News round-up 3/7: Ministers to tackle care home concerns
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Children in care
The government will today announce measures to end the “export trade” in vulnerable children around the English regions. The Times writes that councils who move troubled children from southern England to cheaper care homes in the north will have to account for their actions under the reforms. The Guardian says ministers have been alarmed by evidence that children in care are particularly vulnerable to child sexual exploitation, with some residential homes being targeted by abusers.
David Simmonds (Con), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said sexual exploitation of children was “a concern for everyone”, but he defended the placing of children far away from families when home posed a risk to their safety. “Central government diktats must not override the flexibility councils require to make decisions based on the needs and safety of each and every child.”
The Bank of England should stimulate economic growth by funding small businesses through a network modelled on Germany’s regional lenders, according to the Commission on the Future of Local Government. The Financial Times reports on the group’s claims that £325bn quantitative easing has had little impact on regional businesses.
The Daily Telegraph reports that unemployed people “who do not try hard enough to find a job” could lose their benefits for three years. It says a new sanctions regime, which will come into force this autumn, will use a “three strikes” policy under which jobseekers that fail to comply with rules on looking for work three times in a 12-month period could lose their benefits for three years.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that dementia sufferers are waiting up to a year for a diagnosis while others wait just weeks under “shocking variations” in standards around the country, MPs have warned.
Almost 6,000 front line police posts will be axed and hundreds of police stations shut to the public within three years as forces looks to find ways of cutting spending by £2.4bn, the Independent reports.
In other news, the Times reports that the government’s plans for elected commissioners suffered an “embarrassing blow” yesterday when Falklands War veteran Simon Weston pulled out of the race in South Wales, saying he was dismayed that the role had already become politicised.
MPs have warned that exam boards are creating a “race to the bottom” by competing to drive down test standards to improve pupils’ pass rates. The education select committee found “perverse incentives” in which multiple examiners strip content out of syllabuses, stage training seminars for teachers and sell textbooks packed with exam tips to help schools inflate their overall score, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Cost of living
Living in the countryside costs £2,000 a year more than in urban areas, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says researchers have found that inflation in rural areas has been at nearly twice the national average over the past 12 months. This was driven by soaring fuel prices and an increase in the price of electricity and heating oil, it says.