Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Financial Times writes that prime minister David Cameron faces “one of his toughest tests” on Thursday with the Conservatives expected to lose up to 350 council seats in the local elections.
Liberal Democrats are predicted to lose nearly as many seats, but the Times reports the party is upbeat about the likely result because voters are blaming the coalition’s woes on the Conservatives. Liberal Democrat councillors’ leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson described the Tories as being in “disarray”, “incompetent” and “not on the side of the people”.
The Telegraph reports that Mr Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg are “planning a show of unity after this week’s local elections, where both their parties are expecting major losses.” It says the prime minister and deputy prime minister will stage a rare joint public appearance after Thursday’s polls.
Elderly social care
Changes to the way long-term care for elderly and disabled people is funded are at least 18 months away, the Financial Times reports. A white paper originally due in the spring will not be published until June and will focus on service improvement and personal budgets, the paper says, while a separate report will describe the progress of all-party talks about the funding of care. The Financial Times says the prime minister is committed to reform within this parliament, but says the Treasury has balked at the cost of the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission.
The Telegraph carries a letter from the Care and Support Alliance of 50 charities calling for the government to overhaul the funding of care. The alliance said its members were dealing every day with the consequences of council funding cuts.
Their letter echoes a similar letter from the Local Government Association, as reported last week by LGC, which called on all three party leaders to support Dilnot’s cost-capping model.
Ministers are “prevaricating” over LGA calls for councils to be allowed to issue penalty notices to drivers who park in cycle lanes and junction boxes, the Times reports. Councils want to use the police powers as Transport for London has done to reduce offences by 51%.
Children in care
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown discusses an NSPCC report that shows almost half of the 90,000 children in care are sent back to “abusive and neglectful families”. Children’s minister Tim Loughton has “passed all responsibility and blame to local authorities,” she writes in the Independent. “While [councils] squabble, more children suffer or disappear into the twilight underworld of crime and prostitution.”
Government MPs are anticipating a “fresh dispute” over the Health and Social Care Act when parliament votes next month on the creation of bodies including clinical commissioning groups, reports the Financial Times.