General News

PCS: The PCS union General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, has called on Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to apologise for "outrageous spin" over allegations jobcentre staff are being forced to stop people's benefits to meet targets, saying:
"When this story broke Mr Duncan Smith described it as 'claptrap' and a 'conspiracy', but faced with the overwhelming evidence that these targets are still in place, his department has been forced to backtrack. We fundamentally oppose the use of targets for welfare sanctions and we call on the Department for Work and Pensions to put an immediate stop to this abuse of the system."
Press release & links
CEOP: Twin brothers, whose details were posted on CEOP’s Most Wanted website, were last week (Friday 8th April) both in custody in France. Kenneth John & Thomas Anthony Parker, both convicted high risk child sex offenders (whose details were posted on CEOP’s Most Wanted website the week before) will be returned to the UK as soon as possible.
CEOP's Most Wanted site has already seen 20 high risk convicted offenders located since its launch in 2006 and the location of these two individuals brings the total to 22.
Press release & links
FSABernard Matthews Farms is recalling its turkey goujons with a use by’ date of 13 April 2011, because the product possibly contains small pieces of hard plastic.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
Press release & links
NA: Looking for an image to illustrate Victorian design, the Second World War, or another historical event?  The National Archives has updated their image library with an eclectic selection of images available for commercial & direct reproduction uses.
A new Showcase section gives business users a shortcut to fresh, topical images.  Updated monthly, the Showcase will present topics such as the Titanic and the Great Exhibition of 1851.  More unique images created to license and inspire will be showcased in May 2011.
Press release & links
CLG: People living in Hawes, a remote town in the Yorkshire Dales, are saving themselves a 70 mile round trip by running some of their own council services in a new, one-stop community office.  Acting on feedback from local residents, and with advice from their local council, volunteers in Hawes are running a community office to offer a range of services, including a library, the use of computers and facilities to pay council tax bills, or talk to the police.
Press release & links
HMRCTax credit claimants have been reminded by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to renew claims by the 31 July deadline or their payments may stop. They are asked to act as soon as they receive a renewal pack from HMRC.
Press release & links
Defra: The Government will give £25m to wildlife conservation work around the world through the Darwin Initiative over the next 4 years. Defra’s Darwin Initiative has already spent more than £80m to help protect biodiversity in 156 countries since its inception in 1992.
Press release & links ~ Defra: Darwin Initiative ~ Previous related PR ~ Natural History Museum – Darwin centre ~ Darwin 200 ~ The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project ~ Defra - Biodiversity
DirectgovEnglish Heritage has released a new free app for iPhone & Android phones, bringing you ideas for days out across England.  Whether you fancy a castle, an English garden or a magical ruin, this handy tool can help you on your way to a great day out.
Press release & links
DfE: A survey of 1,000 parents of all backgrounds has revealed that 88% think that children are under pressure to grow up too quickly. Nearly half were also unhappy with programmes or adverts on TV before the 9pm watershed.
The survey forms part of the independent Bailey Review of Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, commissioned by the DfE to unravel & tackle issues around the premature sexualisation & commercialisation of children. The survey results, focus groups responses & findings from the call for evidence will be published in the final report of the Bailey Review in May 2011.
Press release ~ Bailey Review call for evidence & related links
DCMS: The Football Association has launched the first semi-professional women’s football league. Eight teams from across the country will play in the newly created Women’s Super League (WSL) this summer. The WSL has been created in a bid to ‘professionalize’ women’s football and attract more women & fans to the game.
Press release & links ~ Women’s Super League
Deloitte: Confidence that the insurance industry will achieve Solvency II compliance by 1 January 2013 has dropped by 17 percentage points, according to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of Deloitte, the business advisory firm.
Press release
Newswire – TUC: The government's refusal to change the interest rate on student loans from the retail prices index (RPI) to the consumer prices index (CPI) - despite already doing so for key benefits, tax thresholds and public sector pensions - will leave graduates thousands of pounds deeper in debt, the TUC has warned.
While some graduates are currently paying back their student loans at 1.5% due to historically low Bank of England interest rates, RPI is the most common method for calculating the interest rate on student loans - and the only method for those taking out loans before 1998.
The use of RPI will be even more costly for students yet to go to university as the Education Bill currently going through Parliament includes a clause allowing ministers to charge up to commercial loan rates (RPI plus 3%) for future student loans.
Press release & links