The blame for this year's high council tax rises will on Thursday fall squarely on the government when the Audit Commission says the increases stemmed chiefly from the extra spending demands of ministers. The spending watchdog's inquiry into why increases in council tax averaged nearly 13 per cent will 'blow a hole' in ministers' attempts to lay the blame for the rises at the door of local politicians by largely exonerating councils of political manipulation of the tax, reports the Financial Times(p1). The report finds no causal link between council tax levels and political parties running town halls or the timing of local elections, a charge often levelled by John Prescott.
Ministers plan to grant their departments blanket immunity from hard-hitting legislation on corporate killing to be published this month. The new law will make it easier to imprison directors and managers of private companies for manslaughter offences but almost impossible to prosecute ministers whose departments will be able to claim Crown immunity. The Home Office is set to ignore independent legal advice from barristers at Matrix chambers that such a move would breach the European Convention on Human Rights, reports The Independent(p8).
PUPILS FROM ETHNIC MINORITIES WILL SOON OUTNUMBER THOSE FROM WHITE BACKGROUNDS
Children from ethnic minorities will be in the majority in London's schools within a few years as accelerating population shifts transform the composition of the capital. Figures released yesterday show that the proportion of whites living in London fell by almost 8 per cent during the 1990s because of an influx of new residents. Liverpool, Leeds and Bri stol are the only large cities with an ethnic minority population below the English average of 9 per cent, according to The Independent(p9), with Slough, Leicester, Birmingham and Luton having more than three times the average.
HISTORY AND THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS
Housing associations are being urged to engage communities in the historic aspect of their homes, as a way of developing a sense of community pride, reports Society Guardian(p8). The paper considers the historic and unusual properties such as derelict Victorian maltings, old fishermen's cottages, a former nightclub and a 15th-century priory which have all been renovated successfully to house social tenants.
CIVIL SERVICE ...
Society Guardian(p14) considers the civil service's 'staid image', and asks whether the management culture change with a planned injection of 'professionalism'. Cabinet secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull wants to inject 'new professionalism' into departments. With revamped corporate management boards running them, they will feature a new breed of specialist with professional qualifications in personnel and financial management.
by assistant editor Neil Watson