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News round up 29/9: District auditors bid to form mutual

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

Source: Radu Razvan

The future of audit

The Financial Times reports £ that district audit staff have teamed up with Mazars, an international accountancy firm, in order to form a mutual to bid for local government and NHS work as the Audit Commission is abolished. The paper says Mazars, which has experience of public sector audit in the UK, will provide the initial funding for the mutual, which is to be called DA Partnership.

The Times reports £ that Gareth Davies, managing director of audit at the Audit Commission, has taken a leave of absence to set up DA Partnership to bid for the watchdog’s business when it is privatised next year.

Labour conference

Labour is seeking to exploit the Conservative party’s failure to connect with millions of low-skilled female voters by positioning itself as the champion of women struggling to cope with rising childcare costs and changes to the benefit system, the Financial Times says £.

The paper also reports £ on a call by shadow education secretary Andy Burnham for an admissions system for apprenticeships modelled on the university admissions process, Ucas.

With Ed Miliband trying to limit the damage from his speech amongst Blairites and business people at the Labour party conference, the Times’ sketchwriter Ann Treneman £ puts shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper forward as a potential party leader after giving an assured performance.

Gypsy & travellers cash diverted

Millions of pounds intended for new Gypsy and Traveller sites have been diverted to other projects, the Guardian reports. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has described the lack of ring-fencing for the £97m the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant for local authorities as “shocking” after it resulted in just £16.9m being spent and only 99 new pitches for travellers. The Homes and Community Agency told the Guardian £15m had been used to fill a funding gap in the National Affordable Homes Programme and MPs have warned the failure will result in more situations like Dale Farm.

‘No conflict’ in McCarthy’s move

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities & Local Government insisted there was no conflict of interest in Richard McCarthy, who as director general for neighbourhoods had been overseeing the National Planning Policy Framework, joining property consultancy Capita Symonds, the Times reports £. As LGC revealed yesterday, Mr McCarthy has quit Whitehall after eight years.

In the latest instalment of its Hands off our land campaign, the Daily Telegraph accuses Richard McCarthy of cashing in on his role at the centre of the government’s controversial Draft National Planning Policy Framework.

Housing allocations

Housing minister Grant Shapps is gearing up to present local authorities with a new “allocation policy” document on council housing that will allow working people and those actively seeking employment to get priority places on housing lists, the Daily Telegraph reports. Mr Shapps was reported by the paper to have said that present allocation guidance was “too rigid and stacked against people who aspire to work hard”.

Adoptions down

With figures showing the number of children in care reaching its lowest level for a decade, the Times reports £ that Martin Narey, a government adviser who is working with local authorities, has agreed with children’s minister Tim Loughton (Con) that addressing the adoption system should be his priority. See LGC’s report here.

Universities missing targets to help poor

A quarter of English universities failed to meet their targets to admit substantially more disadvantaged students last year, according to a report from the Office for Fair Access. The Guardian’s front page reports universities and colleges received £474m last year to spend on scholarships and outreach programmes, regardless of whether they met their targets.

Other news

The Financial Times reports £ that Labour-controlled South Tyneside council’s insistence on charging protesters re-enacting the historic Jarrow March has been attacked by the organisers, Youth Fight for Jobs, as an “affront to democracy”. The paper said the event, held to mark the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade’s departure from the town in 1936, required a temporary traffic regulation order, costing £2,230.20 plus VAT.

A four-year inquiry into £3.7m worth of “unreconciled” spending on corporate credit cards by members of Scotland Yard has led to the conviction of six officers, and the disciplining of 34 others, the Guardian reports.



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