News round-up 17/10: Labour health and care row
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Health and social care
Labour leader Ed Miliband’s office intervened to water down plans to link health and social care at Labour’s conference last month, the Guardian reports.
It said the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham had wanted to make a commitment to integrate the two services, but Mr Miliband’s staff were concerned that the idea had not been costed.
They were also concerned, the paper reports, that Mr Burnham told fringe meetings of plans to give local councils powers to commission health services, which Mr Miliband felt was an idea not yet properly examined.
Former 10 Downing Street head of policy James O’Shaughnessy argues in the Daily Telegraph that profit making firms should be allowed to take over failing schools.
Where conversion to academy status has failed to improve standards governors would be “obliged to appoint an external provider to run it”, who would be able to access the expertise of private providers who would be paid by results.
Objections to private sector involvement were “ideological prejudice”, he said.
He also called for the creation of a network of local school commissioners who, under the direction of central government, would intervene in the thousands of underperforming schools and turn them over to an academy sponsor or successful chain.
Coventry City Council has refused to proceed with building two new schools after discovering that the law allows education secretary Michael Gove to dictate that they must be either academies or free schools.
The Guardian reports the council saying that it would have built the schools with money provided by developers under planning gain agreements but saw no reason to spend it on schools it would not control.
Coventry may instead use the money to expand existing schools.
The Office of Budget Responsibility has said that deficit reduction is not the main cause of weak economic performance in the UK, the Financial Times reports.
It said the OBR’s report would come as a relief to the Treasury. The report instead blamed unexpectedly stubborn inflation and weak export markets for the economy’s continued poor performance.
The Independent reports that an inquiry led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has found that up to 500,000 disabled people would be worse off under universal credit.
The inquiry concluded that universal credit would make it harder for disabled people to remain in work. The Department for Work and Pensions accused the inquiry team of producing a “highly selective” report.
Trade union Unite is exploring the idea of creating a national credit union to offer an alternative to payday loan companies, the Guardian reports.
The union said this would offer a source of cheap small loans that would avoid borrowers paying the excessive rates charged by some commercial loan firms.
Guardian commentator Peter Hetherington has accused the government of becoming as centralist as its predecessors despite talking about localism.
He said the Treasury continues to “mistrust local government and keeps its tanks on what passes for [Eric] Pickles’ lawn”.
Prime minister David Cameron, who once wanted to unleash “genuine localism” now describes councils as enemies of enterprise, Mr Hetherington noted.
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