Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Chancellor will use his Budget tomorrow to announce a further squeeze on public sector spending and to provide funding for childcare vouchers, according to the Financial Times.
Changes to the state pension announced at the weekend will bring the exchequer a windfall of almost £6bn per year from 2016/17, mostly paid by public sector employers and employees through increased national insurance contributions, the paper writes.
Schools face discontent in the coming months with a teachers’ union unveiling plans for the most sustained period of strike action for 20 years, writes the Independent.
The NUT and the NASUWT yesterday announced a rolling region-by-region programme of industrial action, with the first strike taking place on 27 June in schools in the north west.
The Home Office’s handling of the police and crime commissioner elections has been criticised by the Electoral Commission, the Independent reports. Commission chair Jenny Watson said: “The Home Office does not have experience in preparing for elections and they need to be better supported in future by the parts of government that do.”
Flood defence cuts
Flood-defence funding has been cut almost in half, according to the Times. The paper says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has cut the Environment Agency’s funding for maintenance work on barriers and pumping stations, dredging rivers and managing trees on flood embankments from £68m annually under the previous government to £39m in 2014-15.
Conservative Energy Minister John Hayes has said communities near shale gas fracking sites should be given handouts to accept drilling in their areas.
Mr Hayes told the Guardian that it was “absolutely right” for communities to expect some form of financial incentive but would not be drawn on whether such benefits should come from the taxpayer or companies involved in fracking.
Care home inspections
A programme of unannounced inspections in hospitals and care homes has found that more than a third are still failing to respect elderly people’s basic dignity, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited 500 homes and 50 hospitals in response to growing public anger over the treatment of vulnerable people, and found that many were routinely being denied privacy, not properly fed or simply ignored, the paper says.
Apostrophe catastrophe averted
Mid Devon DC has announced a change of heart over its proposed ban on using apostrophes in street names, the Times reports. Council leader Peter Hare-Scott yesterday said he was “not happy” about the exclusion of apostrophes from street names and would propose an amendment to a policy.
Birmingham city council has been criticised for questioning residents on their sexuality in a survey about wheelie bins, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says former Conservative councillor Peter Smallbone described the questionnaire as “typical pointless lefty nonsense”, but the authority insisted it wanted to make sure responses represented a cross-section of the city’s population.
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