Lunchtime news Thursday 3 January 2024

More than one million children in Britain live in poverty despite having at least one parent in work, says a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). The IPPR argues a raft of measures are required to lift the ‘forgotten million’ out of poverty, including: introducing a personal tax credit allowance (PTCA) to boost the financial incentives of getting the second adult in couples to move into work; increasing the value of the working tax credit for couple families, to be paid for by removing entitlement to the child tax credit for higher income families; and boosting the effectiveness of the minimum wage by maintaining its value in line with average earnings.

A select committee of MPs from the department for communities and local government (CLG) has criticised Ruth Kelly and Yvette Cooper over the introduction of home information packs (hips), saying the decision to delay the packs was a failure of nerve following pressure from the media. The committee said the packs were ‘watered down’ and ‘weakened’, and accuse the CLG of poor preparation and failing to deliver. The MPs also blamed a failure to win over stakeholders, like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), in their conclusion that the delay to the introduction of hips was ‘taken on a political rather than economic grounds’. The government said it had been a deliberate decision to phase the roll out in order ‘to ensure smooth implementation’.

Informal and private care is funding the financial gap of £25,000 per annum for every disabled person over 65-years-old in Britain, according to a report by the charity, Counsel and Care. Nearly two million disabled people over the age of 65 receive no state-funded care and this figure is expected to rise to 2.6 million by 2022. The evidence the charity collected suggests that there is widespread confusion about the care system caused by lack of funding, an information gap, and a strong perception of unfairness, and they are urging the government to adopt ‘a radical new framework’ for the future of social care.

Overcrowding has been blamed for a 37 per cent increase in suicides among inmates in the ‘failing’ prison system, taking the figure up to 92 suicides in 2014. Penal campaigners and the Conservatives said the rise was ‘the human cost of the prisons’ crisis’, but the Ministry of Justice claimed the overcrowding could help with preventing suicides, as lonely prisoners placed in shared cells had ‘someone to talk to’. The ministry’s analysis of the deaths showed a big rise among vulnerable prisoners such as young offenders, remand prisoners, foreign nationals and lifers, and around one-fifth of the deaths recorded did not result in either a suicide verdict or open verdict at an inquest.

And finally, an office block is to be built in Paris that promises to be one of the world’s greenest commercial buildings. The building, which is expected to house up to 5,000 people, is the first in the world to be both ‘energy plus and carbon zero’ and will produce enough of its own electricity to power all the heating, lighting, and air conditioning required, while generating sufficient carbon credits to trade for money. The builder admits it will cost more (25-30 per cent) to construct, which will be passed on to tenants, but looks to the long-term: ‘you’ll have to calculate the value of this over 25 years – we all have to pay the price for living in a better world where there is less pollution’.