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CutStop news archive

Unions have launched a petition opposing the government's plans to speed up the increase in the state pension age, which go back on their promises in the coalition agreement. The changes will mean that 4.9 million people will have to wait longer to get their pension - with 500,000 women aged 56-57 having to work more than an extra year, and 33,000 working for exactly two years longer.Campaigning group Unions Together is working with Age UK to oppose these moves. The petition carries a message from Barbara Bates, a 56-year-old woman who will now have to wait 2 extra years to retire at age 66. She says: "This broken promise is unfair, unnecessary and unacceptable.”People affected will have very little time to prepare for losing over £10,000 of the state pension income that they have worked hard for. “I feel robbed of 2 years of freedom, and more than £10,000 that I would have received as my state pension. The basic state pension will be my only retirement income, and I have no extra means of coping financially. I will have no option but to try and carry on working.”Please sign the petition and encourage others to do so.

The government's programme of cuts is at a ‘tipping point', Prospect's president told a meeting in Scotland on 4 February. Nigel Titchen was speaking to Prospect reps from all over Scotland who had gathered in Edinburgh to assess the impact of the recent cuts in the Scottish budget and to build a coherent anti-cuts strategy for branches to follow. Titchen said that after the Tory-LibDem coalition took office in May 2010 there was a broad majority for its policy of cutting waste, eliminating unnecessary quangos, giving voluntary groups control over services and protecting the front line.But by January 2011 a majority of 53% in favour of its programme had turned into a majority of 51% who said the government was cutting too deep and too fast. Only 37% of people now thought the cuts were necessary.That fall in support was before the GDP figures for the UK showed that growth had gone into reverse in the last quarter of 2010. All the evidence was that "these ideologically driven cuts are destroying the recovery rather than helping it," said Titchen.Current economic policy threatened to plunge the country back into recession and destroy the public sector, the president warned. He urged the government to adopt a strategy for growth and job creation by stimulating demand and forcing the financial sector to compensate the nation for its role in the recession."We must oppose these cuts for the sake of our members and the country. To borrow a phrase from the green movement, we must ‘think nationally and act locally,'” said Titchen.

Three eminent scientists who head the editorial board of Investigative Genetics, the international online journal of molecular genetics, have condemned the government's decision to close the UK Forensic Science Service. In an editorial in the latest issue they highlight the international contribution FSS has made to the advancement of forensic science.They say: "It is a tragic state of affairs indeed that the UK government is willing to dismiss its own forensic treasure with negative consequences well beyond the borders of the United Kingdom." Attributing FSS’s current difficulties to the previous government's flawed attempt to invoke a business model for all UK forensic science, the authors warn a cost-benefit business model may hamper the government's ability to "protect and secure members of its society."They point out that, if taken to extremes, in many cases the cost of investigation, arrest and conviction exceeds that of the original crime. Therefore, on purely cost-effective grounds alone, it would make more sense for the government to reimburse the victims than pursue the criminal. Read: The demise of the United Kingdom's Forensic Science Service: loss of world-leading engine of innovation and development in the forensic sciencesSee the campaign area of CutStop for more Prospect's campaign against the closure of the FSSPlease sign the petition against closure if you have not already done so.

Forestry Commission specialists reject the Prime Minister's claim that organisations like the Woodland Trust and the National Trust "could do a better job than the Forestry Commission".In a Prospect news release, FC branch president Lorraine Adams said: "Our members are disgusted at David Cameron's total disregard for the specialist skills of staff working for the Forestry Commission."They pointed out that in 2001, the Forestry Commission was recognised as a world leader in sustainable forest management, receiving a ‘Gift to the Earth' from WWF International for its work on forest certification. This was the first time a state forest anywhere in the world achieved 100% certification to Forest Stewardship Council standards.

Prospect today (Wed 2 Feb) condemned the Forestry Commission's announcement of 500 job losses as a major blow to vital environmental research and management in England, Scotland and Wales."The whole country is mobilising against the government's unpopular plan to sell off England's public forest estate to private owners," said Prospect negotiator Malcolm Currie. The job cuts were announced on the day MPs were debating an opposition motion seeking to halt the sell-off of forests and woodlands.Prospect issued a news release in which Currie warned: "This week it has become clear that the commission faces great damage even before any moves to sell off England's forests are implemented."Today it announced the loss of at least 150 jobs at the GB headquarters in Edinburgh, and 350 in England, just to achieve a 25% cut required by the Comprehensive Spending Review. There will also be a knock-on effect in Wales."After hearing more details about restructuring plans in England it was clear these job cuts are "the tip of the iceberg", he said. Many of Prospect's 270 FC members carry out vital environmental research to guard against and combat tree diseases and monitor climate change. They depend on the librarians, photographers, and other specialists who work for the Commission, and whose jobs are also in danger.