News round up: U-turn on knife crime hospital visits

U-turn on knife crime hospital visits

Gordon Brown’s initiative of a huge expansion of family intervention projects to reduce youth crime was overshadowed yesterday when Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, was forced to backtrack on widely ridiculed plans to order perpetrators of knife crime to visit their victims in hospital.

Smith said the proposal had been misinterpreted by the media, but in at least two broadcast interviews on Sunday she failed to clarify her plans.

The row irritated Downing Street as it prepares today to publish its long-awaited youth justice action plan, focused on a £100m expansion of family intervention projects, a form of intensive help for dysfunctional families based around a single key worker, first introduced by Tony Blair in 2005.
Read more on this story in The Guardian

Alcohol ban for teenage drivers proposed

A zero drink-driving limit should be imposed on all drivers under 20, the chief medical officer recommended yesterday, saying that such a ban would save lives.

Sir Liam Donaldson made the zero limit the central proposal of his annual report, which focused this year on the health of teenagers. His proposal ran straight into controversy, with the RAC suggesting a zero limit would be unworkable, and others calling for a lower drink-driving limit for everyone, rather than an alcohol ban solely for young people.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

Immigration: Bail bonds and electronic tags proposed for illegal migrants

Illegal migrants awaiting deportation from Britain will be required to provide “large bail bonds” and wear electronic tags to avoid detention, under Home Office legislation unveiled yesterday.

Having to pay an unspecified financial security and cooperate with an electronic tracking system will make it far harder for the 2,300 people in immigration detention to secure immigration bail.
Read more on this story in The Guardian

Background TV is bad for young children’s development

Having the TV on in the background reduces the quality and quantity of play in young children and may slow their development, according to researchers who studied children playing with and without background TV.

The researchers said it was a surprise that children were affected by an adult programme to which they appeared to be paying no attention.
Read more on this story in The Guardian

Tax credit mistakes and fraud cost £1.5bn last year

Gordon Brown’s flagship tax credit scheme suffered another setback as the public spending watchdog criticised overpayments and fraudulent claims worth about £1.5bn a year.
Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), refused to sign off the annual accounts of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which runs the scheme, because of the mistakes. It is an embarrassing rebuke for HMRC, which lost the child benefit records of 25 million people on two computer discs last November.

Read more on this story in The Independent

Unions turn screw on business with new rights

Companies wanting to win government contracts will be told that they must promote trade union membership, The Times has learnt.

In the latest sign that ministers are bowing to the unions’ agenda, businesses seeking a share of the £115 billion on offer to deliver public services will be told today that they must demonstrate how they will “build good relations” with unions as part of their contract bids.
Read more on this story in The Times

Three million pensioners survive on less than £10,000 a year

Almost two-thirds of single pensioners are struggling to survive on pensions of less than £10,000 a year, official figures have disclosed.
The extent of pensioner poverty was revealed in figures published by the Office of National Statistics, which also showed that almost 45% of pensioner couples received pensions of less than £15,000 a year during 2006-07.
Read more on this story in The Daily Telegraph

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