Britain branded ‘card fraud capital’

November 21, 2006

Card fraud has affected more than seven million people in the UK, figures show.

Research from the European Security Transport Association (Esta) found that nearly 20 per cent of the adult population in Great Britain had been targeted as part of a credit or debit card scam.

It makes the UK the card fraud capital of Europe, with citizens almost twice at risk of becoming a victim compared to adults in seven other European countries polled as part of the survey.

Britain branded ‘card fraud capital’ – News –

New mental health laws ‘not fit for 21st century’

November 21, 2006

Mental Health organisations have condemned government proposals to amend laws governing the treatment of people with severe mental health problems saying they were “not fit for the 21st century”.

The Government published its new Mental Health Bill today, which it said would toughen up existing laws and offer “more protection for public and patients”.

The Bill will allow people with untreatable personality disorders to be detained even if they have not committed a crime.

Leading mental health charities and organisations have strongly criticised the Bill as “unfair, unnecessary and unfit for purpose”. They said they fear that the new legislation would give patients less protection than existing laws.

New mental health laws ‘not fit for 21st century’ – Britain – Times Online

Kids booze abuse cases rise by 20%

November 21, 2006

Twenty youngsters a day are being diagnosed with conditions such as alcohol poisoning and behavioural disorders due to excessive drinking, according to NHS figures out today.

The statistics obtained by BBC1’s Panorama programme also show that in Cheshire and Merseyside alone, more than 10 under-18s per week are admitted because of drink abuse.

In the last five years, the number of under-18s being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related conditions has risen from 6,288 in 2000/1 to 7,579 in 2004/5, according to the NHS Information Centre.

Ian Forster of North West Ambulance Service said there had been a noticeable rise in the number of underage drinkers picked up in Liverpool. He said: “It’s not unusual for a child to have drunk a litre of vodka.

News – Leeds Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Blair accepts ‘disaster’ in Iraq

November 18, 2006

Tony Blair has publicly agreed with the opinion that the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been a disaster.

The UK prime minister was responding to a question by Sir David Frost in an interview on the new al-Jazeera English-language Arabic TV channel.

The Liberal Democrats said Mr Blair had finally accepted the enormity of his decision to go to war in Iraq.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair accepts ‘disaster’ in Iraq

The Farepak scandal lays bare a gross inequality

November 16, 2006

Occasionally the stage curtain is twitched back to expose the way things are. The £40m Farepak collapse has just shone a spotlight into a dark corner behind the bright scenery of affluence and wealth.Here are families from the 30% who own nothing, scrimping and saving to provide a Christmas for children that feels like other people’s Christmases, as advertised on TV. The rest of the year, they have their noses pressed up against a consumer society they don’t belong to.They will never own a home like the 70% majority – though they can watch some 15 programmes a week celebrating property, from Location, Location, Location to Changing Rooms, garden make-overs, house hunting in the Dordogne and property speculation shows. If ever the have-nothings are themselves represented on the small screen, it’s usually as bad parents of hoodies or spectacularly dysfunctional families to be gawped at with sanctimonious disdain. Or there are the class-swap programmes, where usually bizarre examples of “working class” women are swapped with middle-class aspiring mothers.

Airbrushed out of the national picture are the great majority of have-nots, the cleaners, security guards, caterers, call-centre staff, care assistants, cashiers and all the lowest paid on whose cheap labour everything else depends. But now here they are, the Farepak victims – the thriftiest from among the one-in-three people who have no formal savings of any kind, no buffer against even minor disaster. If they had other savings, they would never have trusted their money with this bunch.

The director Nick Gilodi-Johnson, the son of Farepak’s owner, had an estimated share dividend from the parent company EHR of £445,000, on top of his pay, and stands to inherit £75m. If he’s as gutted as he says, the family has the money to repay savers.

So could the Farepak chairman, Sir Clive Thompson, who took £100,000 for this part-time job while earning £894,000 as deputy chairman of an investment company. As chair, he was a famous CBI hardman, denouncing the minimum wage. I interviewed him when he was earning £1.4m a year from Rentokil while his workers were on rock-bottom pay on outsourced contracts.

If ever there was a moment for Labour ministers to open the debate on gross inequality, Farepak is it. Instead, silence from them all – again.

The Farepak scandal lays bare a gross inequality | Columnists | Guardian Unlimited

Interest rates rise to 5 per cent

November 9, 2006

The Bank of England has put up interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 5 per cent.

Homeowners were bracing themselves for the increase which had been widely expected.

The 0.25 per cent rise is likely to cost homeowners with an average £80,000 mortgage just under £13 a month.

If lenders pass on the full hike in rates, monthly repayments on an £80,000 loan will increase from £552.72 to £565.42.

The increase comes as banks announce plans to offer 57-year mortgages to youngsters desperate to get on the housing ladder.

The new deal is offered by the UK’s second biggest mortgage lender, Abbey, while Tesco offers a 52 year deal.

The move has been criticised by experts, with Keith Tondeur of debt advice group Credit Action warning: “Lenders are coming up with more ingenious ways to sustain a house price boom that is not sustainable.”

Interest rates rise to 5 per cent – News –

Families ‘sent soldiers supplies’

November 9, 2006

Soldiers serving in Iraq were forced to get dehydration powders sent from families in the UK after supplies ran out, an inquest has been told.

Oxford Coroners’ Court heard the claims during the inquest into the death of TA Private Jason Smith, from Hawick.

One of his senior officers said that soldiers were working in heat that “even the locals couldn’t bear”.

Pte Smith died of a heart attack brought on by heat stroke while serving in Iraq in August 2003.

Temperatures at the time regularly topped 49C, the inquest was told.

Sgt Maj Ewan Stuart said it was essential to keep sugar and salt levels topped up with the electrolyte powders – readily available in UK chemists.

Supplies of the powder solution had run out in the first two weeks of August, he added.

“Captain Marshall was getting electrolytes sent by his mother to dish out to the soldiers,” he said.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | South of Scotland | Families ‘sent soldiers supplies’