News round-up 13/8: LGA flood cash call
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Times reports that the recent torrential rain and flooding has left councils with a £200m repair bill for roads, bridges and pavements. The LGA is writing to ministers to demand emergency funds to help with the repair bill. With the existing framework only allowing for emergency funds to be used for revenue spending rather than capital projects such as road building, LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell called on ministers to start an emergency repair fund for structural repairs as it did after the severe floods of 2007.
Economy and politics
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s latest report on the job market has warned that a fresh round of job cuts is fast approaching, the Times reports. Its research has found that one business in three is keeping more staff than needed to avoid losing skills, but would enforce redundancies if economic growth did not return soon.
The Financial Times reports that ministers are nowhere near agreement on new laws to stimulate the economy, causing tensions in the coalition. Right wing Conservative MPs are pressuring Downing Street to deliver free-market reforms through a ‘jobs bill’ or an ‘economic regeneration bill’. But aides from both ruling parties warned that discussions as to what would be in the new bill, or if there would even be one, had barely begun. The paper also reports that communities secretary Eric Pickles would resist fresh plans to shake up the planning system after clashing with Conservation groups such as the National Trust on earlier reforms.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that only one voter in six believes that the coalition government will survive until the 2015 election, according to an ICM poll.
The story that thousands of jobcentre staff will go on strike over “oppressive working conditions and unrealistic targets” is reported in today’s Guardian. More than 6,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union in 32 call centres across the UK will take part in the strike. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, told the paper that the call centres “provide a vital lifeline”, but said that “staff are being forced to end calls as quickly as possible just to meet an artificial target”.
Two of the UKs largest exam boards have outlined plans for radical change to GCSEs, reports the Independent. Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board has called for lower level GCSEs to be scrapped, arguing that they do students a “disservice” by allowing them to believe they can progress further with only low-level passes, the paper writes. Pearson, the parent company of Edexcel, has set out plans for a new “gold standard” qualification. Sir Michael Barber, former education adviser to Tony Blair, has been appointed to lead the programme. The announcements come as education secretary Michael Gove considers plans to scrap GCSEs and return to O-levels.