Government targets ‘insufficient’

October 30, 2007

The government’s ambitious housebuilding targets have been struck a fresh blow after an advisory body suggested that they are, in fact, not ambitious enough.

According to the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU), the current aim of building three million homes by 2020, the equivalent of 240,000 each year, will not stop first-time buyers from finding it even harder to buy a home in the future.

Consequently the target should be raised to 270,000 a year, but even this will only serve to keep the price/income ratio at its current level, the group added.

“If the government proceeds as planned, house prices will continue to out pace earnings leaving those with aspirations to home ownership cast adrift,” advised Jill Craig, head of policy and public affairs at Rics.

Government targets ‘insufficient’

Racist attacks up 12% in a year

October 28, 2007

RACIALLY and religiously motivated attacks have risen 12% in the past year, according to government figures to be released this week.

The Ministry of Justice statistics show there were 41,000 racially or religiously aggravated offences in 2005-06, the latest year for which figures are available.

Experts are likely to link the increase to fears related to terrorism and immigration.

Following the attack on Glasgow airport in June, racist incidents across Scotland have soared, with sharp rises in violent attacks, abuse and harassment in the four weeks after the car bombing. The worst cases included attempts to blow up an Asian shop and a mosque.

There was a similar rise in attacks on Asians in Britain after the 9/11 atrocity.

The figures out this week will also show black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white citizens. Black suspects are also far more likely to go to court and prison.

Racist attacks up 12% in a year – Times Online

‘Humanity’s very survival’ is at risk, says UN

October 28, 2007

The speed at which mankind has used the Earth’s resources over the past 20 years has put “humanity’s very survival” at risk, a study involving 1,400 scientists has concluded.

The environmental audit, for the United Nations, found that each person in the world now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the Earth can supply

per cent of amphibians, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are under threat of extinction, while one in ten of the world’s major rivers runs dry every year before it reaches the sea.

The bleak verdict on the environment was issued as an “urgent call for action” by the United Nations Environment Programme, which said that the “point of no return” was fast approaching.

‘Humanity’s very survival’ is at risk, says UN – Times Online

Echo of Black Monday as stocks fall

October 22, 2007

Blue chip stocks took a hammering as Friday’s sharp falls on Wall Street spread to the London market in an echo of the Black Monday crash almost 20 years ago to the day.

The FTSE 100 Index dropped 101.8 points into the red by mid-session trading after a troubled market opening, which saw the Footsie fall nearly 2% in the first few minutes.

The benchmark index was mirroring heavy overnight falls in Asia, with global markets reacting to a significant sell-off in America late last week on the 20th anniversary of Black Monday.

Channel 4 – News – Echo of Black Monday as stocks fall

Britons less healthy

October 22, 2007

Britons drink more alcohol, eat less fruit and veg and are more likely to die from smoking than the average European, according to Government figures.

While life expectancy is at its highest level yet, with death rates from cancers and circulatory diseases falling and the infant death rate at its lowest level yet in England.

There are problems tackling public health issues, when the UK is compared other European countries.

Statistics show rates of obesity, diabetes and alcohol-related admissions are rising across England.

There are also 288.6 deaths per 100,000 people from smoking-related causes in the UK compared with an EU average of 263.7

The report also showed there is poorer health in the North of England compared with the South across many factors.

Channel 4 – News – Britons less healthy – report

Increase in serious crime by offenders on parole

October 22, 2007

Public confidence in the supervision of high-risk offenders released from prison suffered a fresh blow yesterday with the disclosure that 83 have been charged with a further serious offence, such as murder or rape, in the last year.

The figure for 2006-07 compares with 61 high-risk offenders who committed further serious crimes while under the supervision of the probation and police services in the previous year.

The Ministry of Justice figures show that 12 of the 83 were among the 1,249 offenders categorised as level three – known as the “critical few” – and under the highest levels of supervision.

The publication of the figures revived the argument over the quality of parole, probation and police supervision in cases such as Anthony Rice who murdered Naomi Bryant, and Damien Hanson and Elliott White who killed city banker John Monckton while under supervision.

Increase in serious crime by offenders on parole | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Comet Boss: Shoppers Tightening Belts

October 22, 2007

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest retailers has warned of tough times on the High Street.

Comet’s Hugh Harvey admitted sales of big value electrical goods like fridges and washing machines were suffering as shoppers tighten their belts.

Mortgages, fuel and utility bills are all going up and the consumer is feeling the pinch.

Mr Harvey told Sky’s Jeff Randall that although sales of “white goods” were being hit, they were more than offset by new technology.

Comet Boss Admits It’s Tough On High Street |Sky News|Business