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News Headlines


‘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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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.


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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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