Thursday 18 November 2004

By Clare Jerrom, Derren Hayes and Amy Taylor

Threat to axe child support IT

The disastrous new £456 million computer system for the Child
Support Agency could be scrapped within months.

The agency has been under fire for failing to make absent parents
pay maintenance for their children.

Work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson said he would make a
“quick decision” on the future of the system which was
designed to simplify calculations and improve enforcement of child
maintenance claims.

Source:- Financial Times  Thursday 18 November page

Tax and benefit changes deter both parents from

Changes to the tax and benefit system has discouraged two parent
families from both going to work, according to a study from the
Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Mike Brewer, one of the report’s authors , said more working
parents face means testing to withdraw benefits or tax credits as
their earnings rise and this reduces their incentive to seek pay
rises or work longer hours.

However the report by the public finance thinktank found the
chancellor Gordon Brown had been successful in getting more lone
parents into work and reducing child poverty.

Source:- Financial Times  Thursday 18 November page

Top schools will be forced into taking unruly pupils

Leading schools will be forced to accept disruptive pupils under
government plans to tackle classroom indiscipline.

Education secretary Charles Clarke will tell headteachers today
that they must accept a fair share of expelled pupils rather than
allow unruly pupils to be concentrated in “sink

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 1

Half a million parents asked for cash. Only 61,000 have had
a penny

The head of the troubled Child Support Agency resigned yesterday
for failing to address the “chronic failure” of the

Work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson announced the departure of
Doug Smith as he told MPs of the CSA’s
“horrendous” problems.

Only 61,000 of the 478,000 parents who have applied for support
since the introduction of a computer system 18 months ago have
received any money.

Johnson said he was considering scrapping the £456 million
computer system.

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 3

Non-paying fathers’ passports may be seized

The government announced yesterday that fathers who refuse
to comply with child support payments pay have their passports

Work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson said he was considering
the measure to increase compliance with the Child Support

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 3

Councils failing to learn from Climbie case

Half of all social services departments are failing most children
in their area almost two years after Lord Laming called for the
child protection system to be improved following the Victoria
Climbie child abuse case.

Chief social services inspector David Behan said he was concerned
that a significant number of councils had given up trying to
improve or had become complacent.

He warned that councils persistently failing to deliver
satisfactory social services could face action from the

His comments were made as he published the annual social services
league tables.

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 28

One size fits all for religion, race, sex, age and

Ministers will today announce key concessions in a bid to end a
bitter row with race relations chiefs over plans for merging them
into an anti-discrimination super quango.

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt is expected to promise
extra powers for the body, guarantees on funding and reforms of
blasphemy laws to ensure they ban all forms of religious

The Queen’s Speech next week will include proposed
legislation to create an equality and human rights commission
covering race, disability, gender, age and religion.

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 30

Number of children on antidepressants soars by 70 per

The number of children taking antidepressant drugs has soared in
the past decade, according to research.

Prescriptions in Britain rose by 70 per cent between 1992 and 2001
and the increase was entirely accounted for by newer
antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,
the studies published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood have

Source:- The Times  Thursday 18 November page 32

Welsh newspapers

‘Deprivation and poverty’ among young

Children and young people in Port Talbot are more likely to be
living in deprivation and poverty than in the rest of Wales,
according to
new research.

The Neath Port Talbot Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Strategy
says that 26.7 per cent live in households dependent on benefits
compared to an average of 21.7 per cent in the rest of Wales.

It also says that children follow unhealthy diets with obesity
levels the second highest in Wales.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 18 November

Cuts will ‘cause real hardship’

The Assembly government has indicated that it is going to cut
around £13 million (9.7 per cent) from the Supporting People
Budget, prompting fears that this will lead to hardship for
vulnerable people.

Supporting People helps a range of people including older people,
people with mental health problems and people with learning

Cymorth Cymru, the representative body for housing support
providers in Wales is called for the funding not to be cut, warning
that the people affected would find it very difficult to live
independently without support.

Source:- Western Mail Thursday 18 November

Scottish newspapers

Working for the Executive is interesting but

Employment with the Scottish Executive can be a stressful
experience, according to a new survey.

Workers, ranging from civil service mandarins to low-level
researchers, recorded high job satisfaction, with 74 per cent proud
to be working in the organisation and 86 per cent finding their job

But 69 per cent experienced stress at work over the past year, one
in five was dissatisfied with the volume of work and 19 per cent
were unhappy with their work-home life balance.

Source:- The Scotsman  Wednesday 18 November

Tenants reject plans to demolish run-down

Tenants of Europe’s largest social landlord in one of Scotland’s
most socially deprived communities do not want their homes
demolished, a survey shows.

More than 2,000 Glaswegians in an area with severe social
problems were asked for their opinions on the long-term future of
their homes.

The results of the survey by Glasgow Housing Association
revealed that nearly 60% of tenants in Carntyne, in the east end of
Glasgow, did not want to lose their houses despite nearly two
decades of doubt over their structural viability.

Tenants hope the results will ensure that the area, particularly
popular with older people despite being blighted by drugs and gang
violence, is given a new lease of life after surveyors said the
homes had a working life of no more than 10 years unless major
improvements were made.

Source:- The Scotsman  Thursday 18 November

Stewart calls for more dyslexia teachers

Sir Jackie Stewart yesterday called for every Scottish primary
school to have a special needs teacher to help identify children
with dyslexia at an early age.

The plea from the former Formula 1 world champion, who is
dyslexic, came at the launch of a merger of two charities working
on the learning disability, which affects more than 10% of the
Scottish population.

The Scottish Dyslexia Trust and Dyslexia in Scotland have pooled
their resources to form the Stirling-based Dyslexia Scotland,
backed by a £50,000 donation from Stewart, president of the
new organisation.

Source:- The Herald  Thursday 18 November

Duty to give asylum

Scots are opening their arms to asylum seekers, a new study has

Around 65 per cent believe the country has a duty to look after
the 100,000 people currently sheltering from persecution here.

In addition, 82 per cent think refugees have the right to work
and 60 per cent think it is wrong that children are detained in
secure units while their family’s application is considered.

Judith Robertson, of Oxfam Scotland, said: ‘This is a welcome
affirmation that Scots still see their country as one which should
offer sanctuary for people escaping from humans rights abuses or

Ian Duncan, of the Scottish Refugee Council, added: ‘This poll
confirms Scotland’s reputation for tolerance.’

Source:- Daily Record  Thursday 18 November

Kids spend £50 a week on booze

Kids in a Scots town are spending up to £50 a week on
drinking sessions.

Teenagers use cash given to them by their parents to buy booze
so they can get drunk while hanging about with mates.

The shock revelation comes after police launched a crackdown on
teen drinking in a Fife town and arrested 22 youngsters.

Responsibility during the operation in Dalgety Bay police found
some youngsters had up to £50 to spend on drink, with others
stealing booze from parents.

Now politicians and the police are calling on parents to make
sure they know where their kids’ pocket money is going.

Source:- Daily Record  Thursday 18 November

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