Politics Summary: Wednesday, July 7th

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The Guardian reports that, “Health trusts are cutting thousands of jobs to deliver £20bn of NHS ‘efficiencies’ despite the coalition government’s promises to protect frontline services”. The Royal College of Nursing have revealed that 9,973 posts have been lost through recruitment freezes. Ministers had told the NHS to find £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2014 but Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, had promised to protect frontline services. Yesterday Lansley’s colleague, health minister and former nurse Anne Milton, blamed health trusts for “living in the past and interpreting efficiency savings as budget and service cuts. This is wrong.”

The Daily Mirror calls the story a “Health Hammer Blow”. Meanwhile, the Independent reports that Tory backbenchers are calling for the ringfence on the £104.1 billion a year NHS budget to be lifted. One Tory backbench leader said yesterday: “MPs are getting a reaction in their constituencies about the cuts to the school-building programme. They are wondering why the NHS should be protected when the future of our children is apparently not.” The paper reports that some ministers are privately sympathetic to the backbench criticism.

The Financial Times reports that a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies “doubts value of marriage tax break”. “Marriage per se does not contribute much to making relationships more stable when children are young,” the IFS said. “This casts doubt on the government’s aim of promoting marriage in order to decrease the rate of parental separation.” The Conservative party’s plans, opposed by the Liberal Democrats and not included in the Budget, were estimated to cost roughly £550m per year and would deliver about £150 to around a third of married couples. The IFS study says, “Different sorts of people choose to get married and have children, rather than to have children as a co-habiting couple, and those relationships with the best prospect of lasting are the ones most likely to lead to marriage.”

The Guardian‘s front page reveals that “After 100 deaths, UK troops to pull out of Afghan outpost”. The government will announce that British troops in Sangin, the remote district of Helmand, are to be replaced by some of the 20,000 US soldiers already in Helmand. Although only a tenth of UK forces in Afghanistan are deployed there, it has accounted for about a third of all British casualties. It is understood the redeployment was discussed with the US president, Barack Obama, when he and David Cameron held a bilateral meeting in Toronto on the margins of the G20 summit. Also covering the story, the Telegraph details Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s justification for the move which he will call a sensible redistribution of manpower to reflect the differing sizes of the British and American contingents.

The Telegraph‘s front page reports that, “Teachers told to get tough in drive for better discipline”. Teachers will be encouraged to restrain unruly pupils and will be able to search children for a wide range of items. The Daily Mail outlines that, “Teachers accused of pupil mistreatment to be given anonymity to save their career”. Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, is expected to unveil a four-point scheme for school discipline later today. The Guardian says Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teaching union, welcomed the move but urged the government to extend anonymity to the point of conviction: “The problem is that if a teacher is faced with an allegation by a pupil, there is a lot of pressure on the school to say: ‘there’s no smoke without fire’. The teacher finds themselves tried in the local media and often governing bodies will say: ‘there’s no way you can continue to work in this school.'”

The Financial Times‘ front page covers French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s difficulties over a funding scandal. The French president was under growing pressure to act after the former accountant of Liliane Bettencourt, France’s richest woman, insinuated that the L’Oreal heiress had made an illegal cash donation of €150,000 to Mr Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007. The Elysée palace said the allegations were false. The claims follow expenses scandals that led to the resignation of two ministers this weekend. Martine Aubry, leader of the opposition socialists, said there was a “serious crisis of confidence” in the government.

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