Policy agenda puts spotlight on deprivation and discrimination


What is the government proposing? 

  • Clarification of the main purpose of juvenile sentencing as
    prevention of reoffending.
  • More effective community sentences with a simplified
  • Establishment of intensive supervision and surveillance orders
    (ISSOs) as a robust alternative to custodial sentences.
  • An end to the use of detention and training orders unless ISSOs
    have already been tried.
  • A new power to place trainees in open conditions and allow
    temporary release from custody with tagging.
  • A broadening of the range of services that deal with young
  • The draft bill will apply to England and Wales only.

What is the background to the proposals?

The draft bill would take on many of the proposals in the
government’s consultation document Youth Justice – The Next Steps,
which was published in September 2003 alongside the children’s
green paper Every Child Matters.

Will the draft bill go far enough?

Organisations working with young offenders broadly welcome the
bill but say more could be done including:

  • Making the protection of children a “primary duty” for the
    youth justice system.
  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility.
  • Addressing the high numbers of children at risk in prison
  • Tackling the causes of antisocial and criminal behaviour.

What is the draft bill’s chance of becoming

Low. Despite the government’s claims to put a “high priority” on
the issue, critics say other proposals are likely to take
precedence. These are likely to worsen the lot of young offenders
rather than improve it.  The Serious Organised Crime and Police
Bill already published, for example, will extend the powers of
community support officers to tackle antisocial behaviour and
remove the automatic reporting restrictions in youth courts where a
juvenile is convicted of breaching an antisocial behaviour


What is the government proposing?

  • A reserve power to allow ministers the final say on how lottery
    money is spent.
  • More public input into decisions about how lottery money is
  • The formal creation of the Big Lottery Fund as a result of the
    merger of the Community Fund, New Opportunities Fund and the
    Millennium Commission.
  • The bill will apply across the UK.

What is the background to the proposals?

The merger of the old funds has already taken place, but the
bill calls for efficiency savings of between £6m and £12m
to be made and reinvested in good causes. 

Although the Charities Board currently requires lottery
distributors to take account of government opinion when making
decisions, the bill will give ministers greater control. It states
that the Big Lottery Fund “shall comply with any direction given to
it by the secretary of state to specify…persons [or] purposes for
which the fund may or may not make grants or loans”. 

 The idea of more public involvement was trailed in a white
paper in July, which said distributors could consult via opinion
polls, citizens’ juries, local referenda, and phone and text

Does the bill go far enough? 

For many in the voluntary sector the bill goes too far.
Charities and MPs are already concerned that the new Big Lottery
Fund is favouring government-approved projects over community
groups and that the bill will boost ministers’ influence

There are also concerns that less popular charities, such as
those working with asylum seekers, will lose out if the public is
given a greater say.

What is the bill’s chance of becoming law? 

 High. The bill was published last week and the funds have
already merged.


What is the government proposing?

  • A new “unfair credit” test that will make it easier for people
    to take lenders to court if they become victims of unfair lending
  • A dispute resolution scheme run by the financial ombudsman as
    an alternative to court proceedings.
  • New powers for the Office of Fair Trading to check out
    companies applying for licences.
  • The Bill will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

What is the background to the proposals?

Debt on our Doorstep is a network of 150 organisations that has
been fighting since 1999 for an end to extortionate lending to low
income groups and access for all to affordable financial

The group argue that, while mainstream market loans are priced
competitively, the market in which low income consumers are forced
to borrow is characterised by a lack of competition, where the
speed of the offer and lack of opportunity to switch lenders allows
lenders to hike up interest charges. This problem, which forces
people on low incomes further into poverty, was acknowledged by the
OFT in September in response to a super-complaint from the National
Consumer Council about door to door lending.

Will the bill go far enough? 

The Debt on our Doorstep campaign network has welcomed the
proposed new “unfair credit” test and has promised to work with the
Department of Trade and Industry and MPs to ensure it gives maximum
protection to vulnerable customers. However, debt campaigners have
long-called for a legal cap on interest rates and fear that,
without this, the bill will fail to tackle extortionate lending

What is the bill’s chance of becoming law?

Fair. The government knows that reducing the nation’s debt would
also help it to tackle homelessness, poverty and stress.


What is the government proposing?

  • A new law to combat discrimination on the grounds of religion
    in the provision of goods, facilities, services and premises.
  • New laws outlawing discrimination on the grounds of age and
    sexual orientation.
  • A new duty on public sector bodies to promote equality of
    opportunity between men and women and to prohibit sex
  • The creation of a Commission for Equality and Human Rights
    (CEHR) to co-ordinate existing equality legislation and oversee the
    new laws. The bill will allow the CEHR to consult stakeholders on
    the case for a Single Equality Act.
  • The bill will apply to England, Wales and Scotland. 

What is the background to the proposals?

It is already unlawful to discriminate against people on the
grounds of race, sex and disability in the provision of goods,
facilities, services, education and the workplace and to
discriminate against people at work on the grounds of religion or
sexual orientation. So this bill is aimed at filling in the

Plans to extend discrimination laws and legislate for one
over-arching commission were included in the Fairness for All white
paper published in May. 

Will the bill go far enough?

No. The Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities
Commission are impatient to see a Single Equality Act created. This
would be one piece of legislation giving the same rights to all the
different strands within the new commission. However, this bill
allows only for consultation on the matter.

What is the bill’s chance of becoming law?

High. The government has already carried out a consultation on
the CEHR and come up with provisional dates for the creation of the
new commission and merger of existing ones.   In September, the
prime minister himself promised laws to combat discrimination on
the grounds of religion while the Serious Organised Crime and
Police Bill published last week includes a new offence of
incitement to religious hatred. The Disability Discrimination Bill
was also published last week.


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