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News round-up 22/8: Public borrowing rises unexpectedly

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

 

Public spending

The UK’s public finances entered an unexpected deficit in July, raising doubts about the ability of the government to address the country’s financial situation, reports the Guardian. Traditionally a time of strong tax receipts, official figures for July show the government borrowed £100m, compared to a £800m surplus at the same time last year.

However, the government rejected claims the figures meant its deficit reduction strategy was failing and said the spike would not be reflected in the figures for the whole year. The unusually high level of borrowing was partly due to £9.2bn local government grants which were all paid in April rather than spread across the year as they have been in the past. A Treasury spokeswoman said this was part of the reform to council financing and the introduction of business rate retention.

 

House building

On the same day as borrowing figures spiked, the LGA has called again for the government to remove the cap on the amount councils can borrow for house-building, the Times reports. Nearly 400,000 homes have been given planning permission but have not been built putting the housing market’s recovery at risk, the paper reports.

 

Seaside deprivation

Skegness is the most impoverished seaside town according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics, followed by  Blackpool, Clacton, Hastings and Ramsgate. The Independent reports that most coastal towns have above-average levels of hardship with the biggest issues health, disability and employment.

 

Council tax

Thinktank Policy Exchange has suggested giving police and crime commissioners the right to increase council tax to fund local prisons, the Daily Telegraph reports.

 

Public health

Only half of seven-year-olds are doing an hour of exercise per day, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says sedentary lifestyles “have become the norm for many”, with just 38% of girls and 63% of boys doing the minimum recommended amount of activity. 

 

Labour benefits policy

Tying benefits to previous tax contributions and rewarding good citizenship will form a part of Labour party leader Ed Miliband’s autumn campaign, reports the Times. The news comes as a YouGov poll shows most voters are unclear on what the Labour Leader stands for and do not believe he would be an effective prime minister.

 

UKIP

UKIP party leader Nigel Farage has promised to “shun the limelight” in order to “get a grip on his chaotic party”, the Daily Telegraph reports. As the party looks to replace former UKIP chief executive Will Gilpin, Mr Farage has vowed to make fewer public appearances in a bid to take back control. Mr Gilpin has warned that the party would continue to be perceived as a “bunch of enthusiastic amateurs” if they did not change things drastically in future.

 

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