A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

Including headlines from Saturday and

By Clare Jerrom, Reg McKay and Alex Dobson.

Union strikes threaten summer of discontent

There will be another national strike over pay from council
workers on August 14, followed by selective stoppages throughout
the summer, union leaders revealed yesterday.

But there were signs, however, that employers were prepared to
move to avert a summer of discontent by offering a long-term deal
over two to three years.

The three main public sector unions met yesterday and then
called a national strike next month, and a further day, yet to be
specified, in September.

Up to 1.2 million workers will join the strikes including social
workers, refuse collectors and home helps.

The unions have rejected a three per cent offer and have put in
a six per cent claim.

Source:- The Times Saturday 20 July page 4

Target for deporting migrants ‘cannot be

The government’s aim to remove 30,000 failed asylum
seekers and their dependents from Britain has been dismissed as
unrealistic by the head of asylum policy in the home office.

Stephen Boys Smith also cast doubt on whether the government
would be able to remove large numbers of failed applicants in the
long term.

Ministers had set up a hopelessly ambitious target that was “not
realistic”, in the run up to the general election, he admitted to

“We thought we would find it easier to remove these numbers,” he

Source:- The Times Saturday 20 July page 8

Britain’s worst serial killer: 215 dead but we
still don’t know why

Harold Shipman killed at least 215 of his patients, a report
into his crimes revealed yesterday.

But despite a lengthy criminal trial, a year-long public inquiry
and the publication of a report, no-one is closer to discovering

Inquiry chairperson Dame Janet Smith, said: “He betrayed their
trust in a way and to an extent which I believe is unparalleled in

Shipman was convicted in January 2000 at Preston crown court of
killing 15 patients with lethal injections of diamorphine.

Source:- The Guardian Saturday 20 July page 1

Blair orders inquiry on alcohol

The prime minister has ordered an inquiry into alcohol abuse
following concerns of the effects of binge drinking on the
nation’s health.

Tony Blair told cabinet office officials to focus on crime and
anti-social behaviour related to alcohol consumption among

Cabinet office minister Douglas Alexander said that the project
would be overseen by public health minister Hazel Blears and should
conclude next spring.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 20 July page 9

Benefits ‘punishment’ Bill runs out of

Tony Blair’s plans to make welfare benefits conditional on
good behaviour suffered a double setback yesterday.

A government-backed private member’s bill to remove
housing benefits from anti-social tenants ran out of time in the

A separate move to withdraw child benefit from parents of
persistent truants was in doubt after running into trouble within
the cabinet and the Labour party.

Blair’s official spokesperson said the plan to take away
child benefit from parents who repeatedly refused to co-operate in
efforts to ensure that their children attended school, was still
being actively looked at.

A total of 147 private member’s bills were killed off in
the Commons on Friday.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 20 July page 10

Families’ abuse of elderly soars

Thousands of older people are physically, sexually and
psychologically abused in their own home by relatives and paid
carers, according to a survey.

Almost half of more than 2,400 complaints made were about abuse
inflicted by relatives, with 28 per cent perpetrated by a paid
worker and 11 per cent by victims’ friends.

“The frequency of abuse in the homes of old people is
terrifying,” said Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of Action on
Elder Abuse, which conducted the study.

The study revealed that one in three older people suffer
psychological abuse, one in five is physically abused and a similar
proportion are conned out of savings. More than 10 per cent are
neglected and 2.4 per cent sexually abused.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 21 July page 8

New help for teachers to deal with autism

New guidance on dealing with autistic children is to be given to
teachers amid warnings of a ‘time bomb’ building in
Britain’s schools.

The number of affected children has soared in the past decade.
Campaigners say there is only one place in a specialist unit for
every six children who need it.

Founder of the autism pressure group Pace, Virginia Bovell, said
many teachers in mainstream schools had received only a few hours
training in handling the disorder.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 21 July page 11

Elderly to receive cash for home care

Older people will be given cash payments of hundreds of pounds
each to fund their own care at home in a bid to reduce the number
of NHS beds taken up by older people.

Health secretary Alan Milburn will announce the one-off payments
this week, which will vary according to needs and be available to
those aged 65 or over.

The money will be available to pay for a care assistant or to
install equipment such as stairlifts.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 21 July page 2

Blair plans ‘strikes tsar’ as union crisis

Tony Blair is planning to appoint a “strikes tsar” in a bid to
heal the growing rift between government and trade unions.

Union bosses have urged the prime minister to take swift action
to deal with the crisis, which has been described by one Blair
adviser as “our biggest threat yet”.

Blair is considering proposals including removing the union
block vote on policy debates at Labour party conferences and
reviewing funding arrangements in favour of a direct relationship
between individuals trade union members and the party.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 21 July page

Rights groups alarmed at plan to track refugees by

The European Union is to use a network of satellites to track
the movements of asylum seekers and refugees in a bid to crackdown
on illegal immigration into western Europe.

Refugee rights groups claim the move signals a further hardening
of Europe’s borders against refugees and migrants, which has
been supported by Tony Blair and other EU leaders.

The satellites, including a sophisticated £1.4 billion
system called Envisat, which was unveiled by science minister Lord
Sainsbury in February, will now be used to support military
peace-keeping missions and track refugees outside the EU’s

Source:- The Independent Sunday 21 July page

MPs revolt over plans to lock up the sick

The government has been forced to rethink its plans to imprison
people with mental health problems before they commit an

Health secretary Alan Milburn is extending the time MPs are
allowed to raise objections to the draft mental health bill amid
fears of a Labour backbench rebellion.

David Hinchliffe, chairperson of the health select committee,
said the government’s policy on dangerous personality
disorders was “wrong”.

“I’ve got very serious concerns. I would not support the
bill without amendments, and a significant number of MPs feel the
same,” he said.

Source:- The Independent Sunday 21 July page

Crackdown on internet firms that allow child porn

Internet bosses could face jail if they allow their websites to
be used by paedophiles promoting child abuse.

In response to new figures published later this month that show
a huge rise in sex offenders networking in cyberspace, ministers
are now targeting internet service providers.

Between April 2001 and March 2002, the National Criminal
Intelligence Service received more than 3,000 complaints about
images of child sex abuse on the internet.

Investigators in its sex offenders unit said these figures show
an increase of 23 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Source:- Independent Sunday 21 July page13

Prisons chief fears overcrowding riots

The deputy head of the prison service has warned ministers that
there is a growing threat of rioting in jails due to

Phil Wheatley sent a document to David Blunkett and prisons
minister Hilary Benn highlighting a number of incidents of mass
disorder caused by instability in overcrowded jails. He also names
the six worst jails in England and Wales.

In May alone there were disturbances at three jails in a week
resulting in more than £200,000 worth of damage.

Trouble broke out at Ranby prison in Nottinghamshire, Linholme
jail in South Yorkshire and Guys Marsh young offenders’
institution near Shaftesbury, Dorset.

“There is a real risk that such incidents could escalate to
involve large numbers of prisoners leading to a major riot,” he

Source:- The Times Monday 22 July page 1

Cash reward to improve behaviour by tenants

Well-behaved tenants are to be offered a stake in the value of
their homes in a scheme being developed by private investors and
considered by the government.

The scheme’s backers are bidding to buy sites in south
east England, which could provide more than 2,500 new homes in four
sites. They have already held meetings with key officials and
politicians to work out the details.

Chancellor Gordon Brown signalled his support for innovative
approaches to the problem in the comprehensive spending review.

The carrot-and-stick approach is part of a strategy to cut high
costs of managing social housing estates where 40p of every pound
collected in rent is spent on repairs, maintenance and running

Source:- The Times Monday 21 July page 5

Parents burdened by playscheme charges

Parents could face weekly childcare bills of £140 to have
each of their children looked after during the school holidays.

The Daycare Trust charity said that £120 per week was not
unusual for a summer playscheme place, and the cheapest was found
in inner London at £51.32.

The shortage of spaces is particularly acute in rural areas.

Source:- The Independent Monday 22 July page

Scottish newspapers

Social worker raised concerns over ‘sex
slave’ woman

A social worker who raised concerns over the household where a
woman suffered horrific sexual abuse, waited two months for his
managers at Scottish Borders council to convene a meeting.

The social worker, Clive Purnis visited the house three times in
December last year but was refused access. He raised concerns with
his managers regarding the one bedroom house where his client, an
adult woman with learning difficulties, had been living in the care
of the tenant, James Mercer.

A case conference did not take place until 11 February when it
was simply decided to try and get Mercer a bigger home. When it
emerged that the woman had been kept hostage, sexually abused and
tortured by Mercer and two others, Purnis was suspended from

The suspension was lifted in April, but Purnis is now off sick
and seeking legal advice. Scottish Border’s social work
chairperson, Jim Nairn, admitted that mistakes had been made and
said that an independent inquiry had been launched.

Source:- The Daily Record Saturday 20 July page 5

Begging in Scotland

A journalist spends three days on the streets investigating
begging. Are beggars professional con merchants, lazy and feckless
or is begging symptomatic of an unjust society?

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 21 July page 1

Redcoats to patrol the streets

Crime in some of Scotland’s most hard hit communities is
to be tackled by teams of red-coated wardens patrolling the
streets. The police trained wardens will be set up in pilot areas
in Renfrew council’s area as part of a £1.3 million pilot
funded by the Scottish executive starting from the end of July.

Source:- Scotland on Sunday 21 July page 1

Study on autism poses new questions on MMR

A study in Scotland showing that autistic children have
abnormally high levels of toxins in their bodies, raises new
questions about the possible links between the condition and the
controversial MMR vaccine.

The study, by Gordon Bell of Stirling University, also raises
hopes that autism may not be genetic and therefore treatable. The
major toxins found weaken the immune system and when present in
high levels could affect the body’s response to the MMR

Source:- The Herald Monday 22 July page 1

Prison chief expected to pay price of

The Scottish executive is expected to announce today that Clive
Fairweather, the current post holder, has not been reappointed to
the position of chief inspector of prisons.

Fairweather has been an outspoken critic of the prison system
and management of the Scottish prison service during his tenure.
Last year, the executive decided not to renew his contract, but
Fairweather reapplied for the post.

The favourite to be appointed to the post is Dr Andrew McLellan,
a former moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Source:- The Scotsman Monday 22 July page 5

Welsh newspapers

Farmers swamp helplines with 14,000 calls

Helplines set up for farming communities after the
foot-and-mouth crisis have been swamped with more than 14,000 calls
in the last year.

As a major event in the farming calendabegins, the Royal Welsh
Show, health professionals and counsellors are warning of the major
social impact of the crisis.

Campaigners are to use the show, which runs until Thursday, to
draw attention to the high levels of stress in farming

The manager of the Rural Stress Helpline, Janet Roberts, says
her service and others are receiving a total of 1,200 calls per

Source:- Western Mail Monday 22 July page 1

Valleys to benefit from £150m fund to help 500,000
households living in fuel poverty

Deprived families in the south Wales valleys will be among the
first in Britain to benefit from a scheme designed to improve
warmth and safety in their homes.

The scheme, the Home Essentials for Life Programme (Help), will
target 500,000 of Britain’s households living in fuel poverty and
will provide fridges and freezers, help with insulation and ensure
that householders claim the benefits to which they are

British Gas is contributing £74 million of the total cost
with the rest coming from local authorities and government

Rhondda Cynon Taff has been named as one of the first areas to
benefit from the programme.

Source:- Western Mail Monday 22 July page 2






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