News round up: Darling to make child poverty his priority

Darling to make child poverty his priority

Alistair Darling will today seek to defuse criticism of the government’s likely failure to meet its 2010 target for halving child poverty, by offering the bulk of his limited budget leeway to tackle deprivation.

While the poor state of the government’s finances means the chancellor can offer only a fraction of the £3.4bn needed to meet one of Gordon Brown’s main promises, he will stress that today’s downpayment is a sign of the government’s determination to meet its pledge.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

£40m to boost community orders and control jail numbers

An urgent cash injection of £40m to promote the use of alternatives to short prison sentences was announced yesterday by the justice minister David Hanson in the face of a prison population which stands at record levels of nearly 82,000.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

Disability rhetoric must be made reality

Abandoned on a park bench as a baby, profoundly deaf and with a learning disability, “Miss D” deserved better – a lot better – from the local authority that became responsible for her welfare. In a scorching report today from the local government ombudsman, Birmingham city council is found to have “failed utterly” in its duty to her. Management of its adult learning disability service is described as having been “woefully inadequate”.

Read more on this story in Society Guardian

Cut from a different cloth

Peter Selby, the new man in charge of monitoring the treatment of inmates in British prisons is a former bishop. He tells Eric Allison that he intends bringing a fresh approach to the challenge of reforming the ailing prison system

Read more on this story in Society Guardian

Cases closed

Non-profit law centres give advice to hundreds of thousands of people. But there are fears many will soon be forced to shut

Read more on this story in Society Guardian

Carers invent nine days of visits

Carers made up reports that an OAP was well at home — after failing to notice she had been taken to hospital nine days earlier. Gran Wilhelmina Dart, 83, had suffered a stroke and was found on her bedroom floor by her visiting daughter.

Days later, worried Patricia Handford returned to get belongings for Mrs Dart and found the home helps were still signing a log book, saying she was “fine”. Privately-run 1st React Healthcare — funded by social services — apologised and promised disciplinary action.

Read more on this story in The Sun

State faith schools forcing parents to pay back-door admission fees, claims minister

Hundreds of top state schools are demanding “bribes” from parents in return for places, ministers claimed yesterday.

They said some comprehensives required parents to commit hundreds of pounds in cash gifts every term to clinch places.

Read more on this story in The Daily Mail

Private schools pressed to aid poor

Increasing general fees to provide “subsidies” for poor pupils is one of a range of options drawn up by the Charity Commission, the watchdog, to help private schools meet tough new tests for ensuring their charitable status.

The commission also comes out on the side of bursaries rather than scholarships, in detailed guidance on how independent schools and other fee-charging charities can meet the new rules.

Read more on this story in The Financial Times

The equality watchdog that failed its own test

Britain’s anti-discrimination quango had to be bailed out by ministers to avoid its breaching the law over its own internal equality scheme, The Times has learnt.

The disclosure comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), chaired by Trevor Phillips, last week began its first inquiry into human rights in Britain.

Read more on this story in The Times


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