Families struggling as child costs rise, says CPAG

Families are struggling as the cost of bringing up a child has risen to £148,000, according to research for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

The report, co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says costs have risen by 4% over the last year.

At the same time it says the value of benefit payments has fallen in real terms.

The government has said such cuts are necessary in order to reduce the UK welfare bill.

But, as a result, the CPAG says parents face a “growing struggle” to provide a decent standard of living for their families.

“This research paints a stark picture of families being squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages, yet receiving ever-diminishing support from the government over the course of the last year,” said Alison Garnham, the chief executive of the CPAG.

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Money habits are ‘formed by age seven’

The government-backed Money Advice Service has warned parents “not to underestimate the effect of their own bad money habits”.

Most children’s financial habits are formed by the age of seven, it was claimed today by the government-backed Money Advice Service (MAS), as it urged parents not to “underestimate the effect their own good (and bad) money habits will have on their children”.

The organisation pointed to a Cambridge University study that suggested that most young children had grasped all the main aspects of how money works and formed “core behaviours which they will take into adulthood and which will affect financial decisions they make during the rest of their lives”.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service, said: “This study really demonstrates the power of parental influences, and illustrates how much of what you learn and absorb when you are young, both consciously and subconsciously, affects the choices you make throughout the rest of your life.”

The MAS said it would establish a forum to create “world-class parenting and teaching resources” and has called for money education to be included in the primary school curriculum in England.

Michael Gove, Education Secretary, announced plans earlier this year to put personal finance education on the curriculum for secondary school pupils.

Failing colleges face intervention under skills plan

Underperforming further education colleges in England are to face a tougher regime, as the government launches its skills college buildingstrategy.

There will be an “administered college” status which will place restrictions on spending and staff.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock promised “swift and effective action” where colleges were inadequate.

There will also be £77m extra capital funding, plus a further £137m from colleges, to benefit 47 colleges.

Inspectors have found two out of three colleges are outstanding or good – but there are also 4% which are identified as being inadequate.

Shortage of science graduates will thwart manufacturing-based recovery

Too few women studying science, maths and engineering and a curb on immigration make government hopes forlornyoung scientists

The government’s hope that it can drive an economic recovery by growing the UK’s manufacturing industry will be thwarted by a lack of science and technology graduates, a report suggests.

The report – which concludes that there is an annual shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates – has been released amid calls for a national campaign to boost the number of women in science.

A spokesman for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, said the number of home-grown graduates in STEM subjects needs to increase by half just to keep science-related industries at their current size.

If the government would like to grow these sectors to drive a recovery at the same time as reducing migration, the shortfall balloons even further.

Nida Broughton, a senior economist at the SMF, said: “The government has made clear its aim to rebalance the UK economy towards manufacturing and away from financial services. But it has also pledged to reduce immigration. Our analysis shows that the gulf between skills and jobs makes these aims incompatible in the short-term.”

The manufacturers’ association, the EEF, estimates that 90% of Britain’s engineers are male and 80% of workers in the manufacturing industry are male. That compares with other sectors, where men are an average of 51% of the workforce.

Youth enterprise schemes ‘backfire’

university students

Attempts to inspire young people to start businesses are backfiring by alienating would-be business owners with “outdated” views of entrepreneurship and poorly conceived schemes, according to a new report.

Support programmes for fledgling business owners are “misdirected and out of touch”, research by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) found, with too much emphasis on perceptions of entrepreneurs as “isolated, highly driven, risk- taking mavericks”.

Large, nationwide policies designed to boost youth enterprise are proving ineffective, researchers said, arguing that more emphasis should be put on “small scale support that’s built on experimentation at a [regional] grass roots level” – which the RSA said is more effective than “grand policy solutions” and the “burgeoning enterprise support industry”.

The Government has attempted to boost youth enterprise with nationwide schemes such as StartUp Loans, which offers student-style low-interest loans to young people starting companies. 

The scheme has now provided 2,000 loans to young people – with a typical loan of £4,500 complimented by business advice. James Caan, who chairs the initiative, said it is “only scratching the surface” of the demand from young people for business finance.

However, the RSA said there is too much emphasis on start-up finance, leaving the large numbers of young entrepreneurs who prefer to build the initial stages of their business on a shoestring “overlooked”.

Road safety budgets slashed across England.

Local councils in England slashed their road safety budgets by 15 per cent (£23 million) last year compared to average spending cuts of just six per cent for other council services, according to road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

This includes cuts to services such as rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to schools schemes and school crossing patrols.

The research also shows that over half of English councils cut their spending on road safety and traffic management by more than ten per cent. Of the 152 councils contacted, 81 replied.

Spending on road safety saw huge variations. For example, London’s Camden Council cut road safety spending by more than 70 per cent (£4million), despite the fact that road casualties have increased by 10.6 per cent there since 2006. More than 100 people were killed or seriously injured on Camden’s roads in 2010. At the same time, neighbouring Islington Council increased funding for road safety and traffic management by £134,000. Read more of this post

Rise in number of apprenticeships

According to a story on the BBC news site, ‘The government has delivered an extra 103,000 apprenticeships over the last year, twice as many as expected, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said.

Sectors such as advanced manufacturing and IT took on more apprentices.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the government was determined to “break down barriers between academic and vocational learning”.

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