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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:50HRS

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GOVERNMENT PAYS SPECIAL ATTENTION TO EXPANDING NUMBERS OF POLICE ON STREET ...
GOVERNMENT PAYS SPECIAL ATTENTION TO EXPANDING NUMBERS OF POLICE ON STREET

The government is to spend nearly£300m a year on paying a force of 30,000 paid special constables as part of its plans to put more officers on the street, breaking 100 years of tradition in which they have remained a volunteer force. The Daily Telegraph(p1) claims to have obtained confidential home office documents which disclose that the government will start a national recruitment drive in January to convert the current force of 12,000 unpaid specials to a cadre of 30,000 paid officers.

EDUCATION #1: LABOUR'S FIRST TERM SPEND WAS 40-YEAR LOW

Despite Labour's pledge to make education his first priority, the government squeezed spending on Britain's schools and universities in its first term to the lowest share of national income since the early 1960s, according to new research.

A study by a leading academic showed that spending on education fell to just 4.5% of GDP in 1998 and 1999 - the lowest since Harold Macmillan was prime minister - and will embarrass to the government ahead of its education spending announcement tomorrow, reports THe Guardian(p1).

EDUCATION #2: GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO RINGFENCE EDUCATION SPENDING DESPITE LGA LETTER

A letter from LGA chairman Jeremy Beecham to chancellor Gordon Brown, has warned the move to what he describes as 'a command and control system' will lead to a damaging row. He warned: 'The row will not be about priorities or about the quantity of funding. Local government gives as much priority to education as central government and still spends£350m more than government provision even after years of big increases.' He added: 'Although it would no doubt be argued that it is only a reserve power, the very existence of a reserve power would be expected to have much the same effect as its actual implementation. Ministers would immediately come under intense pressure to use the power if any local authority is at all out of line with government policy. All our experience in local government is that reserve powers, once created, are used and generalised.' Some LGA sources still hope the proposal can be knocked back for further discussion in the local government finance white paper later this autumn, others claimed the reserve power will prove more controversial than the well trailed plans to allow private companies to take over departments of successful schools, reports The Guardian(p9).

GOVERNMENT TONE 'CONCILIATORY' IN DISCUSSIONS WITH UNIONS OVER PRIVATE COMPANIES

Two prominent cabinet members have privately played down the prospect of companies taking over key services, in an attempt to avert damaging rows with union leaders at the TUC and Labour party conferences. Stephen Byers, and health secretary Alan Milburn, acknowledged public hostility and conceded the government had mishandled the issue, adopting a significantly more conciliatory tone in discussions with union officials, reports The Guardian(p5).

BRITISH CHILDCARE SEVRICES WORST IN EUROPE, SAYS STUDY

British parents endure the worst childcare servicesin Europe, defined as an effective mix of parental leave and subsidised care for under-threes, according to a new study. The number of publicly funded places for pre-school children is up to 15 per cent lower than in other European countries and Britain also has one of the poorest packages of parental leave, according to the Daycare Trust's survey of 15 EU member states, reports The Times(p6).

by Assistant Editor Neil Watson

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