Other UK News In Brief

Applications Numbers Down For UK Asylum

Recent figures indicate a substantial fall in the number of people who sought asylum in the UK this year. There has been a 23.6% fall between May and July, compared to the same time last year. A total of 7,030 asylum seekers and their dependants made applications in May-July 2009, with that total dropping to 5,370 this year. Damian Green, Immigration Minister, said: "Asylum figures are at a low level, but there is still more work to be done.” During the same period, the Home Office data also revealed the number of applications without dependents fell by 22.8% from 5,595 to 4,320. The government is legally bound to provide the figures to the European Union's statistical office Eurostat.

Inquiry Ordered On Humber Bridge Tolls Application

A public inquiry on proposals to increase the Humber Bridge tolls has been ordered by the Government. The Department for Transport has received an application from the Humber Bridge Board to increase the tolls on the bridge effective from 1 April 2011. Given the likelihood of objections to the proposals the Government has decided to order a public inquiry immediately. Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker MP said: "We know that there is a great deal of interest in the tolls on the Humber Bridge, and that a variety of individuals, businesses and local groups are likely to have views on the Bridge Board's proposals. It is only right that any parties with an interest are able to put forward their objections at a public inquiry. That is why we have decided to proceed directly to the public inquiry stage where the case for and against any increase can be heard in full."

Unhealthy Lifestyle Affects Productivity

An unhealthy lifestyle reduces an employee’s productivity and bumps up the amount and length of sick leave taken, suggests research published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The Dutch researchers base their findings on more than 10,500 workers employed at 49 commercial and public sector companies, between 2005 and 2009.

The employees were quizzed about their lifestyles, including weight and height, underlying health, work demands and ability to work.

They were also asked how productive they had been during the previous day at work, on a scale of 0 to 10, and how many days in the past 12 months they had not been able to work as a result of health problems.

The results showed that 44% of workers scored below 10 on productivity for the previous day and over half (56%) had taken at least one day off because of ill health during the preceding 12 months.

 The prevalence of underlying ill health ranged from 3% for hereditary disease to 77% for musculoskeletal disorders. But weight was an important factor.

 More than eight out of 10 (83%) obese workers had at least one underlying health problem, compared with three quarters of those who were overweight and just over two thirds (69%) of those of normal weight.

 Lifestyle factors were associated with both loss of productivity at work and sick leave taken.

 The authors concluded: “More than 10% of sick leave and the higher levels of productivity loss at work may be attributed to lifestyle behaviours and obesity. Primary interventions on lifestyle may contribute to maintaining a productive workforce.”


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