News round-up 18/6: Children's homes under review
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The effectiveness of children’s homes in England will be subject to a government review after a parliamentary inquiry revealed that occupants of children’s homes were three times more likely to run away and be exposed to physical or sexual abuse compared to children living at home, the Guardian writes.
Speaking on the BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for runaway and missing children Ann Coffey (Lab) said 46% of children in care were being place away from their home town and that children felt “dumped”, which meant that there was a greater likelihood of these children running away from their care homes.
David Simmonds (Con), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, told the BBC that a “statistical fog” had been created by a succession of governments, which made it difficult to determine the number of children running away from care homes. Cllr Simmonds argued that in some instances it made sense for children to be placed away from their home towns for their own safety.
The Daily Telegraph reports that a legal loophole means middle-class elderly people are being denied protection of their human rights in care homes. A report by the LGA, NHS managers and charities says those who fund their own care do not have the same protections under the Human Rights Act as those whose care is provided by the state. This means they are “less able to sue unscrupulous care homes if they are left in soiled sheets or poorly fed,” the paper says.
Independent grammar schools are ready to abandon fees and join the state sector, the Independent reports, but the schools would want to continue to be able to select their pupils, the paper notes.
The Independent also reports that teachers have warned that a new phonics reading test for six-year-olds will confuse pupils and says unions have threatened a boycott.
Only a quarter of those in need of treatment for mental illness get help through the NHS, the Guardian writes. Millions of pounds are being wasted by not addressing the root causes of people’s health problems, which nearly half of the time will be psychological, a London School of Economics report claims.
Public service reform
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is preparing to veto chancellor George Osborne’s proposal to introduce local pay agreements throughout the public sector, the Independent reports. The Liberal Democrats have become increasingly hostile to the plans, fearing that local pay agreements would widen the North-South divide and cause a backlash from North-England voters.
As key ministers tried to block proposals for civil service reform last week, claiming they were not radical enough, the Times reveals that ministers are demanding new powers to hire and fire their permanent secretaries.
The Financial Times says Britain is braced for the biggest wave of outsourcing since the 1980s with more than £4bn of tenders to be negotiated this year. The paper says the contracts are focused in defence, justice, and work and pensions, but also cover local government, transport and education.
Britain’s biggest regional airline, Flybe, is backing calls for an expansion of Birmingham airport as an alternative for carriers disadvantaged by the dominance of British Airways at Heathrow, the Times reports. The airline’s support comes after outspoken backing from business secretary Vince Cable last week.