News round-up 7/6: Public health officials tackle legionnaires
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Independent reports that the worst outbreak of legionnaires’ disease in over a decade has been blamed on a network of industrial cooling towers in south-west Edinburgh. Yesterday, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 40, with 12 critically ill in hospital and one man, who had underlying health problems, dead.
Plans to reduce some benefits, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes, for better off pensioners has split the coalition government. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told colleagues he would be happy to see payments dramatically cut, after reports that work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith was seeking a £5bn cut in benefits to the elderly. The Independent reports that the prime minister has pledged to protect the payments, but the paper suggests that protection may only last until 2015.
The Peabody Trust, a housing association originally established through the philanthropy of US-born financier George Peabody, has warned that its mission to house the “poor and needy” is under threat from government reforms. The Financial Times reports that changes to the welfare system – including a cap on housing benefit – risk undermining the provision of social housing in London, where property prices and living costs are “artificially high”.
The Spanish government has warned that the single currency will unravel unless leaders decide to centralise Eurozone budgetary and tax policies and agree pool responsibility for failing banks, the Guardian reports. European officials are considering a bailout programme for Spain’s banking sector, but only on “very limited conditionality”, the Financial Times reports.
Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight looks at the financial position of local government Spain and reports that a high level of regional autonomy has seen towns and cities build up large debts in recent years.
A child safeguarding board in Rotherham MBC has been forced to publish a serious case review into the case of a girl linked to the Rotherham sexual abuse case involving Asian men and white girls. The board abandoned an attempt to secure a High Court injunction and prevent The Times running the story after education secretary Michael Gove intervened and accused the board of withholding “relevant and important material”, the paper reports.
The Guardian reports that children who have been sexually exploited “are being put in further danger because of a dire lack of trained foster carers,” according to the charity Barnardo’s. It says the charity has warned that leaving the most vulnerable children in residential care or secure units puts them “at greater risk from groomers and traffickers.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that elderly care home residents were “routinely left without food” after Lyndhurst Lodge in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, ran out of supplies because of attempts to “cut down the shopping bill.” It says the finding comes in a report from the Care Quality Commission.
Acting chief constable Chris Weigh of Lancashire Constabulary, who has lost 500 officers so far, has warned that the loss of frontline officers had resulted in an “inevitable” rise in some crimes, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The Treasury has dismissed the idea of “growth bonds” which would be specifically earmarked for infrastructure, a concept floated by “senior government figures” and picked up by the Financial Times yesterday. The paper reports today that the chancellor’s aides said the plan would not go ahead.