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News round-up 16/7: Dilnot speaks on care plans

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

Care reform

The architect of proposed reforms to the funding of care for the elderly says millions of people have been left in “fear and uncertainty” by the government’s failure to commit to the plan. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Dilnot expressed impatience with the government’s reluctance to say how they would fund a cap on the amount any individual would pay for their care, warning that every delay left families in fear and misery. He said: “I wish they would get to the point of taking the decision because every day that passes is a day when private providers feel that they do not have enough information to plan future provision of care, and individuals are left in the same position they have been in for years - of simply hoping that this doesn’t happen to them.”

 

Alcohol strategy

The alcohol industry is in the “last chance saloon” and should face heavier regulation if it does not take action to discourage dangerous drinking, a report by MPs will warn. An inquiry into the government’s strategy on alcohol is expected to conclude that pledges by manufacturers that they would help to foster responsible drinking habits have come to nothing, with too much marketing still aimed at the young and little action to tackle binge drinking. The commons health select committee is expected to call for a statutory price limit for alcohol, at between 40 pence and 50 pence a unit, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

 

Olympics

The Independent reports that as Olympic security is in “disarray” with organisers taking “no chances” with corporate deals. Almost 300 uniformed Olympics officers will be seen across the UK, the paper says, enforcing sponsors’ multi-million-pound marketing deals and checking that firms are not illegally associating themselves with the games.  

Nick Buckles, chief executive of security firm G4S, appears to be fighting for his job after it emerged that a shortage of security guards for the Olympic Games was only exposed nine days ago, reports the Financial Times. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt described the shortage as a mere “hitch”, as Labour accused ministers of being “dangerously incompetent” for not monitoring the contract more closely, the paper says.

Elsewhere, the Independent reports that ministers and senior military figures have announced that they will meet next week to decide whether extra troops drafted in to guard the Olympics should be paid a bonus amid rising anger over the G4S scandal.

Extra border staff were drafted into Heathrow airport yesterday as the first Olympic athletes started flying into Britain, reports the Times. No significant delays were reported at the airport and the Home Office said an extra 500 border officers were posted at UK entry points.

 

Transport

The government is set to announce plans for a £9bn investment in the rail network as it seeks to “heal the rift” between the coalition partner overs reform of the House of Lords, says the Guardian. Further announcements – including a boost for house building – are expected to follow later this week.

Speaking on the Today Programme, transport secretary Justine Greening said that extra investment in rail would increase capacity to meet demand. Electrification would result in less pollution, she said, adding that maintenance and operating costs would also be reduced. Ms Greening asserted that reliability would be improved by investing in rail tracks and stations around the country. The northern hub was “massively important” for cities in the north of the country, she said, maintaining that the additional investment complimented existing investment which also included increasing rail freight services and improving connectivity to Heathrow Airport. Funding for the investment was provided by track access charges and the Network Rail grant, she explained, adding that the government was making plans to improve rail services beyond the existing spending review period. Affordability was of central importance and as the rail industry became more efficient, Ms Greening said that above inflation fare increases would be abolished. She also wanted the rail industry to run more efficiently and effectively, arguing that restructuring the rail industry would not be desirable.

Britain’s underused regional airports could help alleviate the capacity crunch in the south-east, transport minister Theresa Villiers. The Financial Times says the government is considering liberalising overseas airlines’ access to regional airports while it “vacillates over which London airport to expand in the face of popular resistance”.

 

Springsteen

Westminster City Council finds itself the centre of cultural coverage, with the Times reporting on the forced shut-down of a Bruce Springsteen gig in Hyde Park this weekend. The concert organisers, Hard Rock Calling, said they had no choice but to end the concert at 10.30 as to not do so would breach the terms of their license with the council. A council spokesman said the event had overrun by 10 minutes and there had been issues with the organisers over noise.

 

Welfare reform

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the soon-to-be-introduced policy of capping benefits at £26,000 a year is already “pushing the jobless back into work”. The Daily Mail reports that official figures released eight months ahead of the policy’s introduction show 1,700 claimants who would have been affected by the policy have moved into work while a further 5,000 have indicated they would like to receive support to find jobs.

 

Welsh devolution

The Guardian reports that two-thirds of Welsh people want the Welsh Assembly government to have powers to set its own income tax rate and to borrow. It says a survey for the Silk Commission, the body set up by the Westminster government to study the future of Welsh devolution, found 64% thought income tax levels should be determined in Wales. The survey also found that just 8% supported an independent Wales, the paper reports.

 

‘Chuggers’

The Guardian reports that councils could be given more powers to regulate street fundraising by charities, following a review of charity law by the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson. It says the proposal follows research by Ipsos Mori, which showed that a majority of the public want fundraising to be better-regulated.

 

Industry

Manufacturers are being forced to curb their growth plans because they cannot recruit technicians and engineers, according to a survey of 402 businesses by the UK arm of General Electric. Two-thirds of the companies said they were optimistic about growth but faced difficulties hiring, suggesting skills shortages are holding back the economy, the Financial Times reports.

 

Education

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw opposes plans being considered by Michael Gove, education secretary, to encourage low ability pupils to sit separate, simpler qualifications or delay taking exams for a year, the Financial Times reports.

 

Regional pay

Regional pay would create very few jobs and would result in job losses in some areas, according to a study from the Trades Union Congress and the New Economic Foundation reported in the Finanical Times.

 

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