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1 June 2011

News in brief

Children's homes axed

In what must be one of the low points in local authority cuts, Tory-controlled Essex county council will consider a proposal at its next cabinet meeting in June to close all its children's homes.

The 'externalisation of children's homes' will involve about 120 staff losing their jobs and 36 vulnerable children being found alternative placements.

This decision will also destroy the cumulative professional knowledge which this service has built up over decades. It was recently praised for piloting a pioneering approach to child development called 'social pedagogy', including a three-year staff training programme.

Whilst some children may be found placements in foster care this does not suit every child. One of the children affected has written to David Cameron and told him he had 15 foster placements before settling in his current home.

The real danger though is that children find themselves in the private residential sector where profit is the main focus.

The Tory council is a 'corporate parent' with a legal responsibility to safeguard children and young people in council care.

The public sector unions supported by Essex residents need to remind the Tory councillors what this means and stop this disgraceful proposal before it is implemented.

By a Unison member

Tory MP cashes in

'We're all in this together' was the Tories' slogan to justify austerity. But some of us are more in it than others.

Alun Cairns, the Tory MP for Vale of Glamorgan, has just trousered a 29,000 pay-off for losing his seat in the Assembly. The "resettlement grant" is intended to help defeated Assembly Member (AMs) be weaned off their pampered 54,000 salaries before being released back into the real world. Except Cairns didn't lose his seat - he chose not to take it up after winning in Vale of Glamorgan in the general election.

Cairns deliberately hung on as an AM until the Assembly election so that he could claim the 29,000 pay off.

It's not the first time Cairns' snout has plunged into the trough. As an AM he claimed 12,500 a year for a flat in Cardiff near the Assembly despite living just 30 miles down the M4. He even had the cheek to demand the Assembly change its rules to allow him to continue to claim it when boundary changes made him ineligible for the pay-out. The Assembly duly obliged.

Socialist Party Wales

Government priorities

The government regularly tries to soften up public opinion to its vicious cuts in disability benefits. Ministers' latest headline grabbing ruse is to publish some of the more unusual excuses used by people found guilty of benefit fraud, even though these people are a miniscule percentage of the total number of claimants - 0.8% of total benefit expenditure.

Moreover, what the government fails to point out is that tax evasion (excluding tax avoidance) amounts to 70 billion, according to the PCS union. This compares to 1 billion in benefit fraud.