LGC’s selection of this week’s must-read news items plus a comprehensive round-up of news from all local government’s service areas and disciplines.
NOTE: Click on the headlines for more on the stories.
THE WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Councils have threatened a legal challenge over a decision not to make local authorities priority creditors on the recovery of investments in a failed Icelandic bank. The winding-up board of Glitnir Bank, in which councils have deposits of £217m, has specified the claims as “general unsecured”. But without “priority” status, authorities are likely to get back 25-30% of deposits, rather than 100%
Local Government Association chairman Margaret Eaton said: “The LGA will not hesitate to take the legal action necessary to protect the deposits of councils and council tax payers.” (LGCplus report)
The Audit Commission has rapped Birmingham City Council, Brentwood BC and Ashfield and Wycombe DCs for failing to have their 2008-09 accounts audited eight months after the end of the financial year. Hertfordshire and West Sussex CCs, Arun and Bromsgrove DCs, Eastbourne BC and Oxford City Council were also criticised in a letter to communities secretary John Denham for having qualified audit opinions by the deadline. (Public Finance report)
Commission chief executive Steve Bundred said the watchdog has been concerned “about the quality and timeliness of financial reporting by local government”.
Central Bedfordshire Council is to reduce its management overheads by a fifth by cutting one of its directorates. Assistant director and head of service posts will also be restructured. The unitary council, created in April, has published draft budget proposals to be agreed early next year. Chief executive Richard Carr told LGC he was looking into “collapsing the business transformation and corporate services departments into one”. (LGCplus report)
LGC says: New unitaries facing a tough combination of transition costs and the recession will be under increasing pressure to make savings.
The public sector’s organisational shape must change if budget reductions are not to result in staff being asked to do more, or less being delivered, business advisory firm Deloitte has warned. It argues in a report that traditional cost-cutting may prove unsustainable and damage quality. Deloitte urges the government and the public sector to review each area and reshape structures and organisations accordingly.
It says: “The result will be the removal of duplication and layers of management superfluous to front-line delivery and also the merging of numerous public bodies.” (LGCplus report)
Labour poll boost after Darling’s PBR (LGCplus report)
New Welsh local government minister (LGCplus report)
LGIU & CPSP agree partnership (LGCplus report)
- Tories pull back on renewal plan (Regen report)
Public sector efficiency saves £1.4bn (LGCplus report)
Mouchel snubs take-over approach by VT (LGCplus report)
Gas contract for public services (LGCplus report)
Commission launches fresh Shetlands probe (LGCplus report)
Councils unveil biggest management merger (LGCplus report)
Glasgow considers cutting 600 jobs (LGCplus report)
CIH warns over housing investment (LGCplus report)
Greater social care co-operation urged (LGCplus report)
Shoesmith condemns ‘mistakes’ in Baby P appeal (LGCplus report)
Welsh Government ‘should join up care’
The Welsh Assembly Government should help health and local government organisations join up their information systems across health and social care, the auditor general for Wales, Jeremy Coleman, has said.
Registrar loses council discrimination appeal (LGCplus report)
HCA upbeat about housing programme (LGCplus report)
Healey points to the end of home ownership (LGCplus report)
- Conservatives would overhaul rough sleeper counts (Inside Housing report)
Councils receive £24m rented accommodation boost (LGCplus report)
- Wakefield sees off strategy challenge (Planning report)
- Call to strengthen library and early years settings links (Children & Young People Now report)
Oneplace debut clocks 54,000 visitors (LGCplus report)
Heathrow escapes aviation cut call (LGCplus report)
Authorities to get power over buses (LGCplus report)
Council commitment after airport closure (LGCplus report)
Accidents cut by 20mph speed zones (LGCplus report)
Opening of Busway scheme delayed (LGCplus report)
Businesses drop workplace levy court challenge (LGCplus report)
LGA rejects ‘scaremongering’ AA salt claims (LGCplus report)
- Residents fight estate rebuild plan (Regen report)
- Europe’s largest onshore wind farm set to get larger (Utility Week report)
Manchester launches spend analysis tool (LGCplus report)
- Surrey drops incineration plans (Lets Recycle report)