Archive | March 2013

Osborne to announce £2.5bn spending cuts today

Chancellor George Osborne to deliver UK 2013 Budget Photo Credit: conservativeparty via Compfight cc

Chancellor George Osborne to deliver UK 2013 Budget Photo Credit: conservativeparty via Compfight cc

Chancellor, George Osborne, will today set out how he will make cuts of £2.5bn to benefit the UK economy, when he delivers his Budget at 12:30 GMT.

The chancellor has told cabinet colleagues that they will have to cut 2% of their departments’ spending over the next two years, saving billions of pounds.

The money will go to infrastructure and building projects, designed to boost growth and create jobs.

The UK economy had shown a rise after the 2012 London Olympics but then shrank in the last quarter of the year, losing it’s triple A credit rating.

The government has been under increasing pressure since over its economic strategy.

Mr Osborne will start speaking in the House of Commons straight after the half hour Prime Minister’s Questions, which starts at noon.

In a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter, Mr Osborne said the Budget would “tackle the economy’s problems head on” and help “those who want to work hard & get on”.

Health, schools and aid protected

The budgets for health, schools and overseas aid will be unaffected by the cuts while local government and police budgets will be protected for the first year. But, other government departments will be told to deliver a further 1% cut to their day-to-day budgets in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The move has been made possible by under-spending by government departments this year.

As well as additional cuts, Mr Osborne is also expected to set out the “spending envelope” – the total amount of spending available to departments – in the forthcoming Spending Review, which will take place on 26 June.


Colombia’s Big Daddy

Leon CBD

Women’s rights topped the agenda at the most recent  World Economic Forum of 2013.  Even former UK Prime Minister  Gordon Brown  acknowledged and blogged about women’s empowerment being  the  hot topic of day.
In light of  International Women’s Day  on the 8th March, Hannah Smithson investigates the global issue of maternal health and rising teenage pregnancy rates around the world. Speaking to the  United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),  we  find out how providing access to family planning clinics and resources to improve maternal health is one of their top priorities of the  Millenium Development Goals  for 2015.

Hannah Smithson visits a teenage mothers programme at a unique foundation in Colombia to see how developing countries are dealing with the issue. Find out why Colombia in particular is being held up by   UNFPA   as an example of best practice for the rest of the world.

 Watch “Colombia’s Big Daddy” to see how one man, Leon, is single handedly working to empower women in a traditionally macho culture.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies

The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has died at the age of 58.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez dies age 58 Photo Credit: ¡Que comunismo! via Compfight cc
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez dies age 58 Photo Credit: ¡Que comunismo! via Compfight cc

After 14 years in office, Mr. Chavez lost his battle with cancer. The  illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a fourth term in October.

Mr. Chavez was a controversial figure and self-proclaimed revolutionary who was critical of the US and inspired a left wing movement across Latin America.

Crowds of mourners gathered outside the Caracas hospital in the capital where he led his final battle for life. Supporters chanted “We are all Chavez”, “Chavez lives”.

Following his death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within 30 days.

In Tuesday’s televised address, a tearful Mr Maduro said the president had passed away “after battling a tough illness for nearly two years”.

“We have received the toughest and tragic information that… Comandante President Hugo Chavez died today at 16:25 (20:55 GMT),” he added.

Mr Maduro called on the nation to close ranks after its leader’s demise.

“Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love.”

Hugo Chavez, a former paratrooper, burst onto Venezuela’s national stage in 1992 when he led a failed military coup.

After two years in prison he returned to politics and was swept to power in a 1998 election.

He won enduring support among the poor and repeated election victories by using Venezuela’s oil wealth to pursue socialist policies.

But his opponents accused him of mishandling the economy and taking the country towards dictatorship.

The vice-president spoke soon after Mr Chavez’s death of a plot against Venezuela. He said had no doubt that the president’s fight with cancer, first diagnosed in 2011, had been induced by foul play by Venezuela’s enemies – the US promptly rejected the accusations as “absurd”.

A statement by the military issued after Mr Chavez’s death said it would protect the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country. It would remain loyal to the vice-president and to parliament, it added, urging people to remain calm.

Seven days of national mourning have been declared and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday.


New policy for police in how to deal with child abuse

There will be an overhaul of how police and prosecutors deal with alleged sexual offences against children  in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Photo Credit: Tjook via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Tjook via Compfight cc

New guidelines for police and prosecutors in England and Wales will be drawn up, and a panel will review cases where alleged perpetrators were not charged, it is expected to be announced.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer told the BBC there was an “overcautious” approach with victims.

He said the focus was too much on whether the victim was telling the truth and not enough on the suspect.

“I am not advocating the test for prosecution should change,” he said.

Describing this as a “watershed moment,” Mr Starmer said we need to “clear the decks of a raft of existing guidelines”.

Once the new guidance has been written, training will also be offered to police and prosecutors dealing with child exploitation cases.

Learning from past mistakes

Policies towards child abuse cases are changing since the Savilles scandal Photo Credit: Ben Cooper via Compfight cc
Policies towards child abuse cases are changing since the Savilles scandal Photo Credit: Ben Cooper via Compfight cc

A review into allegations against the late DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Saville, found he had carried out more than 200 sexual offences over a 54-year period.

Allegations were reported to police several times while he was alive but no action was taken against him.

New policies are expected to prevent such mistakes from happening in future.