Disabled hit with a £500m benefits bill

Disabled hit with a £500m benefits bill
Sick and disabled people face having to pay the government more than £500 million after it emerged that they had been overpaid incapacity benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions admitted that it had been overpaying benefits to disabled people for the past five years.

The overpayment has doubled from £60 million in 2000 to £120 million in 2006, and totals £520 million.

Out of the total, £340 million is because of official error, £120 million is blamed on disabled people making mistakes and £60 million is the result of fraud.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 2

Smart-card plan for teenagers dropped
Proposals to issue high-tech smart cards to teenagers, giving free access to leisure centres and other activities, have been abandoned because they are too expensive.

An investigation showed that the youth opportunity cards would cost £30 million to develop, leaving £14 million in the budget for teenagers to spend. Two consultancy firms were employed, at a cost of £2 million. “Our conclusions are that the costs would far outweigh the money being provided to young people,” Beverley Hughes, minister for children, said.

David Davis, shadow home secretary, said that the project had “cost the taxpayers millions of pounds without providing a single benefit”.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 31

Alzheimer’s patients overpaying for drugs
Some people with Alzheimer’s are having to pay more than double the cost charged to the NHS of drugs that will no longer be prescribed by the health service for people with early or severe dementia, it has emerged.

Pharmacists are charging more than double the £2.50 per day cost to the health service of Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl to people buying them privately, it has been claimed.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has ruled that the drugs can only be prescribed for people with moderate dementia, though the ruling is being challenged.

Source:- Daily Mail, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 17

Council tax rises stay below 5%
Council tax is set for one of the lowest rises for 11 years, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, released yesterday.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 4

Second riot at youth jail
Prison service riot squads brought to an end a second night of serious disturbances in three days at a young offender institution during which six prison officers were injured. Each time inmates took control of a wing at Deerbolt, near Barnard Castle, Co Durham.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 23

Tories vow big changes to probation service bill
The Conservatives have vowed to introduce big changes in the Lords to a bill to open the probation service up to competition, which passed its third reading in the Commons yesterday.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the Offender Management Bill, which was passed by 25 votes yesterday after the government offered concessions to potential Labour rebels, would centralise commissioning responsibilities for probation with the home secretary.

Source:- Financial Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 2

Ministers ‘too slow to act’ on sex offenders
The government faced accusations last night of moving too slowly to identify adults deemed a risk to children after it announced that 13 individuals previously cleared to work with youngsters have now been banned from working in schools.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 9

Mothers bear brunt of discrimination at work
Discrimination against working mothers, highlighted yesterday by a review warning of “intolerable levels” of inequality in Britain, can only be tackled by ensuring that fathers too can balance work and family responsibilities, campaigners said.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 9

NHS shakeups hitting morale, trust chiefs say in survey
Chief executives of NHS trusts across England are demoralised by government attempts to reorganise the health service and are having to cut back staff and delay operations, a poll revealed today.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 6

Patient care suffers
More than two thirds of NHS executives who responded to a survey believe that patient care will suffer as a result of the pressure to cut costs.

And almost three quarters admit that access to treatments is being restricted in the attempt to save Patricia Hewitt’s job. The health secretary promised that the NHS would end the year in balance.

The survey, by Health Service Journal, showed that 47 per cent of primary care trusts have made or plan to make staff redundant, 73 per cent are restricting access to treatments and 50 per cent are delaying operations.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 31

Prescription abuse outstrips illegal drug use, UN warns
The abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs, including painkillers and stimulants, has overtaken the use of nearly all illegal drugs with the sole exception of cannabis, the United Nations drug control board warns today.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 15

Most city academies report below average results
Tony Blair’s city academies are still reporting below average results in national tests for 14-year-olds, government figures reveal today.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 15

War over school boundaries divides Brighton
Two factions of parents in Brighton have been split by controversial plans to award school places based on a lottery system, confirmed by the town’s Labour council.

Source:- The Guardian, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 4

Asbo for lager tout

A man who sold lager from his ice-cream van has been given a ten-year antisocial behaviour order by Merthyr Tydfil magistrates’ court.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 9

Punter escapes kerb-crawling charge because he had a bike

A cyclist who picked up a prostitute on a street corner could not be prosecuted for kerb crawling because he was not in a car, a court was told yesterday.

Source:- The Times, Thursday 1 March 2007, page 21

Scottish news

Over 600 pensioners kept waiting for personal care
More than 600 elderly people were kept waiting at least six weeks for free personal care during the winter, a new report revealed yesterday.

The flagship policy was brought in by the Scottish executive five years ago to help people over the age of 65 with washing, dressing and feeding at home or in residential care homes.

An executive-commissioned study now has found that only five of the country’s 32 local authorities did not report anyone waiting for either free personal care services or payments to fund them.

Source:- The Scotsman, Thursday 1 March 2007

190 adults banned as danger to children
Nearly 200 Scots are now banned from working with children – a figure which has doubled in the last year as officials increasingly get to grips with a blacklist first introduced after the Soham murders.

The Scottish executive yesterday said 190 men and women had been disqualified from working with children, 49 of them provisionally. That is up from the 88 names blacklisted, 26 of them provisionally, by the end of 2005, the year the new scheme was introduced.

Source:- The Herald, Thursday 1 March 2007

1000 council workers face cuts in wages
Almost 1000 council workers face a cut in wages in the latest attempt by a Scottish local authority to deal with the problem of equal pay.

Argyll & Bute Council has written to all 4350 employees outlining the restructuring proposal which will see 23% of the staff taking a pay cut.

While the plan means most employees will either have a pay rise or remain the same, 996 staff will lose out – although not immediately as current levels will be protected for three years.

The council is the latest to implement a national agreement by putting in place a job evaluation scheme to address the imbalances in pay. The authority says it is not cost cutting and the deal attempts to strike a fair balance.

Source:- The Herald, Thursday 1 March 2007

Welsh news

Lottery winner accused of raping schoolgirls
A lottery millionaire was accused of raping two school girls yesterday at Cardiff crown court. David Dyas, 52, denies attacking the girls. The incidents are alleged to have taken place before his lottery win in 1998.

Source:- Western Mail, Thursday, 1 March 2007

Police arrest registered sex offender who had gone missing
Gwent police have located a missing registered sex offender it was announced yesterday. The individual, who has not been named was arrested on Tuesday. Last week the Home Office admitted that police had lost track of 13 registered sex offenders across Wales.

Source:- Western Mail, Thursday, 1 March 2007



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