Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander has told departments to prepare for further budget cuts of up to 10% as part of efforts to save £11.5bn, reports the FT. Ministers have until the end of next month to tell the Treasury how they plan to make savings, before a final decision is announced on 26 June.
The Independent reports that communities secretary Eric Pickles and justice secretary Chris Grayling are amongst a group of cabinet ministers who have been dubbed the ‘National Union of Ministers’ - providing the same acronym as the National Union of Miners - for their rebellion against further cuts.
Labour MP Frank Field has launched a strong attack on the “wicked” bedroom tax that comes into force next week. The Independent reports Mr Field urging council landlords to knock down walls and brick up doors in their properties to reduce the number of bedrooms - thereby saving families threatened with eviction.
More than 50 senior welfare experts have urged the government to reconsider benefit cuts, claiming the changes will push 200,000 children into poverty, the Guardian
Ealing LBC has been criticised by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg for a leaflet sent to social housing tenants suggesting they could avoid the “bedroom tax” by becoming foster parents, the Daily Mail reports. In response, the authority said: “Until recently foster families were not exempt from the changes regarding spare bedrooms so we produced a leaflet to explain the position.” It added: “We have a very rigorous assessment process and if financial gain was the sole motivation the applicant would not be approved.”
Care homes are “routinely locking up elderly people” to make life easier for staff, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says an investigation by the Care Quality Commission found that too many NHS hospitals and care homes imposed “blanket restrictions” which involved locking doors on wards and day rooms.
A whistleblower has accused the NHS watchdog as registering failing hospitals as safe in order to avoid exposing scandals like that in Mid Staffordshire, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says Kay Sheldon, a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission, said the watchdog had given “false assurance” about failing hospitals.
The average household energy bill for March will be £80 higher than in previous years, as the prolonged cold spell forces people to keep their heating switched on. The Independent reports that household budgets are likely to come under further strain over the next year in the wake of rising wholesale gas prices. The news comes as annual ‘dual fuel’ gas and electricity bills have already reached record highs of £1,300.
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