LGC’s comprehensive round-up of local government news.
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THIS WEEK’S STORIES
- Residents’ satisfaction with their council continued to increase following a low point in January, according to the monthly LGInsight survey. Initial findings from the July poll of 1,000 adults showed some 71% of respondents “satisfied” with their council.
- Councils may be allowed to to bid to run central government services in a different way at the local level. Decentralisation minister Greg Clark said the government was minded to give councils a “right to make proposals to the government as to how things could be done differently”.
- Government departments secured £3.75bn of savings from May 2010 to March 2011 following a review of expenditure and job cuts. The Cabinet Office said nearly £1.6bn of the savings had been delivered by better procurement and renegotiating contracts, while an equivalent of £300m had been saved on 2010-11 salary costs by reducing civil service headcount by more than 17,000.
- Banking giant Barclays set up a £500m fund to invest in public sector projects such as schools and roads. According to a report in The Times, the fund could appeal to those seeking long-term investment opportunities that can be matched with 30- to 40-year liabilities.
- Conservative-controlled East Hertfordshire DC approved a shared service deal with its Labour-run neighbour Stevenage BC in an effort to save more than £170,000 a year. The merged team will provide housing benefit, council tax and business rates services and benefit fraud investigations.
- Budget cuts meant councils had little alternative but to cut their funding to charities, the Local Government Association said. The LGA made the claim in response to research that claimed more than 2,000 charities were losing local authority funding.
- Shropshire Council’s chief executive criticised a councillor for comparing the authority to strike-troubled Southampton City Council.Kim Ryley told Peter Phillips (Lib Dem) his comparison was “unfair”. Shropshire has issued dismissal and re-engagement notices as it seeks to impose a pay cut on staff.
- Carlisle City Council’s chief executive Maggie Mooney is to take early retirement after seven years as town clerk and chief executive of the authority. For more people on the move.
- Castlebeck Care Group was hit with new concerns from the Care Quality Commission weeks after it was forced to close its Winterbourne View facility following a BBC exposé of abuse. The watchdog said it had “serious concerns” about four more of the group’s services, while a further seven “did not fully comply with essential standards of quality and safety”.
- Kent CC appointed Andrew Ireland as corporate director for families and social care, soon after hiring Patrick Leeson as corporate director for education, learning and skills.
- The chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s expressed disappointment over official adoption statistics.Office for National Statistics figures showed that 4,472 children were adopted in 2010 - a decrease of 4.1%.
- Lincolnshire CC could advise all of its maintained schools to become academies. The move follows fears about the viability of rural primaries.
- Ofsted is proposing to make unannounced inspections of council child-protection services the norm as part of a new inspection framework. Inspectors would make full two-week inspections under the new system.
- Walsall MBC is to terminate outsourcing giant Serco’s contract to run its schools. The move follows major shifts in government policy over councils’ education role.
- The King’s Fund warned that a more competitive marketplace for healthcare providers posed “significant risks” for fledgling social enterprises. The thinktank said help was needed to develop the sector.
- Figures published by the Labour Party claimed cuts in health inequalities funding in some of England’s most deprived areas. Research this year by LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal showed a shift from 15% to 10% in the weighting given to an area’s health inequalities in the allocation formula for funding primary care trusts.
- The European Commission lifted a freeze on spending through six of England’s European-funded renewal programmes. The freeze had been imposed following accounting errors.
- Nearly a third of the 492 bids submitted to the second round of the regional growth fund will affect the north-west of England, official figures showed.
- Ministers confirmed the specific location of new enterprise zones in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield.
- Greater Manchester could bid to host the government’s Green Investment Bank in a move aimed at boosting the city region’s economy. The bank is due to be set up next April.
- Boris Johnson appointed Harvey McGrath as the business chair of the London Enterprise Partnership. Mr McGrath, chair of the London Development Agency and Prudential plc, will co-chair the LEP with the mayor.
- Councils will be able to buy their way out of the housing finance system from next spring. The Department for Communities & Local Government set out the steps councils would need to take to leave the system.
- Ministers rejected proposals to give councils more powers to recoup the cost of repairs to roads damaged by work carried out on behalf of utility companies.