Government offensive on incapacity benefit reform
The government yesterday launched a new year offensive to win support for the reform of incapacity benefits by demonstrating the link between high levels of deprivation and the number claiming the benefit in Labour MPs’ own constituencies.
Source:- The Guardian, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 9

Hostel stabbing
Police were questioning two women after a man, 24, was stabbed to death at a Centrepoint hostel for homeless people  in New Cross, London.
Source:- The Times, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 2

Short breaks to ease depression
Free hotel-style accommodation should be made available for people with mild mental health problems so they have a chance to escape their worries, according to a report by the NHS Confederation, Association of Directors of Social Services, Local Government Association and Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.
Source:- The Times, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 24

Parents face fines for term time holidays
The government will remind schools this month that they must authorise term-time absences only in exceptional circumstances and families flouting the rules could come home to £50 fixed penalty notices under a pilot scheme that will be extended in coming months.
Source:- The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 7

Third of asylum seekers face detention under fast track reform
A large-scale overhaul of the asylum system has begun which will lead to at least a third of all asylum seekers being placed in detention centres for the fast-track processing of their claims for refugee status.
Source:- The Guardian, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 4

Study finds advertising link to teenage drinking
A link exists between adverts for alcohol and levels of drinking among young people, University of Connecticut researchers said yesterday.
Source:- The Guardian, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 8

New law cracks down on drug dealers
Drug dealers who target schools or get children to act as couriers will face stiffer jail terms under a new law which comes into force this week.
Source:- The Guardian, Tuesday 3 January 2006, page 10

Scottish news
£310m housing debt plea
Public service union Unison has called on first minister Jack McConnell to wipe out Edinburgh’s £310m housing debt.John Stevenson, the union’s branch secretary in the city, said the Scottish executive should respect last month’s vote by council tenants to reject a plan to transfer their homes to a housing association.
At the time, McConnell described the snub as “tragic” and warned that rent increases would follow as the council would still have the burden of servicing the debt that would otherwise have been written off.
Source:- The Herald, Tuesday 3 January 2006

Welsh news
More pupils excluded from school as classroom violence increases
Violence towards teachers in schools in Wales has gone up, according to new figures. The Welsh Assembly government statistics show that 699 pupils were excluded for being violent towards staff last year, 185 more than the year before.
Source:- Western Mail, Tuesday 3 January 2006

Immigrants’ baby taken into care
A baby whose parents came to Wales to work has been taken into care by Wrexham Council. Council social workers have assessed the children of some immigrant workers as “children in need” and are now looking after one child.
The local authority said that it believed “significant numbers of economic migrants” were arriving in Wrexham.
Source:- Western Mail, Tuesday 3 January 2006

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