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News round-up 26/3: Accounts committee issues benefit warning

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

Whitehall reform

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude is facing resistance to his Whitehall reform plans after the Institute for Government urged him to abandon plans to allow ministers to appoint their senior officials, the Financial Times reports.

 

Benefit impact

The public accounts committee has warned government that plans to cut the housing benefit bill could have a “severe impact” on the income of Britain’s poorest people, the Independent reports.

 

Economy

Economists are worried that the extended cold snap will slow economic activity and force Britain into an unprecedented triple dip recession, the Guardian reports.

The Met Office predicts below-average temperatures and possible snow until late April. Samuel Tombs, of Capital Economics, told the paper that over the last few years periods of disruptive weather have seen sharp reductions in growth.

 

Energy

Ongoing gas shortages could push energy bills up by as much as £200 over the next year, forcing many British households to switch off their heating entirely, the Independent reports.

Ann Robinson, of consumer group uSwitch, predicts that a double digit price rise is “probably inevitable” as the Big Six utility firms adapt to strained supplies.

 

University bias

Pupils from state schools and ethnic minorities are less likely to get into UK elite universities even if they have the same A-levels as their white and private school counterparts, according to Financial Times reporting of new research from Durham University.

 

Nursing

Elsewhere, the Telegraph says that the Government will today announce plans to make new nurses spend a year on wards feeding and washing patients before they can qualify.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes the move, seen as a response to the problems that caused the Mid-Staffordshire scandal, will help instil the foundations of the “hands-on caring experience” in new recruits.

 

Immigration

Labour has claimed David Cameron’s promised crackdown on health and welfare tourism is “unravelling”, after the Department of Health and No 10 Downing St appeared to disagree over the scale of the problem.

The Financial Times says Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to admit that far more Britons receive healthcare abroad than the number of EU citizens receiving NHS care.

 

Flood cover

Insurers could by law be forced to provide flood cover to every household in the country at fixed price, the Times reports. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is considering the step if a new deal with companies cannot be agreed – but the companies say it would result in huge premium rises for all customers.

 

Teenage drinking

 

Almost half a million children admit to having been drunk in the past month, a report by the NHS and Health Protection Agency covered by the Times, reveals today. Boys and girls aged between 11 and 17 drink 20 million units of alcohol a week.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The protests, demonstrations and marches against the benefit cuts will ramp up next autumn when the dire effects have worked their way through peoples' purses and savings (if any).

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