Displaying items by tag: Government
A £1.6bn strategy to improve the lives and opportunities of disabled people was announced by the Government. It aims to tackle shortages of suitable housing, inaccessible public transport and barriers to education and work. Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said the government was listening and consulting. The shadow minister for disabled people said the consultation process failed to consult properly with disabled people or organisations; many critical areas were ignored. Disabled Tory peer Lord Shinkwin said the plans did not go far enough. He said the document was a ‘broken promise’ and he did not believe it would prevent disabled people from being shut out of society. ‘The Department of Work and Pensions, which has led on the development of this strategy, does benefits but it doesn't do equality. It shows this government doesn't understand the desire and potential of disabled people to be seen as more than just recipients. We are contributors, we are all people.’
Health workers protested in July against a 1% pay rise which the Government insisted was all it could afford. 1% was rejected by unions representing the 1.2m NHS English personnel. Conservative MPs are worried that it made the government look ungrateful for frontline workers’ herculean efforts during the pandemic. Opinion polls suggested the public agreed, and health leaders warned that it would only increase the NHS’s debilitating problems in recruiting and retaining staff. The prime minister has now offered 3%. But unions called the offer an insult and are prepared to force an increase. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, GMB and Unite are seriously considering taking action (work to rule or strike) by medics, including nurses and junior doctors, and are canvassing their members’ views on the offer.
Historic and spontaneous protests rocked Cuba on 11 July, taking the communist government and the international community by surprise by their intensity and numbers. Analysts say there will not be immediate changes to one-party communist rule, but it’s a watershed moment and they have put an enormous amount of pressure on the government to speed up reforms. Cubans experiencing food and medicine shortages, increasing Covid-19 cases, inflation, rising prices and long power cuts chanted ‘Freedom’ and ‘We want change’, while holding signs that read ‘Down with dictatorship’. Journalist Yoani Sánchez tweeted, ‘We were so hungry, we ate our fear.’ Dr. Teo Babun said dissent has been brewing in the church for months. Evangelicals and Catholics have been generating a tremendous amount of social media, demanding the government pay attention to the hurt taking place. Political changes depend on whether demonstrators continue the momentum that stunned so many on 11 July.
The High Court has found the government acted unlawfully when it gave a contract worth £560,000 to a company run by friends of the PM's former chief adviser Dominic Cummings. Ministers have denied any favouritism was shown towards the market research agency Public First. But the judge decided a failure to consider other firms could be seen as suggesting a ‘real danger’ of bias. Cummings wanted the contract to be given to a firm whose bosses, Rachel Wolf and James Frayne, were former colleagues of himself and Michael Gove.
Scientist and government advisor Prof Ravi Gupta sees signs of early stages of a third wave. Although new cases are ‘relatively low’, the Indian variant spreads faster than the winter variant. All waves start with low numbers grumbling in the background before infections explode. New infections with the Indian variant are rising daily in both the north and south of England. Very few hospital patients have had two jabs. See Also an evolved version of the Indian strain, 'Nepal' Covid, has so far been found in twenty Britons. It is closely related to the Indian variant, but has new mutations. The Nepal variant has also spread to several European countries. Its detection in Portugal could put their green-list status at risk. SAGE experts warn that the UK cannot panic every time it spots a new strain. The Government is waiting for more data before making a final decision on whether restrictions will be lifted in England on 21 June. That decision will be announced on 14 June.
A wave of protests has been sweeping across Colombia since 28 April. By 31 May, 59 people had died. Protesters block key roads, causing shortages of fuel and food, and there have been violent clashes between the security forces and demonstrators. The government is holding talks with protest leaders, but with more and more groups joining in the demonstrations a quick resolution seems unlikely. When the protests started the main call was for tax reforms. Four days later the bill was withdrawn. Human rights groups reported that riot police had used tear gas and in some cases shot live ammunition to stop the protests. So rather than abating after the cancellation of the tax reform, the protests intensified. Over 2,300 civilians and members of the security forces have been injured. There have also been marches by thousands of Colombians opposing the roadblocks, causing more violent clashes.
A lack of effective and sustained government action and funding is partly to blame for a crisis in the quality of England’s homes, according to a new report entitled ‘Past, present and future: housing policy and poor-quality homes’. It finds that while the government has a crucial role in protecting the nation’s housing stock, dramatic funding cuts and failure to act have left England’s homes crumbling. Today, an estimated ten million people in England are at risk because they live in a home which doesn’t meet basic standards, with the majority of these homes posing a serious risk to their inhabitants’ health or safety. Previous research by the Centre for Ageing Better and the King’s Fund highlighted the link between poor-quality housing and Covid-19; those who are most at risk of the disease are more likely to be living in non-decent homes.
Over 600 medical professionals signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, calling for the revocation of ‘at home' abortion schemes immediately, becausen of the risks to women's health and welfare. Each government has been in consultations whether to make the temporary policy permanent. Carla Lockhart MP said that the permissions granted by the Government without adequate parliamentary and public scrutiny have put women's physical and mental health at risk. 7% of British women reported being pressured into an abortion by a husband or partner. It is greatly concerning that the department of health saw fit to remove the routine in-person consultation before an abortion. Lack of sufficient ID checks over the online consultation process also poses the threat of pills being falsely obtained for another person, which raises particular concerns regarding cases of underage sexual abuse and trafficking.
Leah Sharibu was 14 when she was abducted in 2018 by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). She defied the terrorist group, a splinter group of Boko Haram, when they abducted 110 girls from school. ISWAP released 104 of them a month later; five died, and Leah was the only one not freed because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. President Buhari pledged to secure her freedom during his visit to the USA. In London, he told the Archbishop of Canterbury he is working quietly to free her. In January 2020 there were reports that Leah had had a baby. In March 2021, rumours surfaced that she had given birth to her second child. Her parents said that the government had not helped them secure Leah’s release; they rest their hope in God, not government. Her mother Rebecca said, ‘By the grace of God. I have not lost hope because God is in control and people are praying.’
Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the Government will ban conversion therapy, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, chair of the Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group, said: ‘The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are. The General Synod has voted overwhelmingly to reject coercive conversion therapies, so we welcome the Government’s commitment to explore these matters further with a view to enshrining that position in law. We recognise the difficulties in defining conversion therapies, and look forward to working closely with the Government to develop a viable definition and subsequent legislation. We want to prevent abuses of power, and ensure that issues of consent are made absolutely central to any future legislation.’ Pray for people to recognise that gay conversion therapy is unethical, harmful, and not supported by evidence.