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News round-up 8/11: Commission voices UK debt fears

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

Public finances

Senior ministers are in urgent talks after the European Commission became the latest body to predict the UK government would miss its debt target. The International Monetary Fund, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and most private sector economists and have  the same conclusion, the Financial Times reports. However, the paper says the government wishes to avoid further cuts and prefers a cost neutral solution which would see revenue spending on welfare switched into capital investment.

 

Adoption

The first payment-by-results ‘adoption bonds’ are set to be launched today, which will see investors supply cash up-front for a group of charitable adoption agencies to find parents for 300 ‘difficult to place’ children, the Times reports. Local authorities, who are responsible for adoption, will pay the agencies when the adoption goes ahead, enabling the investors to be repaid.

 

Regeneration

The reopening of the Olympic Stadium could take twice as long as expected because of wrangles about work to adapt the venue and funding it, the Financial Times reports.

All but one of the 15 mayoral hopefuls in Bristol City Council have said they will fight the Severn barrage project if elected, the Financial Times reports. Developers claim the project would bring 30,000 jobs but critics believe there could be environmental damage as well as disruption to Bristol port, one of the city’s biggest employers.

 

Fraud

Michael Gove’s education reforms could be leaving schools at greater risk of fraud, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says the Audit Commission, which has seen a rise in the number of fraud allegations about schools, has warned that giving headteachers more power over budgets “could create more opportunities for financial crime.”

 

Broadband

The EU’s competition watchdog will come under attack from the UK for alleged delays in approving state-backed infrastructure projects such as rural broadband, writes the Financial Times. The paper says culture secretary Maria Miller is unhappy with the European Commission “dragging its feet” in approving UK state aid for rural broadband, and has requested a meeting with EU Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.

 

Transport

Boris Johnson has announced above-inflation fare rises across a range of transport forms, the Times reports. Passengers will have to pay up to 7.1% more to travel by Tube next year, while the cost of using the capital’s hire bikes will double. Tube, Overground, DLR and bus fares will rise by an average 4.2%, with the higher fare increases applying to off-peak journeys in zones 2-6.

 

Dementia

One million people are to be taught how to spot the early signs of dementia as part of a new drive to spread knowledge about the illness and improve the care of sufferers, the Independent says. Prime minister David Cameron will also announce today that the government will trial new medical technology that could potentially reduce the time taken for the NHS to diagnose dementia from about 18 months to only three months.

 

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