Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Unison has backed Unite’s call for a general strike, the Independent reports. The proposed 24-hour walkout would be the first time since 1926 that private and public-sector workers have co-ordinated a nationwide mass action, the paper says.
The former minister Sarah Teather (Lib Dem) has said some families will be hit “over and over again” by benefits cuts, the Guardian reports. Her comments come as research by the New Policy Institute shows almost 440,000 families will see their income cut by £16.90 a week as they are hit by both the “bedroom tax” and the changes to council tax benefit. The report criticised the Department for Work & Pensions for failing to model the multiple effects of all the changes it is implementing.
Ministers have admitted that social housing tenants hit by the “bedroom tax” can take in lodgers. The Daily Telegraph reports that one unnamed council has advised tenants they can keep up to £4,250 tax free income from renting out spare rooms.
The Department for Communities & Local Government is to give up Eland House and move into the Home Office’s Marsham Street building, according to the Financial Times. Although DCLG refused to comment, the paper says communities secretary Eric Pickles has drawn up the “radical” move plans in order to further cut costs having already sublet parts of Eland House to other organisations.
The Independent says the government appears to have delayed publication of a progress report into 27 Portas Pilots aimed at revitalising High Streets. The paper, which previously reported on how much of the £100,000 awards to councils was so far unspent, said Department for Communities & Local Government plans to publish “in the spring” had changed to “later this year”.
The Times says police and social workers face questions over their failure to protect the family of Mick Philpott who was convicted of the manslaughter of six of his children after starting a fire in his home. The paper lists a long history of violent assaults against his wife, former partners and motorists but notes that a serious case review concluded there were “no urgent recommendations”.
Parents at an independent school in Hertfordshire have protested after pupils were fingerprinted for the canteen’s new cashless payment system, the Times reports.
The future of the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary is “in doubt” after analysis of data the hospital had failed to submit showed its death rates are “unacceptably high”, the Guardian reports.
Public health minister Anna Soubry (Con) has claimed middle-aged people are addicted to sleeping pills and tranquilisers because doctors have been over-prescribing them, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The Daily Mail leads with the news that the “massive and escalating problem” of “health tourism” could be costing the NHS billions every year.
Small business lending
The Financial Times reports that lenders are expecting a significant increase in demand for loans from small businesses over the next three months but have no plans to make more credit available. A quarterly survey of lenders by the Bank of England highlights the continuing struggle of smaller companies to borrow money, even as the credit squeeze starts to ease for the rest of the economy.
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