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News round-up 4/2: Most voters reject council tax hikes

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

Council tax

The Telegraph reports that 64% of voters were not willing to pay more council tax even if it helped maintain services. A poll by Ipsos MORI also found that 65% of those surveyed had not noticed any changes to the quality of council services following cuts to government funding. Asked whether cuts would cause social unrest, 48% said they would while 47% disagreed.

 

Economy

The north-east is leading the UK for growth in jobs, according to an index compiled by Reed recruitment agency and reported on by the Financial Times. Reed said social care, education and health showed the strongest growth with the north-east leading regionally, followed by the north-west, Wales, West Midlands and Scotland.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the value of properties in just 10 London boroughs outstrip the value of all properties in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland combined. Quoting research by Savills property group, the paper says the figures are of concern to first time buyers and create fears for economic recovery.

 

High speed rail

Cities set to benefit from the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link will be asked to contribute towards the cost of building the new line, the Independent reports.

Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and Derby, which will each receive new high-speed stations, are expected to be asked to contribute and the paper quotes Derby City Council leader Paul Bayliss (Lab) saying the expected £145m payback would make any contribution worth it.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said the contributions expected would depend on “local circumstances”.

 

Liverpool

A deal to set a budget for Liverpool City Council with cross-party support has collapsed in spectacular fashion after city mayor Joe Anderson (Lab) accused Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Kemp of leaking details of cuts and pinning the blame on Labour. The Liverpool Echo quotes Mayor Anderson as labelling Cllr Kemp a “despicable character” and saying: “You forget in trying to kid me that you are trying to kid the kid that kidded Billy the Kid.” Cllr Kemp denied being the source of the leaks.

 

Pensions

 Public sector pensions could cost each household up to £1,600 per year within the next decade, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says the Centre for Policy Studies claims to have found a £9bn-a-year “pensions black hole”, claiming that the government has underestimated the cost of its pensions reforms.

 

Adoption

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering has claimed that racial and cultural differences can have a profound impact on ethnic-minority children adopted by white parents after examining the experiences of 72 Chinese orphans who arrived in Britain from Hong Kong in the 1960s. The Observer claims the findings will raise questions over the government’s plans to make it easier for prospective parents to adopt children from different racial or cultural backgrounds.

 

The Nuclear industry

Centrica will shortly announce that it is pulling out of plans to build nuclear plants in the UK, clearing the way for Chinese investors to step in, reports the Financial Times.

The paper says the push for nuclear power stations will proceed without any big British company involved, after Centrica concluded that “new nuclear” was “not right” amid concerns about costs.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Today Programme, Margaret Hodge, Labour chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said that there had been an appalling legacy of neglect at Sellafield over a number of decades by governments of all colours.

She said that there were concerns that costs at Sellafield would increase and there was uncertainty about future running costs. Risk lay with the taxpayer, she continued, and as a result, taxpayers were not getting value for money.

 

Health

Failing hospitals will be publicly named for the first time under a system of Ofsted-style inspections to be introduced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Financial Times reports. Ahead of the Mid Staffordshire enquiry report due to be published on Wednesday, Mr Hunt has commissioned the Nuffield Trust think tank to work on definitions of success and failure for an “easy to understand, independent and expert assessment”.

 

General election

The Conservatives intend to mount a fightback in Scotland, including Scottish constituencies in their top 40 target seats for the 2015 election, the Financial Times reports.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • A £68bn bill for Sellafield disposal/storage of spent fuel might raise questions about the economics of nuclear energy?

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