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NATIONAL PRESS - ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES - UPDATED 9:54AM

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NEW TEST WILL COUNT THE COST OF LEGISLATION ...
NEW TEST WILL COUNT THE COST OF LEGISLATION

Tony Blair will today demand that ministers use tougher tests to assess the costs and benefits of their legislative proposals, following claims that Labour has raised the cost of regulatory compliance by up to£10bn over this parliament, reports The Financial Times(p1).

GOVERNMENT FAILING TO DENT BENEFITS FRAUD

The commons public accounts committee yesterday expressed its frustration at the slow progress of government measures to combat benefits fraud - which currently costs taxpayers£4bn a year. The Times(p6) reports that the committee called for 'greater use of investigative techniques' and said that the whole benefits system should be simplified in order to make cheating more difficult.

MPs SAY GOVERNMENT DEALS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR GIVE COMPANIES TOO MUCH POWER

Private finance initiative deals between government departments and IT contractors leave ministers at the mercy of the private sector because they give companies too much power, the commons public accounts committee will say today. The Financial Times(p2) reports that the committee will single out the contract with Andersen Consulting to develop the new national insurance recording system, which is running three years behind schedule.

LONDON TRANSPORT CHIEFS TOLD TO GET ON THE BUS

Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, has ordered all senior staff working for Transport for London (formerly London Transport) to return their company cars and travel on the same trains and buses as everyone else, reports The Times(p6). The move will mean that more than 200 senior managers, including board members, will have to use public transport for all work-related journeys, and parking spaces for some staff are likely to be withdrawn.

PORTSMOUTH SEX OFFENDERS OFFERED ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION FOLLOWING VIOLENCE

Portsmouth City Council has offered alternative accommodation to convicted paedophiles living in the Paulsgrove district following the sixth night of protests

and violence by residents who want to drive sex offenders out of the neighbourhood. The Independent(p4) reports that the protest organisers, calling themselves the Peaceful Protestors of Paulsgrove, say they have a list of 20 suspected paedophiles, although, in reality, only three known sex offenders live in the area.

SEDGEMOOR OVERRULED BY INSPECTOR ON ASYLUM SEEKER HOSTEL

The Guardian(p7) reports that the planning inspectorate has overturned Sedgemoor DC's refusal to approve a planned hostel for asylum seekers in the hamlet of Over Stowey. The chairman of the inquiry, Philip Wilson, said the appeal proposal had been prompted by a 'need arising from guidance issued by central government ... to ensure asylum seekers do not become concentrated in specific areas'.

MANY CARE JOBS PAY LESS THAN SHOP WAGES

Denise Platt, the chief inspector of social services, has said that local authorities are reporting 'utmost difficulty' finding staff to fill posts critical to the challenge of improving care services. The Guardian(p9) reports that Ms Platt admits that many jobs involving care are offering lower pay than supermarket jobs. The full report can be downloaded here.

HALF-PRICE BUS TRAVEL PLAN FOR ALL PENSIONERS

John Prescott, the environment secretary, will today announce a£50m scheme under which all pensioners will receive at least half-price bus travel. The Guardianreports that the government will pay local authorities 50% of the cost of bus journeys in their area by women over 60 and men over 65. At the same time the government will abolish charges, that average£5, for concessionary cards.

By Lewis Williamson, LGCnet assistant editor

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