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Preview: Latest news from the public and voluntary sectors, including health, children, local government and social care, plus SocietyGua

Society | The Guardian

Latest Society news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sun, 23 Oct 2016 12:10:53 GMT2016-10-23T12:10:53Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016

Jeremy Hunt says child mental health services are NHS's biggest failing

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:53:48 GMT2016-10-20T12:53:48Z

Health secretary pledges to improve diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions and put specialists in schools

NHS care of children and young people is the service’s biggest weakness and so inadequate that it is causing too many tragedies, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said.

Hunt has pledged to improve the diagnosis and treatment of troubled children by NHS children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Problems need to be identified earlier so that young people no longer struggle with debilitating conditions for years before receiving help, he said.

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Pentonville stabbing is 'most extreme example of prison safety decline'

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:36:32 GMT2016-10-20T18:36:32Z

Chair of the parole board warns prisons in England and Wales are feeling the effects of losing thousands of extra staff in past few years

Violence inside prisons in England and Wales is at its most serious level ever and is getting worse, the new chair of the parole board has warned.

Prof Nick Hardwick said that the stabbing inside Pentonville prison on Monday was “the most extreme example of the decline in safety” that he and others have warned about for years.

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Dave Johns, star of I, Daniel Blake: ‘This film can make things change’

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 06:30:23 GMT2016-10-21T06:30:23Z

After 30 years as a standup, the comedian landed the lead in Ken Loach’s excoriating new film. Now he’s being talked of as an Oscar-winner, but it’s the movie’s potential to make a difference that really excites him

It was the first day of shooting last October when Ken Loach handed Dave Johns a fat form. “Fill that in,” the veteran film director told his leading man. It was an application for income support, and it was 52 pages long, not including the introductory notes.

Johns, who had not signed on since the late 1970s, looked at the paperwork in horror. “I said: ‘I cannot do this, this is insane’,” the 60-year-old recalls, a year on. “When I got that form I thought: ‘Wow, they’re going to give a sick person that and, if the sick person doesn’t fill this in properly, they’re going to lose their benefits.’ I mean, the stress that must put you under.”

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Calais migrant children cover their faces as they arrive in UK

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:29:27 GMT2016-10-20T14:29:27Z

Gesture made amid row over migrants’ ages and criticism that Home Office not doing enough to protect their anonymity

Some of the latest unaccompanied refugee children to travel from Calais to London covered their faces as they arrived, following a row about the ages of the first teenagers to be rescued.

Their attempt to conceal their faces on Thursday came amid frustration from campaigners that the Home Office has not done enough to protect the anonymity of those being helped.

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Care home residents paying for council shortfall, says Age UK

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 23:01:20 GMT2016-10-19T23:01:20Z

Self-funders are unfairly asked to subsidise lower rates paid by councils for older people who cannot pay, says charity

Growing numbers of older people face increasingly high care home fees to subsidise the lower fees paid by councils for those who cannot afford to pay, a leading charity has warned.

Last year about 167,000 care home residents across the UK were meeting the cost of their own care, up by 29% on the 130,000 who did so in 2005. Now, 41% of all those receiving residential care are self-funders.

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Ministers' claims about troubled families scheme 'grandiose', MPs told

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 19:08:19 GMT2016-10-19T19:08:19Z

Public accounts committee members accuse ministers of ‘overselling and under-delivering’ the controversial programme

Ministers made “grandiose” and exaggerated claims in favour of the £1.2bn troubled families programme despite a lack of statistical evidence showing the policy had achieved a significant impact, MPs have heard.

Members of the Commons public accounts committee accused ministers of “overselling and under-delivering” the controversial programme, which was introduced in 2011 following the August riots in an attempt to tackle antisocial behaviour in supposedly “problem” families.

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Doctors 'know too little about nutrition and exercise'

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 22:00:19 GMT2016-10-19T22:00:19Z

Letter from medics and dieticians calls for improvement in training to reduce lifestyle-related deaths

Most doctors are ill-equipped to tackle Britain’s increasing frequency of lifestyle-related diseases because they know worryingly little about how nutrition and exercise can improve health, a group of prominent medics has claimed.

“There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the basic evidence for the impact of nutrition and physical activity on health among the overwhelming majority of doctors. This has its roots in the lack of early formal training,” they state in a letter to the Medical Schools Council (MSC) and General Medical Council (GMC).

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One in three maternity units have turned away women in labour

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:30:18 GMT2016-10-19T21:30:18Z

Two in five midwives surveyed said there were too few of them to cope with demands on the service

More than a third of maternity units have been forced to shut their doors to women in labour because they could not cope with demand, leading midwives have warned. Figures from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) show that 38.6% of maternity units had to temporarily shut during the last year.

A poll conducted among senior midwives revealed that units closed their doors on 281 separate occasions. The RCM said the average unit temporarily closed eight times, but one unit was at full capacity 50 times. Eight units had to close their doors on 10 or more occasions.

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Social workers row over children’s bill | Louise Tickle

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:38:00 GMT2016-10-18T15:38:00Z

Government plans to allow councils to opt out of child protection laws bitterly divides the profession and fuels privatisation fears

There is a ferocious battle going on among individuals who have dedicated their professional lives to protecting children. On one side are well-performing children’s services departments, which believe the law can be an impediment to more effective and efficient ways of working. On the other are children’s rights campaigners, some social workers, family lawyers and senior social work academics, who view with horror the prospect of hard-fought-for laws upholding children’s rights being being made to disappear by the secretary of state.

At the centre of this struggle is the government’s children and social work bill, which proposes allowing councils to request specific exemptions from legislation and statutory guidance so that they can “innovate” to improve children’s experience of being looked after or, and with perhaps somewhat less lofty ambition, achieve “the same outcomes more efficiently”. Opponents fear the bill is a way of skirting difficult problems caused by funding cuts and social worker recruitment and could even lead to children’s social care being outsourced and privatised.

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Letters: Britain needs a cross-party commission on social care

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 23:05:29 GMT2016-10-22T23:05:29Z

Only a thorough national conversation can avert a crisis that will effect millions

Your view on social care (Editorial) rightly highlights a vital public service on its knees following years of funding cuts. This neglect of our social-care system is having a dire effect on the lives of thousands, if not millions, of disabled and older people who deserve decent, dignified and compassionate support to live fulfilling and independent lives.

We know that funding cuts mean at least 400,000 fewer people are now receiving social care compared to 2009. In addition to the devastating impact on individuals, this is placing the NHS under further unsustainable pressure.

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Britain’s overseas anti-drugs policy ‘putting people on death row’

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 23:05:29 GMT2016-10-22T23:05:29Z

Funding for drug enforcement in Pakistan leads to vulnerable drug-smuggling mules facing death penalty, says Reprieve

Britain is supporting an overseas battle against drugs that critics say is leading to the arrest and potential execution of people either duped or coerced into becoming “mules”.

The issue is a sensitive one for the prime minister. Theresa May has made combating people trafficking a priority for her government. But human rights groups say the UK is failing to recognise the consequences of its support for a number of operations abroad that target people being trafficked to smuggle drugs.

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Drug dealers target rough sleepers with ‘spice’ linked to prison violence

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 23:02:47 GMT2016-10-22T23:02:47Z

Westminster councillor Nickie Aiken says nearly a quarter of the London borough’s street homeless were using the drug when asked earlier this year

“I call it the suicide drug: it will send you on a long, long buzz – four to five hits and you can’t move.” In a hostel in central London, James Alexander, 40, recalls trying “spice” for the first time when he was in prison.

“You get an instant buzz, you go from one to 100 straight away,” he said, shaking his head. “You get a different buzz from weed – but I don’t like it; it’s not a drug you want to be messing with. I had some the other night and the moment the buzz started I said to my mate, ‘Tear it up, put it in the bin.’”

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Bisexual men ‘earn 30% less than gay colleagues’

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 19:29:23 GMT2016-10-22T19:29:23Z

When comparing workers in similar occupations, average hourly earnings for bisexual men were also 20% less than for heterosexual men

It is, to put it mildly, a complex picture. Bisexual men are paid on average a third less than their heterosexual counterparts, a groundbreaking new study has revealed. But to complicate the issue, the study also shows that gay men and lesbians earn about the same as heterosexuals, as do bisexual women.

Related: Same-sex parenting: knowing your leave entitlement

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Disabled jobseekers facing dramatic fall-off in support

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 19:12:23 GMT2016-10-22T19:12:23Z

Number of disabled people receiving specialist help to fall by 50% after 80% funding cut to new work programme

The number of unemployed disabled people given specialist help to find work will be halved under plans to be revealed this week, according to firms running the government’s work programme.

Related: The disability benefit cuts you haven't heard about

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'If it had a lovely, posh name, it might have been different': do street names matter?

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 09:00:12 GMT2016-10-22T09:00:12Z

It might be home to your home, but who cares whether you live on Wisteria Court or Primezone Mews? Lots of people, actually

Five Links housing estate on the outskirts of Basildon, Essex, could never be called lovely. Built in the late 60s, it is made up of a series of interlocking courtyards crisscrossed with alleyways and blind corners. Walking from one side to the other is like tackling a red-brick maze. “You can see why we call it Alcatraz,” says Frank Ferguson, a local councillor, as he shows me round.

Basildon council wants to rid the estate (home to 1,300 residents) of its Alcatraz reputation. It started a decade ago, by pulling down a block of flats whose underground car park had become a venue for drug dealing. Now it wants to change all the street names. Out will go those of the original “five links”, all named after English villages or farms (Somercotes, Mellow Purgess, Brendon, Handley Green or Newberry Side) and after which all the estate’s roads are named.

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‘No regrets’ says man who aided double agent George Blake to escape

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 23:10:00 GMT2016-10-21T23:10:00Z

Spy who worked for Soviet Union while at MI6 climbed the wall at Wormwood Scrubs in 1966 with help of three former inmates

Exactly 50 years ago, on 22 October 1966, one of Britain’s most notorious double agents escaped from prison. With ministers, the police special branch and MI5 all assuming it was the work of the KGB, a huge manhunt failed to find him. While the country’s ports were watched and his photograph was displayed on television and the front pages, he was lying low in a nearby bedsit.

The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the breakout did not emerge for 25 years. Security and intelligence chiefs were as anxious to keep it under wraps as those responsible for the escape – two anti-nuclear campaigners and a petty criminal. Official documents on the affair remain secret on the grounds that their release would cause distress to individuals still living. But now, in advance of today’s 50th anniversary, one of those involved in the escape has told the Guardian that he has no regrets.

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If the booze doesn’t get you, the crisps will | Letters

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:08:13 GMT2016-10-21T21:08:13Z

As a retired brewer I can confirm that all alcoholic beverages are to a degree fattening (Letters, 18 and 19 October). Alcohol is produced during fermentation by yeast breaking down short chain carbohydrates (primarily glucose) to produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. At the end of fermentation there is always a residue of carbohydrate carried forward to the final product. This together with the complex degradation of alcohol by the liver to produce further carbohydrate gives the beverage its high calorific content.

I am undergoing alcohol-free October and can provide evidence of the above. In three weeks of no alcohol and eating the same amount as before I have lost 10lbs in weight. It is not, as my wife believes, an indication that I normally consume far more than 21 units of alcohol a week. Roll on 1 November.
Frank Smith
Aspatria, Cumbria

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Jim Wilson obituary

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:11:04 GMT2016-10-21T18:11:04Z

My colleague and friend Jim Wilson, who has died aged 82, was a former county planning officer for County Durham. Over the 30 years from 1956, he helped guide Durham’s environmental and economic transformation. Jim worked on plans for the renewal of the old county, which then stretched between the Tyne and the Tees. Under his stewardship, derelict land from the closure of coalmines, coke works, heavy industry and railways was transformed into industrial estates, country parks, picnic areas, farmland and wildlife sites.

In all, 44 square miles of land, including some of the country’s largest pit heaps, were levelled, covered with topsoil and planted with more than 2.5m trees. This is one of the most beneficial landscape improvements in Europe of modern times, as was recognised later by the accolade of a Europa Nostra award.

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Competition watchdog to investigate online betting firms

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:39:12 GMT2016-10-21T17:39:12Z

Bookies could lose licences over claims they use ‘misleading promotions’ and ‘unfair terms’ to deceive customers

Online betting companies who overturn gamblers’ winning bets using loopholes buried in the small print of their websites face losing their licences, after the competition regulator launched a probe into the industry.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it had begun a review asking betting websites to explain allegations that they use “misleading promotions” and “unfair terms” to deceive customers.

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How could Britain see the light on rape? By looking to the Nordic countries | Halla Gunnarsdóttir

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 11:04:25 GMT2016-10-20T11:04:25Z

Cultural attitudes and criminal justice procedures elsewhere dealing with sexual violence may be imperfect, but we could learn a lot from them

After yet another chapter in one of Britain’s most high-profile rape cases, Chesterfield football club’s chief executive gave his own verdict: “We can now all move forward and focus on football.”

Can we?

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Seven-day working for GPs costs more and doesn’t get results | Zara Aziz

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 07:00:01 GMT2016-10-19T07:00:01Z

The government should give up its obsession with seven-day working, which hasn’t led to a drop in A&E admissions, and instead support GPs to provide more standard daytime appointments

My practice started offering Saturday morning GP appointments as well as weekday slots from 8am. Previously, our surgery opened Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 6.30pm with some evening appointments until 7.30pm. The Saturday slots are now offered as part of a group of local practices (on a rota basis) to all patients across the practices for routine pre-bookable appointments. There are many such pilots across the country – which started in 2013 as part of the then prime minister’s £50m challenge fund. Some, such as those in Greater Manchester, offered Saturday and Sunday urgent and routine appointments in addition to extended weekday access. Others, like ours, offer additional weekday and Saturday morning access for routine appointments only. The government has committed to another year of extended access despite dubious benefits of the first wave.

Related: Secret documents reveal official concerns over 'seven-day NHS' plans

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Jason Moyer-Lee: Why the gig economy is a threat to us all

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:30:00 GMT2016-10-19T06:30:00Z

The leader of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain warns that undermining cleaners’ and bike couriers’ rights is a dangerous trend

Bicycle couriers begin their legal fight for employment rights next month, with four riders in London taking separate tribunal cases against Citysprint, Addison Lee, Ecourier and Excel. Supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the couriers claim they are “workers” and not self-employed “independent contractors” as their companies classify them. The bike couriers work around 50 hours a week for a single firm and earn £2-£3 per item delivered. They say they cannot deliver parcels for other firms or turn down work and are therefore not self-employed. If they win their tribunals, it would make a huge difference, says Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the IWGB. “They would be entitled to earn the minimum wage, paid holidays, trade union representation and protection against less favourable treatment for part-time workers.”

Related: The gig economy is here to stay. So making it fairer must be a priority | Will Hutton

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Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:36:58 GMT2016-10-18T13:36:58Z

Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions

Two weeks ago Theresa May made a statement that, for many, trampled on 200 years of enlightenment and cosmopolitan thinking: “If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”.

It was a proclamation blasted by figures from all sides, but for Kwame Anthony Appiah, the philosopher who on Tuesday gave the first of this year’s prestigious BBC Reith lectures, the sentiment stung. His life – he is the son of a British aristocratic mother and Ghanian anti-colonial activist father, raised as a strict Christian in Kumasi, then sent to British boarding school, followed by a move to the US in the 1970s; he is gay, married to a Jewish man and explores identity for a living – meant May’s comments were both “insulting and nonsense in every conceivable way”.

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Without the older generation, there would be no society

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:00:03 GMT2016-10-18T13:00:03Z

Our tireless volunteering and caring roles holds together the social fabric; targeting our benefits would jeopardise this

Elizabeth has become a fan of the new prime minister and was extolling her virtues after bingo. “A more equal society, I like the sound of that.”

“Really?” Charlie was in there in a flash, “And where do you think she’s going to find the savings to pay for it?”

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Giving anonymity to sexual crime suspects won't bring justice | Laura Bates

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:03:30 GMT2016-10-18T12:03:30Z

Allowing the accused to go unnamed wouldn’t ‘level the playing field’, but would further misconceptions of sexual violence and stop victims coming forward

A group of high-profile men, including singer Sir Cliff Richard and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, have launched a campaign to change the law so that people accused of sex crimes would not be named unless they are charged. It is impossible to discuss such a campaign without setting it in the wider context of misconceptions about sexual violence and those who report it; misconceptions that have been particularly widely aired in the aftermath of the recent Ched Evans not-guilty verdict, which saw many make similar calls for anonymity on social media.

Entwined with such demands is the public perception that false rape allegations are common. While there are some allegations which prove false, there are misconceptions about the extent of them. There are widespread stereotypes: of “promiscuous” women who regret sexual activity and “cry rape”, or vindictive women who set out to ruin men’s lives with false accusations, either for money or revenge. Whether intentionally or not, any conversation about anonymity in the judicial process raises the spectre of these figures. In the wake of the Evans verdict, they could clearly be seen in tweets such as: “This confirms that 80% of rape ‘victims’ are just drunk sluts who regret being a whore on a night out,” as well as in the complainant repeatedly being branded a “money-grabbing whore” online.

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An idea for Manchester’s new mayor: let the people decide where the cash goes

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:41:28 GMT2016-10-17T15:41:28Z

The head of the city’s new authority needs to ditch the plans of the Cameron era – and embrace participatory democracy

From its highest point, the Georgian-era observatory at Heaton Park, you can see the limits of the megacity that will be created by “Devo Manc”. Do a quick 180-degree panorama with your smartphone and you’ll find that a metropolis of 2.8 million people does not even fill the photograph.

By 21st-century standards, the new Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) created by David Cameron’s government in 2014 is too small. Yet compared with the city’s political traditions, it is way too big. Even after two centuries of consolidation, it takes 10 local councils to run the place – two of them already titled “city”.

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The Ched Evans trial showed how rape complainants are still put in the dock

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:02:18 GMT2016-10-14T15:02:18Z

Woman was subjected to a grilling about her morality and sexual behaviour that was a throwback to the 1980s

Ever wondered what it was like to report a sexual assault in the latter half of the last century? There is no need to source a rare copy of Roger Graef’s searing documentary A Complaint of Rape, or to bother sifting through social history books, because the events in Cardiff crown court this month have been an unedifying window into the past.

The young female complainant was subjected to the kind of grilling about her sexual behaviour that was a throwback to 30 years ago.

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Abuse inquiry soap opera is a diversion from what survivors deserve

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:24:34 GMT2016-10-14T14:24:34Z

The new chair must move beyond the latest embarrassment to expose the failure to protect children that went on for so long

The allegations of racism levelled at Lowell Goddard – which she has denied – represent the latest dispiriting episode in the soap opera known as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

The investigation has certainly, and in some instances rightly, become a piñata for critics who say it is too big, too unwieldy and too shambolic. As it has lost three chairs, its senior legal team and any dignity it once had, they have a point.

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Child poverty is set to rise by 50%. Theresa May must act now | Alison Garnham

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 07:00:05 GMT2016-10-12T07:00:05Z

To truly achieve a ‘country that works for everyone’, the new prime minister must first undo David Cameron’s legacy of deprivation

Theresa May wants a country that works for everyone, where those who can “just about manage” get the support they need. Whether the prime minister succeeds will depend on if she acts to unwind the poverty-producing policies of her predecessor, whose legacy is set to be the largest increase in child poverty in a generation.

Related: The Tories must tackle the real cause of obesity: inequality | Polly Toynbee

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Number of vasectomies in England falls 64% in 10 years

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:12:20 GMT2016-10-21T17:12:20Z

Procedure goes out of fashion on fears about sex life, but NHS funding is also a factor, says contraception NGO

Vasectomies appear to have gone dramatically out of fashion, with a decline of 64% in the number of men undergoing the procedure within the last 10 years, leaving women once more shouldering the responsibility for contraception.

But the reasons for the apparent shift are complex, say experts. Part of it is bad publicity, with many men seemingly put off by scare stories about pain and unfounded worries about the implications for their sex lives, but there are also concerns that NHS funding for the procedure may be slipping away.

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More than two sugary drinks a day greatly increases diabetes risk, study shows

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:22:56 GMT2016-10-21T15:22:56Z

Swedish researchers surprised to find daily soft drink habit also increased likelihood of less common autoimmune diabetes

Drinking more than two sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks a day greatly increases the risk of diabetes, research has shown.

The Swedish study found that consuming more than two 200ml drinks more than doubled the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. A serious soft drink habit consisting of at least five drinks daily boosted the likelihood of having the disease more than 10 times.

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Schoolgirls with autism share experiences in young adult novel

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:32:59 GMT2016-10-21T12:32:59Z

M in the Middle draws on ups and downs of Limpsfield Grange schoolgirls’ lives and how autism is different for girls

A novel told from the point of view of a teenage girl with autism, written by schoolgirls with autism, has been published after the students – frustrated by their experience of a world that rejects and ignores them – decided to take matters into their own hands.

The pupils at Limpsfield Grange school, the country’s only state-funded residential school for girls with special needs, mined their own most painful – and uplifting – experiences to write M in the Middle, a young adult novel created with the help of their creative writing teacher, Vicky Martin.

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Minimum alcohol pricing can go ahead in Scotland, says court

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:34:19 GMT2016-10-21T10:34:19Z

Country’s top judge rules that Holyrood government’s plans for 50p per unit minimum price do not violate EU law

The Holyrood government’s plan to introduce a blanket minimum price for alcohol has been backed by the Scottish courts in a ruling hailed by health campaigners as marking “a great day for Scotland’s health”.

The court of session in Edinburgh rejected a challenge by Scotland’s drinks industry, which claimed the plan to set a minimum price at 50p per unit of alcohol – a measure that would see a 70cl bottle of whisky priced at a minimum of £14 – was in breach of European law.

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HPV vaccine access easier for US preteens after panel ruling

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 22:53:56 GMT2016-10-19T22:53:56Z

A government panel on Wednesday recommended kids aged under 15 get two shots instead of three and the CDC immediately made the change

It’s now easier for preteens to get the cervical cancer vaccine.

A government panel on Wednesday recommended that preteens get two shots instead of three and space them further apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immediately made the change.

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Top UK tourist attractions come bottom for healthy children's meals

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 23:01:15 GMT2016-10-18T23:01:15Z

Brighton Pier and Natural History Museum get lowest scores in parents’ survey of food offered on popular family outings

Many of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions are failing to serve up healthy meals and snacks for young visitors, instead largely selling pre-prepared children’s lunchboxes loaded with sugar along with chips and “unimaginative, ultra-processed” foods, according to new research by a charity.

The Soil Association’s annual Out to Lunch survey found that 75% of lunchboxes sold at popular attractions did not routinely include a portion of vegetables or salad, while half included muffins, cakes and sweet treats but no fresh fruit.

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NHS head disputes Theresa May claims over health funding

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 22:15:49 GMT2016-10-18T22:15:49Z

The NHS is getting £2bn less than the government promised, chief executive of the health service Simon Stevens tells MPs

The head of the NHS in England has rejected Theresa May’s claim that the health service has been given more funding than it requested to meet rising demand for care.

Simon Stevens told MPs that the NHS would receive an additional £8bn between now and 2020-21, not the “£10bn extra” the prime minister said. Moreover, it would get less money than it needed between 2017 and 2020, meaning it would be “more challenging” than expected to keep services running.

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'Dangerous and unsafe' care driving midwives out of NHS

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 21:30:13 GMT2016-10-18T21:30:13Z

RCM survey reports inadequate staffing levels, bullying, poor working conditions and fears of making ‘tragic mistakes’

Inadequate staffing levels are driving midwives to leave the NHS, with some looking after as many as 15 mothers and babies at a time, a report has found.

The study of more than 2,700 midwives uncovered fears about making mistakes because they were working 12-hour shifts with no break.

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Hospital deficits could force NHS to divert money meant for improving care

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 23:06:41 GMT2016-10-17T23:06:41Z

Trusts in England will have £5.4bn made available to them until 2019 to help wipe out deficits, threatening plans to overhaul delivery of care, says thinktank

The NHS expects hospitals to go on racking up such large deficits in the next few years that it will have to divert £5.4bn earmarked for improving patient care to prop them up, experts claim.

NHS trusts in England, which recorded a collective deficit of £2.45bn last year, are meant to reduce their overspending this year to only £580m to help tackle the service’s acute financial problems.

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NHS trust criticised for underestimating risk of patients who killed 10 people

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 23:02:22 GMT2016-10-17T23:02:22Z

Independent review into homicides that occurred between 2010 and 2015 criticised Sussex Partnership NHS foundation trust for misjudging danger

An inquiry has criticised an NHS mental health trust for underestimating the risk of violence posed by patients who went on to carry out killings, two of which could have been prevented. Sussex Partnership NHS foundation trust has been criticised for not taking more seriously the families of disturbed patients who pleaded for help because they feared that their relative would commit violence.

The review of 10 homicides that occurred between 2010 and 2015 included the death of 79-year-old Donald Lock on the A24 near Worthing in Sussex in July 2015 after his car collided with that of Matthew Daley, who stabbed him 39 times.

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Underfunding of social care stores up trouble for the future | Letters

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 18:43:04 GMT2016-10-17T18:43:04Z

Your editorial (14 October) rightly points out that adult social care is underfunded but concludes that integration of the two services is the key to the problem. When I was a director of social services we never left people in hospital to save money if we had suitable provision, but we didn’t always have either enough staff or residential spaces available because, unlike the NHS, we were not allowed to overspend our budget. In the eight years since I retired, hundreds of millions of pounds have been taken out of those services at a time when our elderly population has increased by hundreds of thousands. It takes some delusion to conclude that this is a management problem. At my charity we hear every day about the harm caused by this underfunding: people dying in hospital from hypothermia and dehydration; people dying in care homes from pressure sores or being physically and mentally abused; people left alone and uncared for at home because they can no longer get home care.

Related: Throwing more money at social care is not the answer

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Is flossing your teeth a waste of time?

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 07:10:06 GMT2016-10-17T07:10:06Z

The US health department has stopped recommending it, but the NHS is still in favour. So, should you bother?

“I don’t need to floss” is a sentence my dentist never used to hear – not until recently, when the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans stopped recommending it. Now, lots of his patients are telling him they’ve stopped. Despite the NHS advising daily flossing – and almost all dentists being fans of interdental cleaningan investigation by Associated Press found “little proof that flossing works”.

But how can it not be good for you? Between our teeth are interdental sites coated in dental plaque. Plaque is a layer of bacteria mixed with organic matter that coats teeth and causes gum inflammation (gingivitis) and tooth decay. Early warning signs include bleeding gums. Toothbrushes get rid of plaque from other surfaces, but are not so good between teeth. Surely floss can reach the parts that brushes can’t?

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NHS maternity wards in England to be rated by safety record

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 06:19:11 GMT2016-10-17T06:19:11Z

Jeremy Hunt announces measures to reduce medical errors, alongside faster NHS compensation for injured babies

The government is to release new ratings for maternity wards across England to allow prospective parents to compare and contrast services in NHS hospitals, as part of a drive to reduce instances of stillbirth and brain injuries during labour.

Maternity data detailing the frequency of accidents within clinical commissioning groups and the health prospects of expectant mothers – including the percentage of smokers, for example – will be collated to form England-wide ratings.

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Most countries get more calories from alcohol than soft drinks – study

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 23:01:47 GMT2016-10-16T23:01:47Z

Data suggests tackling Britain’s drink problem could be more important for health than targeting sugar consumption

People in the UK and many other countries get more of their calories from alcohol than from sugary drinks like cola and lemonade, according to new data which suggests that tackling Britain’s drink problem may be more important for health than cracking down on sugar consumption.

Of 24 countries tracked by the data analysts Euromonitor International, all but one have higher daily calorie consumption from alcoholic drinks than sugary beverages. In the UK, adults are consuming more than 106 calories per head every day from alcoholic drinks, compared with 98 from sugar-sweetened drinks.

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Could Brexit prove terminal for the NHS?

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 08:30:29 GMT2016-10-16T08:30:29Z

With Britain’s dedicated foreign medical staff under threat, an already beleaguered national health service faces possibly the biggest crisis in its history

All human life is in Homerton hospital’s car park. Or at least, passing through Homerton hospital car park on the way to A&E or outpatients or maternity. A Bangladeshi woman in a wheelchair. A Hasidic Jewish schoolboy with ringlets and a limp. A bearded hipster with a newborn baby in a plastic carrycot. Inside there are nurses from the Philippines, from Spain, from Italy, from Gambia, from the Caribbean. There are doctors from India, and radiographers from Germany, and anaesthetists from Pakistan, and cleaners from Ghana, and midwives from Nigeria. To cut to the chase: there is everyone from everywhere. And of course they’re not alone in this. With more than half of all doctors coming from abroad – as they have since at least the late 60s – Homerton hospital in the East End of London is like every NHS hospital in every city in Britain.

On the morning of Friday, 24 June, this was a fact that struck Junaid Masood, a Pakistani-born, British consultant urologist when he came to work at Homerton – and it struck him in particular as he looked around the theatre where he was about to operate. “It was the morning after Brexit,” he says. “Everyone was shocked and depressed and I just had this moment of clarity because I looked around and thought, ‘Oh my God, every single person in this operating room today is from the European Union. So, at the end of surgery, I got everyone to hold up a placard saying where they were from and put it up on Facebook. And then it just went nuts.”

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'We have to deliver justice': the man who fought for the survivors of Shirley Oaks

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:33:10 GMT2016-10-21T15:33:10Z

Of all the scandals covered by the child abuse inquiry, the story of Shirley Oaks care home is among the most shocking. Now one former resident is helping others to tell their stories

Related: Children in Lambeth council's care 'abused on industrial scale'

The people who live there now call it Shirley Oaks Village; it’s an unusually large estate, with lots of new homes, woodland and flat, open fields.

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Serious case review launched over teenaged Spalding killers

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:16:12 GMT2016-10-19T12:16:12Z

Review to examine if signs of deviant behaviour were missed in boy and girl, now 15, who killed Elizabeth and Katie Edwards

Two teenage killers’ interactions with social workers, teachers and other mental health services will be examined in a serious case review as both face life sentences for the “cold, calculated and callous” murders of a mother and her 13-year-old daughter.

Authorities will look into whether signs of deviant behaviour by the boy and girl, both 14 at the time of the murders, were missed in the months and years leading up to the killings of Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her daughter Katie, who were stabbed to death as they slept at home in Spalding.

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Troubled families scheme practitioners say it has improved lives

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:54:59 GMT2016-10-18T17:54:59Z

Charities and researchers urge ministers to retain positive elements as former head prepares to answer MPs’ questions

Practitioners involved in the government’s troubled families programme have defended key aspects of the scheme despite being hampered by centrally imposed targets and government spending cuts.

The practitioners argue that it enabled them to make a positive difference to the lives of many families.

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Some police forces failing on child protection, warns Ofsted chief

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:52:33 GMT2016-10-18T10:52:33Z

Michael Wilshaw says issue must be given priority to avoid ‘repeat of catastrophic failings seen in Rotherham and Oxford’

The chief inspector of schools has warned that some police forces are failing to “take their child protection responsibilities seriously”.

In a letter to the chief inspector of police on Tuesday, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the outgoing head of the schools inspectorate, said more than half of Ofsted’s 42 inspections of local authority children’s services in the past year had identified serious weaknesses in the police’s contribution to safeguarding children.

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The London borough with a '50-year waiting list' for council houses

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 07:01:01 GMT2016-10-19T07:01:01Z

Candid admission appears in documentary on housing officials and people they are trying to help in deprived London borough

People in a deprived east London borough now face a 50-year wait for a council house, a senior councillor from the area says in BBC documentary.

Maureen Worby, the councillor in charge of social care for Barking and Dagenham, tells a meeting of local people they have to wait a decade for a council home, before adding: “Do you know what – it’s not a 10-year wait, it’s a 50-year wait.”

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No Place to Call Home: clip from homelessness documentary – video

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:05:38 GMT2016-10-18T13:05:38Z

A clip from the BBC2 documentary No Place to Call Home, which looks at the scale of the homelessness problem in Barking and Dagenham, east London. The crew follows the work of the council’s housing team. One staff member says: ‘We are a housing options service, without any options’

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Four in 10 British homes not up to standard, says Shelter

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 21:58:31 GMT2016-10-16T21:58:31Z

The housing charity’s ‘living home standard’ aims to be a kind of living wage for housing, as survey finds 73% of inadequate dwellings are in London

A new standard for housing designed to be the equivalent of the living wage has been launched by the charity Shelter – and it said four out of 10 homes in Britain were failing to meet it.

The “living home standard” gives 39 criteria that flats and houses have to meet in order to provide an acceptable home that secures the occupants’ wellbeing. It was drawn up during nine months of consultation with the public, who came up with the criteria in five areas: affordability, decent conditions, space, stability and neighbourhood.

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Council-built communities through thick and thin | Letters

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:39:26 GMT2016-10-10T19:39:26Z

Ian Jack (Snobbery, ignorance and the traducing of tenement life, 8 October) is right to suggest that, as with most housing, it’s not the construction that’s at fault but the management – and the lack of family planning. If the 19th-century Scottish tenements hadn’t been overcrowded they would have been good, solid homes; inconvenient by our standards – lugging coal upstairs, shared privies – but better than much of what people had had in the countryside before moving into the new industrial cities. John Cleese and anyone who doubts this should visit the Glasgow tenement house belonging to the National Trust, which shows the dignity that was possible on a low income.

Related: John Cleese has shown his ignorance about poor people, bad housing and modern life | Ian Jack

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No 10 rejects housing minister's call for people to skip generation in their wills

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:59:21 GMT2016-10-10T13:59:21Z

Downing Street distances itself from Gavin Barwell’s comments, which it describes as representing ‘personal’ views

Downing Street has rejected the housing minister’s suggestion that parents should leave their property and savings to their grandchildren rather than their children to help them get on the housing ladder.

Gavin Barwell made the call for pensioners to skip a generation when writing their wills as he revealed that his 75-year-old mother had chosen to leave her £700,000 house in Croydon to her five grandchildren rather than to himself and his brother.

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Skip a generation when passing on homes, says housing minister

Sun, 09 Oct 2016 22:31:31 GMT2016-10-09T22:31:31Z

Gavin Barwell suggests parents should leave homes and savings to grandchildren to help them get on the housing ladder

The housing minister, Gavin Barwell, has suggested that parents should leave their houses and savings to their grandchildren rather than their children to help them get on the housing ladder.

Barwell made the call for pensioners to skip a generation when writing their wills as he revealed that his 75-year-old mother had chosen to leave her £700,000 house in Croydon to her five grandchildren rather than himself and his brother.

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May urged to roll back policies hitting under-25s to end generational inequality

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 06:00:06 GMT2016-10-07T06:00:06Z

Campaign groups argue prime minister should act to end division between prosperous older generation and struggling younger people

Theresa May has been urged to do more to improve conditions for young people and reduce growing intergenerational inequality in Britain.

Campaign groups have urged the prime minister to do more than the previous government, including rolling back some of its policies, if she was serious in her speech to the Conservative party conference about ending the “division and unfairness” that exists in British society, including that “between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation”.

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Ideas for the relief of Britain’s housing shortage | Letters

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 18:33:21 GMT2016-10-05T18:33:21Z

Aditya Chakrabortty reports Philip Hammond’s promise of an extra £3bn towards housebuilding (We’re lumbering off a diving board with no water below, 4 October). This sounds like a huge commitment, but the housbuilding industry, described by Colin Wiles as a “semi-cartel” (‘The private sector will never build enough’, Housing matters, 21 September), is already awash with cash.

If Mr Hammond really wants to provide homes for all in Mrs May’s brave new world, he could start by repealing right to buy as well as VAT on repairs and maintenance, both of which would allow competition to restore some of the 600,000 empty homes and start to replace council houses with the return of some of the 12,000 small builders reduced to 2,500 in 2010.

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Is this mobile home the answer to middle England’s housing crisis? | Patrick Butler

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 06:30:56 GMT2016-10-05T06:30:56Z

Faced with huge bed and breakfast bills to house homeless families, Tory councils are seeking radical alternatives

The announcement at this week’s Tory party conference by the communities secretary Sajid Javid of a £5bn boost to housebuilding can be seen in part as a belated recognition of the explosion of housing insecurity in Tory heartlands – a crisis the prime minister has hinted at with her promise to help those families on low to middle incomes who are “just managing” to get by.

However, if proof were needed that the problem of homelessness is no longer reserved for its metropolitan heartlands but has rippled out into the commuter cities and market towns of middle England, it is the housing crisis that exploded this summer in Peterborough, landing the city’s Tory-controlled council with a potential £1m bill for putting up homeless families in local Travelodge hotels.

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After prison I arrived in a new city – now I help families in need

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:50:15 GMT2016-10-20T07:50:15Z

I wanted to use my troubled background to help others and a chance encounter with a manager of a charity helped me do just that

I moved to Birmingham to make a fresh start. I had been involved in the drugs scene and spent a year in prison for dealing. But arriving in a city where you have no friends, no family and no home is hard.

The day I walked into a local church in search of a cup of tea and something to eat changed my life. Church has always been important to me: my parents were God-fearing Christians, though I lost my mum when I was 18. I wanted to get involved in the local community and church seemed the best place to start.

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Sustainability and transformation plans are 'least bad option' for NHS

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:05:39 GMT2016-10-21T11:05:39Z

Chief executive of the King’s Fund believes STP process is helping deliver the Five Year Forward View

Two years after NHS England unveiled the Five Year Forward View (pdf) – its blueprint for community-based, integrated healthcare able to cope with the pressures of a growing and ageing population – the central bodies are still not doing enough to make it happen.

The King’s Fund is about to publish analysis of progress in reforming the way the NHS works to allow the new care models outlined in the Forward View to flourish. Speaking to the Guardian’s Healthcare Professionals Network, chief executive Chris Ham identified four ways in which the system is hampering local reforms – a shortage of cash to kickstart change, too little progress on a payment system which encourages collaboration, the need to sort out the debacle of the contracting rules which emerged from the Lansley reforms, and rushing change.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2016: the category shortlist

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:24:02 GMT2016-09-14T13:24:02Z

The shortlisted projects and teams in each of the nine categories in this year’s awards

The judges have met and deliberated and we are now delighted to announce the shortlisted projects and teams in each of the nine categories in this year’s Guardian Public Service Awards.

The winners and runners-up will be announced at our awards ceremony in November 2016 and a special supplement will be published online and in the paper on 30 November 2016.

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With winter coming, would my homeless clients be better off back in prison?

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 08:10:11 GMT2016-10-22T08:10:11Z

I sometimes question why I chose a career trying to house rough sleepers, especially those like Bob, a convicted arsonist with nowhere to go

When I turn up at work there, waiting for me as he does every morning, is Bob. Every day he is the first at the door for breakfast. I manage a small, independent homeless charity helping rough sleepers to access accommodation – not an easy task.

I say good morning, ask him how his night went, and let him in. As I watch him make himself a cup of tea, I feel sad. Sad because it’s now more than a month since he left prison. In that time everyday he has been the first in for breakfast, and every night he has slept rough.

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Rochdale council: we don't want a wide-scale return to residential care

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:51:18 GMT2016-10-21T09:51:18Z

Response: we want to offer a wider range of choice in accommodation and support for people with learning disabilities – and rights are fundamental to this

Rob Greig’s recent article for the Social Care Network fails to understand Rochdale borough council’s plans to develop a wider range of care and support options; and fails to acknowledge some of the real issues facing providers and people who live in our group homes.

The article made a number of assumptions, almost all of which we must challenge.

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'Social media can be a pretty ugly place if you're a woman in politics'

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 06:10:22 GMT2016-10-21T06:10:22Z

Despite its pitfalls, 86% of women politicians use social media. A new report is taking on the trolls and looking at how to empower women in the digital age.

“The first time I put up a tweet and I got a negative reaction to it, I recoiled into my corner,” says Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness. “We’re all human beings. One negative comment outweighs 1,000 positive ones.”

German MEP Terry Reintke agrees that it’s hard not to let the virtual world impact on her real life. She should know: after she pledged support for Poland’s pro-abortion campaigners, Reintke was subjected to online abuse, including being called “filthy baby killing scorch of the earth”.

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Stanford case helps fuel changing perception of sexual assault victims

Wed, 29 Jun 2016 21:31:57 GMT2016-06-29T21:31:57Z

Activists applaud move away from victim blaming, but ‘shift in the conversation’ has not yet led to tougher convictions

Public perception of sexual assault victims and those accused of attacking them is changing due to high-profile cases such as that of Brock Turner at Stanford University, but that is not yet translating into tough convictions against perpetrators, say victims’ advocates.

The former Indiana University student John Enochs agreed to a plea deal last week of a year’s probation and no jail time after two female students accused him of rape. One rape accusation dated from 2013 and the other from 2015, both while he was a student at IU. Although he pleaded guilty to battery relating to the 2015 incident as a felony – prosecutors were unable to provide enough evidence to satisfy the higher charges – the court ruled that it should be classified as a misdemeanor and he received one year of probation.

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University sex abuse report fails to tackle staff attacks on UK students

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 23:01:14 GMT2016-10-20T23:01:14Z

Recommendations include action to prevent violence against women, harassment and hate crime

A long-awaited report investigating sexual violence and harassment in UK universities has been criticised for failing fully to address the problem.

An inquiry was begun last year due to growing alarm about harassment, sexual violence and hate crime on university campuses, and concerns about the way in which some institutions deal with the problem.

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Woman worried about bedroom tax killed herself, coroner finds

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:03:48 GMT2014-08-12T16:03:48Z

Stephanie Bottrill told doctor she felt she was being pushed into moving house or paying extra, Birmingham inquest is told

A woman who was worried she would have to move out of her house or pay extra to stay because of the bedroom tax killed herself, a coroner has ruled.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53, had raised a son and daughter in her three-bedroom council house in the West Midlands but was living there alone after her children moved out.

Continue reading...Stephanie Bottrill died on 4 May 2013; her death made national headlines when it was revealed that she had left a note blaming the government. Photograph: GuardianStephanie Bottrill died on 4 May 2013; her death made national headlines when it was revealed that she had left a note blaming the government. Photograph: Guardian

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Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:19:43 GMT2015-08-27T20:19:43Z

Campaigners demand welfare overhaul after statistics reveal 2,380 people died between 2011 and 2014 shortly after being declared able to work

Nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared fit for work, according to new data that has prompted campaigners and Labour leadership contenders to call for an overhaul of the government’s welfare regime.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014 2,380 people died after their claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were found fit for work.

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Poverty: six steps from the jobcentre to the food bank

Thu, 26 May 2016 12:49:52 GMT2016-05-26T12:49:52Z

A new study demonstrates the reality behind Ken Loach’s prize-winning welfare state-and-food-banks drama I, Daniel Blake

A few days after director Ken Loach won a Cannes Palme d’Or-for his welfare state drama I, Daniel Blake, the Wandsworth food bank published its latest food poverty audit. This measures food bank use, but essentially tracks the unravelling of the local social security safety net.

Using data, surveys and interviews collected over the course of the past year, the south London charity’ study explains what Loach’s film dramatises: how jobcentre culture, welfare cuts and benefit delays help drive people to food banks.

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In the 50 years since Cathy Come Home things have got much worse | Clare Allan

Sun, 31 Jul 2016 19:59:12 GMT2016-07-31T19:59:12Z

Ken Loach’s drama exposed the tragic mental health consequences of homelessness, but half a century on the problems and failures are increasing

Sunday saw the BBC’s 50th anniversary screening of the landmark film Cathy Come Home, written by Jeremy Sandford and directed by Ken Loach. First broadcast in 1966, this drama about a young mother caught in an impossible, inhuman system, which leaves her homeless, destroys her marriage and ultimately robs her of her children, led to public outrage, a surge in donations to the charity Shelter and the founding of the charity Crisis the following year.

The number of people sleeping rough with a mental health problem has more than tripled over the past five years

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