News round-up 21/6: Ten more years' austerity
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK’s most senior civil servant has said that the country could be facing a decade of austerity measures. Speaking at the Institute for Government, cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said that work to balance the public finances was only a quarter of the way to reaching completion.
Boris Johnson is demanding sweeping new powers over London’s schools as part of a dramatic bid for more control of education in the capital, the Evening Standard reports. The London Mayor has made a case to education secretary Michael Gove to be put in charge of overseeing standards, improving literacy and helping to ease the school places crisis. While Mr Gove is understood to be receptive to some of the ideas, including the Mayor having a role in allocating capital funds, Whitehall insiders suggested he would have some reservations about creating a new “middle tier” of regional management to oversee academies.
Hundreds more vulnerable children are to be sent to boarding school rather than care homes, the Times reports. Children’s minister Tim Loughton signalled an expansion of ‘assisted boarding’ at the launch of a network to bring together schools, local authorities and charities.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail leads with news that education secretary Michael Gove is to bring forward the “biggest revolution in education for 30 years” with the return of O-level exams. The paper claims to have seen leaked documents that reveal Mr Gove’s plans to “tear up” the current exam system and abolish the National Curriculum.
The government received some welcome economic news, as unemployment fell by 51,000 to 2.61m, in the three months from February to April, the Financial Times reports. Despite this being the third successive fall, business leaders are said to be wary that unemployment could climb again over the summer.
The paper leads with news that banks are to get cheap money to help increase their lending. The government’s new “funding for lending” scheme will cut banks’ funding costs to as little as 1.2%, the paper claims.
The Daily Telegraph leads with news that support for a strike by doctors taking place today was “crumbling” after a “public backlash”. A survey carried out by the paper claimed that two thirds of GP surgeries expected to have all their doctors working today and be open as usual.
The Daily Express claims in their lead article that cost to the taxpayer of the pensions for striking doctors’ would run to £67bn.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed the strike as futile and called on GPs to examine the facts, reports the Times.
The Guardian reports that the Chief Inspector of Constabulary has warned that the cases of thousands of victims of persistent anti-social behaviour were still “slipping through the net”. A review by Sir Denis O’Connor found that only five out of 43 police forces in England and Wales consistently questioned callers to establish if they had been targeted before, whilst no forces checked on the vulnerability of the victims.
Meanwhile, private companies will be running large parts of the UK’s police service within five years, according to David Taylor-Smith, the head of G4S for the UK and Africa, who is quoted in the Guardian.
Senior jobcentre executives have warned staff of the risk of benefit claimants attempting suicide as controversial changes to sickness benefits are being pushed through, the Guardian reports.
In a memo, the managers said: “Very sadly, only last week a customer of DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] attempted suicide” – which it adds is “said to be the result of receiving a letter” informing him that his sickness benefit would be cut off.