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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 14:30HRS

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CONSERVATIVE LEADER SAYS PUBLIC SERVICES CAN BE IMPROVED WHILE REDUCING STATE ROLE ...
CONSERVATIVE LEADER SAYS PUBLIC SERVICES CAN BE IMPROVED WHILE REDUCING STATE ROLE

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is to put tax-cutting and shrinking the role of the state at the heart of the Conservative agenda, but says his quest for improved public services can exist alongside determination to reduce levies, even as the party searches for ways of improving Britain's key public services. In an interview with the Financial Times(p17), the Conservative leader made clear that his quest for policies to raise the standard of health care, education and transport can run alongside his determination to cut taxes, reports the Financial Times(p1).

CABINET OFFICE SCHEME LOOKS AT PRIVATE OPTIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVICES

Tony Blair's think-tank is developing ideas for not-for-profit public sector bodies combining private sector innovation and the ability to raise capital, while retaining a public service mission, reports the Financial Times(p3).

FUND MANAGER SCHRODERS ADMITS TO ACCOUNTING ERRORS IN PROFITS BUNGLE

The UK's biggest independent fund manager, Shroders, yesterday issued a profits warning and admitted that accounting errors had caused it to overstate profits by£11m. The accounting bungles, which relate to profits in 2000, were uncovered a week ago as the fund manager switched to a new computer system, reports The Times(p30).

CAPITA 'UNAWARE' OF INDIVIDUAL LEARNING ACCOUNTS BREACH

Capita Group, the FTSE 100-listed IT services company, moved quickly yesterday to dismiss suggestions that a security breach within its computer systems had prompted the government to shut down a£260 million training programme abruptly. The company said it was unaware of any security breach of the Capita-run Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) computer system which allowed members of the public to sign up for government-subsidised courses. Analysts warned, however, that allegations the system had been used to access confidential information could damage Capita's standing with the Government, the source of about 18 per cent of group turnover, reports The Times(p28).

CARE STAFF'S CONVICTIONS FOR ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE TO BE REVIEWED

The convictions of over 100 care workers for alleged abuse in children's homes over the past three decades are to be investigated by MPs amid deepening concerns about miscarriages of justice. In the first inquiry of its kind, the home affairs select committee will question whether police methods of 'trawling' for information produced unreliable evidence and involved a disproportionate use of resources. It will also consider if there should be a time limit on prosecution for child abuse and if the prospect of compensation encourages people to fabricate allegations, reports The Daily Telegraph(p9).

HOME SWAP SCHEME ENDS NEGATIVE EQUITY NIGHTMARES FOR RESIDENTS OF BLIGHTED ESTATE

Homeowners trapped by negative equity on an estate blighted by litter, graffiti and boarded-up properties, are to be relocated in a pioneering scheme that could prove a model for other councils. Salford City Council has been given the go-ahead for a£300,000 pilot home swap scheme which will move people from their virtually worthless terraces to newly refurbished properties - at no cost to them. Existing mortgages will be transferred, ensuring homeowners will not be burdened by debt from their devalued property. Other local authorities, such as Middlesbrough Council, Oldham MBC, Birmingham City Council and Manchester City Council, will be monitoring the pilot to see if it could be a blueprint for the regeneration of other deprived areas, reports The Guardian(p12).

EDUCATION SECRETARY ADMITS THAT TEACHER TARGETS MAY BE MISSED

The government cannot guarantee to meet its targets for recruiting teachers, Estelle Morris, the secretary of state for education and skills, conceded. Ms Morris told a conference in London, organised by the public services union Unison, that at least 10 per cent of all graduates for the next 15 years would have to be recruited for all teaching posts to be filled. Her comments were seized on by teachers' leaders as the most candid admission yet by a minister that schools could face major staffing shortages for years to come, reports The Independent(p9).

TEACHER FACES BEING STRUCK OFF FOR SWEARING IN CLASS AND UNDERMINING COLLEAGUES

A maths teacher accused of swearing in lessons and trying to undermine his colleagues became the first teacher in England to face exclusion from the classroom. John Cole appeared before a hearing of the newly-established General Teaching Council, which has the power of striking teachers off the register of those allowed to work in state schools for two years. In the council's first professional misconduct case, Mr Cole of Little Wenlock, Shropshire, faced four charges for his behaviour at The Grange school in Shrewsbury, reports The Independent(p11).

CLIMBIE SOCIAL WORKER TELLS OF HER 'PSYCHOTIC ILLNESS'

In the months before Victoria Climbie's death, the senior social worker in charge of her case was developing a 'serious psychotic illness'. The inquiry into the eight-year-old's death heard yesterday that Carole Baptiste had informed her manager at Haringey LBC's social services department about her mental health problems, reports The Independent(p12).

IN BRIEF:

The Sunoffers an 'exclusive' report on a primary school class of eight-year-olds has had 13 teachers in just 14 weeks. Rotherham MBC yesterday insisted action had been taken to end the crisis at High Greave.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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