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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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KELLY TO SPEND£42bn ON COUNCIL HOME REFURBISHMENTS...
KELLY TO SPEND£42bn ON COUNCIL HOME REFURBISHMENTS

Ruth Kelly will today publish plans for spending£42bn on improving homes owned by councils and housing associations, reports the Daily Mirror (pg20).

The secretary for communities and local government will call for local authorities to bid for funding to improve a further million homes, on top of the 1.5 million refurbished since 1997.

She will also announce a scheme to encourage councils to improve estates, by allowing some to keep rent money to spend on improvements.

Full details here.

SCHOOLS SET TO CHARGE PARENTS FOR AFTER-HOURS CLUBS

State schools will be allowed to charge as much as£70 a week in term time for after school activities, reports The Times (pg12).

Details of the fees are set out in government guidance on the extended schools programme which will offer 'dawn-to-dusk' care from 2010. During holidays, charges for activities could rise to£200 per week.

Teaching unions are concerned that the emphasis on charging for non-academic activities could put an end to music and sports clubs that teachers have traditionally run for free.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers called for local authorities to set out benchmark costs so schools know what is reasonable to charge and to ensure they do not use these activities to supplement their income.

A spokesperson for the DfES said if schools did not currently charge for activities it hoped they would continue to fund these in the same spirit. It did not expect schools to start charging children to play for school sports teams.

BROWN ENDORSES 'DOUBLE DEVOLUTION'

Chancellor Gordon Brown is backing proposals expected to be set out in the imminent local government white paper, reports The Guardian (pg10).

He told a government conference on public sector reform that 'we should seek to strengthen community power and voice inlocal neighbourhoods through community panels and reinvigorated parish councils' (see LGCnet.

Mr Brown faced a backlash from unions yesterday over his remarks to the CBI about capping public sector pay rises. Unison said this would 'undo all the good work' that had been done in the past few years.

CORONER QUERIES SOCIAL SERVICES ROLE IN MAN'S DEATH

The Plymouth coroner has questioned the role of social services in the case of a disabled man who died a slow death in squalid conditions, reports The Guardian (pg5).

Nigel Meadows' recorded a narrative verdict on the death of Aaron Parish, who was found dead from starvation and covered in sores and animal bites in his one-bedroom flat.

Social services did not step in to help and failed to log a call from police officers who rang with concerns about his situation shortly before his death.

Mr Parish, 35, was using compensation money from a head injury that left him brain damaged, to pay a friend to look after him.

The coroner has unsuccessfully lobbied for a criminal inquiry into the case.

Plymouth social services said it had since made significant changes in monitoring vulnerable adults.

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