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FOI Disclosure Stories February 2011

Exclusive: 50,000 job losses uncovered by False Economy – False Economy 23/02/11
False Economy can reveal that more than 50,000 NHS staff posts are set for the axe, destroying government claims that the NHS is in safe hands. Our figures have been collated for the most part from the NHS trusts themselves under the Freedom of Information Act.

Radical new gateways reject one in eight GP referrals – Pulse 23/2/11
GP practices are seeing as many as one in eight of their referrals diverted or rejected, under radical new ‘total referral management’ schemes, a Pulse investigation reveals.

Pickles Under Fire From Tory-Led Councils – Sky News 22/02/11
Conservative-led councils have warned Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that “unfair” spending cuts will have “potentially devastating” consequences. The correspondence, released to Sky News under the Freedom of Information Act, lays bare the depth of frustration felt by local authorities.

Rise in teen pregnancy feared as roles are axed – Children & Young People Now 22/02/11
Teenage pregnancy co-ordinators across the country face job losses after many councils revealed they cannot afford to fund the role. Freedom of information requests sent to all local authorities in England have revealed that 50 out of the 86 councils that currently employ teenage pregnancy co-ordinators cannot commit to funding the posts for 2011/2012.

Lives put at risk as hospitals fail to fix safety problems
– The Telegraph 21/02/11
Half of the 406 NHS trusts in England are failing to comply with safety alerts, which cover everything from equipment failure to warnings on correct dosage, according to the charity Action against Medical Accidents.

Councils ‘missed’ £530m in taxes – BBC 18/02/11
Cash-strapped local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales failed to collect £530m in council tax in 2009-2010, a BBC investigation found. The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

Taxpayers paid £50m a year for non-existent operations
– The Telegraph 15/02/11
Under controversial minimum payment contracts, 25 independent sector treatment centres across England were paid a set amount, regardless of how many operations they actually carried out.

The Mystery of England’s 12,000 Vanishing Pupils – TES 11/02/11
Almost 12,000 children are officially “missing” from education, a TES investigation has revealed, with many at “serious risk” of physical, sexual and mental harm.

Racism on the Rise in Scotland – STV 11/02/11
Statistics revealed in a freedom of information request to Scotland’s eight police forces showed that 6,171 incidents of racism were recorded in 2009/10 – a 20% increase in racist incidents over the past 12 months.

Danish pastries all round, advises handbook for first-time ministers – The Independent 06/02/11
Some of the most powerful politicians in the UK have been presented with an “idiots’ guide” on how to run the country. The manual is one of 23 ministerial training documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

Over half of all VAT decisions issued by HMRC found incorrect on appeal – UHY Hacker Young Chartered Accountants 24/01/11
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that over the last 18 months HMRC completed 28,912 reviews of technical decisions and VAT penalties imposed on businesses, of which 16,270 were subsequently ruled incorrect.

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