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News round-up 25/9: Lib Dems want council tax shake-up

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

Liberal Democrat conference

Homes worth more than £1m would be subject to increased council tax under proposals to be brought forward by the Liberal Democrats, the Independent reports. The plans, to be suggested to chancellor George Osborne as an alternative to any fresh spending cuts, would see two or three new bands added to the council tax system. The measures are seen as an alternative to the party’s much touted “mansion tax”, and will be seriously considered by top Conservatives.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Today Programme, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said that the Treasury was not blocking social care funding reform. Mr Alexander said that the government had published a White Paper on the future of social care and this was based on the reforms proposed in the Dilnot Report.  Decisions would be taken on funding allocations at the next spending review, he added, as the government needed to determine the scale of future spending across all departments. He explained that the Treasury was facing up to big financial decisions to clear up the “economic mess” left by the last Labour administration.

 

PFI

The Financial Times reports that the unpopular private finance initiative (PFI) model is set for little more than cosmetic change after a year-long government review into funding systems failed to propose a clear alternative. The failure to devise a replacement model will prove awkward for Mr Osborne and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who have respectively described PFI as “discredited” and “a bit of dodgy accounting” in the past.

 

Gambling

New junior communities minister Don Foster has secured a review of gambling regulations that allow betting shop terminals to offer £100 a spin wagers, the Daily Mail reports. Mr Foster has called for these to be cut to £2 a spin and David Cameron and Nick Clegg have now agreed to a review of stakes, numbers of machines and prize levels.

 

Atos

A former employee of the capability assessor Atos has claimed she was forced to manipulate tests so that disabled people were deemed fit for work, according to the Independent. Former nurse Joyce Drummond claims the company, which has £3.1bn of government contracts, warned her that she was being “too nice” to claimants and introduced arbitrary rules to determine people’s suitability for work.

 

Weather

Britain is set to endure stormy weather again today after almost the entire average rainfall for September fell on Monday, according to the Guardian. The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings in 57 areas, following a day in which several people died in storm related incidents. The Met Office predicts that “changeable weather” will continue through the next week, but conditions will stabilise over the coming month.

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