British households are in effect throwing away every third shopping bag of food they buy, most of it ending up in landfill at huge environmental and financial cost, according to research.
Some 90% of consumers admit they are unaware of the amount of food they regularly bin. They are being urged to change their ways through a national campaign – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – funded and backed by the government. The main reasons given for waste are buying too much through unplanned and excessive shopping, poor storage and not eating short-shelf-life items quickly enough.
Attempts to reform the Child Support Agency are condemned today as one of the “greatest public administration disasters of recent times” in a withering report by MPs.
Ministers are on course to spend close to £900 million on a series of reforms to the system but have failed to deliver promised improvements.
Instead, hundreds of thousands of families have been left in hardship because of the CSA’s failure to collect more than £3.5 billion in child maintenance payments from absent parents.
Alarmingly, less than a third of absent parents are making full maintenance payments under the new “reformed” system introduced in 2003, compared with half under the old one.
There is a backlog of 275,000 cases where families are waiting for a decision on maintenance payments.
Unused and wasted drugs are costing the NHS at least £100 million a year, a report has said.
Some doctors over-prescribe, leading patients to stockpile medicines at home, while patients also fail to take drugs dispensed to them, it found.
Other causes of wastage include medicines being dispensed but then going uncollected, and drugs prescribed in hospital being continued unnecessarily at home.
The research, from the National Audit Office (NAO), examined prescribing costs in primary care.
Money could also be saved if GPs prescribed lower-cost medicines, it said, which would have no detrimental effect on patient care.
The Assets Recovery Agency, which cost £60m to set up and aimed to reclaim ill-gotten gains from criminals, is to be scrapped after recovering just £8.3m.
The Home Office today announced that the body would be merged with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in April 2008.
The Tories claimed that it was a “classic example of a glitzy Labour pledge that turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on”.
Britain has come out bottom of a European energy efficiency league.
The Energy Saving Trust, a UK research group, said the Germans were the most efficient followed by the Spanish.
Energy Saving Trust chief executive Philip Sellwood said: “The UK is at the bottom of the energy efficiency league compared to other European countries.”
The wasteful habit the British found it hardest to kick was leaving appliances on standby.
Police and prosecutors are wasting £55m a year by mishandling court cases, a report by a Commons watchdog has said.
The Public Accounts Committee said more than 900,000 out of about 3m magistrate hearings did not go ahead as planned in England and Wales in 2004-5.
The delays cost an estimated £173m – of this the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were responsible for £24m each, plus £7m jointly, say the MPs.
PRIVATE health centres are being paid tens of millions of pounds by the NHS for operations that are not happening.
Hardly any of the independent centres set up under generous contracts are meeting their targets, an investigation by Health Service Journal has found.
But they still get paid, unlike NHS hospitals, which are paid on the basis of how many operations they do.
The 20 centres were open by March. Information gathered by the journal from public documents, freedom of information requests and parliamentary answers indicates that so far they are doing only 59 per cent of the operations for which they are contracted.