News round-up 8/8: Rise in adoptions
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The number of toddlers and young children being adopted has risen to a 35 year high, in a government drive to move more children in care to stable families, says the Daily Telegraph. The Office for National Statistics reports that 4,734 children were adopted in England and Wales last year, up 6% on 2010, the paper says. Responding to the figures from the ONS, David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It is heartening that there has been a slight increase in the number of children being adopted. The priority is, and must remain placing a child within a loving family home but it should be recognised that this is not always best achieved through adoption. For the majority of children in care adoption may not be the most appropriate solution. Social workers must be able to make the best decision for the individual child and should not be deterred from considering all options including special guardianship arrangements.”
The Guardian reports that a homeless 16-year-old “resorted to living in a tent for nine months and selling his belongings to survive” after Kent CC and Dover DC failed to help him. It says the local government ombudsman has condemned the councils’ “inexcusable” handling of the case, in which they failed to assess they boy’s needs or provide him with accommodation. It says this is the third ombudsman ruling against Kent CC in the past 10 days.
The Guardian also carries a feature about cuts to Sure Start centres, saying some councils are reducing staff and support services. “Across the country, local authorities anxious to avoid the negative headlines associated with closing children’s centres are busy merging and clustering,” it says. “But that masks a picture of cuts to the breadth and frequency of services offered, as well as to staff numbers and opening times.”
The Daily Mail reports on a spat between parish council rivals that has dragged the village of Enborne into “the politics of the playground”. Parish council chairman Douglas Staples become so enraged by constant letters of complaint from his predecessor Marilyn Ray that he signed her up to a ‘sexy singles’ dating website. Mr Staples has now had a restraining order placed upon him and been fined for harassment.
Riots like those which rocked England last year are likely to happen again unless action is taken to heal divisions between teenagers and the authorities, according to a panel of young people which has been working with the Children’s Society. The group said that another incident like the shooting of Mark Duggan or an issue like the tuition fees row could spark off another spate of disturbances, the Independent reports.
Bank of England
The Bank of England is expected to slash UK growth forecasts close to 0% – down from the 0.8% figure predicted in May, the Telegraph says. The Bank will release its quarterly inflation report later today and will also downgrade inflation forecasts amid a weak economy, slowing domestic demand and the Eurozone crisis. Additionally, the Bank is expected to say that the British economy will come to a standstill this year with virtually zero growth in 2012 as a whole. The paper says that the new forecasts are also expected to show a sharp downgrade of growth prospects for 2013 to about 1.5 per cent.
Prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg are to launch a “mid-term review” of the coalition when Parliament returns in the autumn, writes the Financial Times. The paper says that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg plan to examine the aspects they believe have been achieved from the 2010 Coalition Agreement, and set out how their parties intend to complete the rest. The move is an attempt to draw a line under this week’s tensions between the two parties, following the abandonment of the House of Lords Reform Bill.
Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that Mr Cameron has said he will “press ahead” with a vote next year on constituency boundary changes, even though Mr Clegg had said he will instruct Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the plans.
The Independent also leads on the proposed boundary changes, and says that the “showdown” in the House of Commons is likely to be one of the biggest tests of the coalition to date.
Male candidates are set to dominate the upcoming elections for Police and Crime Commissioners this autumn, writes the Guardian. With fewer than 100 days to go before the 15 November elections, more than 80% of the 130 confirmed candidates are male, says the paper.
The Daily Telegraph reports that government targets requiring all schoolchildren to take part in at least two hours of sport each week have been dropped. According to the coalition, head teachers should be “given the freedom to organise physical activity instead of following a bureaucratic system.” The paper says the decision will contribute to concerns that some children may not be getting access to the necessary amount of exercise each week.