Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The population of England and Wales grew at its fastest rate in the past decade for 100 years thanks to immigration and a “mini baby boom,” says the Financial Times. The paper reports that according to the census by the Office for National Statistics, there were 56.1m people in England and Wales last year – 7.1% more than in 2001.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that immigrants fuelled the “record surge” in UK population, with more two thirds of immigrants coming from non-EU countries.
Freedom of information and transparency
The Guardian reports that the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has accused prime minister David Cameron and others of launching a damaging attack on the Freedom of Information Act. In an interview with the paper, Mr Graham is reported to have said that “public condemnation of the law from the prime minister, Tony Blair and [former cabinet secretary] Lord O’Donnell was driving bad behaviour and possible illegal activity in Whitehall.” Mr Graham told the paper that the coalition may have “abandoned its promise to be the most transparent ever because of the pressures of power.”
The Guardian also reports that Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone “used a loophole to conceal the identity of donors who bankrolled their election campaigns.” It says campaigners have called for greater transparency over political funding, after it emerged that both candidates had said certain funds were courtesy of their political party, “making it impossible to track individuals who donated.”
The International Monetary Fund reports that Britain’s economic outlook has deteriorated faster than in any other major advanced economy, says the Financial Times. The fund slashed its UK growth forecast for this year to just 0.2%, against the 0.8% it had predicted in the spring, the paper says.
Transport and infrastructure
The transport secretary Justine Greening has confirmed plans for a £500m rail link that would enable new direct services to Heathrow for passengers travelling from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales writes the Financial Times. The paper says analysts claim that the plans suggest the government could make a possible U-turn on building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
The Financial Times also reports that energy regulator Ofgem has set out plans for a £22bn upgrade to the UK’s gas and electric that will allow the connection of more renewable energy projects. Planned infrastructure projects could create 7,000 construction jobs, the paper says.
The Guardian reports that prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have insisted the row over House of Lords reform would not disrupt the work of the government. They declared that they “would not lose their nerve” and the coalition would last until the next general election in 2015, the paper says.
Elsewhere, the Times leads with the news that a new poll has revealed public confidence in the Conservative Party has “plunged” since the Budget. The poll found that the Labour Party was seen at the most competent of the three main parties for the first time since the coalition began.