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News round-up 29/8: Care worker pay 'a scandal'

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

Care workers

Care workers are being paid as little as £5 an hour, well below the legal minimum wage, according to a new report from a think-tank, which describes the practice as a “national scandal”. The Guardian reports that the Resolution Foundation examined the “work diaries” and payslips of care workers doing home visits to show how their real pay levels do not reflect the hours they work.

Workers are given time slots in which to complete each visit, which can be as little as 15 minutes, for which they are paid, with the time taken to travel between appointments often left unpaid. A study in 2011 by King’s College London social care workforce research unit estimated that there between 150,000 and 220,000 care workers earning below the minimum wage.

 

Housing

The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers are “attempting to pressure councils into building more homes on countryside land”, according to campaigners. It says planning minister Nick Boles wants there to be a legal obligation for councils to build affordable homes if local house prices and rents rise above a certain level.

 

Parking fines

More than a million drivers face having their credit ratings ruined after being pursued by councils for unpaid motoring fines, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says more than 10% of council motoring fines are put into the hands of bailiffs. An AA spokesman said councils seemed to “readily wash their hands of drivers trapped in a cycle of threats from debt collectors and bailiffs.”

 

Health

Steve Field has been appointed as the first chief inspector of general practice, the Guardian reports. Professor Field will join from NHS England where he is deputy national medical director. Professor Field is “considered a Whitehall insider”, the paper reports.

 

Household earnings

According to the latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of households without a wage earner is on the decline. The Independent writes that in the three months from April to June this year, 17.1 per cent of households containing at least one adult aged between 16 and 64 had no one in paid work, the lowest figure since records began in 1996. That figure stood at 17.9 per cent in the same period of 2012 and 19.2 per cent in 2011.

However, the ONS notes that the overall drop in households without a wage earner can partly be explained by the fact that that 2013 has seen an overall reduction in the number of households in the UK. The number of adults living in workless households has fallen by 132,000 year on year to 4.9 million – the first time the figure has been below five million since the 2008 banking crisis.

 

Pub closures

Up to 4,000 British pubs will “deservedly” go out of business in the coming year due to complacency and poor standards, according to predictions from the Good Pub Guide reported in today’s Guardian.

Pubs which are “stuck in the 1980s” and serve “indifferent” food, drink and service will be forced to close their doors, the producers of the Guide have said, arguing that it is “high time” for this to happen in order to make way for more dynamic businesses.

However, their comments provoked criticism from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), whose representatives described them as “bizarre” and called for pubs to be saved rather than “thrown on the scrapheap”.

 

Democracy

The LGA has warned the government that its plans for English MPs to vote on England-only legislation does not address the serious imbalance in policy making, the Financial Times reports. The LGA is calling for some form of regional representation, arguing that regions with larger populations than Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should have the power to do things differently.

 

Serco

Outsourcing firm Serco is being investigated over possible fraudulent behaviour on its prisoner transport contract, the Financial Times reports. The news comes after Serco and G4S were found to be overcharging for tagging offenders, leading to a wider audit of all their contracts with government.

 

Libraries

The Independent reports on the opening of the Library of Birmingham, a £188m project which was approved by the city council in 2007. A year later the recession came and library director Brian Gambles told the paper “we would have been having a different conversation” if the library had not already been approved.

 

 

 

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