News round-up 8/10: Deal agreed on welfare cuts
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Chancellor George Osborne has secured an agreement with work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith for a further £10bn worth of welfare cuts, the Guardian reports. The Treasury has given the green light to the Mr Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, which will merge benefits and tax credits from next year.
The Financial Times reports that the UK’s austerity squeeze is set to last until 2018. It says the Office for Budget Responsibility will tell Mr Osborne in advance of December’s autumn statement that he will have to fill another large hole in public finances. Higher borrowing and weaker growth make it likely the government will miss its revised target of seeing the burden of public debt fall by 2016-17, the paper said.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will tell the Conservative Party conference today that nine out of ten Scottish households take more from the public purse than they contribute in taxes.
The Department for Transport could be sued by pension funds and other private investors if official forecasts for long-term traffic growth fail to materialise, the Times reports. With the Transport Planning Society – a panel of local government representatives, consultants and academics – set to call for an urgent review of the DfT’s forecasts, Phil Goodwin, a former independent government adviser will tell the annual European Transport Conference today that projections for continued car growth look “implausible”.
A clampdown on the employment of private sector consultants was behind the fiasco of the aborted West Coast Main Line franchising, the Financial Times says it has been told by Whitehall sources. The franchise was the first on which no consultant was originally used from among the major finance firms such as Ernst & Young. KPMG or PwC, the paper says, following a clampdown on the use of external consultants ordered by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
The CBI is urging the government to privatise motorways and to introduce more toll roads in order to inject cash into road networks, the Guardian reports. CBI director general Jonathan Cridland said private sector investment was the only way to ensure long-term funding for UK roads.
More than 50 businesses are calling on the government to put in place a 2030 target for decarbonising the power sector, the Guardian reports today. In a letter to energy secretary Ed Davey and chancellor George Osborne, retail and technology companies like Asda and Sky are arguing that the target will stimulate investment and revitalise UK energy infrastructure. The move is already backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
The Times writes that seven global electricity and nuclear technology companies are among the signatories, saying their future investment in the UK energy industry is “critically dependent on a long-term stable policy framework”.
The European Union is close to approving £530m of UK state aid to build a rural broadband network. The payment had been delayed while the EU considered competition issues, the Financial Times reports. Under the Broadband Delivery UK scheme, local authorities choose preferred providers for these areas, a process that has been stalled until the state aid issue was resolved.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles will pledge to protect the green belt in a speech at the Conservative party conference, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says Mr Pickles will say there has been “a lot of press speculation” about plans to allow a weakening in green belt protection, to boost economic development, but that “protecting the character of the countryside is stamped deep into the heart of Conservatism”.
The Daily Telegraph reports that mental health wards and geriatric units are “the latest target of a radical cost-cutting shake-up” in the NHS. It says the newspaper has found evidence of “recent or planned closures of a range of vital services across England’s 300 acute hospitals.”
We hope you enjoyed the above article, to get unlimited access to all articles on LGCplus.com you will need to have a paid subscription. Subscribe now to save yourself £100 off the standard subscription rate.