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News round-up 15/2: Camden denies plan to move families out

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

Welfare reform

Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward has tried to pour cold water on the story in yesterday’sGuardian which claimed it was planning to ship hundreds of families out of the borough.  “Camden Council in not planning to move 750 families out of the London,” she says in a letter to the paper.

“We are looking at how we can support the 761 families who will be affected by the Government’s benefit cap.

“Government cuts are forcing the hands of local authorities, such as Camden, and we are rightly talking to our residents about the impacts that these changes will have.”

 

Education

Some of Britain’s most prestigious universities have criticised Government plans to reform A-level exams, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The Russell Group of universities is “not convinced” by proposals put forward by Education Secretary Michael Gove to replace AS level exams with a single set of tests sat at the end of two years of study, the paper writes.

Meanwhile, the Times reports that the tests taken on finishing primary school are to become harder in order to match the world’s best schools systems.

The Department for Education is to announce plans for new grades that will rate pupils’ attainment at 11, form the basis of league tables and be used to identify under-achieving schools, as well as whether to order extra tests for the most able children, or have a single set of tests with some questions designed to challenge the brightest pupils.

 

Immigration

Brussels has challenged Prime Minister David Cameron over his efforts to impose tougher curbs on immigration, reports the Times.

Speaking on the campaign trail for the Eastleigh by-election, Mr Cameron said “there’s a lot more to do to make sure that we are not a soft touch,” including reducing access to benefits and services.

 

Portas pilots

Dartford BC’s leader has defended the use of Portas Pilot cash on a £1,610 appearance from children’s TV character Peppa Pig following a report in the Independent that just 13% of the funding had been spent nationwide. Jeremy Kite (Con) said the costumed visitor had done an important job of “boosting morale” in the town and led to increased spending in shops.

 

Mansion tax

 All homes worth more than £2m would be subject to a mansion tax if Labour wins the next election, Ed Miliband has revealed. The Times says the party plans to extract an average from about 70,000 high-value properties to fund the return of the 10p rate, which was abolished by Gordon Brown in 2007.

 

Treasury

A senior Treasury Minister has spoken out to warn against “‘fiscal nimbyism,” reports the Financial Times.

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is seeking a further £10bn in spending cuts, the paper writes. The news comes as a report by the Public Accounts Committee criticises the Treasury’s accounts and staffing.

In its report, published today, the Committee outlines what it sees as a threat to the Department’s ability to cope with crisis and manage public spending.

 

Energy

Discussions over cost at a key power station could threaten the Government’s aims for nuclear power to play a prominent role in the UK’s energy mix, writes the Financial Times.

EDF Energy and the Treasury are discussing the cost of producing power at the Hinkley Point C power station.

 

Horsemeat

Ministers are struggling to reassure consumers over the horsemeat scandal, after tests revealed potentially dangerous contamination of meat with veterinary drugs and Asda confirmed that the first trace of horse had been found in a fresh beef product, the Guardian reports.

The papers claims laboratories are being overwhelmed and will struggle to meet today’s deadline for conclusive test results set by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson earlier this week.

The paper cites an investigation by Corporate Watch that found six UK water companies took high-interest loans from their owners through the Channel Islands stock exchange, thereby reducing their taxable UK profits thanks to a regulatory loophole.

 

Dangerous dogs

Speaking on the Today Programme, Conservative MP George Eustice, a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said that there was a huge problem with stray dogs, dogs attacking guide dogs and “status dogs” (dangerous dogs being used by gangs).

The committee welcomed the introduction of micro chipping, he said, but argued that more needed to be done to tackle irresponsible dog owners and irresponsible breeders. He said that dog breeders should be limited to two litters a year before inspections were performed.

Dogs were being sold on the internet by amateur breeders who had less expertise in raising puppies, Mr Eustice explained, adding that stricter controls were required to address this.

He stressed that the measures proposed by the Committee would have no impact on respected, established dog breeders.

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  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Camden's response to claimant cleansing is not convincing but perhaps Cllr Hayward is beginning to feel like Mr Gove - hoping for a few decibels of support.

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