The general election campaign is now in full swing and yesterday Labour announced plans to double the number of childcare places provided at Sure Start centres to more than 118,000.
The shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt promised to ‘save’ the Sure Start scheme. This would reverse a decision by the government in 2010 when they were freed from previous requirements to provide childcare, meaning that hundreds of the centres face the threat of closure and have had their funding cut. Indeed, Labour revealed that hundreds of centres were forced to close and others have reduced services as a result of the cuts.
In addition there are 720 fewer Sure Start centres than in 2010 and if it continues to fall at the current rate by the end of the next parliament, Labour warns that 38,000 fewer places will be available by the end of the next parliament.
Last week marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). The theme for day was “Mobilisation and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation”. Essentially this means stressing the importance health care professionals play in fighting this terrible and barbaric crime.
They have a duty to adopt and promote a zero tolerance attitude to FGM. This is of course just one part of the strategy. Urgent, but well thought out action has to be taken to stop the cycle being promoted from generation to generation, something Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan UK has written about and stated before.
With the dedicated effort of all stakeholders, charities, governments, health care professionals and prosecutors the cycle can be broken. There is some hope, work carried out by charities such as Plan UK, have resulted in 60 communities declaring themselves free of FGM.
An investigation carried out by the BBC’s Panorama which will be broadcast tonight has found that the UK’s biggest bank, HSBC, helped and allowed its richest customers to dodge paying tax by allowing them to set up secret accounts in Switzerland.
HSBC, the UK’s biggest bank, helped rich customers to dodge paying tax by allowing them to set up secret accounts in Switzerland, according to a report last night. Following the investigation some £135m of unpaid tax and penalties have been handed over by those British citizens involved. You can see the film on BBC 1 tonight. More exclusive details have been revealed on the front page of today’s Guardian.