News round up: Interview with Gaynor Arnold, social worker novelist

Interview with Gaynor Arnold, Booker nominated social worker

The almost permanent smile on Gaynor Arnold’s face fades for a moment and a look of bemusement takes over, like a small cloud temporarily obscuring the sun. “Why are people surprised that I’m a social worker who writes novels?” she ponders. Well, one published novel so far. And it just so happens that her Girl in a Blue Dress, which comes out tomorrow, is on the longlist for the Man Booker prize, along with the works of such luminaries and former winners as Salman Rushdie and John Berger.

Read more on this story in Society Guardian

Obituary: Janet Askham – government adviser on ageing policy

Janet Askham, who has died aged 66 of a brain aneurysm, was an exceptional sociologist whose research influenced government policy for elderly people. Her interests included health, welfare and social policy issues, patient-centred care, and services and informal care for people with dementia. She also studied family and marital relationships, particularly caring arrangements among older people; the negotiation of self in the social world; and people’s perceptions of the course of their lives, the future and their own lifespan.

Read more on this story in Society Guardian

Cameron advised to abandon poor cities

David Cameron has been embarrassed by his favourite think-tank after it suggested that Liverpool, Sunderland and Bolton should be abandoned because the North would never improve.

The Tory leader, who begins a two-day tour of the North today, firmly rejected a report by Policy Exchange, which suggested that the Government should help northerners to relocate to Oxford and Cambridge. It suggested that Britain’s two university towns are likely to be able to “form the basis of strong, successful, substantial cities”.

Read more on this story in The Times

Families fight for legal aid at inquests

Bereaved families are struggling to represent themselves at inquests because of government curbs on when relatives should receive legal aid.

Figures obtained by The Times show that only one in three requests to receive exceptional discretionary funding is granted — leaving the majority of families to cope on their own.

In 2005-06, the latest figures available, 75 requests for funding were made and only 25 granted. Where deaths in custody occurred, funding was easier to obtain, and 58 out of 88 requests were granted.

Read more on this story in The Times

Payout review in drink-related rape cases ruled out

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority yesterday refused to automatically review the cases of at least 14 rape victims who had their payouts cut because they had been drinking when they were attacked, despite admitting the reductions should never have been made.

Justice minister Bridget Prentice called on the body to look again at instances where women were given less money after being told their alcohol consumption had contributed to their fate, insisting it was not government policy to blame victims and the guidelines had been wrongly applied. The victims should not have to request such a review, she said.

Read more on this story in The Guardian


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