News round-up 5/10: Croydon under B&B spotlight
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Croydon LBC was the focus of a BBC Newsnight investigation into the growing number of homeless families forced to live for unlawfully long periods in overcrowded and sometimes dangerous bed and breakfast hotels. Croydon denied it was flouting the law by keeping children in B&Bs for more than the government-imposed maximum of six weeks, saying it was working hard to get families out of B&Bs as quickly as possible. Chief executive Jon Rouse said: “We are concerned. But we are behaving legally. We review all cases on an ongoing basis and clearly as we’re coming up to that six week threshold, we’re particularly concerned to see if we can identify alternatives for those individual households.” The council said it had fewer and fewer alternatives to B&Bs for homeless families as rents rise, benefits are cut, and social housing stocks diminish.
Child sex grooming
The head of children’s services at a council accused of failing to tackle the grooming of young girls for sex was allowed to resign yesterday without facing any disciplinary action, the Times reports. Steve Garner’s departure from Rochdale MBC was announced a week after a review into five years of sexual exploitation in the town found that abused children were dismissed by social workers as “engaging in consensual sexual activity”.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on chancellor George Osborne to hand back stamp duty powers to London, reports the Financial Times. In a letter to the chancellor, Mr Johnson pressed him to give City Hall control of the proceeds of stamp duty, which he could then use to fund housebuilding and regeneration schemes. Commenting, Mr Johnson said that the devolution of stamp duty powers to London would be “entirely in line” with the government’s strategy to boost the economy by devolving powers from Westminster. The government has already committed to handing over stamp duty to Scotland in 2015.
West Coast Mainline
Former Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan has called for a review of the High Speed rail scheme (HS2), claiming that the project is founded upon the same “flawed assumptions” as the West Coast Mainline contract, writes the Times. However a Department for Transport spokesman told the paper that the issues relating to the West Coast franchise were unrelated to HS2.
Bank of England
The Bank of England is expected to pump another £50bn of funds into the economy next month to boost growth, reports the Guardian. The moves come despite the central bank’s decision yesterday to leave base rates at 0.5% and the quantitative easing (QE) total at £375bn, the paper says. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will examine the latest market surveys and the success of its Funding for Lending Scheme before making any final decision to expand QE.
A company founded by Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps is to be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), reports today’s Independent. The inquiry comes after it was discovered Mr Shapps posed as a wealthy web guru named Michael Green to sell get-rich-quick advice over the internet. Mr Shapps was a co-founder of HowToCorp.com and passed his share to his wife in 2008. He has had no involvement with the company since then, the paper says.