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News round-up 6/11: S&P's rating "misleading", judge rules

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

Finance

An judge has ruled that the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s misled 12 councils in Australia. The authorities had bought financial products that lost almost all of their value in the financial crisis, according to the Guardian. The judge found that the agency’s AAA rating of the notes that the councils bought was “misleading and deceptive.” The verdict could open the way for “a flood of similar cases”, the newspaper reports.

S&P tolf the BBC it planned to appeal against the decision. “We are disappointed with the Court’s decision, we reject any suggestion our opinions were inappropriate, and we will appeal the Australian ruling,” it said.

 

Pension funds

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will today announce plans to let councils invest a third of their pension funds on infrastructure projects, report the Times.

The announcement follows criticism from Conservative peer Lord Heseltine that the Treasury is not adequately utilising pension funds to aid economic recovery.

 

Planning

MPs have warned that new planning laws will lead to a “phone mast free-for-all”, the Daily Telegraph reports. Communities secretary Eric Pickles accused his critics of “appalling scaremongering,” the paper reports.

 

Care homes

The Independent reports that Suffolk CC has agreed to the private sector taking over its care homes. The council’s 16 homes will be closed by 2015, and 10 new homes will be built, it adds. The deal will give the authority 104 extra beds. Provider Care UK, which is owned by a private equity firm, stands to make £257m from the contract, according to the paper.

 

Welfare reform

People with alcohol or drug addiction could be stripped of their benefits if they do not seek help, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The proposal could be extended to people out of work due to obesity or back pain as well, the paper writes.

It says that the Department for Work and Pensions is looking at extending conditionality to sickness benefits so that the benefits system encouraged people “who are sick but able to take practical steps to improve their health” to get better.

Trials of the policy will be announced by Employment Minister Mark Hoban before Christmas.

 

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  • Funny in the welfare Newspeak how encouraged replaces the word penalised those who do not or are unable to...

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