Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Government plans to overhaul planning laws could prove counterproductive and reduce the number of new homes that are built, according to the lead story in today’s Daily Telegraph. At the weekend, chancellor George Osborne announced that he would like to see more development on the outskirts of major towns to help boost economic growth. But his plans have been criticised by a number of Conservative MPs representing rural and suburban areas. The Telegraph quotes Malcolm Sharp, president of the Planning Officer’s Society, as saying the weak economy and not excessive regulation has caused the construction sector to slow.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that communities secretary Eric Pickles has dealt Mr Osborne’s plans a blow by insisting that greenbelt areas will be protected.
The Daily Telegraph reports that an alliance of charities, pressure groups and lawyers has warned in a letter to the newspaper that vulnerable children could be put at risk under plans to shorten guidance on child protection. It says the Every Child in Need group has called on ministers to abandon plans to shorten the Working Together guidance from 700 pages to fewer than 70. LGC reported last week that the Association of Directors of Children’s Services had warned that the plans could be “detrimental.”
Nearly half of schools have no policy for handling pupil data, leaving children’s addresses, routes to school and fingerprints “at risk of exploitation,” the Daily Telegraph reports.
The Guardian leads with a report claiming sick and disabled benefit claimants will lose up to 70% of their support if they refuse to take steps to get back into the workplace. The paper says a draft Department for Work & Pensions template reveals claimants would see their weekly employment support allowance (ESA) cut by £71, more than double the current fine.
Public sector pay
Today’s Daily Mail cites a Policy Exchange report which shows that public sector workers are paid an average of £1,000 a year more than their equivalents in the private sector. The paper claims the system of national pay bargaining costs the tax payer £6.3bn a year.
The Guardian reports that Natalie Bennett, the new leader of the Green Party and a former journalist at the newspaper, aims to have a Green councillor in every major town and city within a decade.