Public spending; Brian Moore abuse; Recession

Brown insists big cuts are not inevitable

The battle lines for the general election were drawn today as the prime minister declared that the coming contest would be a “big choice” for the nation and attempted to clarify the difference between the main parties’ approaches to handling the economy.

Declaring that Labour would fight “every inch of the way” for victory, Gordon Brown returned to a strategy of insisting that cutting public spending was not necessarily the way to tackle the deficit.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

Legal aid cuts could prevent crucial cases being heard, say lawyers

New plans to slash the legal aid bill will deprive the public of a crucial way of challenging government policy in the courts, preventing some of the most important cases from being heard, experts warn.

The challenge to prosecutions for assisted suicide, brought by MS sufferer Debbie Purdy, and the overhaul of the DNA database, which went to the European court of human rights, are among the kinds of cases which could be caught by a change in the rules on funding public interest cases, lawyers say.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

Child trust funds fail poorer families, say Conservatives

The government’s child trust funds, designed to give all children a good start in life, are failing to help those from poorer families because take-up is higher among wealthy parents, the Conservatives have said.

Official statistics show that while more than four-fifths of parents in the most affluent areas claim the funds, in the most deprived parts of the country only two- thirds do so.
Read more on this story in The Guardian

Recession will lead to ‘lost generation’ of young people

An unemployed and dejected “lost generation” of young people will find it increasingly hard to secure jobs and attain happiness in the future, according to a survey released today.

The recession is likely to scar the lives of the almost a million people currently under 25 and out of work who are the main victims of this recession, a study by the Prince’s Trust warns.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

£34bn funding gap in Tory pledges, says Darling

There is a £34 billion black hole in the Tories’ spending plans, Alistair Darling claimed today as Labour stepped up its campaign ahead of this year’s general election.

The Chancellor said the Conservatives had accounted for only about a quarter of the funding needed to deliver their pre-election pledges.

Read more on this story in The Independent

Court of Protection dismissed as an ‘alien and costly institution’

The Court of Protection, set up two years ago under the Mental Incapacity Act, has been accused of struggling with its workload. People have complained on internet forums of “bullying” letters and “being treated like a criminal” after being deemed unsuitable to look after their relatives’ affairs.

In one case, Heather Bateman, the children’s author, told how she had to apply to the court for any spending more than £500 after an accident left her husband Michael, whose bank account was used to pay most bills, in a coma.

Read more on this story in The Times

Children reaching age three without being able to speak a word, survey finds

Children are reaching the age of 3 without being able to say a word, according to a survey that also found boys are almost twice as likely to struggle to learn to speak as girls.

The average age for a baby to speak their first word is 10 to 11 months. However, a significant minority (4 per cent) of parents reported that their child said nothing until they were 3.

Read more on this story in The Times

Pupils to get parenting lessons aged 14

School pupils aged 14 will have compulsory parenting lessons from 2011 under curriculum proposals from Ed Balls, the children’s secretary.
Read more on this story in The Daily Telegraph

Why I told about my abuse, by England rugby star Brian Moore

Former England rugby star Brian Moore has spoken about the agonising decision to break his silence over the sex abuse he suffered as a child.
The player has revealed that he was only nine when he was first assaulted by a teacher, who lured him and three friends into a tent while on a camping trip

Read more on this story in The Daily Mail

The £20bn handout: Housing benefit bill soaring as recession bites

A staggering £20billion will be paid in housing benefit this year as the effects of the recession push up the welfare bill.
Official figures show the handouts are expected to rise by 15 per cent – despite a pledge by ministers to crack down on excessive claims.
Read more on this story in The Daily Mail

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