Politics latest: Home secretary criticised by NSPCC for language on grooming gangs - as government told 'vast majority' of offenders are white (2023)

Key points
  • PM: 'Not right' reports of child sex abuse were ignored 'due to political correctness'
  • NSPCC criticise Braverman comments on race and child sex abuse - as Home Office-commissioned research suggests most offenders are white
  • Teachers reject government pay offer - and confirm new strike dates
  • Education secretary claims teachers will get 'less money' after NEU decision
  • Tamara Cohen:Does 'Stevenage Woman' hold the keys to Downing Street?
  • Local elections 2023: Everything you need to know about the 4 May vote
  • Listen:Life after Labour for Jeremy Corbyn
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker


I'm a teacher - here's why I voted to reject the government's pay offer

By Anjum Peerbacos, NEU member

As a teacher of both GCSE and A Level class, the first thing that came to mind when the further action was proposed was how many lessons my Year 13 and Year 11 classes would have left prior to their A level and GCSE exams starting.

The last thing I want to do is reduce the amount of teaching time between now and their exams. But I genuinely feel that I have no choice but to reject the offer that has been made. Not just for me and my career, but for the profession as a whole.

I recall being in a meeting of school leaders not that long ago and having a discussion about how we were going to afford paper and glue. Can you believe it? We are in the sixth-richest country in the world and having to think about how to afford paper - in a school. Schools' budgets have been systematically eroded and depleted over the last 13 years. When I started my career, it felt like education was a huge priority, however now it is about making ends meet.

I know that it may seem greedy or unreasonable to continue the strike action, however I am completely aware of how decimated school budgets have become.

I am not sure if the general public is aware that the energy crisis has also hit schools. At the beginning of the school year, our headteacher told us that we had been hit with a 377% increase in energy costs.

During COVID, I think that many people and especially parents realised how challenging the teaching profession can be, however now that the profession has asked for a salary and working conditions to reflect the challenges, those pleas are falling on deaf ears.

I know some teachers that are taking second jobs to supplement their incomes and with inflation in the UK expected to be 10.2% by the end of this quarter, how are teachers meant to survive on the pay offer that has been put on the table?

In Scotland, teachers will receive a further 2% increase in pay from January next year. They will have a 14.6% increase in pay for most teachers by January 2024.

Are teachers in England not worthy of the same?


Downing Street calls for Wayne Couzens to be stripped of police pension

The killer of Sarah Everard, who abducted and raped her in March 2021 while he was a serving Metropolitan Police officer, is currently serving a whole life sentence in prison.

He has already had his Met pension taken away, but it is though he could still get a payout from his time at theCivil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC).

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote to Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps asking for the benefit to be taken away, with the CNC itself backing the calls but stressing that the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority – that falls under Mr Shapps's government department – is the pensions administrator and responsible for making the decision.

The PM's official spokesman said on Monday: "We fully support the recommendation of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary that he be stripped of his pension so he doesn't benefit from his years of serving.

"I think Grant Shapps, who is the relevant minister, is seeking an urgent update from the pensions administrator."

Couzens served in the CNC from 2011 to 2018, and it is thought could be in line for payments of around £7,000 per year.

Following his conviction for Miss Everard's murder, the CNC recommended thatCouzens' pension should also be forfeited.


Busy March sees Sunak rise in popularity with Tory members

The ConservativeHome website has released its latest ranking table of cabinet ministers.

This is not the popularity of Conservatives with the public, but with paid-up members of the party.

Rishi Sunak has shot from being the sixth-least popular, to the sixth-most popular - a jumped from a rating of 7.4 to 43.7.

Suella Braverman has also continued to rise through the ranks, although at a slightly slower rate.

In November, she too was sixth from the bottom in terms of popularity - with a score of 20.4.

Now she is fourth from the top at 47.8.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is still the runaway favourite with a net satisfaction of 85.1.

He is followed by Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch on 63.5, and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on 63.

At the other end of the scale, environment secretary and Liz Truss ally Therese Coffey is the least popular, with a net rating of -2.3.

International development minister Andrew Mitchell is the only other cabinet member with a negative rating - sitting at -2.

After a budget which saw taxes stay high and very few rabbits out of the hat, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is third from bottom on 1.7.

And interestingly, immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who works under Ms Braverman, is nowhere near as popular as his boss - languishing on just 11.2.


It's a slow day in Westminster - here's why

You may have noticed it's a little bit quiet today, and not much is on the diary for the rest of the week.

That's because MPs are on their Easter recess.

This began last Friday, and will continue until 17 April.

While it broadly lines up with the school holidays, it does not necessarily mean MPs are away on a beach.

Many will be spending time in their constituencies getting through casework and handling local matters.

It means we won't be having anything going on in the Houses of Parliament, like PMQs, committees, debates, or votes.

But campaigning will also be ramping up for the local elections.

On 4 May, thousands of council seats are up for grabs in what is the last big electoral challenge for the main parties ahead of the general election slated for next year.

Join Sky News then for all the results as they happen.


Jeremy Corbyn: Life after Labour

Last week, Labour's governing body voted to block Jeremy Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election.

Mr Corbyn is already suspended as a Labour MP and sits as an independent following a row over antisemitism.

In a statement, he said the decision to block him showed "contempt" for the voters who had supported the party at the 2017 and 2019 elections while he was party leader.

On the Sky News Daily, politics correspondent Liz Bates speaks to Jon Lansman, the co-founder of Momentum who ran Mr Corbyn's successful leadership campaign in 2015, and to Luke Akehurst, a member of the National Executive Committee which voted Mr Corbyn out.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts


Downing Street denies grooming gang plans are 'dog-whistle politics'

The prime minister's spokesman was asked today if the government's plans to tackle child sexual abuse - including a pledge to collect "ethnicity data of suspects" amount to "dog-whistle politics".

They said the pledges do not amount to hard-right talking politics.

"No, I think the prime minister thinks it's right to be clear-eyed and to take an evidence-based approach and to not allow fear of political correctness to hold back taking action in this area."

Asked whether ministers should be careful with their rhetoric on the issue, the official said: "Certainly it's always right to use correct tone when talking about sensitive topics.

"Equally, the prime minister has been very clear that we must not shy away from calling out any type of harm to children wherever and whenever it occurs."


PM 'extremely disappointed' teachers rejected pay offer

This morning, the National Education Union (NEU) rejected the government's pay offer.

Around 66% of members voted on the offer - and 98% of those rejected it.

Additional strikes were announced for 27 April and 2 May.

Responding to the news, Rishi Sunak said: "Well, I'm extremely disappointed with the actions of the NEU teaching union.

"The government, after dialogue, made what I consider to be a very reasonable pay offer, worth around 8%, on average, for a teacher and up to 13% for new teachers, combined with working with unions to reduce the workload and burden on teachers - something that they had asked for.

"And in spite of all of that, and it's a very reasonable offer on pay, the NEU union has rejected that, announced new strike dates which will be enormously damaging to our children who have already suffered, their education has already suffered as a result of COVID.

"And in the run-up to exams, to hear about new strike dates in the face of what is a very reasonable pay offer, I think is very disappointing news."

The NEU had recommended its members reject the offer, which consisted of a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year (2022-23) and an average 4.5% pay rise for staff next year (2023-24).

A Downing Street spokesman later confirmed the government had "no plans" to make an improved offer to teachers.


'Not right' reports of child sexual abuse ignored 'due to cultural sensitivity and political correctness' - PM

Rishi Sunak has been speaking following the announcement of his plans to tackle child sexual abuse.

He was asked about the focus being placed today by the government on new plans to record the ethnicity of offenders.

The PM said: "All forms of child sexual exploitation carried out by whomever are horrific and wrong, but with the specific issue of grooming gangs we have had several independent inquiries look at the incidents here in Rochdale, but in Rotherham and Telford.

"What is clear is that when victims and other whistle-blowers came forward their complaints were often ignored by social workers, local politicians, or even the police.

"The reason they were ignored was due to cultural sensitivity and political correctness. That is not right."

Mr Sunak added: "These crimes are horrific and that is why the actions we are announcing today are right and they have been welcomed by people, and I have been speaking to survivors today and others involved.

"They will make a big difference in helping us root out the evil perpetrated by grooming gangs."


Government 'turned a blind eye' to child sex exploitation measures - Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has been speaking from Hartlepool, was asked about the government's announcement today on child sex abuse.

This includes a pledge to launch a taskforce aimed at stopping the issue, and recording the race of offenders.

Sir Keir was director of public prosecutions between 2008 and 2013.

He said: "Child sexual exploitation is a problem and we should do whatever we can to bear down on it.

"When I was director of public prosecutions between 2008 [and] 2013, with my Crown Prosecution Service, we brought these cases, the first Rochdale grooming case was one that I gave the green light to.

"So there's been a frustration here with the government because for a decade, we've been calling for stronger measures, things like mandatory reporting, and the government's turned a blind eye.

"So anything can now be done to improve the situation? Well, yes, good.

"But I think the question for the government is 'what have you been doing for the last 10 years?'"

The Labour leader added that the ethnicity of offenders "is important" and "nothing should get in the way of investigating and prosecuting child sexual exploitation".

"But if you look at the overall figure that is, you know, a relatively small element of it," he said.

"That doesn't mean it's not to be dealt with, don't get me wrong, but if we are not clear about the full picture, then we won't have a proper response."


Housing system in UK broken, secretary of state admits

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has admitted the country's housing system is broken.

Writing for the thinktank Bright Blue, Mr Gove said: "We desperately need more homes to bring ownership within reach of many more people."

He added: "That the current housing model - from supply to standards and the mortgage market - is broken, we can all agree. That change is necessary is undeniable."

One issue for Mr Gove is many Conservative MPs object vociferously to attempts to provide homes in their areas.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year caved in to pressure to make the target of building 300,000 homes a year in England advisory rather than mandatory.

Wendy Morton, the MP Aldridge-Brownhills in the West Midlands, last year complained about houses being "dumped" in her constituency.

She was also chief whip in the Truss government, which railed against the "anti-growth coalition".

Conservative MP Shaun Bailey - first elected in 2019 - joined in Mr Gove's criticisms of the current system.

He said: "Over the last 20 years, the supply of good-quality housing has completely failed to keep pace with demand, causing ever-increasing house prices.

"This imbalance has led to millions living in inadequate homes, with the poorest and the most marginalised in society most vulnerable."


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