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Local government finance
Local government will have faced cumulative funding cuts of more than 70% between 2010-11 and 2017-18 if the chancellor insists on continuing the current trajectory in his austerity drive, the Financial Times reports. Modelling by the paper shows the Department for Communities & Local Government would have suffered the largest cuts by the next election, including £1.4bn in 2015-16 equating to 5,500 libraries or 82,000 binmen.
However, the paper suggests cuts to the Ministry of Defence, set to total around 20% over the seven-year period will prove the most controversial and reports the chancellor has faced strongest opposition to the cuts from the defence secretary, home secretary and business secretary.
Chief executives of failing hospitals have been accused of a tendency to “cut costs, cross their fingers and ‘hope that no one notices’ the decline in quality”, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says Roger Taylor, co-founder of the health information service Dr Foster and “an expert who helped uncover the Mid Staffs scandal”, said the risk of this leading to them losing their jobs was “troublingly remote”.
Ministers change posts too often, are poorly managed, and focus too much on the media instead of managing their departments, according to a report published today, the Guardian writes.
The report from the Reform thinktank was compiled from interviews with officials, Ministers, special advisers and non-executive directors from across Whitehall.
The leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Conservative group has called for six east Lancashire councils to merge into a single all-purpose authority to save cash, the Lancashire Telegraph reports. Mike Lee has written to communities secretary Eric Pickles suggesting Ribble Valley, Burnley, Hyndburn, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Rossendale form a single unitary authority in a plan that would see Lancashire CC split in half. Labour leaders in some of the affected councils have rejected the proposal.
Communities minister Baroness Hanham has said parts of the green belt that are not “absolutely brilliant land” should be used for housing developments, the Daily Telegraph reports
The average water and sewerage bill will rise to £388 from 1 April 2013 and apply until 31 March 2014, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Speaking on the Today Programme, Ofwat Chief Executive Regina Finn said the price rises were part of a £25bn five year investment programme to ensure customers got “safe and secure water”.
Former Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne resigned as an MP yesterday after changing his plea to a charge of perverting the course of justice, reports the Guardian.
The paper describes the former Energy Secretary’s decision to change his plea to guilty as “a humiliating end to his political career”.
There will now be a by-election in Mr Huhne’s former constituency of Eastleigh.
The Daily Telegraph reports that local authorities have “admitted” that they use motorists as a “cash cow” to keep council tax down. It says David Sparks, chair of the LGA’s transport board, said councils were pushing up parking charges to ease the pressure on their budgets. The admission was “buried” in evidence to the Commons public accounts committee, the newspaper reports.
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