Councils refer record number of children into care
The number of children referred into care in England has hit a record high.
Last month, local authorities made 903 court applications to take children into care - the highest since courts service Cafcass was set up in 2001.
Numbers have been rising since late 2008 and the infamous Baby P case involving the death of a toddler while on the at-risk register in London.
Cafcass boss Anthony Douglas said: "All agencies need to factor in these much larger increases into their planning."
It is the first time England's referral figures have passed the 900-mark in a month, and compares with 803 the month before and 698 in the previous January.
The average monthly figure for this financial year so far is 840, compared with 747 in 2010/11.
The BBC's Sanchia Berg said increasingly children were being taken into care because of neglect rather than abuse.
"Courts have to decide whether a child's been harmed - or at risk of harm. That harm can be emotional, rather than physical," she added.'Urgent need'
"Nearly every child involved needs love, care and therapy, either back home or elsewhere," said Mr Douglas, chief executive of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
"All agencies need to factor in these much larger increases into their planning systems, resource allocations, workforce development strategies and service contracts, so that the most vulnerable children in the country continue to receive strong public services."
Matt Dunkley President of the Association of Directors of Childrens' Services
It is about understanding the effects of neglectful parenting due to drug and alcohol problems ”
He added: "The profile of children entering the system is unwavering: an unquestionable need for care for the vast majority, and the urgent need to be given their normal childhood back and to be allowed to develop in a loving and supportive family environment."
There was a sharp leap in the numbers following the conclusion of the trial over Baby P's death at the end of 2008, and they have continued to rise in the years since.
Matt Dunkley, President of the Association of Directors of Childrens' Services, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there were two areas where a better understanding of child development and the effects of neglect had led to an increase in the number of care cases.
"One is the effect of domestic violence on children in the home and the emotional abuse that that represents, but also it is about understanding the effects of neglectful parenting due to drug and alcohol problems and the physical damage to development and brain development that it can do in very young children," he said.
Bristol social worker Anne Farmer said the increase was partly due to a better understanding of the issue among the professionals they worked with, such as in health and education.
"They are more alert to some of the impacts of parental behaviour on children and therefore feeding us much more quality information, allowing us to make better informed decisions," she said.
Seventeen-month-old Baby P, Peter Connelly, died after suffering more than 50 injuries in Haringey, north London, in August 2007.
This was despite being known to Haringey Council children's services, and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals in the last eight months of his life.
The child's mother and two men were jailed for causing the death, while a series of investigations subsequently identified opportunities when officials could have saved him if they had acted properly on the warning signs.
Repossessions lowest since 2007, says CML
A total of 36,200 homes were repossessed in 2011 - the lowest annual total since 2007, mortgage lenders have said.
The annual total proved to be lower than the Council of Mortgage Lenders' original forecast of 40,000.
Low levels of interest and forbearance by lenders have kept a lid on the numbers.
However, the lenders' group said that higher unemployment would push up home repossessions in 2012.Help from lenders
The annual total for 2011 was down slightly on 2010, when 37,100 homes were repossessed.
The latest figures show that 8,500 homes were repossessed in the final three months of 2011. This was down 9% on the previous quarter, but up 5% from the final three months of 2010.
The number of people falling into arrears on mortgage payments improved slightly on a year earlier, the CML said.
Paul Smee CML director general
We are concerned that there will be a higher number of people facing more serious problems in 2012”
At the end of 2011, 159,400 mortgages had arrears equivalent to 2.5% or more of the mortgage balance. This was 7.5% down on the number at the end of 2010.Concerns
Even with sales forecast to hit a record low in 2012 - the CML said the chances of people losing their homes would increase in 2012.
"Low interest rates and good arrears management by lenders are helping the vast majority of those borrowers who face difficulties to keep their homes and get back on track," said CML director general Paul Smee.
"This will continue, but in the face of wider economic difficulties and rising unemployment, we are concerned that there will be a higher number of people facing more serious problems in 2012.
"Anyone worried about their finances should talk to their mortgage lender and take advice on their other debts as soon as possible. This will give them the best possible chance of staying in their home even if they have a spell of financial difficulty."
The CML has forecast that repossessions will reach 45,000 in 2012. This remains much lower than the peak of 75,500 in 1991.
Arrears on buy-to-let mortgages were lower than owner-occupied properties, but the repossession rate in the sector was higher.
In 2011, 0.42% of all mortgaged buy-to-let properties were repossessed - 5,900 in total.
By comparison, the 36,200 owner-occupied homes that were repossessed amounted to 0.32% of mortgaged owner-occupied properties.