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News round-up 21/2: Cabinet row over welfare reform

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


Welfare reform

A cabinet row has broken out after chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander wrote urging work & pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith to reconsider plans to pay housing benefit direct to tenants. The Financial Times says Universal Credit pilots show rent arrears rising from 5% to 8% leading to increased risk to social housing landlords.

Exclusive LGC research published last week showed the risk of rent arrears was set to suck almost £100m out of council house building and refurbishment budgets.

Meanwhile, the unemployed mother of 11 from Gloucestershire whose family is being built a £400,000 house by Tewkesbury BC has said she is having second thoughts about moving into the property. Heather Frost said she feared the outcry could lead to her children being bullied, the Times reports.


School performance

An Ofsted “raid” on schools in Derby has found that improvements have been made, the Daily Telegraph reports. Derby was the first area of the country to be targeted under a fast-tracked set of Ofsted inspections of areas causing concern, following an announcement that the checks could trigger the inspection of councils’ school improvement services. Four Derby schools previously rated “satisfactory” have now been found to be “good”, the newspaper reports, although three were found to “require improvement”.

Seven academy schools have been sent “pre-warning” letters about disappointing performance and could have their sponsors removed unless they transform results. The Times reports the schools targeted by the Department for Education include Oxford Academy, sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford and supported by textile tycoon Sir Harry Djanogly.


Community art

Haringey LBC is investigating how a mural street artist Banksy painted on the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green came to be on sale for $700,000 in a Miami auction house. Alan Strickland (Lab) said it was a worrying precedent over the ownership of street art, posing a “significant threat to street art all over the country”, the Financial Times reports.


4G auction

The government’s 4G auction raised only £2.3bn despite chancellor George Osborne budgeting for £3.5bn in his Autumn Statement last year, the Times reports. With the disappointing auction returns, there is greater risk that borrowing will rise this year, the paper writes.



Nine out of ten NHS employees want NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to resign, the Daily Mail leads with today. The majority of NHS staff has lost confidence in the NHS chief as he has presided over a number of hospital scandals. However, Prime Minister David Cameron has defended Sir David and warned against making him a “scapegoat”.

The number of people admitted to hospital because of their obesity has more than tripled in five years, the Guardian reports. It says data from the NHS Information Centre shows 65% of men and 58% of women are now overweight or obese, compared with 58% and 49% in 1993, with the vast majority of adults in England not taking enough exercise.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • On the principle of presumed diligence Nicholson has to prove that it was not reasonable to expect him to have known about Mid Staffs problems and therefore been unable to intervene. I think he will find that almost impossible.

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