Monday, October 10, 2011
Parent of a child with ADHD? Have a free car under crazy £1.5bn British government scheme
Iain Duncan Smith has ordered a crackdown on thousands of families with youngsters diagnosed with ‘naughty child syndrome’ who get new cars paid for by the state. The Work and Pensions Secretary has been shocked to learn that the families of more than 3,000 people suffering Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are believed to have been given vehicles under the £1.5 billion-a-year Motability scheme.
Mr Duncan Smith is determined to stop what he regards as abuse of free cars for the disabled as part of his campaign to curb the UK’s annual £192billion benefits bill. The number of people with cars paid for by the Government-funded Motability scheme has soared to 575,000 – up by 200,000 in just over ten years.
The number of claimants receiving disability benefit for ADHD – or hyperkinetic disorder, as it is categorised by welfare officials – has rocketed from 800 a decade ago to 43,100 last year. An additional 55,900 claimants are given handouts for ‘behavioural disorders’, taking the total for ADHD-related conditions to 99,000. It has led to claims that a lack of proper checks has led to widespread abuse.
Mr Duncan Smith was enraged to be told initially by his department that there were no precise numbers on how many people with the condition received free cars. However, after persistent enquiries by The Mail on Sunday, officials finally revealed that 3,200 such claimants qualified.
Motability was launched in 1978 with a handful of specially modified cars, such as motorised blue three-wheel trikes and Mini Clubman Estates with a ramp at the back for a wheelchair.
But now it is the biggest fleet-management outfit in the UK. Mike Betts, its chief executive, earns £1.17 million a year. Its website openly advises claimants how to use the benefit to get luxury cars such as a £30,000 Audi A6, a £35,000 BMW X3 or a £37,000 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Some doctors believe the big rise in the number of children said to have ADHD is a direct result of their parents’ right to claim disability benefit of up to £10,000 a year.
While critics believe ADHD is just a label to describe restless or naughty children, psychologists insist it is a real condition which applies when a child is persistently restless, to the point where it has a detrimental effect on their development. Some adults are also affected.
The Government says that about a third of a million children aged between six and 16 suffer with the disorder.
ADHD was almost unheard of 20 years ago, but the number of prescriptions for Ritalin – the controversial drug which suppresses symptoms – has rocketed from 2,000 in 1991 to close to 350,000.
Motability claims are processed by the Work and Pensions Department as part of the £12 billion-a-year Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Successful claimants are handed over to Motability, which supplies the cars.
In more than seven out of ten cases people who get DLA receive it for life, with no more questions asked.
The den busters: Children in tears after park officials pull down their camps... because they might harm insects
Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out
Children have been left distraught after seeing their makeshift dens torn down by park officials – because the camps harm insects.
The destruction took place in historic Richmond Park in South-West London, where it has long been a tradition for children to build hide-outs using fallen tree branches in an area called Spankers Hill Wood.
But last week the wigwam-style dens were pulled down after being deemed unsafe by officials, who also claimed they threatened the habitat of rare beetles.
One mother described how her seven-year-old son was left in tears as park employees moved in without warning. 'We were at an ice-cream kiosk when six men jumped out of a van wearing high-visibility jackets,' said the woman, from nearby Kingston-upon-Thames.
'They were all over the den like ants, pulling it down. They also destroyed others nearby. My son and his friend were shouting, trying to get them to stop, but they carried on and then drove off.
'The boys were upset. It was ridiculous – building dens is one of the great innocent pleasures of childhood. They were only using dead wood and branches that were lying on the ground. The den was only small and not in the least bit dangerous.'
The mother added: 'The man at the kiosk said workers came round on a regular basis to take the camps down. He said he'd heard it was for safety reasons.
'We're forever being told about the dangers of children spending too much time in front of computers and televisions, yet this is what happens when they play outside. It's such a shame because Richmond Park is a wonderful place for them.'
The workers took down the dens opposite a mobile snack bar, where several benches and tables allow parents to relax as they watch
their children play safely on the edge of a wood.
Richmond Park has strict rules banning barbecues and prohibiting cyclists from some areas.
One park worker said: 'You can't stop children falling out of trees and pulling branches off. It's not that big a deal. Perhaps they should concentrate on the cyclists who regularly break the speed limit.'
Psychologists and education experts say it is essential for children to be allowed the freedom to explore and create their own adventures in the open air, particularly when many spend hours cooped up at home watching television or playing electronic games.
Play England, run by the National Children's Bureau charity, was recently awarded £500,000 of National Lottery funding for a project to encourage children to become more aware of the natural world.
Research has shown that less than 25 per cent of children regularly play outside, compared with more than 50 per cent of their parents when they were young.
Play England's Mick Conway said: 'It is a myth that children prefer indoor-based play activities. Playing in a park or riding a bike are far more popular with children than computer games.'
Richmond Park, one of London's Royal Parks, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its wildlife, including rare species such as the cardinal click beetle and the stag beetle. Deer also roam its 2,500 acres.
A Royal Parks spokesman said: 'We recognise the benefits of natural play activities, but for the safety of visitors we have to dismantle dens if there is a risk they could collapse.
'Visitors should not disturb dead wood on the ground as this is home to invertebrates, which are important to the park's biodiversity.'
Women are hardest on other women
The "sisterhood" is a myth
DIPPING my toes into the forum of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas with a panel devoted to the topic All Women are Sluts, I decided it would be an appropriate venue to take a young date. Thus armed, we sat in the Playhouse at the Opera House, in front of the great orator and storyteller Mike Daisey and his director wife, and waited for fierce debate to break out.
The panel was all women, including the moderator - an embarrassing bias to begin with.
The Melbourne convener of Slutwalk, Clem Bastow, spoke eloquently for women to dress sexily, briefly, scantily and not to get raped. Samah Hadid, a young Muslim girl in a green hijab and multi-layered, comfortable pants and top, smiled widely with bright red lipstick and make-up and promoted the right of Muslim women to dress up and not be dressed down. Catharine Lumby stirred the middle-aged feminist critique, under attack for attacking the aggression of young feminists.
In many arenas women are under attack from other women. The great debate in feminism is between women themselves, about their roles, robes and attitudes. In my own world, I would pick a jury of women over men in a rape case because women are harder on women. Women judges, in my humble observation, are more critical of other women appearing as advocates before them. Women gossip more cattily and crushingly about other women.
In a world where economic currency is falling, the most favourable currency is sex. In the cardboard kingdom of Richard Pratt, sexy women fight for a piece of cardboard to call their own. In my own building, bylaws were stuck to the mirrors in the lift, foreshadowing the board's intention to ban brothels in the building. I suspected they were there when I used my iPad or iPhone. The screen displayed in the scan for a wireless connection the names of nearby networks. Imagine my shock when the names of two were WHORES and C---S. I finally put two and two together, confirming Madison Ashton as the madam in residence, but only briefly given the bylaws were passed and eviction followed. Dick Pratt was a pants man even when his own masculine scaffolding must have been failing under the pernicious disease that is prostate cancer.
Since Adam pinged Eve the world has always been a sex world but now it is getting the publicity and media to match its partner in crime, money. Sex and money go hand in gland. Rich men get more sex than the poor. Charisma and character get men somewhere but currency takes you further. Fathers plead with their daughters to marry rich, not for love. Fortune trumps fame every time.
Perugia in Italy is a peaceful place for a murder trial. I miss Vanity Fair's Dominick Dunne's description of the countryside and details of the death of Meredith Kercher. The murder was an exquisite interaction of sexual frenzy, bisexual behaviour and bloody handprints on the pillow.
Amanda Knox, known as Foxy Knoxy, and the victim were perfectly cast for Dunne's classic penmanship. He had written about money and sex for 50 years, having had some experience in both.
The prosecution initially argued ''cult sacrifice'' before settling on ''sex game gone wrong''. There were many problems with the prosecutor's DNA evidence. There was no DNA from Knox in the murder room. Nevertheless she was convicted and sentenced to 26 years. The judges reasoned that the actual perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was assisted by Knox and her boyfriend in subduing Kercher after she resisted Guede's sexual advances. They said Knox smoked hash and read sexually explicit comics, provoking her behaviour. She was acquitted and released last week. She can look forward, if she can cope, to her own show, Knox on Fox, millions in advances for her story, Playboy centrefold requests and perhaps resumption of her studies.
It will be hard to lead a normal life after being described as a drug-taking, sex-crazed she-devil. In proceedings by a Congolese bar owner against her false accusation, she was called, ''an explosive mix of drugs, sex and alcohol'', ''Lucifer-like, demonic, satanic, diabolical''. The prosecutor told this jury to ignore her ''doll-like appearance'' and said she was a ''spell-casting witch, a virtuoso of deceit''. The world is indeed sexist. Knox's co-accused boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, barely gets a mention in coverage of the trial, in the same way Michael Chamberlain was just a bloke in long socks who was married to the alleged baby murderer Lindy Chamberlain.
Before Knox on Fox starts, the Murdoch network needs to eat a lot of humble pie because correspondents Ann Coulter and Jeanine Pirro said Knox had been convicted and punished fairly. As I said, women are harder on other women than men would dare to be.
Traditional Australian families a dying breed
THE number of traditional family households is set to shrink to less than a quarter by 2026, with childless homes to become the new norm.
AustraliaSCAN projections, provided exclusively to the Herald Sun, show the number of households with nuclear families is forecast to plunge from 33 per cent in 2006 to just 22 per cent in the next 15 years.
For the first time, single households and couples with no children at home are expected to eclipse the classic households of mum, dad and children living with them.
Single-person homes are predicted to rise from 24 per cent to 31 per cent, making up the biggest demographic of households in the country, the household composition data shows.
Experts say the ageing population, people living longer, stresses on families, financial pressures, rising divorce rates and fewer marriages are shaping changes to the family structure.
The traditional notion of the family has also been reinvented in modern times to include step families, de facto couples, single parents, gay parents, international adoption and surrogacy.
Imogen Randell, managing director of Quantum Market Research which runs AustraliaSCAN, said the classic Aussie family was a shrinking group of households. "If the trend continues as it has done for the past 30 years it could be that by 2026 they are in the minority," she said. "We are living longer and, as we age, it's more likely that we will end up living alone, either divorced or widowed.
"Our population is ageing, fewer people are getting married and the fertility rate is currently below replacement levels (at about two babies per woman)." The couples with no children category includes empty nesters.
An AustraliaSCAN survey of 2000 people has found more than 80 per cent believe having a good marriage and happy children are signs of accomplishment in life.
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett recently stirred debate by saying happy heterosexual marriages are the best environment for children's mental health.
His comments came after the release of a report by a Sydney family law professor, commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby saying two married parents tend to provide better outcomes for children than one.
Melbourne family psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack said the vital thing for a child was to be loved, no matter what the family model.
She was shocked by the AustraliaSCAN predictions, even taking into account the ageing population. "People are putting off children later," she said. "And I'm seeing a growing trend where people are less willing to work on a relationship and will just leave if it gets too hard."
Households shrank from 4.5 children in 1911 to 2.6 in 2006, Australian Institute of Family Studies figures show.
AIFS director Professor Alan Hayes pointed to contraception and better educated career women delaying childbirth as influences on family size.
"I do not see this as the demise of the family. They are coming in smaller sizes and a wider range of shapes," he said. "The question in terms of public policy is what supports do we need to help families function well."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.