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News round-up 11/3: Clegg: No flinching on deficit reduction

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

The economy

Deputy prime minister has Nick Clegg rejected Vince Cable’s call for higher borrowing to fund major building projects insisting his party would not “flinch” from tackling the deficit, the Independent reports.

Meanwhile business leaders are split over what the best path to growth is, according to the Financial Times. The British Chambers of Commerce has broken ranks with other groups by saying the chancellor should borrow more to fund “massive” business tax cuts while the CBI has warned such a move would unsettle the markets

Speaking on the Today Programme, business secretary Dr Cable said it was important to focus on growth, getting the economy going, capital investment and house building. He added there was “no simple solution” to the economic situation, the balance of risks may well be changing and the Government’s priority had to be getting the economy going to generate tax revenue and ensuring that fewer people were dependent on public spending.

Investment in genuine capital projects would generate an income, he argued, but conceded that such projects might increase borrowing in the short-term. Dr Cable refuted suggestions that he had a ‘Plan B,’ and preferred a ‘Plan A+.’

 

Cabinet split on austerity

New evidence has emerged of the Conservative split on austerity with former defence secretary Liam Fox criticising the ring-fence on the NHS, schools and aid budgets, the Times reports. The paper says his comments place chancellor George Osborne in “and unlikely pincer movement” after business secretary Vince Cable also called for the ring-fences to be removed, in order to support other budgets.

 

Cash for development advice

The Daily Telegraph leads with the news that councillors across Britain are “offering themselves for hire” to property developers hoping to take advantage of relaxed planning laws. It says local politicians are “trading on their inside knowledge of the planning system” – and earning up to £20,000 for giving advice on how to get developments approved. An investigation by the newspaper has found that some councillors who have set up their own consultancy services are offering to “help push through planning applications”.

 

Welfare reform

The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has hit back at the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has warned that changes to welfare provision will disproportionately affect children, the Daily Mail reports.Mr Duncan Smith said it was not “moral or fair” that people became dependent on hand outs, adding Government needed to take control of the spiralling welfare bill.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps even Cable will realise that not only do public expenditure cuts reduce (or eliminate growth) but both by that process and directly through redundancies of public servants (including NHS staff) such a policy exacerbates the deficit. In questioning the ring fence the Lib Dems have given up all vestiges of supping with the devil using a long spoon - they are now sleeping at the foot of his bed!

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