Displaying items by tag: Government
Fraud and error on the main Universal Credit (UC) benefit have reached record levels, according to new official figures. The department for work and pensions reported £8.4bn lost in 2020-21, almost entirely due to fraud and almost double the previous year. The number of people on UC has doubled to six million since the pandemic started. Officials said the increased fraud is a product of more people applying for the benefit, and the value of each fraudulent case rising, rather than a higher proportion of people engaging in fraud. It can be as simple as individuals claiming money to which they are not entitled, like not declaring income from other sources. More complex cases involve criminal gangs stealing people's details to apply for advance payments of UC. The money is paid to them, but the person whose identity has been stolen gets the bill.
The Bishop of Truro’s independent review, published in July 2019, explained what the Foreign Office could do to improve the experience of Christians around the world who are currently tortured, discriminated against, or put in prison for their faith. Now DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, a Christian, has asked the Government in a written question, ‘What progress has been made in implementing the Bishop of Truro’s recommendations?’ He was told that ten of the recommendations are fully delivered, good progress has been made on eight, and all 22 will be delivered by 2022.
Simon Cheng, from the Hong Kong expatriate group in Britain, said his fellow citizens' decisions to come to the UK depend on age, political involvement and career prospects. He agrees with Home Office estimates of hundreds of thousands arriving over the next five years. They include pro-democracy protesters and people dissatisfied with Hong Kong’s political reality. A small survey of Hong Kongers found that those inclined to move to the UK were mostly working professionals, often in fields like financial services. The Home Office estimates that tax receipts from new arrivals, many likely to work in well-paid sectors, suggest a net benefit to government finances of £2.4 to £2.9 billion over five years. This significant movement of people presents opportunities for the Government, but also challenges it to put in place effective support for the less well-off arrivals.
Cressida Cowell, the children’s laureate, has asked Boris Johnson for £100m to be ring-fenced for building new and restoring neglected libraries every year as millions of children are ‘missing out on opportunities to discover the life-changing magic of reading’. Decades of research has linked childhood reading to future success. The ability to read is a more telling predictor of future life chances than a family’s socio-economic status. Public and school libraries have been subject to swingeing cuts over the last decade. Johnson will reportedly unveil a ‘four-year emergency’ plan for literacy next month. Government figures reveal over 200,000 pupils are set to enter secondary school this autumn without being able to read properly - a rise of 30,000 since last year. The £100m funding is not unreasonable; in comparison, £320m is ring-fenced for physical education in primary schools, with hundreds of millions set aside every year since 2013. Ms Cowell said, ’Surely the opportunity to become a reader for pleasure is just as important as PE?’
In November, the Government proposed cutting its aid budget as a result of the pandemic. In March the Prime Minister said the proposed reduction was only temporary and the figure would return to 0.7% cent ‘when the fiscal situation allows’. In a joint statement Archbishop Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the recent review of defence, diplomacy, and development was a pledge to return the aid budget to 0.7% and honour the many promises made and to deliver on the duty imposed by Parliament. They added, ‘Saying the Government will only do this “when the fiscal situation allows” suggests it will act in contravention of its legally binding target. This promise, repeatedly made even during the pandemic, has been broken and must be put right.’
No party leader has enough support to form a governing majority, so Israel’s president has handed the job to Benjamin Netanyahu amid his corruption trial. If there is another election, a definite possibility, we are looking at another five to six months in which the current government is still running the nation. Lord, do not allow this government to miss anything it needs to do during this time: yet do not allow them to touch anything that is to be reserved for the next government. We remember Your promise, ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.’ (Psalm 32:8). Thank You that Mr Netanyahu is still Israel's prime minister in all the world's chaos at this time. Strengthen him for as long as You have ordained him to lead Your nation. Psalm 75:7 says that You are the Judge; You put down one and exalt another.
The UK government, which hosts a climate summit this year, has allowed a coal mine at Whitehaven to go ahead. The leading climate scientist James Hansen has warned Boris Johnson that he risks ‘humiliation’ over plans for the mine to extract coking coal from under the Irish Sea. Dr Hansen, formerly Nasa's leading global warming researcher, urged the PM to halt production. No 10 said the UK was a world leader on climate change, but would not reverse the local council’s decision on the mine. They have stressed that industries such as steel production require coking coal - which would have to be imported if it were not produced in the UK. The mine will produce a grade of coking coal for steel-making; 85% of it is destined for export to Europe. Government sources hinted that the need for continuing domestic steel production was another reason for not opposing the mine.
A number of elections will take place on 6 May, including those postponed in 2020. These will be for local councils, mayors, police and crime commissioners, and members of the London Assembly and the Welsh and Scottish parliaments. We can pray for the Lord of Heaven and earth to be in every preparation leading up to these elections. We are in a season of financial shaking and pandemic challenges. Pray for God to release an atmosphere of health, safety, security and wellbeing to the various cultural and ethnic groups in our society. God’s word states, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’, so we can pray for Him to release His righteousness into every aspect of national and local government. May His purposes be fulfilled in and through every business and government department’s decision. Pray for honour and integrity to increase in all political agendas.
A survey of 1,318 doctors by Everydoctor found medics who have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine, but their appointments for the second dose have been cancelled as the Government's new policy attempts to give as many people as possible some immunisation. Now the two doses are separated by twelve weeks, not three. Dr Julia Patterson, the lead for Everydoctor, said doctors fear that delaying the second dose which they need to obtain full immunity could lead to them becoming ill or infecting colleagues or patients. In the survey, 13% said that they had received one vaccine dose but their second appointment for immunisation had been cancelled. Another 517 (39%) said they had still not been told when they would have their first dose. ‘The Covid-19 crisis is escalating, and we urgently need to protect frontline workers. If healthcare workers are left unprotected, they are at risk themselves, and they may also pass coronavirus on to vulnerable patients’, said Dr Patterson.
Bullets fly overhead as schoolboys scream out in fear. Chaos. Shrapnel. Hundreds go missing. This was the scene last week when Boko Haram militants stormed a high-school in Katsina, northern Nigeria, to abduct hundreds of students, 400 remain missing. It is a horror story reminiscent of the 2014 kidnapping of schoolgirls that prompted the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The attack came just weeks after the brutal slaying of Nigerian farmers in Borno state by militants on motorcycles (thirty were beheaded). Nigeria's population is 50% Christian and 50% Muslim with groups like Boko Haram subscribing to a warped interpretation of Islam that justifies murder of Christians. In practice, both Christians and Muslims have been targeted in recent years. Pray for the government to improve its standards and protect vulnerable communities. Pray the authorities will also terminate the Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s contract to end the torture and extrajudicial killings that it has engaged in. STOP PRESS: it has now been reported that all the schoolboys have been released by Boko Haram. See