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News round-up 20/8: Racial bias identified in top notch jobs

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

Equality

A report into recruitment to the civil service fast stream has revealed that white applicants have a one in 30 chance of success, Asians have a one in 50 chance and black candidates have just a one in 134 chance. The Independent says the report makes depressing reading, especially as almost all of the black and Asian candidates were rejected without an interview.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on a survey  by the Chartered Management Institute which shows that men are being paid bonuses “double the size of those given to female colleagues in identical jobs”.

Men in UK management roles earned average bonuses of £6,442 last year, as against £3,029 earned by women working at the same level. The increased bonus payments mean that a man can enjoy “salary top-ups” of £141,500 more than their female counterparts over their working lives, the paper notes.

CMI Chief Executive Ann Francke called for the issue to be publicised, urging change to the “mainstream management agenda” including improved transparency.

 

Academy “Section 28” accusations

A group of academies has been accused of using wording from the now-repealed ‘Section 28’ laws which forbade the “promotion” of homosexuality in their sex education policies, the Times reports. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has said that 44 schools retain policies in the area that “replicate” Section 28 or are “unhelpfully vague”, including three London-based Crest Academies.

Responding to the accusations, the Department for Education (DfE) said that it would be investigating the matter. A spokesperson is quoted as saying: “What these schools have done is unacceptable. All schools can draw up their own sex education policy but they must not discriminate unfairly on grounds of sexual orientation”.

 

UKIP chief executive quits

The Daily Mirror reports that the Chief Executive of UKIP, Will Gilpin, made a surprise resignation last night, plunging the party into “turmoil”.

A party spokesperson said that Mr Gilpin had left by “mutual agreement” after just eight months and his rolling contract would not be renewed, the paper adds.

 

Trading standards

Tesco has been fined £300,000 following a successful prosecution by Birmingham City Council over a misleading half price offer on strawberries, the Financial Times reports. The fine is the largest Tesco has ever received for a trading standards issue and came after it offered the marked down price for 14 weeks after just one week at the full price. Birmingham’s head of trading standards, Sajeela Naseer, said the victory would benefit consumers across the country.

 

Conservative tensions

The Conservative party will “come for” David Cameron in the event that he fails to win a majority at the next General Election, a “close ally” of the Prime Minister is quoted as warning in this morning’s Daily Mail. If he should try to “force” his party into a second Coalition, he has been “warned to expect a leadership challenge”, the paper says, with “up to 100” Conservative MPs declaring that they “will not swallow” such a move.

One MP is quoted as speculating that “if Cameron pushes for another deal with Clegg, it will be a gift for [London Mayor] Boris [Johnson]”.

 

Over-40 health checks

Routine health checks offered to over-40s on the NHS have been described as largely useless and a waste of money, operating “in direct conflict with the best available evidence” in a letter from leading academics and GPs to the Times.

Researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Centre said that the Health Check programme was likely to lead to patients taking drugs that they did not need, while Chair of the Royal College of General

Practitioners Clare Gerada said that routine checks were “devaluing medicine” and causing unnecessary worry. Responding, Public Health England argued that the “precautionary principle” offered sufficient justification for efforts to discover disease risk factors. The Health Check programme gave “a real opportunity to reduce avoidable deaths and disability”, argued a spokesperson.

 

Wind farms

Ministers are “at war” over a report that could provide evidence that wind turbines can harm rural areas, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says sources have claimed the Department of Energy and Climate Change, run by the Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, wants to “suppress” a major report on the impact of wind farms.

 

Care homes

Record numbers of care homes have been found “unacceptable”, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says more than 900 notices have been issued by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission in the past year, indicating that the homes could be closed down unless urgent action is taken.

 

Hologram receptionist

Brent LBC has defended spending £12,000 on a hologram “virtual receptionist”, saying it is cheaper than hiring a person to do the job, the Daily Telegraph reports. The “virtual assistant”, named Shanice, will appear to be behind a desk but will actually be projected onto a screen.

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