Monday, January 21, 2008

Is there any good news?

These are some of the stories I found today in British papers:-

1. Married couples are being brutally punished by Labour's tax and benefit system, according to research to be published tomorrow.

Experts say that couples where one partner works and the other stays at home are the worst affected, paying a far higher proportion of their incomes to the taxman than in almost any other civilised country.

2. Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith suffered a barrage of criticism yesterday after admitting she would not feel safe walking the streets after dark.

Aides of Miss Smith compounded her gaffe with a desperate attempt to undo the damage by claiming she had recently popped out in the evening to "buy a kebab in Peckham".

In fact, she has round-the-clock police protection . On her trip for a kebab she was accompanied by a bodyguard.

3.The number of crimes being solved by police has fallen or ground to a halt in nearly two thirds of forces in England and Wales. The detection rate has fallen by 1.5 percentage points since 1997 to 30.3 per cent of all crimes reported to the police in 2006/7, not including the British Transport Police.

Police spending in Britain is estimated to have risen from £8 billion in 1998 to £10.1 billion by 2004/5. Over the same period, crimes recorded by police rose from five million to 5.5 million a year.

Last year, every warranted officer detected about 10 crimes per year, the same level as in 2001. For each detection the police spent £10,000 - 10 per cent more in real terms than in 2001.

4. The asking price of a typical home has plunged more than £11,000 since October, research reveals today.

Prices are dropping around £120 a day with experts warning that the year ahead looks bleak.

5. Homeowners hit by last week's floods have been warned they could face further misery with more torrential rains on the way - but spring is in the air in the South as the record for the warmest January night was broken in several places

Heavy rainstorms and persistent drizzle over the weekend have swollen rivers and streams to bursting point.

But forecasters say the danger is not over for those people living close to rivers with more heavy rainfall predicted for Monday evening.

6. Family doctors are being put on high alert for cases of a flesh-eating strain of MRSA that thrives in nurseries, classrooms and gyms.

GPs will for the first time be given detailed guidelines on how to diagnose and treat the highly infectious bug, thought to be even deadlier than the version sweeping through hospitals.

The risk is so serious that the Health Protection Agency and the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy have come together to draw up the advice, designed to stop the bug running riot across the UK as it has in the U.S.

and worst of all - 7. The price of a pub pint of beer could soon hit £4 in some parts, drinkers were warned yesterday.

More expensive barley, malt, glass, aluminium and energy could see a £1 rise to cover production and distribution.

A British Beer and Pub Association spokesman said: “The average price is around £2.70. In London a £3.20 pint is not unknown. There are areas where we won’t be surprised to see £4.”

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