Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Rotherham MBC became embroiled in a row over its fostering policies this weekend after removing three children from a family because the parents were members of the UK Independence Party.
The council is now reviewing its decision after coming in for a barrage of criticism, reports the Times. Education secretary Michael Gove described the decision as “indefensible”.
Council leader Roger Stone (Lab) said the council would check that “all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made”.
Ministers are now considering changing the law to prevent a repetition of the row, the paper later claims.
The LGA is lobbying government to return £1bn of “stealth” cuts over this spending review period, writes the Financial Times. As first reported by LGC last month and last week, the body representing local government argues that a combination of cuts and deferred grants leaves councils facing cuts of more than 10% of their core funding.
LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell said the government’s plan threatened to “severely limit” councils’ ability to promote growth while a Whitehall source told the FT some of the LGA’s calculations were “disingenuous”.
Meanwhile, the Independent reports on the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ predicting that austerity in public spending could last three extra years to 2017-18. IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said weak growth meant the chancellor may have to abandon one of his debt targets, raise taxes or announce further cuts in the Autumn statement.
Talks about flood protections between insurance chiefs and ministers are “on the brink of collapse”, according to the Times, potentially leaving hundreds of thousands of households in high-risk areas facing losing their cover next year. Sources from the insurance lobby said ministers were refusing to guarantee an “overdraft” if insurance funds were to run out.
Islington LBC is to invest £20m of its pension fund in residential property following ministerial calls for pensions to support housing and infrastructure programmes, the Financial Times reports. Concerns have however been raised in the wider sector about perceived conflicts of interest and the capacity of smaller pension funds to assess the investment and the relatively low rate of return from house building.
Meanwhile, councils and housing associations will be able to bid for money to bring empty homes back into use, the Guardian reports. It says communities minister Don Foster will announce today that a £300m fund is open – but that the Department for Communities & Local Government has not confirmed how much of the £300m has been earmarked for the scheme.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the government’s “troubled families” scheme is open to abuse by officials. It says councils will report their own success against payment-by-results rules, with only “spot checks” being carried out on a small number of councils to make sure they are reporting their results accurately.
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