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News round-up 12/9: Osborne to ditch debt target

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

Austerity

George Osborne is getting ready to ditch his key target of beginning to reduce the national debt by 2015 as he faces up to the reality of finding the billions of extra pounds worth of cuts it would require before the next election. The Times reports that the Office for Budget Responsibility is set to show the chancellor that extra government borrowing has blown him too far off course.

 

TUC conference

Hours before the annual Trade Unions Congress backed a motion calling for consideration of a general strike, TUC delegates heckled shadow chancellor Ed Balls when he said he continued to support freeze in public sector pay, the Guardian reports. Playing down the possibility of a general strike, outgoing TUC general secretary Brendan Barber later said he did not see “any prospect” of a mass walkout of trade union members across the UK.

Meanwhile, the Times leads with the news that prime minister David Cameron is in the process of drawing up plans for soldiers to be deployed as “strike-breakers” during any national walkouts of public sector workers. Following the successful involvement of troops in the Olympic Games, Mr Cameron wants the Armed Forces to “routinely fill in for striking workers”, the paper writes.

 

Industrial policy

Vince Cable’s new state-backed bank is unlikely to pass EU state aid rules, the Treasury has warned. The Times reports that Mr Cable wants to set up a ‘government-backed institution’ to lend money to businesses.

 

School standards

A “multi-billion pound rise in school spending” under the last Labour government failed to improve standards, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says pupil performance, measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has remained “flat” since the mid-1990s.

 

Care failings

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where up to 1,200 patients died because of poor care, could be privatised. It says the trust, which runs two hospitals, “has failed to clear debts” and has a predicted £46.6m deficit for 2014-15.

 

Libraries

The Guardian reports that a library closed by Barnet LBC in April has been reopened – by squatters. It says the group of eight squatters will manually record and stamp book loans. The move “has the blessing of many residents who are delighted to see the locked doors of the library flung open again,” the newspaper reports.

 

Government consultants

Climate change minister Greg Barker’s relationship with an adviser has been questioned after the Guardian revealed an energy consultant working with Mr Barker encouraged him to meet with clients from her corporate consultancy, including a multinational energy-from-waste supplier. Documents released from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under the Freedom of Information Act showed rising tensions between civil servants and external consultants.

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