1) Social care for children to be privatised
Government plans to allow companies to bid for contracts to manage social care for vulnerable children in England. At the same time, there are plans to relax and drop laws that safeguard the quality and compliance of those looking after children.
Labour have voiced concerns over the removal of safeguards and profiteering code of companies who may bid for the contracts, particularly after it emerged that two of the biggest outsourcing companies, G4S and Serco, had ‘over-billed the taxpayer for charging to tag offenders who were dead or in prison.’
G4S have already had several inquests into fatal restraint methods which lead to the unlawful killing of Jimmy Mubenga and the death of a 15 year old boy, after which ‘the Coroner, Judge Pollard wrote personally to then justice secretary Jack Straw to ensure that no other child should be harmed by improper restraint methods, and to highlight the remarkable failure of G4S’s management to act on reports of abuses.’
Lisa Nandy, shadow children’s minister, has written to the regulatory reform committee to urge them to reject plans:
“It appears to remove the obligation for a national minimum standard relating to the fitness of providers and any mechanisms for removing providers who fail to meet these standards. The implications are potentially very serious and could have a profound impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the country.”
2) DWP admits ATOS failing, a day into Westminster recess
Despite claiming for months that the controversial practices of ATOS were improving, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed that there are severe problems within ATOS which will require an in-depth review and removal of its monopoly status as supplier of the fit-to-work tests. The news came a day into Westminster recess.
This means that Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith can avoid being questioned on the matter in the Commons until September.
The problems with ATOS have been found to be so severe that staff across the board will require re-training and strict monitoring processes if they are to continue.
3) Archbishop wants to rival payday lenders
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that he wants to rival payday lenders such as Wonga, by helping re-build and invest in credit unions.
However, a day later it was revealed that the church had indirectly invested in Wonga.
Thankfully, rather than standing down from the challenge the Most Rev Welby, admitted that he was embarrassed and would launch an inquiry into the investments of the church. He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:
“It shouldn’t happen, it’s very embarrassing, but these things do happen and we have to find out why and make sure it doesn’t happen again” adding that there are difficulties in deciding the ethical values of certain businesses, and this needed reviewing.”
Having previously worked as an oil industry financial executive, the Archbishop of Canterbury does seem to have a grounding in understanding money, and has previously campaigned for a cap on the interest rates of payday lending. Through this new project, the Archbishop hopes to provide more choice to those in need.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:
“[The archbishop] is not turning over the tables of the money lenders, he’s bringing in his own money lending tables.”
Perhaps the government could take a leaf out of the Archbishop’s book.
4) Bedroom Tax Protest sees thousands make a stand across the country
The pressure remains high on the government to remove the bedroom tax, as thousands up and down the country took part in a national day of action on Saturday. Protests were help in Barnsley, Newcastle, Wembley, East London, Manchester and more.
The below video is from the protest in Manchester where attendees and drummers took their message to the Manchester Civil Justice centre: