Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Several papers lead their reaction to yesterday’s Budget by focussing on chancellor George Osborne’s push to get the housing market moving.
The Guardian reports that shares in construction companies jumped following the Budget statement but the Daily Telegraph described the Help to Buy scheme, which offers five-year interest free loans worth up to 20% of the value of new-build homes costing less than £600,000, as an overtly political move with an eye on the 2015 general election.
And, headed ‘Welcome to Sub-Prime Britain’, City A.M. says the Coalition had launched a bid to help extend £130bn in ‘risky’ loans.
Budget: public sector finances
The Times also fleshes out some of the detail behind Mr Osborne’s mention of a cap on annually managed expenditure. Described as “an annual cap on welfare spending”, the paper says unemployment benefits would be exempt but individual targets would be created for benefits for long-term sickness, housing, disability and possibly pensioners.
The Times also says the Office for Budget Responsibility dismissed Treasury claims that it was making progress in slashing the deficit this financial year, warning that progress had stalled and falls in borrowing in 2012-13 were “statistically insignificant”.
Unions have warned that public sector pay cuts may damage services, the Financial Times reports. Dave Penman, general secretary of senior civil servants’ union the FDA, said the government “must not look at the cost of the civil service, but also its value”. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said pay restrictions would do little to attract much-needed new teachers.
Budget: business rates
The Financial Times reports that retailers have attacked the Chancellor’s decision not to freeze business rates, with the British Retail Consortium arguing that the move “would have made a real difference to troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them”.
Communities will receive a “bribe” to accept controversial fracking schemes near their homes, the Daily Telegraph reports. During yesterday’s Budget, it says, Chancellor George Osborne announced that communities should receive “benefits” to encourage them to allow fracking.
Headteachers have joined academics in warning that education secretary Michael Gove’s curriculum plans will undermine school standards, the Independent reports.
Northamptonshire police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds, a former assistant chief executive at Northamptonshire CC, has been accused of “cronyism” after he appointed two of his election workers to £65,000 assistant commissioner roles, the Times reports.
A council spent more than £110,000 paying private detectives to spy on its employees, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says Labour-run Caerphilly council in South Wales arranged to have workers “secretly followed by private investigators to check if they were stealing office supplies or faking sick leave”. The council said it wanted to “monitor” staff suspected of theft or fraudulently claiming sick leave.
Spitting and swearing
The Times reports that Doncaster MBC is set to become the first council to outlaw spitting after elected mayor Peter Davies (Ind) said he wanted to take action against spitters and swearers.
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