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Would-be adoptive dad explains 'simple' process

A man hoping to adopt for the first time along with his wife has explained the process to Daybreak.

Sam began the process of adoption at the beginning of this year and has already been through screening, preparation, and home visits.

He explained: "It has been made so much more simple. It has taken us from January 2 until today - and we've been to panel already."

He continued: "The social workers were excellent with us...really if you are thinking of doing it, please do it."

Govt pledges 'extra £50m' to improve adoption process

The Government has pledged an extra £50 million to help improve adoption services, the children's minister has announced.

Our new adoption leadership board will play an important role ensuring local authorities and adoption agencies stay on track and recruit more adopters - and a further £50 million for councils in 2014 will help them put the building blocks in place to implement our reforms.

– Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson

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Govt: Use online adoption maps to speed up process

Parents looking for a child to adopt should use the online map. Credit: PA

The Government is urging more would-be adoptive parents to use their interactive online adoption maps to find suitable children to raise.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said "promising progress" was being made towards improving adoption rates but significantly more remained to be done.

Information like the number of children waiting for adoption, approval rates and the time taken to complete the process are on the map.

Department for Education figures show a 34% increase in adopters and adoptions up by a record 15% following the implementation of reforms.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the issue is a personal priority.

Child benefit freeze 'to cost families £400'

Freezing child benefit will cost families with two children more than £400 over the next few years, according to a new study.

The TUC said the Government's decision would lead to a real-terms cut in child benefit of £57.20 this year, £153.40 in 2012/13 and almost £200 during 2013/14.

Freezing the value of child benefit has already hit millions of families hard, and by 2014 many will be over £400 worse off.

By ploughing ahead with the introduction of a costly means-test, the Government is only making the problem worse - introducing confusion and uncertainty into a system that used to work well as a way to provide vital support to millions of families.

The best way to make the rich pay their share is through the tax system, but this Government has done the opposite by reducing taxes for the very wealthiest.

Cutting the value of benefits for children and introducing complicated new assessments means those in greatest need will get less, with the poorest children suffering the most.

– Trades Union Congress General secretary Brendan Barber

Childcare cost system 'needs reform' according to government

Childcare costs "needs reform" according to the Government following a report which reveals that going out to work full-time is now hardly worthwhile for a growing number of "second earners" in middle and low income families.

Childcare costs are far too high for parents and the system needs reform. A recent IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report identified it as being 'expensive', 'inefficient' and 'confusing'.

For too many families, the high costs of childcare mean it is not worth going back to work. That is why we set up a commission to look at the affordability of childcare earlier this year. We are looking at best practice in France, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, where high-quality affordable childcare is available for parents, and will be setting out proposals in due course.

– Government spokesman

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Shadow Education Secretary: Childcare support 'critical'

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg, who is chairing the party's Childcare Commission, said it is "critical" families are supported with rising childcare costs.

He said: "Labour would help families with the cost of childcare. This is critical to ensure that work pays and that parents - particularly women - are able to go back to work if they want. That isn't just morally right, it's good for the economy too."

Childcare costs mean full-time work is now hardly worthwhile for many "second earners" in middle and low income families, it was reported. Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mr Twigg continued: "We want to explore cooperative models, whereby local parents have a far bigger say in running their local nursery and get a share of the profits. Childcare centres are run successfully along these lines in Sweden and in some parts of the UK already.

"We want to see this model expand. Cooperative childcare can reduce costs to parents, provide more flexibility for those who work and can reach communities which don't have enough nurseries."

Heavy childcare costs place strain on families

Research into childcare costs also found that a family with two children in which two earners bring in a total of £44,440 could end up just £4,000 better off than a similar family earning £20,000 less, because of the impact of benefits, tax, tax credits and childcare costs.

The report looks at elements of the system of state support which have the effect of cutting a family income in real terms, as a second earner works more.

A second earner from a middle income household who is paid £12 an hour will add £4,500 to the family income while working 13 hours a week.

However, if he or she increases the hours above that level, the family income falls off as the combination of childcare costs and withdrawn support through the tax credit system bites into earnings.

Childcare costs harm full-time work incentive

Childcare costs mean going out to work full-time is now hardly worthwhile for a growing number of "second earners" in middle and low income families, it has been reported.

In the most extreme case - where a second earner takes on a full-time job at the minimum wage - a couple who use childcare could be left just £4 a week better off with two incomes than they would be with one, according to a new study reported in The Observer.

The report, called Counting the Costs of Childcare, by the politically independent Resolution Foundation, finds childcare costs are also eroding incentives to work for those higher up the income scale.

Families face soaring cost of utility bills in new homes

Families moving into brand new government-funded homes are facing electricity bills up to four times the amount they believed they would pay, an investigation has found.

The properties, built under affordable housing schemes, were issued with Energy Performance Certificates that estimated annual costs of between £400 and £500 for heating and hot water.

But according to research by BBC One's Rip Off Britain, hundreds of families have had to pay treble or quadruple that amount.

The problem is being blamed on a heating system that some estates are now replacing, the programme said.

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