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News Headlines

 

Jeremy Hunt's council to hold referendum on 15% council tax rise to fund social care

Surrey is to hold a referendum on increasing council tax by a massive 15% to pay for the growing crisis in social care.

It is expected that the decision could trigger other cash-strapped councils to follow suit in order to meet the growing cost of caring for people in their own homes after Theresa May refused to increase social care funding.

A 15% increase by the Tory-controlled authority would add around £200 to the average bill.

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The Government has dropped its one million new homes target, report claims

The government has quietly dropped its landmark pledge to build a million new homes by the end of this parliament.

The target was a major policy, announced by David Cameron and the then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in September 2015.

But, according to a new report from the National Audit Office, the Communities and Local Government department has quietly shifted the target’s date to the end of 2020, long after the latest point at which a general election could take place.

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Stretched NHS and social care 'needs more money pumped in to ease pressure'

Ministers will be forced to pump more money into the stretched NHS and social care, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals warned today.

Sir Mike Richards outlined the scale of the crisis gripping the health service and demanded more money to ease the pressure.

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Other Headlines

Councils get £48m to expand homelessness provision

Councils will share £48m in extra funding to help them expand homelessness provision for single men and women, but local government leaders have said the money may not be enough.

The funding, announced on Tuesday by the local government minister Marcus Jones, is intended to help councils meet the costs of measures to be introduced under the homelessness reduction bill.

The private member’s bill is intended to end discrimination against single men and women, who currently have no right to immediate help with housing assistance if they become homeless, while families are guaranteed support.

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NHS will need £88bn extra by 2067, says OBR forecast

The NHS budget will need to increase by £88bn over the next 50 years, meaning governments could have to raise taxes or cut spending in other areas to fund it, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said.

The soaring costs threaten to render public finances generally “unsustainable”, according to the OBR’s latest fiscal sustainability report. It says the government could find it hard to deliver on its pledge to balance the budget during the next parliament.

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‘Build houses in same way as cars to tackle shortage’

Housebuilding must be treated like a manufacturing industry in order to address the shortage of homes, MPs will be told today.

Mark Farmer, author of a report that last year concluded the sector must “modernise or die”, will appear before the communities and local government select committee.

It is considering ways of overcoming building constraints, including introducing pre-fabricated housing, off-site construction and direct commissioning by central government. It is part of an inquiry launched last July into whether the industry has the capacity to meet demand.

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Theresa May has handed the NHS crisis to the regions - here's why that should worry us all [opinion]

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are what’s in store for the NHS in the next five years. The term ‘STP’ is contentious because it’s not really a sustainable approach, nor really a plan – and although transformative, it’s not at all clear what the NHS is transforming into. The plans are being pushed through at lightening speed, during the NHS and local government’s biggest crisis in decades.

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Northants s151 hits back at Daventry’s call for government intervention

Last week, Daventry District Council called on the communities secretary to take over the running of Northamptonshire County Council. In an exclusive interview, Room151 speaks to Damon Lawrenson, interim director of finance and section 151 officer at Northamptonshire.

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First-time home buyers at highest level since 2007, Halifax says

There were more first-time home buyers in 2016 than at any time since the start of the financial crisis, according to research by the Halifax.

The lender estimated there were 335,750 first-time buyers last year, the highest figure since 359,900 in 2007.

However, the average first-time deposit has more than doubled since 2007 to stand at more than £32,000.

The Halifax also found the average price of a first home broke through the £200,000 barrier for the first time.

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DfT announces £1.2bn for local authority roads in 2017/18

Ministers have announced over £1.2bn of funding for English local authority roads in 2017/18, including individual councils’ share of the pothole fund, £185m of new funding announced in the Autumn Statement and the Local Highways Maintenance Funding Needs Element.

The new funds also include the the Local Highways Maintenance Incentive/Efficiency Element, worth £75m next year, with councils given until 4 February to complete self-assessment questionnaires.

Transport Network sources close to the process say there have been no changes in the self-assessment system since last year.

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Roads funding information pack

The government has announced £1.2 billion pounds of spending on roads and infrastructure including an additional £75 that is biddable for local authorities and is designated for improving infrastructure such as bridges and street lighting.

The document also includes:

the distribution of government capital investment to local highway authorities in England outside London in the financial year ending 2018

highways and pothole repair funding for the financial year ending 2018, broken down by local highway and combined authorities

the locations of the most dangerous roads by English region for road safety funding



 

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Westminster exports its homeless locals

Westminster city council, notorious for the homes-for-votes gerrymandering scandal in the 1980s, has admitted that it is moving homeless people out of the borough.

From next month, residents classified as homeless and living in temporary accommodation will be relocated to other areas of London and the home counties into permanent new homes. The policy has echoes of the Shirley Porter era, where homeless people in key wards, who were unlikely to vote Conservative, were moved out to protect the party’s majority.

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NAO investigates business rates retention plan

The National Audit Office has launched a value-for-money probe into government plans to design and implement 100% business rates retention for local authorities.

Former chancellor George Osborne announced the proposal — planned to be introduced by the end of this Parliament — at the Conservative Party conference in October 2015.

And now, after prompting from senior MPs, the NAO is assessing progress by interviewing experts and stakeholders, including officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

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NHS bed-blocking rises 42% in a year, new figures show

Bed-blocking has risen more than 40 per cent in a year as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed with people needing care, figures showed on Thursday. 

New data from November shows a health system under strain as it got ready to enter its busiest time ever over Christmas.

It follows warnings from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing that the NHS is now experiencing its worst ever winter crisis. 

The research for England highlights acute problems with delayed discharges - where patients are medically fit to leave hospital but are stuck in beds due to problems arranging care in the community.

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Businesses unhappy with support from local councils, survey shows

Seven out of ten businesses have accused councils of failing to support business growth, in a new survey of a company leaders.

The Business Census 2017, published by Company Check, found many businesses feel business support from local government has become worse in the past year.

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Fattened precept will still ‘do nothing’ to address London social care gap

London Councils has warned against the capital’s local government finance settlement, advising that the ability to raise social care precepts of up to 3% will still “do nothing” to address the region’s £200m annual funding gap by 2019-20.

In an executive committee meeting set for early next week, borough council leaders in the capital are set to discuss the effects on London of the finance settlement, which was set out by communities secretary Sajid Javid in December and included an option for councils to raise their social care precept to 3% for the next two years.

 

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London health devolution MoU due imminently

London boroughs are expected to agree a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding health devolution with national partners early this year, which would be buttressed by individual agreements in pilot areas, London Councils’ executive committee has revealed.

In board papers released ahead of a committee meeting on 17 January, London Councils disclosed that discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England around health devolution funding are progressing, with an aspiration to finalise agreements and “facilitate next steps” early in the New Year.

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Top doctors tell Health Secretary to tackle A&E crisis as 18,000 patients are left stranded on trolleys in ONE week

Jeremy Hunt was told to get a grip on the NHS crisis last night as the country's top medical bodies warned that it could be ignored no longer.

In a series of separate interventions, some of the most powerful organisations warned the Health Secretary that immediate action to alleviate the pressure was essential.

The Royal College of Physicians – which represents 33,000 senior doctors – warned that lives were being put at risk in 'over-full hospitals'. It said the queues of ambulances outside A&E were 'visual testament' to the extent of the crisis.

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NHS hospitals in England face £322m tax bill increase from April

Cash-strapped hospitals in England face a £322m tax rise from April which threatens to increase the strain on the under-pressure NHS.

Changes to the business rates system mean that the 1,249 NHS hospitals liable for the property tax will see their bill increase by 21% over the next five years, according to research conducted for the Guardian by property consultant CVS.

The total bill faced by hospitals will rise from £313m this year to £377m a year on average for the next five years. This annual increase of £64m would be enough to pay for nearly 2,500 more junior doctors.

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NHS England chief contradicts May over spending

The chief executive of NHS England has contradicted government claims that the health service is getting more funding than it asked for.

Simon Stevens told MPs this was "stretching it" and there were "clearly substantial funding pressures".

And, in clashes with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the PM called claims of a "humanitarian crisis" in the NHS "irresponsible" and "overblown".

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Look beyond Whitehall to solve our huge social problems

After six months of post-referendum shock, conjecture and upheaval, eyes are finally turning back to the day-to-day issues on which elections have been won and lost for decades. While there’s no doubt Brexit represents a tremendously consuming challenge for the Government, the fact remains that our hospitals are at breaking point, children are still going hungry, and our ageing population need to be cared for.

In particular, the increasing furore regarding the funding and reform of health and social care is reaching fever pitch.

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Ofsted chief criticises plan for grammars

The new chief inspector of schools has described Theresa May’s proposals to create more grammar schools as “a distraction” and questioned how they would improve the school system.

Amanda Spielman, who took over at Ofsted this month, said she was struck by the pressure inspections placed on schools, which suggested that she might move to a lighter touch system.

Her appointment was opposed last year by MPs on the education select committee, who pointed out that she had no experience as a teacher or social worker. It also said that she did not appear to be motivated by raising standards or improving children’s lives.

 

 

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One blunt heckler has revealed just how much the UK economy is failing us [opinion]

There’s a lady I’ve been thinking about for the past few days, even though we’ve never met. She’s the central character in a true story told by the Europe expert Anand Menon. He was in Newcastle just before the referendum to debate the impact of Britain leaving the EU. Invoking the gods of economics, the King’s College London professor invited the audience to imagine the likely plunge in the UK’s GDP. Back yelled the woman: “That’s your bloody GDP. Not ours.”

Subtle and learned this was not. But in all the squawking over the past few days about what’s wrong in economics and with the economy, her brutally simple criticism is closer to the mark than are most of the pundit class.

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One in five councils still using ‘unsafe flying care visits’

More than one in five councils are still commissioning 15-minute visits for personal care despite official warnings against the use of ‘flying’ visits, new research has unveiled.

A freedom of information request by charity Leonard Cheshire Disability found at least 33,305 people in England received 15 minute care visits in 2015/16, with 16,311 of these for help with eating, washing and dressing.

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Childcare funding 'will create 9,000 places'

Thousands of childcare places for pre-school children in England will be created under a £50m scheme, the government has announced.

The scheme will help to deliver a government pledge to offer three and four-year-olds in England 30 hours of free care a week in term time.

Nearly 9,000 early years places are expected to be created.

But critics said the funding was "woefully short of what was needed" and would only benefit a few providers.

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Heads warn MPs of 'extremely bleak' funding problems

Hundreds of head teachers in West Sussex have written to MPs warning that the government's funding shake-up has failed to tackle "extremely bleak" budget shortfalls.

They have written to all their local MPs asking how they should cut spending - whether they should lay off teaching staff, reduce school hours or close counselling services.

The government last month launched a new funding formula for England's schools to tackle "unfair" and "inconsistent" funding levels.

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Councils oppose tax increases to fund elderly care

Theresa May’s short-term solution to the elderly care crisis may raise £500 million less than promised as many local authorities are reluctant to increase council tax before elections later this year.

Half of the extra cash promised by the government to bail out the social care system relies on councillors putting up local taxes just before they fight for re-election, an analysis suggests.

Some of the biggest councils face elections in May and many have already expressed hesitation about using powers handed to them by the government last month.

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Councils could face £14bn pothole repair bill by 2019

Councils could face a £14bn pothole repair bill over the next two years, the Local Government Association has warned.

Citing statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, the cost of repairing potholes has risen from £9.8bn in 2012 to £11.8bn last year. At this rate of increase, costs are projected to rise to £14bn by 2019, more than three times councils’ entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport.

 

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Will we see more staff freezes to meet the financial challenge?

A staff freeze has been introduced at Devon County Council as local authorities propose increasingly radical measures to try to relieve financial pressures.

The council announced last week that it will not hire any more permanent staff, apart from roles which it has a statutory responsibility to fulfil.

Devon is set to overspend by £8.1m by the end of this financial year, largely due to an overspend of £6.4m in adult social care.

Cllr John Clatworthy, the deputy leader and finance chief, said the council had “absolutely no intention of not balancing the books”.

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MPs urge ‘swift’ review on social care

The heads of three Commons committees have urged the Prime Minister to find a "political consensus" on funding social care in England before 2020. Clive Betts, Chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Meg Hillier and her Health Committee counterpart Dr Sarah Wollaston says a long-term solution can only be found if there is cross-party consensus. The LGA estimates there will be a £2.6 billion funding gap in providing adult social care in England by 2020. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said local government leaders must be part of any review. She added: “This is imperative to get a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve." The LGA’s response was also reported across Good Morning Britain news bulletins this morning.

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Schools to be pushed to breaking point by levy, say councils

Small schools could be pushed beyond breaking point by the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy, school and local government leaders are warning. The Levy, to be introduced in April, requires all businesses – including schools – with a wage bill over £3 million a year, to contribute 0.5 per cent of their wage bill to fund new apprenticeships. But whereas academy or faith schools – who employ their own staff – will be exempt from the Levy if their wage bill is under the £3 million threshold, small schools with similar wage bills that are run by local authorities will have to pay the levy because staff are employed by the authority and therefore contribute to the overall wage bill of the council. Cllr Richard Watts, the Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “It is discriminatory for small council-maintained schools not to be exempted from the Apprenticeship Levy in the same way that small academies and faith schools will be. It is no secret that many schools are struggling with their funding, yet once again, council-maintained schools are being dealt a poor hand compared to academies.”

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Blocked beds blight mental health care

Delays in discharging people from hospital are rising more rapidly in mental health trusts than other parts of the NHS in England, a study shows. NHS England data found a 56 per cent rise in the number of bed days lost to delayed discharge in psychiatric trusts in October 2016 compared to November 2015. There was a comparable rise in acute trusts of 30 per cent. Meanwhile, a third of all hospital trusts in England have issued alerts warning they needed urgent action to cope with the pressure of patient numbers last month.

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LGA calls for small council-maintained schools to be exempt from apprenticeship levy

Smaller council-maintained schools will face an unfair burden because of the apprenticeship levy, the LGA warned today.

As it stands, the levy will apply to council schools with a wage bill of under £3m, but not academies or religious schools.

The levy requires all businesses, including schools, whose wages are over £3m to contribute 0.5% of the total to funding new apprenticeships. However, smaller council-run schools will still have to pay the levy because their staff are technically employees of the council.

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Government opens applications for £7bn affordable homes fund

Housing providers can now apply for a share of a £7bn fund to increase the number of affordable homes available for residents, the communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced.

The fund means housing associations, local authorities and private developers in England will be able to bid for funding to build shared ownership, rent-to-buy and rented homes.

The £7bn announced by the DCLG is compiled from previous announcements such as £4.7bn worth of grants, £1.4bn announced in last year’s Autumn Statement and around £1bn saved from a previous affordable homes programme.

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Daventry calls for government to rescue Northants finances

A district council is set to ask the communities secretary to take over the running of Northamptonshire County Council before it becomes technically insolvent.

Next week, A meeting of Daventry District Council (DDC), will vote on the proposal to ask the government to use its intervention powers on Northamptonshire (NCC).

DDC claims that the county’s financial position is “grave”, and that the authority is at risk of being unable to meet its financial obligations.

Under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999, the secretary of state has the power to take over all, or any, of the affairs of a local authority which is failing in its best value duty.

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New money for affordable homes released

£7 billion unlocked in expansion of the government’s affordable housing programme to meet the diverse housing needs of the country.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has today (5 January 2017) unlocked £7 billion in a dramatic expansion of the government’s affordable housing programme to meet the diverse housing needs of the country.

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Goodbye 2016, and a not so warm welcome to 2017 (Comment)

A sustained crisis in social care funding, complications in business rates devolution and the lack of clarity around Brexit all make for an uncertain year ahead in local government.

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What does 2017 hold for public services?

A wide-ranging piece looks at the key challenges facing public services, including local government, social care and housing, in the year ahead. It says longer NHS waiting lists, rising homelessness and funding pressures on councils could bring public services “to the brink”. It highlights the £5.8 billion funding gap facing local government and LGA Chairman Lord Porter’s warning that even if councils abandoned road repairs, stopped maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all libraries and children’s centres, and halted funding bus services, they still could not plug the funding gap.

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UK's £1bn foreign aid cashpoint

More than £1billion of our foreign aid budget has been given away in cash over the past five years, it can be revealed today.


Despite warnings of fraud, officials have quietly quadrupled expenditure on cash and debit cards that recipients can spend at will. 

The revelations fuelled calls from MPs for the Government to ditch the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.

Backbenchers have argued it is a scandal that so much is being spent abroad while elderly care in the UK is in crisis and town halls are threatening double-digit council tax hikes to close a funding gap.

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Experts say the Government must refund £1BN after overcharging on business rates

The Government is facing calls to return more than £1billion to companies which experts claim have been overcharged for business rates collected in the past six years.


Claims of a massive overcharge will add to growing anger among companies over business rates and will fuel calls for the complex system to face an overhaul.


The dispute relates to about £6.5billion collected since 2010 to cover the cost of successful business rates appeals.

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Business leaders warn of North-South divide as Government tax review reveals sweeping changes

Business leaders have warned of a North-South tax divide as it emerged that companies in the South East face huge increases in business rates while those in the North will receive significant tax cuts, according to an official analysis.

Under Government plans to revalue business rates for the first time in almost a decade, a major split has emerged with London firms facing 12 per cent increases in tax as companies in the North East receive reductions of around 16 per cent.

The revaluation in April, the first for seven years, will lead to companies paying rates which have been calculated to take into account the rise in property prices since 2008.

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Education grant cuts would put school improvements at risk, councils warn

The Local Government Association (LGA) says ministers intend to allocate £50 million from next September to cover duties they have received £450 million for in the past. 

The LGA, which represents more than 370 English councils, has warned the move could impact negatively on the access for pupils to speech therapy and physiotherapy, as well as good attainment levels. 

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Double-digit council tax increases planned to fund growing social-care crisis

Thousands of families face eye-watering council tax rises of up to 16 per cent as town halls plot super-sized hikes.

In an unprecedented move to tackle the spiralling social care crisis, councils are preparing to hold referendums on whether they can ignore a 5 per cent cap on annual increases.

Chancellor Philip Hammond's own local authority, Surrey County Council, is considering a 16 per cent rise. If voters approve the increase, which would add £200 to average annual bills, officials believe a string of other councils will try to follow suit.

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.Third of councils face social care funding cut after 'misleading' government changes, Andy Burnham says

The Government has diverted money that was previously used to incentivise councils to build new homes to instead help fund adult social care. 

But Mr Burnham said 57 local authorities will lose more than they gain from the changes – a third of all the councils in England that provide social care. In total, local authorities will lose £40 million from the changes, Mr Burnham claimed. 

The London borough of Tower Hamlets will receive the biggest cut – losing £3.4 million next financial year as a result of the changes. Salford, Westminster, Milton Keynes, Islington and Southwark will all lose more than £2 million. 

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Government's 'paltry' concession on business rates revealed

The Government’s pledge to ease the burden of next year’s massive rise in business rates will provide a “paltry” £156m of relief in London over the next five years as the capital’s bill soars by £9.4bn, new research reveals.

Experts said the owners of London’s 300,000 business premises faced a “ticking tax time bomb” that has led to warnings by top restaurant chains that the revaluation will force many out of business.

Companies in London are set to see their business rates climb by £9.38bn in the five years from next April, to more than £51bn, according to CVS, the business rates specialist.

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Bed blocking costs NHS £455MILLION a year as delayed discharges more than double

Delayed discharges from hospital are costing the NHS £455million a year, Labour has warned.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said NHS England data showed that delayed discharges soared from 58,362 in October 2010 to 134,221 in October 2016.

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Town halls pay £12m to repair cars damaged by potholes

The startling scale of compensation payouts was revealed by hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to individual councils.

But with only one-third of councils replying, the true total is likely to be significantly higher. 

The revelations will heap pressure on councils to spend more on fixing crumbling roads instead of shelling out for broken cars.

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said: ‘This is crazy economics; a lose-lose situation for everyone, motorists, councils and taxpayers.

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The rise of Generation Rent: number of young homeowners halved in the last 20 years

The number of 25-year-olds who own their own home has more than halved in the last 20 years as soaring prices and a generational shift have knocked young people off the housing ladder. 

Research by Savills for the Local Government Association found that 46pc of all 25-year-olds owned their home 20 years ago, compared to 20pc now. It is not just young people who have been left out of home ownership, which has fallen among people of all ages 6.8pc since the peak in October 2004, and it now stands at 64.1pc.

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Council to pay damages for keeping children in care ‘too long’

Wakefield Council has apologised after a court ruled it must pay damages to two children it kept in care for too long.

The children aged seven and two at the time were taken into care after their parents were arrested, the BBC reported.

They spent 10 months away from their mother despite the fact she was not charged with any offences.

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Government borrowing falls less than expected in November

Government borrowing fell in November to £12.6bn, down £0.6bn from November 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, the fall was less than analysts had been expecting.

The monthly borrowing figure had been expected to shrink to £11.6bn, according to an economists' poll.

Borrowing for the financial year so far is down on last year. From April to November, borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, fell by £7.7bn to £59.5bn.

Despite the smaller-than-expected fall in November's borrowing figure, economists said the government was on track to meet its less ambitious deficit forecast set out in November's Autumn Statement.

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CBI calls for barrier-free trade with EU after Brexit

UK firms need to continue to have "barrier-free" access to European Union markets after Brexit, the CBI business lobby group has warned.

It said UK companies should not be subjected to trade tariffs, with only "minimal" other barriers in place.

In a report, it also called for a migration system that allowed firms to obtain the skills and labour they need.

The government said it was committed to delivering the best possible access to European markets for UK businesses.

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Fears over ‘opaque’ regional funds

An employers’ group has called for greater accountability among the organisations responsible for improving growth in England’s regions.

The Federation of Small Businesses said that Local Enterprise Partnerships “must be more transparent”.

It was responding to criticism of the bodies from the Commons public accounts committee.

The partnerships are designed to bring together the public and private sector, so that local decision-makers can decide on the economic priorities in their areas.

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High Court backs North Yorkshire CC over fracking decision

Fracking will be allowed to take place in North Yorkshire after the High Court ruled that the county council acted lawfully when it approved a fracking application earlier this year.

North Yorkshire County Council had approved energy company Third Energy’s controversial application to frack an existing well in the village of Kirby Misperton for shale gas back in May, despite receiving 4,375 objections to the plans and only 36 representations of support.

Friends of the Earth and residents’ group Frack Free Ryedale launched legal action against the council after its decision, unsuccessfully arguing that the council had failed to properly consider the environmental impact of its decision.

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No early Christmas presents [opinion]

As the chancellor stood at the despatch box in late November, the public sector waited with bated breath at what support would be given to those that are working under extreme pressure. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, Philip Hammond didn’t deliver any early Christmas presents for local government. And it is unlikely that we will see A Christmas Carol change of heart anytime soon.

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DCLG publish latest Business Rates Information letter

The latest letter includes more detail on measures announced in the Autumn Statement. 

 

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Social care’s moral majority is a losing one [opinion]

Warnings over the future of social care are loud and consistent. But it isn’t the politicians who aren’t listening, it’s the voters

A persistent mistake in the world of public services is to assume that a moral majority translates into a political one. The evidence is on your side, the finances all add up ­– or don’t depending on the point you’re making – and of course the consequences are dire. How can government not act, right? Then silence. You have stared into the abyss, impact analysis in hand, only to have the abyss stare back. The question is: why? 

The short answer is a perfect argument often fails not because it sends ministers to sleep but the voters. Whilst many may cry foul over the state of social care, how many actually vote on it? My guess is a lot less than you think.

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Public library loans show dramatic fall in last two years

Latest figures show that library book loans slumped by almost 16m in the last two years, with library campaigners calling the news “a clarion call to put books back at the centre of what libraries do” in a sector that has seen record closures and budget cuts.

Library book loans continued a downward trend in 2016, with figures obtained by the Guardian revealing that loans for the year to 10 December fell on average by 14%, with loans to adults worst hit at 15% down. Loans of children’s books fell by just over 12%. However, this comes at a time when book sales in both sectors have continued to climb.

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​John McDonnell says emergency funds could solve social care crisis

John McDonnell is demanding that Philip Hammond finds more than £1bn from within the government’s emergency budget plan to rescue Britain’s ailing social care system.

The shadow chancellor says the money could come from the “fiscal headroom” left by the chancellor in the autumn budget. The money has been put aside in case of a financial emergency caused by Brexit, reports have claimed.

The demands are meant to increase pressure on Theresa May’s government to step in with emergency funding to protect elderly and vulnerable people.

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Corbyn calls for talks with PM on social care funding

Jeremy Corbyn has written to the prime minister calling for urgent talks on social care funding in England.

The Labour leader has urged Theresa May to provide "emergency top-up funding" to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

Councils have been told to bring forward council tax rises, after funding cuts from Whitehall.

A government spokesman said extra funding was being provided and Mrs May was "clear that we need to find a long-term sustainable solution".

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New homes funding diverted to pay for social care

Money set aside to incentivise councils to build new homes will be used to pay for social care instead, the Government has revealed, amid fears younger people could be disadvantaged by the move.

Ministers have announced the new £240 million fund to help fill a £1.9 billion social care funding gap next year, but the money will be removed from the New Homes Bonus scheme which aims to help people onto the property ladder. 

Critics have warned that the decision will prompt local authorities to rethink their building programmes leading to fewer new homes, while care providers have said that the money amounts to a "sticking plaster" which won't come close to covering the care shortfall.

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Social care: Ministers to set out funding plans

Details of how councils in England will be able to raise hundreds of millions of pounds to spend on social care in the next two years are to be outlined.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to sanction a rise in council tax bills to 2018-2019 to pay for more frail and elderly people and dementia patients to be cared for at home.

Theresa May says it will help relieve immediate pressures on the system.

But Labour and councils say such a funding boost would be inadequate.

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Councils angry at government's social care offer

Councils say it is "hugely disappointing" that the government has not given them extra money to tackle shortfalls in social care funding.

Ministers will let local authorities bring forward council tax rises, and money cut from a housing scheme will be spent on social care instead.

The government said it would create a "sustainable" system for everyone who needs social care.

But the Local Government Association said the measures "fall well short".

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Schools face cuts of £3bn, says watchdog

State schools in England will have to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20, says the public spending watchdog.

Schools face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits, warns a funding analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO).

The Department for Education is about to launch a new funding formula, which will see 10,000 schools gaining money and similar numbers losing.

To ease the transition, those losing will have annual cuts limited to 1.5%.

Full Article

Labour says it will end rough sleeping

Labour has pledged to end the "national shame" of rough sleeping by doubling the number of homes available for use by homeless people across England.

A future Labour government would ring-fence 4,000 new flats and homes for rough sleepers in cities such as Bristol, Liverpool and Birmingham.

The properties would be let at "genuinely affordable" rents, building on an existing scheme in London.

Spokesman John Healey said rising rough sleeping levels were inexcusable.

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Ministers have failed to explain where schools will find savings, watchdog says

Ministers have no idea how schools in England will implement £3bn worth of cuts and have not communicated the scale and pace of savings required, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office said schools faced an 8% real-terms reduction in funding per pupil by 2019-20 and cost pressures could result in “significant risks” in making the necessary spending cuts.

A report released on Wednesday has found that although average funding per pupil will rise from £5,447 in 2015-16 to £5,519 in 2019-20 that amounts to a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account.

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PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May social care 'crisis' clash

Elderly people are being left isolated because of a "crisis made in Downing Street" over social care funding, Jeremy Corbyn claimed.

The Labour leader urged Theresa May to replace a corporation tax cut with cash to cover social care costs as they clashed in PMQs.

It came with councils set to be offered extra tax rises to bring forward planned social care investment.

Mrs May promised a "long-term, sustainable system".

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NHS chief: bus passes and pensions must be up for discussion to tackle social care crisis

Free bus passes and pension protections for older people should be reconsidered if Britain has any hope of solving the crisis facing social care, the head of the NHS has suggested.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, told MPs that there is “no point” giving people free bus transport if there is no one to provide the basic care they need to enable them to leave their home in the first place.

He signalled that far more radical action may be needed to help older people than plans, expected to be unveiled by Theresa May, to channel extra council tax money into funding care.

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Social care levy is 'Theresa May's poor tax', says council boss

A likely increase in council tax to help fund social care has been labelled the Prime Minister's "poor tax".

Ministers are expected to announce on Thursday that local authorities will be allowed to raise council tax 6% over the next two years to raise cash for elderly and disabled care.

It would see the average bill rise by nearly £100 over the next two years: a 3% increase to the average band D property amounts to an extra £45.80 a year.

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Planning department cuts make housing targets impossible, LGiU finds

Almost 90% of local authorities believe that government housing targets are unattainable due to a lack of planning resources, a new joint research report has concluded.

The report, jointly made by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), is the first to draw upon experience from both local authorities and SME housebuilders across the UK, and also sought to interview planning officers.

It found that a majority of builders find a lack of planning to be a barrier to developing small-scale housing developments, with over half of councils delivering fewer than 40% of homes on small sites.

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Councils offered huge ‘bribes’ to build homes on green belt

Councils are being offered “bribes” worth hundreds of millions of pounds to build homes in the green belt, campaigners have said.

The government has promised to pay councils a new homes bonus, typically worth £9,000, for each home they build — including in England’s 14 green belts, the protected land around cities where development is meant to be strictly limited.

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NAO slams CCS for ‘severely’ underestimating joint buying difficulties

Central government has not achieved value for money from Crown Commercial Service (CCS) deals, with the Cabinet Office “severely” underestimating the difficulty of implementing joint buying practices across government, the National Audit Office (NAO) has reported.

The CCS is directly responsible for buying around £2.5bn of goods and services for central government and public sector organisations. However, while the NAO found that the CCS helped public bodies save £521m last year, it was uncertain whether these savings would have been achieved anyway if departments had retained their buying functions, due to these savings not being directly comparable to the benefits which were planned.

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May plans social care shakeup to ease pressure on councils

Theresa May is planning a shakeup of social care provision after Downing Street acknowledged services were under threat in some areas.

The prime minister’s official spokeswoman said the issue was discussed in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, with an agreement that this week’s local government settlement would contain measures to help ease the pressure.

At the meeting, May also emphasised the “importance of finding a long-term sustainable way of addressing the issue”, raising the prospect of a more comprehensive shakeup.

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Why council tax hike for care raises peanuts

Over the years there have been some pretty radical suggestions to solve the care crisis. A cap on care costs, a "death tax" and even a full merger of the free-at-the-point-of-need NHS and means-tested social care systems have all been mooted.

But it appears the government in England is now looking at something much less reforming - giving town halls permission to increase council tax by more than they are currently allowed to.

If that is the case - and we will have to wait until Thursday for the announcement - the money raised (barring an astronomical hike in bills) will be peanuts, relatively speaking.

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Ministers consider council tax rise to cover social care funding

The prime minister is understood to be considering plans to allow councils in England and Wales to increase council tax to fund the social care system.

It follows warnings that the system could "topple at any moment" leading to pressure on the NHS if patients cannot be released from hospital.

Local councils have suffered more than a 40% reduction in government grants since 2010.

The government has refused to comment on the reports.

 

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UK's current GDP growth rate won't last, warns business body

"The business as usual" approach taken by many firms following the Brexit vote has helped boost UK growth this year, but it will not last, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

The business body expects GDP to grow by 2.1% this year, up from the 1.8% it forecast just three months ago.

But uncertainty over the UK's EU relationship and higher inflation will "dampen medium term growth," it said.

It expects the UK's economy to grow by 1.1% next year, and by 1.4% in 2018.

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Contraceptive cuts: Warning over rise in abortions

Many GPs in England have stopped providing some forms of contraception because of funding cuts, the Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned.

Some clinicians have said cuts to contraceptive services will mean "more unplanned pregnancies and abortions".

The Advisory Group on Contraception's research comes after the government announced public health cuts totalling more than £800m over six years.

The government said "local areas" can best decide on sexual health provision.

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The economy after Brexit: encouragingly resilient or still a case of ‘wait and see’? [opinion]

A comprehensive piece by Iain Begg around the economic consequences to brexit . He conjectures why the treasuries reports about the immediate aftershock have not come to pass.

Iain Begg is a Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Senior Fellow on the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s initiative on the UK in a Changing Europe.

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Councils call for reversal of cut to education services grant

Children's education could be damaged unless the government reverses a planned £600m funding cut, local authority leaders have warned.

 The Local Government Association (LGA) says the education services grant paid to councils, due to end next year, allows them to work with schools to improve, provide services such as speech therapy and plan provision in their areas.

Full Article

Ministers consider council tax rise to cover social care funding

Local authorities could be allowed to make a further increase in council tax to pay for social care.

Ministers in England are discussing ways to invest more money into care services for the elderly and disabled.

One option is to let them increase council tax beyond the extra 2% for which they already have permission, while another is bringing forward extra money they have been promised in 2019.

Full Article

Ministers considering council tax precept rise to save adult social care

The government is considering plans to allow councils to increase council tax precepts in order to relieve the social care crisis, it is understood.

Local councils have suffered more than a 40% reduction in government grants since 2010, leading experts to warn that the social care system could “topple over at any moment”. That would put immense pressure on the NHS as patients would take longer to be transferred from hospital.

There has been criticism, such as by Lib Dem health spokesperson Norman Lamb MP, that the plans would worsen the postcode lottery for residents with wealthier areas set to benefit more than poorer ones.

Full Article

Birmingham council chief: years of cuts could have catastrophic consequences

Birmingham city council’s chief executive has said there could be “catastrophic consequences” for some people in the city because years of cuts have forced it to slash funding for key services for vulnerable people. 

Mark Rogers, who runs the biggest council in England, said the effects of six years of austerity meant Birmingham’s youth service had “all but gone”, homelessness prevention services had been cut by so much that rough sleeping had quadrupled, and far fewer elderly people were eligible for care at home.

In an interview with the Guardian, he also said a network of children’s centres designed to serve the city’s most deprived communities had been dismantled so that now only the “super-deprived” were being helped, and even these remaining services were under threat.

Full Article

Library closures 'will double unless immediate action is taken'

A further 340 public libraries could close in the next five years if the government does not act urgently to halt drastic funding cuts, the head of a leading library organisation has warned, which would equal the number of closures witnessed by the sector over the past eight years.

 Nick Poole, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (Cilip) said: “We have already lost 340 libraries over the past eight years and we think that unless immediate action is taken, we stand to lose the same number over the next five years.”

 Official figures revealed last week showed that UK libraries had lost £25m in their budgets in just one year. As 2017 is not an election year, Poole said, Cilip was anticipating that “local politicians will try to get library cuts through” over the next 12 months.

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Transport boost as councils collect record £750m surplus from parking charges

The surplus cash that councils have gained from overseeing parking charges and penalty notices in England has reached a record high of £756m, the RAC Foundation has reported.

 In 2015-16, England’s 353 local authorities generated a combined ‘profit’ of £756m from their on- and off-street parking activities, 9% higher than the 2014-15 figure of £693 million, and 34% higher than in 2011-12.

 

Full Article

‘Devastating’ lack of social care causing problems for the disabled

A 'devastating' lack of social care is causing mental and physical health problems for people with disabilities, a leading charity has warned.

 Leonard Cheshire Disability says 40% of disabled adults in Britain who report not receiving enough social care have experienced a negative impact on their physical health, while the same proportion say it has caused mental difficulties.

 In its 2016 report The state of social care in Great Britain, the charity says a lack of social care is putting an 'unbearable strain' on the NHS.

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Councils defend record on mental health funding

Council chiefs have defended their record on mental health funding after a charity accused them of spending ‘next to nothing’ on mental health initiatives.

A freedom of information request by mental health charity Mind revealed local authorities were spending less than 1% of their public health budget on mental health services.

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UK library budgets fall by £25m in a year

A brutal year for the UK’s public libraries has been topped off with the revelation that the sector took a £25m hit to its budgets in the year to March, as calculated in official figures released on Wednesday. The number of public libraries still open reached a 10-year low, while visitor numbers slid by 15 million. Book budgets were also severely hit, taking an 8.4% fall over the period. Critics claimed the cuts endanger the long-term survival of the sector.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) released the figures as part of its annual survey of library authorities in the UK. They revealed that total expenditure for the sector fell from £944m to £919m over the year, a 2.6% fall that reflects swingeing cuts by local authorities seeking to shore up frontline services by raiding library budgets. Over the same period, visitor numbers fell to 250 million as 121 libraries closed, taking the total number still open down to 3,850.

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Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'

Local authorities in England spend “close to nothing” on mental health despite dedicating millions on improving physical health in their communities, according to the charity Mind.

 Less than one per cent of each local authority’s public health budget is spent on mental health on average, showed new data obtained by the organisation.

 Using the Freedom of Information Act, Mind found the proportion of health budgets spent on preventing mental health problems has fallen year on year for the last three years.

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Councils urged to bid for estate regeneration funding

New government funding to help breathe new life into rundown estates has been announced, along with a fresh strategy, by communities secretary Sajid Javid.

The additional £32m comes on top of a £140m loan fund announced in January.

Councils will go head-to-head with housing associations and developers to bid for a share of the £172m.

 

 

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Library funding falls by another £25m, CIPFA finds

Figures from the latest survey, published today, revealed that total expenditure for library services fell by from £944m in 2014-15 to £919m in 2015-16. 

Services have also experienced a decline in visitors, with 15 million fewer visits in 2015-16 compared with the previous year.

 The number of libraries also fell slightly from 3,917 in 2014-15 to 3,850 in 2015-16, representing a drop of 67 or 1.7% year on year. The number of visits to libraries fell 5.5% from 265 million last year to 250 million this year.

 This year’s findings conform to a five-year trend of decline. Libraries across England, Scotland and Wales have seen a 14% reduction in total net expenditure, from £979m in 2011-12 to £842m in 2015-16 in the previous half-decade.

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The right to choose your own care is the latest casualty of council cuts [opinion]

Evans doesn’t want her or her son’s real identity revealed because for the last three years she has been battling with Dean’s council for the allocation of a personal budget. After three formal assessments, stretched over 18 months, he has now been offered a personal budget of 21 hours a week of care. Compared to his current package, this is a cut of 90 hours per week, which the family is contesting.

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Newcastle unveils management shake-up to save £500,000

Newcastle City Council has announced plans for a radical restructuring of its management team, including the abolition of two senior posts, as it struggles to balance its budget.

The council has managed to cut its management posts by 26% since 2012 and its overall jobs by 20%. It is planning to deliver £70m of funding cuts over the next three years, despite board papers revealing it was warned over the risk of legal challenges to changes to social care and other services.

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Increasing risk CQC will have to notify councils of failing care providers

There is an increasing risk that the CQC will have to notify local authorities that care providers are failing to meet their legal responsibilities, unless the social care crisis is addressed, the regulator’s chief executive has said.

David Behan told the Health Select Committee yesterday that some care homes are approaching level 6, the most severe CQC intervention, where the regulator warns the local council that the provider is breaching its legal responsibilities.

He repeated the CQC’s warning in its annual State of Care report that social care is approaching a “tipping point” due to a growing risk of providers collapsing or failing to improve their ratings. He added that increasing numbers of older people are not having their care needs met at all.

Full Article

Landlords charging renters extra fees for new mandatory passport checks

Landlords are using new Government-mandated passport checks on tenants as an excuse to charge them extra fees, it has emerged.

 Earlier this year the Government mandated so-called “Right To Rent” checks on anybody renting a home in order to screen for undocumented migrants.

 Research by the charity Shelter identified letting agents and landlords billing renters as much as £40 – while a Government study suggested the figure could be as high as £120.

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Dorset residents support plans to reduce council numbers

Dorset residents have given their “clear backing” for the county’s proposals to reduce its number of local councils, although there remains criticism that not enough people were consulted.

The results of a public consultation led by Dorset’s nine local councils – Reshaping your Councils, which ran from 30 August to 25 October – found that almost three-quarters of 17,000 respondents supported reducing the county’s nine councils down to two unitary authorities.

The council’s research found that there was majority support for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to be served by one new authority with East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset & Weymouth & Portland areas to be served by a second new council.

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Chris Grayling to unveil plans for new fully privatised railway line

The government has unveiled plans for a fully privatised railway line, with track and trains operated by the same company.

A new route linking Oxford and Cambridge will not be developed by Network Rail, the owner of Britain’s rail infrastructure. Instead, a new entity will be responsible for track and infrastructure, as well as operating train services, under proposals drawn up by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling.

“What we are doing is taking this line out of Network Rail’s control,” Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “Network Rail has got a huge number of projects to deliver at the moment ... , I want it to happen quicker. This is an essential corridor for this country. On that route we are going to bring in private finance, in a form to be decided.

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New manifesto for social care is essential – service users should write it

There seems to be a strong sense in social care that the chancellor’s failure to do anything about its ever-worsening crisis in his autumn statement is the last straw. More powerful voices in the sector than ever before have issued statements highlighting the catastrophic state of social care, including the Care Quality Commission, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Servicesand the Local Government Association.

 

Yet for many service users and their organisations there’s a feeling that leaders of social care organisations have been failing to speak truth to power. The top-down talk now of the need for a new social movement for social care and for radical reform is likely to feel like too little too late. This is especially true for the many individuals and families struggling with extreme issues and a damaged quality of life; sometimes issues of life and death.

But the government’s inaction on social care isn’t surprising in the context of its similar inaction on the mental health crisis, the cruelty and failure of welfare reforms, and the appalling waste demonstrated in evidence-free policies like the troubled families programme.

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Home care crisis as more private companies quit: The elderly are being put at risk as firms abandon services, watchdog warns

Elderly residents are being put at risk because private firms are abandoning home care services, the watchdog has warned.

The Care Quality Commission said rising numbers of companies are pulling out of contracts with councils as they are no longer 'profitable.'

 According to the watchdog, the crisis in social care funding means authorities can only afford to pay firms very low rates.

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Children’s services at ‘tipping point’ as austerity agenda continues

Council children’s services are nearing a “tipping point” as rates of referrals for suspected abuse continue to rise without a corresponding increase in funding, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has warned. 

The latest Safeguarding Pressures report from the ADCS showed that in 2015-16, there were 2.19 million initial contacts to children’s social care, an increase of 53% since 2007-08. 

In the same period, referrals to children’s social care increased by 12%, child protection plans increased by 78%, and children taken into care increased by over a third.

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Sugar tax could mean rise in general taxation, pressure group claims

The Government is expected to unveil plans for taxes on sugary drinks, amid warnings from critics that the levy could end up resulting in higher general taxation or a rise in borrowing.

The Treasury is expected to announce plans for taxes on sugary drinks which are forecast to raise £520m a year - following promises that funds raised will be spent on sport in primary schools.

 

But critics said the estimates are not reliable - and suggested the public could end up having to find extra money to ensure school sports are not left cash-strapped.

he Government is expected to unveil plans for taxes on sugary drinks, amid warnings from critics that the levy could end up resulting in higher general taxation or a rise in borrowing.

Full Article

Cost of social care has rocketed over last year, analysis shows

The cost of social care rocketed over the last year, even as the proportion of services ranked good or outstanding fell, according to a new analysis.

Social care services directory TrustedCare.co.uk found that the price of a week in a care home jumped by almost a quarter over the last year, from an average of £557.86 a week to £686.32, while the cost of a nursing home rose more than a third from £692.17 per week to £924.82. The price per hour of care visits also rose, from £15.01 to £17.02.

The analysis was based on data from providers registered on TrustedCare, as well as calls made by its researchers to more than 100 services in each English county over the last four months.

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Female dementia sufferers get worse medical treatment than men

Women suffering from dementia in the UK receive worse medical treatment than men with the condition, new research suggests.

The gender gap shows women make fewer visits to GPs, get less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful drugs than men.

Researchers at University College London examined the medical records of 68,000 dementia patients and 259,000 people without dementia using The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database.

Despite being more vulnerable to physical and mental illness the study, published in Age and Ageing, showed patients with dementia received less medical care that those without.

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UK infrastructure pipeline grows to £500bn

More than £500bn in planned public and private investment is now in the UK’s infrastructure pipeline, according to an update issued by the Treasury today [05.12.2016].

Ministers hailed it as the largest and most comprehensive infrastructure plan ever, which would help boost Britain’s flagging productivity.

“This record infrastructure pipeline is set to make a real difference to people’s lives form quicker and easier journeys, to better broadband access, and building more homes for people who need them in high demand areas,” said David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury.

Full Article

If austerity is over, why can’t Britain afford proper social care? [opinion]

The 82-year-old man said he wanted to remain anonymous. Then he spent half an hour telling me about the increasing difficulty of his day-to-day life. “I feel helpless,” he said. He lives alone around 40 minutes from London, and has a neurological condition that leads to long spells of physical weakness. He uses a wheelchair, and depends on the care workers at his sheltered housing development for assistance with some of life’s most basic tasks. Of course, it’s not just him. His flat is just one of 44.

Until recently, he said, there were several care workers there, but the numbers were cut. Seven or eight people once worked a busy morning shift; now there are never more than five, falling to two or three at other times, and a lone person at night.

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UK congestion worst in Europe and set to cost £62bn

The United Kingdom is the worst country in Europe for traffic jams, and London the most congested city in the continent, according to major new research.

Based on fresh analysis by data company INRIX, the UK has jumped from being the fifth worst in Europe to the first.

Using its Roadway Analytics traffic analysis tool, INRIX also estimates the cumulative cost of jams across the UK will hit £61.8bn by 2025.

Of all cities analysed, London had the highest number of traffic hotspots (12,776) and the highest Impact Factor.

Full Article

Teachers welcome £140m school improvement fund, but demand more details

Teachers have welcomed the government announcement that £190m will be spent on school improvement, but have raised concerns that a new £140m ‘strategic school improvement fund’ will detract from schools’ key work.

The education secretary Justine Greening announced that two funds will be poured into schools: a £50m fund to help local authorities monitor and improve low-performing maintained schools, and a £140m ‘strategic school improvement fund’ targeted at schools most in need of support to drive up standards.

Full Article

More than 250,000 are homeless in England - Shelter

More than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England, an analysis of the latest official figures suggests.

Researchers from charity Shelter used data from four sets of official 2016 statistics to compile what it describes as a "conservative" total.

The figures show homelessness hotspots outside London, with high rates in Birmingham, Brighton and Luton.

The government says it does not recognise the figures, but is investing more than £500m on homelessness.

Full Article

A new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway could cost up to £3.5bn, it has emerged.

As part of last week’s Autumn Statement [23.11.2016] , chancellor Philip Hammond announced ‘a commitment to deliver the new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway’, and £27m in development funding for the project.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has now published a study on the proposed scheme, which set out three shortlisted route options for an Expressway, as well as sub-options to route around Oxford, ranging between £3bn-£3.5bn.

Full Article

Libraries receive £4m fund as part of strategy to help secure their future

A new national strategy to help England’s hard-pressed libraries is to include a £4m innovation fund for projects that help disadvantaged communities.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published a five-year strategy for libraries, which it said would help them improve and thrive in the 21st century.

Rob Wilson, the junior minister responsible for libraries, said libraries were “hugely popular” and among the most valuable community assets, but they had to change.

Full Article

Councils back new vision for library services

Councils should use libraries to deliver a wider range of public services in a bid to reinvigorate the sector, a new report has argued.

Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021 calls on local authorities to be innovative when using library buildings, such as for delivering employment, health and learning opportunities.

The strategy, produced by the Libraries Taskforce, includes a £4m fund to deliver new initiatives for disadvantaged communities across the country. The fund will finance new projects such as literacy schemes, improving access to technology or increasing the number of children visiting libraries.

Full Article

Depth of housing crisis revealed as 35,000 people sit on waiting lists for 10 years

Tens of thousands of people have been on social housing waiting lists for a decade, we can reveal today.

Research shows at least 104,000 people in Britain have been on waiting lists for council-owned or “arm’s length run” homes, such as in housing associations, for five years.

At least 35,000 have been on the same waiting lists for 10 years.

Officials insisted not all were in urgent need - but town hall chiefs warned the Mirror of a “crisis” and called for urgent action from the Tory government.

Full Article

Councils' social care cash to be 'brought forward'

Councils are expected to be told they can raise extra funds for social care over the next two years - but they will then get no more in the third year.

Campaigners have been calling for investment to tackle what they say is a funding crisis in services for the elderly and disabled.

Now councils in England are expected to be allowed to bring forward investment using extra council tax rises.

The Local Government Association has said the changes were "insufficient".

Full Article

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