Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Financial Times reports that the chancellor is being urged by leading Conservative MPs to raise council tax on mansions and expensive homes as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats that would see Mr Osborne cut welfare benefits in real terms next year.
The paper quotes chair of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie, who said the existing cap on council tax bands was “hard to justify on social or economic grounds.”
Departments face further cuts of 23% between now and 2018 because the chancellor will have to plug a £48bn hole in the public finances, according to calculations based on Office for Budget Responsibility models. The Social Market Foundation and Royal Society of the Arts said the 23% cuts, which will be needed in the next spending review, compare with 19% reductions on average for non-ringfenced departments - although local government cuts were slightly larger at 28%, according to The Times.
The government will turn the UK’s 400 weakest primary schools into academies, the Guardian reports. It says David Cameron will announce today that he wants the schools to be paired with sponsors to improve education standards.
Britain’s chronic shortage of engineering skills is threatening to hold back prospects of an industrial recovery, according to a survey of 200 manufacturers by the EEF industry body and JAM Recruitment. A report by the pair calls for changes such as funding for higher-level apprenticeships but says Lord Heseltine’s call for skills funding be devolved to local enterprise partnerships would add an extra layer of bureaucracy, the Financial Times reports,
The introduction of Universal Credit has been placed on a Treasury list of projects in crisis, according to the Independent on Sunday. The October 2013 national launch of the single benefit is to be limited to small regional projects and the project is a year behind schedule and at least £100m over budget, the paper reports. A number of senior officials have left the Department for Work & Pensions in recent months, but the department insisted the project was “on time and on budget”.
The deputy prime minister hopes to encourage an army of volunteers to work in schools, care homes and hospitals by forcing businesses to consider workers’ requests for flexitime, according to the Daily Mail.
The coalition will legislate next year to introduce the role the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will announce during a speech in London tomorrow, the paper claims.
The new rules- which could come into force as early as 2014- will allow “other relatives, grandparents and even close family friends” to apply for flexitime or permission to work from home to help out with childcare, Mr Clegg will say.
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