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News round-up 23/5: Clegg signals fresh focus on growth

Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

Economy

The Financial Times writes that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has signalled a change of tune on economic policy from warnings about debt to a fresh focus on growth. The paper reports that the coalition is preparing a “massive” increase in state-backed investment in housing and infrastructure as well as moves to tackle youth unemployment.

Mr Clegg’s comments coincide with the visit to London of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde who, the Times reports, has told chancellor George Osborne that it is “time for plan B”. Ms Lagarde has expressed concern over weak economic growth and high levels of youth unemployment and has urged the chancellor to prepare an emergency package of tax cuts and spending increases. Calling for an immediate interest rate cut, Ms Lagarde also said the chancellor might have to slash VAT and national insurance if growth did not take off in the next few months.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph leads with news that Adrian Beecroft has labelled business secretary Vince Cable “a socialist”, saying Dr Cable should never have been put in charge of business policy. The criticism comes after Dr Cable objected to plans drawn up by Mr Beecroft in his report, which advocated removing red tape in employment regulation to help entrepreneurs set up businesses in Britain.

 

Police

The Independent reports that new plans announced by home secretary Theresa May to lock up children as young as 14 as part of plans to fast-track anti-social behaviour punishment has caused tensions in the coalition. The move to replace anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) with criminal behaviour orders (already dubbed “Crimbos”) will mean retaining the option of detention; a move which has angered children’s groups and has dismayed Liberal Democrat ministers, the paper writes.

 

Welfare

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith will today signal that unemployed people suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse will have their benefits cut if they refuse treatment, as part of a new benefits regime, the Guardian reports.

 

Health care

Prime minister David Cameron will pledge more funds towards research into new dementia treatments to stop care homes using anti-psychotic drugs, the Telegraph reports. Officials have estimated that 1,800 patients die prematurely every year due to complications arising from the use of drugs aimed at calming unpredictable behaviour.

Elsewhere, the Guardian highlights new research that shows that “billions of pounds of NHS spending” will be moved from the north to the south of England. Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans to replace “levels of deprivation” with the “age of residents” as the main basis for budget allocation will result in NHS spending moving away from poorer areas in the north of the country with high rates of ill health, the paper writes. The news had previously been broken by LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal.

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