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News round-up 2/4: Universal Credit pathfinders put on hold

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


Welfare Reform

Three of the four Universal Credit pathfinder councils have been told they will not be processing claims from this month’s launch date, the Financial Times reports. Oldham, Wigan & Warrington MBCs’ have been told their work will not begin until July in a decision made by the Department for Work & Pensions after “early testing” in Tameside MBC.

The Independent leads with news that chancellor George Osborne will use his speech to employees at a supermarket distribution centre this afternoon to defend welfare cuts against criticism from charities and churches. Mr Osborne’s speech comes a day after work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live on £53 a week in an attempt to justify cuts to welfare, the paper continues.

Meanwhile, the Guardian writes that a Resolution Foundation report published today warns the chancellor’s plans for Universal Credit will undermine the impact of personal allowances.



Conservatives are preparing for an “appalling” set of county council election results in May, the Guardian reports. It says one cabinet member who is “closely involved” with the issue has said “terrible will be a great result for us”.



A failing academy school has suspended a teacher who blew the whistle to Ofsted, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says a female member of staff was suspended from the Basildon Academies in Essex after raising concerns with the watchdog.

One in five free schools are opening in parts of the country where there are too many unfilled school places, the Guardian reports. Research by the National Union of Teachers has found that in a fifth of the areas where the schools have opened or are set to open, there is at least a 10% surplus of places.

Meanwhile, NUT members attending the union’s annual conference this week have threatened to boycott new tests for primary school children, the Independent reports.

Today’s Daily Mail leads with the story that statistics from the Department for Education reveal that more than 3,000 children are excluded from school each year for sexual misconduct. The paper says the news comes after the NUT warned sexual equality had been “rebranded by big business” into a “raunch culture” which is damaging the way girls view themselves.


Toll motorway

George Osborne has agreed to underwrite a new project for a second toll motorway in an attempt to stimulate economic growth, reports the Times. The £1bn project is expected to be announced by the chancellor in his spending review in June.



New health watchdog, Public Health England, has called for more than one million obese children to be given personally tailored “get fit” programmes to help them lose weight, writes the Daily Telegraph. Designate director of health and well-being Professor Kevin Fenton argued that drastic measures needed to be taken to address an “obesogenic environment” and to help children lose weight.

The government’s medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has said doctors are using the NHS to further their own private businesses in an “utterly abhorrent” way, the Daily Telegraph reports.


Adam’s Park

An “egotistical” Tory councillor has named a park after his son without permission, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says Andre Gonzalez De Savage has sparked a row at Northamptonshire CC after a local park was named “Adam’s Park”.



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