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
Communities secretary John Denham warned councils not to blame Whitehall for funding cuts, after a BBC survey showed at least 25,000 job cuts were planned in the next three to five years. Pointing to a report compiled by Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and Lewisham LBC mayor Sir Steve Bullock, Mr Denham highlighted 10 savings councils could make. “Any decisions to cut frontline services or announce big job losses this year are very much local decisions,” he said.
A new report warned that fully implementing only one of Lord Laming’s 58 recommendations for improving child protection could cost councils £250m a year and require 6,300 more social workers.Loughborough University research, commissioned by the Local Government Association, said requiring all referrals from police and health professionals to prompt a full initial assessment would equate to a 300% increase in workload for some teams. The LGA said such work was “not practically possible at current staffing levels”.
Manchester’s city region project has been dealt a blow after Trafford and Stockport MBCs last Friday abstained from a vital vote on establishing a combined authority. This would pave the way for key powers such as transport and economic development to be handed to the region but the abstaining authorities raised concerns about the terms of the deal. Lord Peter Smith (Lab), leader of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, insisted the vote would not de-rail the project but said the other authorities had “grown impatient”.
Cheltenham’s risk awareness ‘poor’
Cheltenham BC’s wrangles with former managing director Christine Laird cost it £2.1m and were dogged by a lack of corporate management and risk awareness, according to a district auditor’s report. KPMG, the council’s appointed auditors, said Cheltenham gave too much weight to legal advice that it had a 60% chance of victory and failed to focus on whether a High Court battle was the appropriate strategy. Author Ian Pennington said: “Mistakes were made which, if avoided, may have limited the further costs the council incurred.”
IPPR finds England angry over devolution - LGC report
Brown gives protection guarantee - LGC report
Gove pledges Ofsted overhaul - LGC report
Ministers should ‘loosen grip’ on LGPS - LGC report
Councils conned out of £14m - LGC report
Capita turnover and profits up more than 10% - LGC report
Clarification: Wiltshire Council
In the story ‘Unitaries over-deliver on efficiencies’ (LGC, 18 Feb), we stated that “Wiltshire Council’s savings of £8.6m fell well short of the £18m originally estimated”. While the other unitary councils have indeed exceeded their savings targets ahead of schedule, Wiltshire’s figure related to savings achieved in the first year and was not an indication of whether or not the council will achieve its originally identified savings target.
CoSLA rejects 3% demand from unions - LGC report
Officers slam Doncaster leadership - LGC report
Birmingham approves job cut savings plan - LGC report
Civil servants vote for two-day strike - LGC report
Legal indemnity for ex-leader and chief - LGC report
BBC unveils ‘local government day’ - LGC report
Birmingham warned over child death - LGC report
Sandwell suspends 10 over safeguarding - LGC report
‘Trailblazer’ councils named - LGC report
Ofsted: devolve school improvement - LGC report
Consultation on special needs provision - LGC report
City of Culture shortlist announced - LGC report
Prison report prompts Kent call - LGC report
Funding plea as attraction visits soar - LGC report
SOCITM: Council sites not ready to save - LGC report
DCLG launches green homes strategy - LGC report
Healey warns Boris on housing strategy - planningresource.co.uk report
Warning against ‘one size fits all’ planning - planningresource.co.uk report
Northern Ireland planning reforms - LGC report
Councils may face salt supply rules - LGC report
PAC finds £410m lost by Metronet deal - LGC report
Transport innovation fund to be scrapped - LGC report
Roadworks fines to rise 10-fold - LGC report
Councils pressed on cycling integration - planningresource.co.uk reports
Joint chief for East Devon and South Somerset - LGC report
Swindon director dies - LGC report