cut to funding for 2013-14 on top of the 28% reduction set out in the spending review and the further 2% now announced for 2014-15.”(6)
So, the Minister announces £40 million for DFG’s. But local authorities, facing other spending pressures can use the money as they wish.
The Minister can of course act to ensure that the investment in DFG’s reaches the people who need it. He could find a way of evaluating the impact of the additional spend, alongside perhaps a broader evaluation of the impact of the DFG and its current administration. If central government wants to avoid the accusation giving with one hand, whilst taking with the other, this is essential.
(1) £40 million for England. http://www.cot.co.uk/news/cotss-housing/%C2%A340-million-additional-funding-disabled-facilities-grants-england-announced
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
This time last year we moved from the big smoke to Bognor Regis. Gipsy Hill is a nice bit of London. There are a couple of nice restaurants on Gipsy Road and the Paxton is a nice pub. There is a nice community feel in the local shops and a great local bakery (I do miss the bread). Walking distance from West Norwood and Crystal Palace, a good bus and train service into town, and some nice local parks. It was certainly a nicer area than South Norwood (where we moved from).
And I liked the house in Rommany Road. But I don't think Michelle did. This is what it looked like, and this is as tidy as it ever got.