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News round-up 22/2: Osborne 'forced' into deficit admission

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

UK economy

Chancellor George Osborne may be forced to admit that the UK’s budget deficit has grown this year, despite positive borrowing figures for the month of January.

The Guardian reports that the OBR believes that borrowing in 2012/13 will be higher than in 2011/12, prompting an “embarrassing climbdown” for the Chancellor at next month’s Budget.

Economics Editor Larry Elliot said Mr Osborne will come under political attack after claiming in his Autumn Statement last year that the Government’s austerity programme would ensure the budget deficit fell in every year of this Parliament.

Meanwhile the FT also reports on Birmingham’s enterprise zone with which the city hopes to revive its economy.


Work Programme

The BBC reports that the Public Accounts Committee, an influential body of MPs, has claimed that the Government’s welfare-to-work programme is “failing”.

Responding to the Committee’s report, which described the Work Programme’s performance as “extremely poor”, the Government said it was early days for the policy.


Speaking on the Today Programme, Dr John Jerrim, co-author of a report from the Institute of Education, said that English pupils’ performance in maths was behind their counterparts in East Asia.

He added that figures suggested that Asian pupils studying in England performed better than other English pupils and closer to their East Asian peers.

Dr Jerrim asserted that there was also evidence to suggest that the performance of English pupils at the age of ten was closer to pupils in East Asia, but the gap in performance widened by the time the pupils reached the age of sixteen.

Moses Kabba, a maths teacher at the Quintin Kynaston School in Westminster, said that he thought that there were cultural differences in the teaching of mathematics between the UK and East Asia.

He believed that mathematics teaching should be accelerated at the top-end so a greater focus could be placed on the highest performing pupils rather than teaching to the average performance. He suggested that by the time pupils entered secondary education they had suffered a drop-off, having previously “crammed” in order to pass exams.


Police commissioner elections

The public was left in the dark about the elections and who was standing in their area as the Home Office “did not have sufficient resources or the level of expertise” to run the election, the Association of Electoral Administrators warned, according to the Telegraph.

The Cabinet Office should oversee all future elections and ensure that electoral law and funding are in place six months before voters go to the polls, the report said. PCCs, which replaced existing police authorities in 41 force areas across England and Wales, have the power to set force budgets and even hire and fire chief constables.

Office block homes

City councils and London boroughs are demanding to be exempt from government plans to make it easier to turn office blocks into residential dwellings. The Financial Times says the impact of the policy, put forward by planning minister Nick Boles, would be limited if councils in Birmingham, Manchester and London were excluded.

Westminster City Council deputy leader Robert Davis (Con) accused the government of being “naive”. He said: “In commercial areas like Westminster and the City of London, we are successful largely because of businesses.”


Shale gas

Today’s Telegraph highlights a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that pours cold water on hopes that shale gas could transform the UK energy market.

The study argues that high development costs, along with legal, planning and environmental factors, will slow production while economic benefits will be limited.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • George, the kamikaze economist, Osborne will probably have to contend with the loss of the triple 'A' rating next month. Political point scoring is easy. The damage he is causing to millions of young people and the economy is not so entertaining.

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