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UK weather: Warnings over flooding as torrential rain forecast

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Published23 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThis video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Torrential rain and thunderstorms are forecast across England and Wales with forecasters warning of sudden flooding.The Met Office has issued two yellow warnings for thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday with possible travel disruption, power cuts, hail and lightning strikes. A separate yellow warning for rain, heavy at times, covers Scotland. On Monday stormy conditions brought heavy rain to the South West causing flooding in Cornwall and Devon. It comes after a prolonged heatwave last week saw temperatures peak at 34.9C in Charlwood, Surrey, on Sunday, and weeks of little rain causing drought across parts of the UK. Heavy rain is unlikely to ease the drought because rainwater struggles to permeate dry ground, meaning it will run off the dehydrated surface and lead to flash flooding in some areas.Why drought can lead to dangerous flooding500 more UK wildfires this year than all of 2021″Temperatures will be lower, looking at highs of around 27C as a maximum temperature, but it will still be on the humid side on Tuesday,” said Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst.”Thundery showers across central and southern parts of England on Wednesday and temperatures will be around 26C as a maximum.”The rain will likely become more concentrated in southern parts of England, with hail and frequent lightning and flash flooding possible in areas further south. The downpours across Scotland are expecting to gradually clear as the day goes on. Image source, PA MediaImage source, Oliver DobbsOn Monday, footage on social media showed a roundabout in Truro, Cornwall, quickly flooding as showers moved in.And in Belfast, a shopping centre was forced to close after flooding caused by water coming in through the roof.A Tesco supermarket and Vue cinema in Inverness also closed after their roofs collapsed following an intense downpour at Inshes Retail Park.A lightning strike has blown a hole in the roof of a home in the Isle of Man, where emergency services confirmed four homes were hit during a thunderstorm overnight.Professor Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, speaking about the risk of flooding in drought-hit areas, said: “The ground is really dry and when it is so dry it acts a little bit like concrete and that water can’t get in so it drains straight off.”There is the damage to homes and businesses these floods can cause, and inconvenience with transport disruptions, but if it is very heavy in one place it can also be very dangerous.”More on this storyWhy drought can lead to dangerous flooding10 hours agoThunderstorms begin in the UK after heatwave7 hours agoFinal day of ‘extreme’ heat with thunder on way23 hours ago500 more UK wildfires this year than all of 20211 day agoGreen spaces across England parched in weekend heatwave1 day agoDrought declared across large parts of England3 days ago

UK weather: Warnings over flooding as torrential rain forecast

BBC News

Published23 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThis video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Torrential rain and thunderstorms are forecast across England and Wales with forecasters warning of sudden flooding.The Met Office has issued two yellow warnings for thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday with possible travel disruption, power cuts, hail and lightning strikes. A separate yellow warning for rain, heavy at times, covers Scotland. On Monday stormy conditions brought heavy rain to the South West causing flooding in Cornwall and Devon. It comes after a prolonged heatwave last week saw temperatures peak at 34.9C in Charlwood, Surrey, on Sunday, and weeks of little rain causing drought across parts of the UK. Heavy rain is unlikely to ease the drought because rainwater struggles to permeate dry ground, meaning it will run off the dehydrated surface and lead to flash flooding in some areas.Why drought can lead to dangerous flooding500 more UK wildfires this year than all of 2021″Temperatures will be lower, looking at highs of around 27C as a maximum temperature, but it will still be on the humid side on Tuesday,” said Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst.”Thundery showers across central and southern parts of England on Wednesday and temperatures will be around 26C as a maximum.”The rain will likely become more concentrated in southern parts of England, with hail and frequent lightning and flash flooding possible in areas further south. The downpours across Scotland are expecting to gradually clear as the day goes on. Image source, PA MediaImage source, Oliver DobbsOn Monday, footage on social media showed a roundabout in Truro, Cornwall, quickly flooding as showers moved in.And in Belfast, a shopping centre was forced to close after flooding caused by water coming in through the roof.A Tesco supermarket and Vue cinema in Inverness also closed after their roofs collapsed following an intense downpour at Inshes Retail Park.A lightning strike has blown a hole in the roof of a home in the Isle of Man, where emergency services confirmed four homes were hit during a thunderstorm overnight.Professor Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, speaking about the risk of flooding in drought-hit areas, said: “The ground is really dry and when it is so dry it acts a little bit like concrete and that water can’t get in so it drains straight off.”There is the damage to homes and businesses these floods can cause, and inconvenience with transport disruptions, but if it is very heavy in one place it can also be very dangerous.”More on this storyWhy drought can lead to dangerous flooding10 hours agoThunderstorms begin in the UK after heatwave7 hours agoFinal day of ‘extreme’ heat with thunder on way23 hours ago500 more UK wildfires this year than all of 20211 day agoGreen spaces across England parched in weekend heatwave1 day agoDrought declared across large parts of England3 days ago

Pet bills: ‘I’ve lost my kittens, I can’t give up my cats too’

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Published2 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharing”I don’t know what I would’ve done. I didn’t have any food left for the cats.”Colin Ortutai-Hughes was at breaking point when he turned to animal welfare charity Mayhew.The 45-year-old father-of-four had already given up his kittens for adoption after moving into his car following the breakdown of his marriage.He was at risk of also having to lose the kittens’ parents, Max and Molly, when the London-based charity stepped in. “They came out with these massive 5kg bags of cat food, gave us blankets, lent us a box. They were so friendly. They found places for the kittens and said that even if I move, if I get desperate for food I can come back any time,” he says.Mayhew is one of many organisations ramping up its services to help pet owners deal with the rising cost of living, which has seen food, fuel and utility bills increase sharply in recent months.How to save money on caring for your petsTwenty puppies abandoned in cage in laybyThe price of pet food has shot up by more than 20% in a year, says consultancy Kantar – a faster increase than any other product.Animal charities say they are seeing record numbers of referrals for adoption, including sick or injured pets whose owners no longer have cash for vets’ bills. Image source, MayhewFor people like Colin, who lives alone and suffers from depression, having an animal to care for can make a huge difference to quality of life.Georgina Costi, Mayhew’s cat welfare coordinator, says helping people keep hold of their pets is the best possible outcome, saying pets are “fantastic for mental health – and we really don’t need any more animals coming in for rehoming”.Mayhew has set up a pet refuge – a way for people in crisis to have their animal fostered for up to three months, instead of releasing them for permanent adoption.”We’ve had lots of people accessing our refuge scheme. They just wouldn’t have gone in to get their operation or into rehab [otherwise], because they don’t have finances to put their animal in private boarding,” says Georgina.The charity expects things to get worse, with demand for its pet care packages – with essentials like collars, leads, bowls and pet food – predicted to increase by more than 200% this year in some parts of London.It has also recently started supplying local food banks with pet food.’My dogs are my life’Image source, Personal photoJo Lowes, from Redcar, faced having to give up her two dogs – Pitbull, Leo, and Staffordshire terrier, Booboo – after a relationship breakdown and a hospital stay meant having to temporarily move into a property that wouldn’t allow pets.”My dogs are my whole life,” she says. “I can’t have children. My dogs are like my kids.” Help came in the form of Pauline Wilson, from the National Animal Sanctuaries Support League, who Jo describes as her “saving soldier”.Pauline runs the Alternative Project, in Bishop Auckland, which will take in pets for an average of six months as an alternative to permanent adoption. She looked after Jo’s dogs for about a month – until the 37-year-old could move to suitable accommodation. Image source, Personal photoPauline says Jo’s case is far from unusual. “Lots of people who get in touch are already on the edge. It’s particularly hard for children, who face losing their pet as well as their home.”As well as fostering, the Alternative Project also steps in to help with financial and practical resources to keep owners and pets together. That includes dropping off pet food or hutches to homes, and paying to have animals spayed or neutered. Image source, NASSLIn some circumstances, people really can no longer look after their pet going forward, Pauline says. But in others, they’ve are just feeling temporarily overwhelmed by all the costs they face. The Alternative Project tries to stop animals ending up in sanctuaries, which it says are already “full to bursting”.”It’s a dog that’s loved – it’s laid on your bed, it watches telly with you, it goes out with you and suddenly it finds itself in a kennel. That’s heartbreaking. They have emotions just like us.”Being able to keep that dog in its home is the best for everybody – including the dog.”Image source, Dogs TrustThe Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is also being inundated. Enquiries to hand over dogs have hit 1,100 a week. The past fortnight has been the busiest in its history. For the first time, because of a shortage of places, some of its rehoming centres are asking people to hold on to their animals for a bit longer, if they are able to.”We’ve had people bring dogs in because they can’t afford the vet treatment or have had road accidents and can’t afford the surgery. It’s just a cost people can’t now afford,” says Amanda Sands, the Dogs Trust Leeds centre manager.”We’ve had families [come in] who are having to downsize to a flat because they can’t afford to stay in their house. It’s heartbreaking.”More on this storyHow to save money on caring for your pets8 August

Afghan contractors: ‘I wish I’d never worked for the UK government’

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Published2 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC In a nondescript white plastic bag, Ammar carried a clutch of papers that are among his most precious belongings right now.It would’ve attracted too much attention for us to visit his home, so on his motorcycle, he’d come to meet us at a secure location, scared during the journey that he might get searched at a Taliban checkpoint and they might find the papers.The documents included his contract as a teacher with the British Council for two years, and other evidence of his association with the UK, that he hopes will help get him and his family to safety. He fears for his life because of his work with the UK government.”We taught the culture of the United Kingdom and their values in Afghanistan. In addition to the English language, we also taught about equality, diversity and inclusion. According to their [Taliban] beliefs, it is out of Islam, it is unlawful. That’s why they think we are criminals and we have to be punished. That is why we feel threatened,” he said.He has previously been detained by the Taliban – and fears his work has put his family at risk too. “They took me to the police station asking about whether I’d worked for a foreign government. Luckily they didn’t find any evidence in my home or on my phone.”But I don’t think it’s the end. They are keeping an eye on me.”From Kabul and beyond, a year of Taliban ruleWho are the Taliban?Ammar is one of more than 100 teachers who worked with the British Council, in public-facing jobs, who have been left behind in Afghanistan. Many of them are women. Nooria was also part of an English-teaching programme.”It was challenging for us. They had extremist thoughts, and would often say what you are teaching is unacceptable to us. Everywhere we went, we were seen as representatives of the British government.”Some thought of us as spies for the UK.” That, she says, puts her and her family at risk in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Image source, Getty ImagesWhile the group announced a general amnesty for everyone who worked for the previous regime and its allies, there is mounting evidence of reprisal killings. The UN has documented 160 cases.Nooria has been in hiding since the Taliban seized power in August last year. “It’s really stressful. It’s worse than a prisoner’s life. We cannot walk about freely. We try to change our appearance when we go outside. It’s affected me mentally. Sometimes I feel like it’s the end of the world,” she said. She accuses the British Council of discriminating between its staff. “They relocated those who worked in the office, but left us behind. They didn’t even tell us about the Afghan Relocation Assistance Policy (ARAP) when it came out.”Nooria and the other teachers have now applied for relocation through another UK scheme called Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), but have so far only received reference numbers. The British Council says that when the ARAP scheme first opened, the UK government only considered applications from employees which included their office staff but not the teachers and other contractors. They also say they have been pushing for progress with the UK government. The UK Foreign Office has said that British Council contractors are eligible for relocation under the ACRS scheme, and that it’s trying to process applications quickly but there’s no answer on how long that could take.”It’s only if a contractor dies that I think they might take prompt action. And then they might feel that, yes, they are at risk. Now let’s do something. I think sooner or later, this is going to happen,” Ammar said.The path to safety is even more uncertain for those who worked with the UK government in some other roles. Former Afghan interpreters fear death after UK exitAfghanistan: What’s changed a year after Taliban returnJaffer worked as a senior adviser facilitating the implementation of UK government-backed development projects in Afghanistan. He was directly employed by British companies – some founded by the UK government, others given contracts by it. He also worked in similar roles for the US government, including at bases of the US military. Even prior to 2021, Jaffer had received threats from the Taliban, during a wave of killings carried out by the group that targeted prominent Afghan civil society members. He showed us one of the notes he received, which accused him of being a spy for foreign governments and threatened that he would be killed for his “betrayal of the Islamic faith”.Since August last year, Jaffer has moved location seven times. He showed us a summons letter sent to his family home earlier this year, from the Taliban’s interior ministry asking him to go to a police station for investigation. He’s received three such letters.”I’ve been in hospital because of stress and shock. I can’t sleep. The doctor has given me strong medicines but even those don’t help much. My wife is also suffering from depression. I don’t let my children go to school. I fear they might be recognised,” he said. Jaffer has been refused a special immigrant visa (SIV) from the US, because he’s unable to get a recommendation letter from his supervisor who died due to Covid-19. During the chaotic evacuation which followed the Taliban’s unexpectedly quick takeover of Afghanistan, Jaffer had been called to the airport by a UK official. Along with his young children and his wife, he sat in a bus outside the airport for six hours. “My son was feeling sick, but we couldn’t even open the windows of the bus, because people outside, desperate to get out would try to enter. The Taliban were firing in the air. My son saw that and he was so traumatised.”Image source, Getty ImagesIt was the same day the airport was attacked by suicide bombers who killed more than 180 people. The UK on-the-ground evacuation process was wrapped up, and Jaffer and his family didn’t get through. Since then, he’s only received a case number from the UK government in response to his application to the ARAP scheme. “I worked with them. I facilitated them. Our Afghans on the ground didn’t hate them [foreign nationals] because we convinced people to allow the projects to take place. We faced the threats, and now I’m left like this. I don’t have any place in the world where I can live with safety and dignity,” he said, his voice quivering as he spoke. “What will my children’s future be? My daughter can’t study. I had big dreams for her. Will my young sons become extremists? I keep asking why did I bring them into this world. If this is what their future is going to be maybe they shouldn’t be alive,” he said.We spoke to at least three other people who worked with the UK government, including a combat interpreter who went to the front line with British troops. They all spoke of a sense of betrayal by people they risked their lives for.Image source, Getty ImagesThe UK government evacuated 15,000 people in August last year, and 5,000 more people since then. But thousands more are waiting, living each day in fear, stuck in limbo, expectantly looking at their email inboxes for a thread of hope. “I used to be proud of working for the UK government,” Nooria said.”But I regret it now. I wish I’d never worked for them because they don’t value our life and our work, and have been cruel in leaving us behind.”Names in this piece have been changed to protect the identity of the contributors.More on this storyThe Taliban sniper now working behind a desk7 days agoThe Taliban’s broken promises1 day agoFrom Kabul and beyond, a year of Taliban rule18 hours agoFormer Afghan interpreters fear death after UK exit27 April 2021

First bivalent Covid-19 booster gets UK approval

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A dual-strain Covid vaccine, which targets Omicron and the original strain of Covid-19 has been approved.The bivalent medicine, made by Moderna, meets the requirements of the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “It means that those over 50 or those with particular health needs will have the comfort of knowing that their immunity has been topped up.”

ADHD clinic: ‘I’m 22 and I’ve just been diagnosed’

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A mother has set up an autism and ADHD clinic after her daughter didn’t meet the criteria on the NHS.Jane Lambert, who is a nurse, wanted to help other families by creating a team of specialists to diagnose and treat the conditions. It is currently private, but she would like it to be a public service.Lucy Bint is the first patient to be diagnosed in Jane’s clinic with ADHD. She is 22 and started to suspect she had the condition while studying her masters in psychology.Lucy was told she would have to wait two years to be diagnosed at her GP. She said: “I feel incredibly lucky that I had another way of getting help. I just feel relieved that there’s some level of understanding.”Video by Gem O’Reilly

UK to cut taxes on imports from developing countries

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Published4 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe UK is to cut import taxes on hundreds more products from some of the world’s poorest countries to boost trade links. The Developing Countries Trading Scheme comes into force in January and builds on a scheme the UK was first part of while a member of the European Union.Goods such as clothes, shoes and foods not widely produced in the UK will benefit from lower or zero tariffs. The scheme covers 65 developing countries. It is on top of the thousands of products which developing nations can already export to the UK without tariffs and will affect around 99% of goods imported from Africa.How many trade deals has the UK done?UK aid budget to help boost trade agendaThe Department for International Trade said the work was part of a wider push by the UK to use trade to “drive prosperity and help eradicate poverty”, as well as reduce dependency on aid. The scheme includes powers to suspend a country on the grounds of human rights or labour violations, as well as for not meeting their climate change obligations. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “As an independent trading nation, we are taking back control of our trade policy and making decisions that back UK businesses, help with the cost of living, and support the economies of developing countries around the world.”UK businesses can look forward to less red-tape and lower costs, incentivising firms to import goods from developing countries.”Many goods, from textiles to fruit, in 65 of the world’s poorest nations already benefit from reduced or zero tariffs when sold to the UK, making them more appealing. The new scheme cuts some of those charges further – for example, on cucumbers which can not be produced here during the winter. It also simplifies the rules for which items, such as some textiles, qualify for preferential treatment. The changes could save importers millions of pounds – although, even if passed on in full, the price savings for consumers may be marginal. Coming when aid to developing countries has been reduced, the scheme underlines a government policy of using trade instead. The scheme removes some seasonal tariffs on products like cucumbers, which cannot be grown in the UK in the winter, so they are tariff-free during this period for the majority of countries under the scheme. It also simplifies trade rules such as rules of origin, which dictate what proportion of a product must be made in its country of origin. Mohammed Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, a textile business from Bangladesh, said this was a “game changer” for his company. “[The changes] mean we will be able to source our cotton from many more countries than we could before, which will make the business more competitive and our supply chains a lot more resilient,” he said. More on this storyHow many trade deals has the UK done since Brexit?21 October 2021UK cuts funding to UN in change of aid strategy16 MayUK aid budget to help boost trade agenda22 July 2019

Child loss: Mother who lost husband and son welcomes support plan

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Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Rhian ManningsA mother, who lost her husband and one-year old son within five days of each other, has welcomed a plan to help bereaved families. Rhian Mannings has been campaigning for support for anyone affected by the sudden death of a child or young person under the age of 25 years. Bereaved families will now be called within 48 hours to offer support and guidance. Ms Mannings said the plan “is the legacy” of her husband and son.Her petition to the Welsh government was passed on Friday, which means a bereaved person will now receive a call within 48 hours of the death, a follow-up house call and continued bereavement counselling for the whole family. Ms Mannings, 45, set up her charity 2Wish, after the losing her young son George and husband Paul within five days of each other in 2012. Families bereaved by suicide ask for more helpBereavement charity founder’s MBE award ‘bitter sweet”Nobody asked how we were feeling after suicide’She said: “Back in 2012, my one year old son George died suddenly. My husband Paul and I had three children at the time, George was our youngest and we had a two and three year old as well. “George showed no signs of sickness whatsoever, fell ill and was rushed to hospital just down the road. But sadly within two hours of being admitted to the hospital, he died.”Image source, Rhian ManningsShe explained that the hospital staff really did look after her and her family them. However, said it became clear very quickly to her that bereavement support would not be available when they left the hospital.She said: “We didn’t get anyone phoning us or coming to visit us. We were given a list of phone numbers, some of which were actually out of date.”Just days later, Rhian suffered another tragic loss. Image source, Rhian Mannings”Then five days later after George died, my husband Paul walked out of the house and never came home again. “He took his own life, traumatised by what we’d been through five days prior, leaving myself with Hollie and Isaac to really just get on and live a life that at that point I didn’t think I could do.”Speaking of the support her family received, Rhian said: “I expected a phone call, I expected someone to come out and see us, but there was nothing in place. “I truly believe if there would have been something in place back then that Paul would have been here today.”Image source, Rhian ManningsFollowing Paul’s death just days after her son died, Rhian, from Miskin near Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf, spoke of of a similar lack of support. “We did have family liaison officers that were assigned to us, who again were really lovely individuals, but admitted at the time that they were not trained in bereavement support, that wasn’t their role.” she said. “The GP came out and again he was really emotional. He was very apologetic when he explained that it was at least a year wait for any type of support and he sat in front of us and made phone calls and never got anywhere.””It was just baffling. I had a two and three year old, I didn’t even know how to talk to them about death, and what had happened. I had nothing given to me, no information about how to talk to children about death.”Therefore, she had to “make up something” to tell her young children, who were just two and three at the time. She told them: “When you die you don’t need your body any more, but we all have a bundle of sparkle in our tummy. When you die, that bundle of sparkle gets thrown up into the sky and becomes a star.””You will see George forever and as long as you want to see him. I never realised just five days later that I’d be telling them the same thing about their Dad.”Image source, Rhian ManningsFrom her experiences, Rhian gathered the strength to make a change, and ensure the outlook would be better for families in a similar position. Initially, she shared her story, and started her charity 2wish. She said: “I realised this was a gap, and there was nothing like this available across the UK. I did it as a volunteer for about three years, and just used my savings to get it off the ground. “I then had a corner of a friends office which I worked out of, it took about four and a half years for it to become something where I thought this could make a difference.”Her first big breakthrough came from a pilot in Cardiff that when an under 18 dies sudden circumstances, they would be phoned within 48 hours of their death.Image source, Rhian ManningsThe pilot was such a success, that it was then run across Wales. Rhian received an MBE for her work, and said: “To see people putting one foot in front of the other and knowing they’re not alone is amazing, because grief can cause such feelings of loneliness and isolation.”She said her charity will support not just families, but anyone impacted by the death and has supported up to 30 people from one death in the past. She said: “This is now a formal pathway across Wales that has to be followed, if a child or young person dies suddenly in Wales.”We can’t stop the deaths happening, but what we can do is make sure that nobody feels alone like Paul and I did all those years ago.”Deputy Minister for Mental Health, Lynne Neagle, said: “Bereavement affects us all in different ways and I am committed to ensuring support and care is available to everyone across Wales.”She said working closely with the bereavement steering group, the Welsh government was making improvements to bereavement care “at pace”. “We want health boards to take these model pathways and working together with partner agencies adapt them to the needs of their local communities,” said Ms Neagle.”2Wish and other charities across Wales are providing vital services and working together we can support those through their grief.”More on this storyFamilies bereaved by suicide ask for more help30 September 2021Bereavement charity MBE award is ‘bitter sweet’28 December 2019The three dads united by their daughters’ suicides28 September 2021’Nobody asked how we were feeling after suicide’12 August 2021

Cost of living: Demand for free school uniforms rockets, says charity

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Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesDemand for free school uniforms has rocketed as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, a charity has revealed. A Better Fit said second-hand clothes they’re given are leaving their warehouse as soon as they arrive.Kathryn Wakeham, who set up the organisation in Cardiff four years ago, said the rise was “over tenfold”.The Welsh government said grants were available for those eligible for free uniforms.Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Rocio Cifuentes, said she wants the Welsh government to come up with a child poverty action plan.Ms Wakeham, whose organisation covers Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, said: “Most parents say they are able to source basics like the school trousers and polo shirts.Cost of living: Families choosing between food and children’s sportEnergy debt worse in Wales than rest of UKCost of living sees young people in Wales living back at home”But the cost of blazers and PE kits is astronomically high, and you need more than one.”And often there is a complete school uniform change when children move years, so you have to buy new, regardless of the size of the child.”It is really difficult for parents to keep up with the sheer amount of cost to kit a child out for school.” The Children’s Society, which has been campaigning for affordable school uniforms, estimates that the average uniform for secondary schools was £337, in 2020.Parents it surveyed believed a more reasonable cost would be a third of that.Rebecca Sharp needs a complete new uniform for her son.’Really adds up’He is leaving primary school for high school in September.”It is just so expensive to go out and buy everything brand new,” the nurse said.”If you buy all the branded jumpers, PE kit, football boots, socks and the tie and everything you need you are talking about hundreds.”The only thing you can buy from the supermarket is white shirt, black trousers, black shoes.”For everything else specialist shops are required. Ms Sharp said: “It really adds up, because you are not just buying one of everything.”Other parents are telling me they are facing the same problems. I have donated a lot of my children’s uniforms and I have now exchanged them for new.”The Welsh government said: “Learners who are currently eligible for free school meals can apply for a grant towards school uniform, school trips, and kit.”The grant this year is for £225 per learner, or £300 for those going into year seven to recognise the increased costs associated with starting secondary school.”For this year only, the grants are an extra £100.”Ms Wakeham said this was not enough.She said: “You could probably kit a child out for £150 in a primary school, but in high school it is so much more, and the money does not stretch far enough and it is means tested.”We’re seeing working parents finding things really difficult now, not just parents who aren’t on such a secure income.”Charity trustee and volunteer, Christine Nomee, said their work had ballooned into a huge operation.She said: “Some items are more difficult to get hold of, especially the more expensive items of clothing such as school blazers with the badge on them. “Many school blazers aren’t generic, they often have a trim and a badge on the pocket, so you can’t just go out and buy a generic blazer and put a school badge on.”Ms Nomee called for more flexibility from schools.BBCFamilies will be drowning in costs even with this helpRocio CifuentesChildren’s Commissioner for Wales”As long as people have the right colour for the uniforms, you can then put a badge on it,” she said.Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Rocio Cifuentes, said there were 190,000 children living in poverty and the cost of living crisis was “biting hard.”Uniforms, she feared, presented another bill for already stretched families.She encouraged the Welsh government to make grants as accessible as possible. She said: “Families will be drowning in costs even with this help.”That’s why I want the Welsh government to publish a clear outcome-focused child poverty action plan, showing how they will target help at children and families to help them during the worst cost of living crisis in living memory.”She insisted it was “vital” school governors to follow statutory guidance on keeping down uniform costs.More on this storyAre school uniforms too expensive?26 MarchParents to get £100 to pay for school PE kits14 March’It amazes me how much I spend on uniforms’19 November 2021

What can we expect from Scottish Tory hustings?

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Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersThe Conservative leadership contest is heading to Scotland, with Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to take part in a hustings event in Perth. What are the big issues of the day likely to be, and which candidate is the more popular with Tory members?It may seem like the Conservative leadership contest has been going on for about five years, but somehow there are still three weeks to go until one of the two contenders enters Downing Street.That means there may still be time for them to win over some crucial votes – good news for Rishi Sunak, with Liz Truss seen as the clear frontrunner.Scotland has not been a huge focus of the campaign so far. That might be because the contest thrives on where the candidates differ, and they are in broad agreement about affairs north of the border.Both are critical of the SNP and the Scottish government; both would refuse to back an independence referendum; and both want to do more to push their policies UK-wide.Tory hopefuls to target Scottish votes at hustingsThat last point is controversial with Scottish ministers at Holyrood, who will fiercely resist any move which could cut across devolved areas.But it’s red meat to Tory members who want to see UK ministers “stand up to the SNP”. And this is a campaign aimed squarely at those Conservative card-holders.Take for example Ms Truss’s earlier comments about Nicola Sturgeon being an “attention seeker” who was best ignored.She was criticised by opponents and indeed some Scottish Tories, who saw the comments as making the job of winning over Scots more difficult.But they were cheered to the rafters by the Tory members in the room. The same happened again at a television debate where Ms Truss declined to apologise.This is a leadership process which places a considerable incentive on tough talk.This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.So given that the two candidates agree on the key Scottish issues, they will want to be as compelling as possible in those positions if they are to elicit such cheers.If they are both against a referendum, they’re only going to stand out in this race by stating that ever more strongly. It becomes a case of “who hates indyref2 the most”.That’s particularly the case given that the preview lines released by the two campaigns are procedural in the extreme.Mr Sunak wants the Scottish government’s top civil servant to face a Westminster committee once a year; Ms Truss wants to extend full parliamentary privilege to MSPs so that backbenchers can ask tougher questions of government.Those might be interesting innovations in a very particular niche of constitutional politics, but they are not going to set the pulses racing among party members.The traditional battleground of tax is also blunted somewhat by the fact that some major fiscal powers are devolved to Holyrood. That makes it a more complicated pitch for the candidates, and makes it more likely they will lean on tried and tested constitutional lines.Image source, EPATalking of party members, who are they going to support?Scottish Tory MPs and MSPs took a while to come off the fence in this contest. They have been burned in the past, having overwhelmingly backed Jeremy Hunt over Boris Johnson.Many of them backed other candidates, such as Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch. Others were simply honestly undecided.It was particularly difficult to find backers of Ms Truss in the early days of the contest. But as she has grown into the race and become the favourite among pollsters and bookmakers, she has also outstripped Mr Sunak in terms of support among MSPs.From the MP group she now also has the backing of former Scottish Secretary David Mundell. It can be interesting to monitor the positions of MPs in terms of who might be hoping for a job in the next administration – particularly that very job of Scottish Secretary.All of that said, there are still some Scottish Tories who continue to say they want to hear more specific discussion of local policies before they make up their minds.They may also want to look the candidates in the eye in Perth and really test their attitude and tone when it comes to the issues where they have a settled position. How serious are they, really, when it comes to the union, and to holding their own against the Scottish government?And which of them will be a better sell to the broader mass of voters north of the border when it comes to a future election? Which of them can beat Labour and the SNP?Because after the three remaining weeks of this contest drag by, the winner is going to need to turn their attention to the country as a whole. This campaign is only the beginning.More on this storyTory hopefuls to target Scottish votes at hustings1 hour ago

Tory hopefuls to target Scottish votes at Perth hustings

BBC News

Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ITV/PALeadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are to pitch for the votes of Scottish Conservative members at a hustings in Perth.The contenders to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister are taking part in a series of events around the UK.Both have stated their opposition to a referendum on Scottish independence and want their policies to apply UK-wide.And each has policies to challenge the Scottish government, calling for greater scrutiny of the SNP’s record.The SNP said neither candidate was offering a solution to the cost of living crisis, and that both would boost support for independence.The event in Perth will give local Tory members the chance to question the candidates on Scottish issues as well as other topics such as the cost of living.What can we expect from Scottish Tory hustings?Where do the final Tory candidates stand on indyref2?Truss asked me how to get in to Vogue – SturgeonSunak says ignoring SNP would be dangerousBoth have stated their opposition to an independence referendum, despite the Scottish government’s plans to hold a vote in October 2023.And they have set out a series of policies aimed at strengthening the union and increasing the visibility of the UK government north of the border.Mr Sunak has set out proposals to reform a team of advisers within Downing Street known as the “Union unit”.The former chancellor said his future reforms would ensure “every single” government department operated UK-wide, despite key policy areas such as education and health having been in the control of Holyrood since devolution in 1999.He has also called for Scotland’s top civil servant to testify before a Westminster committee on an annual basis, while requiring the Scottish government to publish consistent data on the delivery of key services so these can be compared UK-wide.He said: “The future of the United Kingdom is bright but our union must work together, each nation shoulder to shoulder, to get there. “We must defeat the collective challenges threatening the health of our public services. Under my plans, the UK government will play its part, but the same must be reciprocated by Holyrood.”Image source, ReutersMs Truss meanwhile has stressed that she would retain the “minister for the union” title Boris Johnson took on as prime minister.She said she would make changes to the Scotland Act to give MSPs the same full parliamentary privilege as MPs at Westminster.MPs have legal immunity from prosecution over statements made in the Commons, while MSPs have a narrower set of protections against defamation claims and some court actions.Ms Truss said giving MSPs the same status as MPs “would allow for more robust questioning for ministers” and would “increase the powers of the Scottish parliament to hold the Scottish government to account”.She said: “For too long, people in Scotland have been let down by the SNP focusing on constitutional division instead of their priorities. That won’t happen under my watch. I’ll make sure that my government does everything to ensure elected representatives hold the devolved administration to account for its failure to deliver the quality public services, particularly health and education, that Scottish people deserve.”Ms Truss was criticised following an earlier hustings when she described Ms Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” who was best ignored.The first minister hit back by claiming that the foreign secretary had once asked her for advice on how to be featured in the fashion magazine Vogue.Image source, PA MediaBoth candidates have won the backing of a number of Scottish Conservative MPs and MSPs.However the party’s Scottish leader Douglas Ross has said he will not be publicly backing either, saying he will “work with whoever emerges victorious”.The SNP said both candidates should “apologise for the Tory failings that have pushed so many families to the brink”.The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “During the cost of living crisis, many neighbouring countries have capped energy price increases, cut VAT on bills and offered meaningful financial support to the most vulnerable, the UK Tory government has sat on its hands – and both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have said nothing.”Whoever wins this leadership contest, Scotland loses. That’s why we need the full powers of independence to banish Westminster governments Scotland doesn’t vote for and to deliver for the people who live here.”It may seem like the Conservative leadership contest has been going on for about five years, but somehow there are still three weeks to go until one of the two contenders enters Downing Street.That means there may still be time for them to win over some crucial votes.Scotland has not been a huge focus of the campaign so far – possibly because the contest thrives on where the candidates differ, and they are in broad agreement about affairs north of the border.Both are critical of the SNP and the Scottish government; both would refuse to back an independence referendum; and both want to do more to push their policies UK-wide.But some Scottish Tories have said they are still waiting to hear more specific discussion before they make up their minds.They may also want to look the candidates in the eye and really test their attitude and tone when it comes to those issues where they have a settled position. How serious are they, really, when it comes to the union, and holding their own against the Scottish government?To be frank, which of them will be a better prospect with voters north of the border when it comes to a future election?Read more from Phil here

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