Sunday, April 29, 2007

Recent Bonfires 63

In the news this week:

£77m nanny food flop- "The free fruit and vegetables policy for schoolchildren is under review after an independent report found that the initiative had failed to improve pupils' diets. A study to evaluate the £77 million School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS), launched three years ago, discovered that it had "no lasting impact" on what children were eating and that when youngsters received free fruit and vegetables at school they were less likely to consume them at home. Just 27 per cent of pupils achieved the Government's target of five portions a day while only a third of children were even aware of the five-a-day recommendation. Critics described the project as "hopeless" and "badly run" and accused the Government of failing to implement the necessary educational backing to make the programme work. Professor Fergus Lowe, the director of the Food and Activity Research Unit at the University of Bangor and a Government adviser on food policy, said: "The scheme is hopeless and every bit of the research shows this." (Sunday Telegraph 29.4.07)

MP spent £50,000 in postal frenzy- "A leaked email written by a senior Parliamentary official shows that the bill for postage and stationery soared to a record high last year – and doubled last month as MPs rushed to beat a ban on unlimited claims... MPs were caught stuffing handfuls of pre-paid envelopes and stationery into their pockets, with large quantities disappearing two days before the curbs took effect. Many even used pre-paid envelopes – worth up to £1 each – to jot down notes and shopping lists, before throwing them in the bin. Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, an aide to Home Secretary John Reid, spent nearly £50,000 on free postage and stationery last year alone. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne is in second place with £40,000... A Parliamentary insider said: ‘The abuse of this allowance is quite shocking. When they realised that these allowances were to be controlled, MPs literally went round filling their boots while they could. Stationery expenditure for the month was up nearly 100 per cent at over £126K, with postage at £370K against a normal monthly total of around £200K." (total annual cost £2.4m = 12 x £200,000; Mail on Sunday 28.4.07)

£1bn EU landfill fines- "When, in 1999, the EU decided to phase out the landfilling of waste with its Landfill Directive, this was always going to hit the UK much harder than anyone else, because we have traditionally put much more of our rubbish into holes in the ground than other countries. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with that, since it has been used to reclaim large areas of land that might otherwise serve no useful purpose... [but] under the directive, each country was set targets for reducing landfill, with hefty fines by the EU for anyone failing to meet them. By 2010 these will be £150 for every ton of waste by which a local council exceeds its target... the National Audit Office estimates that by 2013 we shall be paying £205 million a year in fines to Brussels. Within ten years those fines (again payable by council taxpayers) will have amounted to well over £1 billion in addition to the billions of pounds we shall be paying in landfill tax." (S Telegraph 29.4.07)

Total for week- £1,079,400,000

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