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Hundreds of Sure Start centres have closed since election, says Labour

Hundreds of Sure Start centres have closed since election, says Labour

More than 400 Sure Start children‘s centres have closed during the first two years of coalition government, with over half of those still open no longer providing any onsite childcare, according to Labour.

Despite claims by the prime minister, David Cameron, before the last general election that he “backed” Sure Start, Labour says £430m was cut from English local authority Sure Start budgets between 2010-11 and 2012-13.

Using freedom of information responses received from 151 of England’s 152 top-tier councils, Labour estimates that Sure Start funding has been cut by one third over the past two years – a real terms reduction of £431,844,582. Within this figure, day-to-day running costs were cut by 19%, while capital funds were reduced by 96%. Read more.

Patrick Butler | The Guardian | 28th January 2013

The university professor is always white

Campaigners say universities will appoint more minority ethnic and female academics to the top jobs only when their funding depends on it

Eighteen months ago the cause of gender equality in UK universities got a welcome boost. Medical schools seeking biomedical research grants worth millions of pounds need not bother applying unless they had proven credentials in supporting women’s career progression, the chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies made clear. For the first time, the pursuit of equality was explicitly linked to major funding streams.

Using Freedom of Information requests, UCU looked into the applications process. Based on data from 21 institutions with some of the biggest gaps between representation at professor and other levels, it found that white applicants were three times more likely to secure a professorial role than BME ones. The data on women told a different story: they actually had a higher success rate than men, but weren’t going for the jobs in the first place. Over four times as many men as women applied for professorial posts. Read more.

Rachel Williams | The Guardian | 28th January 2013

Number of litter fines rises 90-fold in 15 years

Figures show that almost 64,000 littering fines were issued by covert patrols in England last year, a 90-fold increase in 15 years.

An investigation found that on-the-spot fines of up to £80 were handed out for a range of offences including dropping bank cards, nut shells, cigarette butts and pens.

Critics questioned whether councils were using “private police forces” as a cash cow following claims that pedestrians were being targeted for trivial offences.

According to figures released under Freedom of Information laws, 63,833 fines were issued in England last year compared with 727 in 1997. Read more.

Andrew Hough | The Telegraph | 29th January 2013

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