Family Law, May 2009, p. 416-419
This article focuses on the work of Coordinated Action against Domestic Abuse in pioneering services which could transform the way in which the UK addresses the problem of domestic abuse. These include:
L. Elliott and P. Curtis
The Guardian, May 8th 2009, p. 1, 6 & 7
According to data from the Department for Work and Pensions, deprivation and inequality in the UK rose for the third successive year in 2007-08 which has prompted strong criticism from campaign groups for the government's backsliding on its anti-poverty goals. In a further blow, the government failed to make a dent in the number of children or pensioners living in poverty after big increases the previous year. The figures show that about 15% of pupils in state schools are now entitled to free school meals because their parents receive welfare payments or earn below £15,575 per year. Ministers all but admitted that labour had abandoned the 2010 goal of halving child deprivation from the 3.4m total at the end of the millennium but insisted that the party was committed to abolishing it entirely by 2020.
(See also The Independent, May 8th 2009, p. 1 & 2)
Political Quarterly, vol. 80, 2009, p. 243-247
Since his election a Conservative leader in 2005, David Cameron has given greater prominence to the subject of family policy than any modern leader of his party. This article examines the changing role of the marriage-based family in the development of Conservative tax and welfare policies since 1979. It shows how support for the marriage-based family has become the focal point of Conservative social policy under Cameron's leadership.
Joint Committee on Human Rights
London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 414)
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (the Committee) reports here on its scrutiny of the Government's Welfare Reform Bill, the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill and the Health Bill:
The Committee raises a number of human rights concerns, including the following:
The Committee welcomes the following as human rights enhancing measures:
The Committee calls on the Government to revise urgently its guidance to NHS trusts about how, and when, to charge refused asylum seekers, in order to meet the recent Court of Appeal's decision that the Guidance was unclear and unlawful. It also recommends that people who have claimed asylum can access free primary and secondary care whilst they remain in the United Kingdom.
National Institute for Economic and Social Research, 2009
This report gives the government three options for reducing public debt and restoring the state finances to health following the credit crunch. These are all unpalatable. Option one involves raising the state pension age to 70 for men and women between 2013 and 2023. Option two is to raise income tax by 15p in the pound. Taxes would have to rise by as much as 8p in the pound even if the retirement age was increased to 70. Option three involves drastic cuts to government spending, which would hit frontline services such as education and healthcare.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 367)
In 2007-08 the Parliamentary Ombudsman received 7,341 complaints about government departments and a range of other public bodies. Of these, 2,574 were about the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It is not surprising that the largest number of complaints concern DWP given the size and nature of DWP's business, serving as they do over 20 million customers at any one time. What is important is how DWP dealt with the complaints arising from mistakes. Many, but by no means all, of the complaints received could have been resolved much sooner and by DWP themselves, if the complaint handling had been more customer focused and this should have happened. The cases included in this digest have been selected because they illustrate the wide variety of complaints and complainants, and the often serious results, when DWP get things wrong. The report identifies five themes flowing from these cases:
Public Finance, May 1st-7th 2009, p. 24-25
Use of national targets to improve public services such as health and education is falling out of favour due to perverse consequences such as 'teaching to the test' and manipulation of GP waiting times. Three alternative approaches to public service improvement are discussed: 1) extension of user choice of service provider; 2) introduction of tournaments, which reward local areas for performing better than their peers; and 3) promotion of a form of national leadership that builds consensus and harnesses the energy of the public sector workforce.
Society Guardian, May 6th 2009, p.3
Senior figures from across the public sector who have been through periods of funding cuts offer advice to colleagues on how to manage in the forthcoming tough times.