Children in affluent areas are sinking into poverty. One in five – two million – British children now live in households where neither parent has a job, a rise of 170,000 since 2008. Today’s study warns that halving child poverty by 2010 requires £4 billion in the pre-budget report. The Guardian also reports that thousands of families could lose out on free pre-school education due to a funding crisis that is forcing state-run nurseries to lay off staff, increase class sizes and in some cases close.
Chancellor Alistair Darling announces today that the Government will contribute more than £30bn in new capital to Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland. Existing commitments to make £39 billion available for homeowners and borrowers will remain in place “to translate into increased lending in the economy.” And the banks will not pay cash bonuses to any staff earning over £39,000 this year. But the Guardian reveals that RBS has stunned unions by announcing another 3,700 job cuts. The Washington Post reports that some in the Obama Administration, including former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, are supporting similar downsizing of American banks.
David Cameron has promised to slash the NHS administrative budget by a third over the next four years but said closures of A&E and maternity units would be halted. But the Times outlines concern from experts that the plan “lacked detail, risked the health service becoming an unaccountable quango and could mean that decisions to award NHS contracts were distorted by commercial interests.” Sam Coates writes: “While George Osborne threatens to slash most quango budgets, reduce staff and clip their powers, Mr Lansley appears to be going in the opposite direction.” Left Foot Forward reports that Cameron was seeking to make political gain yesterday over a stroke unit at Royal Free hospital.
The Sun reports a “bitter Cabinet feud” over the sacking of Professor David Nutt. The paper has an email from science Minister Lord Drayson to Number 10: “Alan [Johnson] did this without letting me know and giving me a chance to persuade him. It’s a big mistake. Is Gordon able to get Alan to undo this? As ‘science champion in Government’, I can’t just stand aside on this one.” Sir John Krebs, former head of the Food Standards Agency, says the Government operated a “pick and mix” approach to scientific advice. But Ann Widdecombe thinks Johnson was “100% right to sack Professor David Nutt.” Blogger Mark Thompson, who first referred to Chris Grayling as Johnson’s “mini-me” (a line copied by Chris Huhne) undertakes a line-by-line rebuttal of Melanie Phillips unscientific approach to the controversy for Left Foot Forward.
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