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News round-up 12/7: Care paper unveiled

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Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

Social care

Health secretary Andrew Lansley yesterday unveiled the government’s social care white paper in Parliament. Elderly and disabled pensioners could be forced to pay up to £100,000 towards the cost of their care, the Independent writes in its lead article. This figure would be almost three times greater than the £35,000 cap suggested by Andrew Dilnot, author of last year’s independent report into care funding.

The Financial Times reports that campaigners pushing for a radical overhaul of the system have been left disappointed by the lack of guarantees that financing would be secured in next year’s round of spending. Mr Lansley suggested that the original proposals would have to be scaled-back to reduce the cost.

The Times claims that ministers’ reluctance to press ahead with “urgent” reforms would mean thousands of families would be forced to pay for old-age care for many years.

In its editorial the Guardian says the social care white paper and draft bill published yesterday were “a series of half-measures and sticking-plasters.” It says the plan to provide loans to care recipients at “near-commercial interest rates” is “deplorable” because it passes risk away from the state and towards individuals.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph covers another reform in the social care white paper, reporting that “murderers serving life sentences” will be given new rights to personal care as they grow old in prison. It says under the new policy, prisons will be expected to work with councils to ensure that the care needs of prisoners are assessed.

In its editorial the Telegraph says the reforms announced yesterday include “a number of worthwhile suggestions.” However, it says, Mr Lansley’s hope that money for major reform will be found in the next spending review “is no more than wishful thinking.” It says personal insurance cover must be at the core of a workable system and “that is why yesterday’s white paper is unsatisfactory.” It says: “Without any figures to work with, the financial services industry will struggle to create the insurance and savings products that will allow the majority of people to cover their own care costs.”

 

Education

Civil servants from the Department for Education (DfE) have been asked by advisers to education secretary Michael Gove to enlist sympathetic head teachers to defend controversial government policies, the Guardian writes.

Elsewhere, the Times reports that Oxford University is setting up a £300m fund for undergraduates from low-income families. Described by the paper as “Europe’s biggest private philanthropic push to open up higher education”, the Moritiz-Heyman fund will support its first 100 students from September.

 

Economy

The Financial Times leads with news that the head of the CBI, John Cridland, has heavily criticised the government for “really disappointing” implementation of its growth plan. Mr Cridland said that members of the government appeared to be “dazzled in the headlights”, resulting in a lack of progress on growth, seven months after chancellor George Osborne outlined his plans to stimulate the economy.

Ministers are set to announce a package of spending on new roads and other infrastructure projects next week, as part of an effort to put jobs and money into the economy, the Guardian writes. Some plans in the National Infrastructure Scheme will be brought forward, under proposals agreed by the Treasury and the Department for Transport (DfT).

Skills are the most important factor in the long-run success of cities and should be the crucial area for policy intervention, according to a report by the Centre for Cities thinktank on how urban areas have evolved since 1901. The Financial Times reports that targeted infrastructure could also help to buck the trend, according to the report.

 

Olympics

The Guardian leads with news that the military has been asked to provide 3,500 extra troops for security at the London Olympics, amid concerns that the contracted security firm would not be able to provide sufficient staff. Ministers have taken the decision a fortnight before the games amid concern that G4S could not guarantee the supply of the 13,700 guards it was contracted to deliver.

Meanwhile, the Times reports that MPs have been given free corporate tickets by a sponsor for the “biggest night of the games”; the men’s 100m final. Four members of the culture, media and sport committee are said to have accepted the tickets from BT, despite ministers being banned from accepting “freebie trips to the games.”

 

Environment

The Daily Telegraph writes in its lead article that home owners in high-risk flood areas will be forced to pay greater home insurance premiums to cover the cost of any damage, under government plans. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has disclosed that she was in discussions with the industry about a scheme that could add 10% to the average home insurance premium.

 

Lords reform

Prime minister David Cameron is to tell his deputy Nick Clegg that he will make one last push to reach a deal on House of Lords reform, following fierce opposition from Conservative backbenchers, the Guardian reports. In a watering-down of Mr Clegg’s proposals, currently before Parliament, Mr Cameron will push for the expulsion of the remaining 92 hereditary peers, and the election of a similar number of replacements at the 2015 general election.

The Times claims that Mr Cameron was ready to “ditch” key elements of Mr Clegg’s proposals in a bid to “regain control of the Conservative Party.”

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