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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN TODAY'S PAPERS

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LONE PARENT BENEFIT FRAUD COSTING£400M A YEAR...
LONE PARENT BENEFIT FRAUD COSTING£400M A YEAR

Benefit fraud, by people who claim to be lone parents but are in fact living as couples, is costing the taxpayer£400m a year, government figures show.

Analysis by HM Customs and Revenue found£305m in tax credits was paid out to people who claimed they were single, despite having a partner. A further£106m was claimed in other benefits, such as income support and jobseeker's allowance, and the fraud will also affect housing benefit and council tax benefit administered by local authorities.

Shadow welfare reform minister David Ruffley said the problem revealed how couples were penalised by the welfare system.

Work and pensions secretary John Hutton will today announce a tough stance on people who claim benefit and do not attempt to find work. The 'can work, won't work' generation should have its benefit reduced or stopped, he will say.

The Daily Telegraph, page 1

SCHOOLBOY GIVEN CRIMINAL RECORD FOR PLAYGROUND FIGHT

An MP says Hertfordshire police over-reacted after an investigation into a playground fight resulted in a 14 year old boy being put on the police national computer, despite having no previous record of disciplinary problems.

The boy was involved in a fight with another pupil, whom he blamed for racist bullying of his younger brother. He admitted to pushing the other pupil over and was suspended from school for two days. But when the victim's family complained to the police, the police issued him with a formal reprimand, which will appear on the criminal record database for the rest of his life.

The boy's father, a deputy headteacher, says this will mean his son will not be able to pursue a career in teaching, as he had wanted.

Local MP Grant Shapps said the police's response was driven by their need to meet targets for dealing with violent crime. But Hertfordshire police said they were required to record and investigate complaints made by the public.

The Daily Telegraph, page 6

MAJOR REDEVELOPMENT PROPOSED FOR NOTTINGHAM

Boots is talking to local authorities about its proposals to redevelop a 100 acre site in Nottingham.

The company intends to keep its headquarters on the site, but wants to redevelop other areas for offices, housing and possibly a science park linked to the nearby university. The process of gaining outline planning permission started last week.

The proposals come after the company shut down some activities on the site, creating 1,500 redundancies.

The Times, page 33

LEWES BATTLES AGAINST PARKING METER BOMBERS

Lewes DC has offered a£2,000 reward to catch vandals who have been blowing up the town's parking meters. The police are offering a further£3,000 reward.

Since the parking meters were installed in 2004, more than£300,000 damage has been done by small bombs stuffed into the coin slots.

The Times, page 2

SHOP DUMMIES INVESTIGATED FOR 'ILLEGAL' FUNDRAISING

East Devon DC is investigating whether two shop mannequins used to collect money for Sidmouth lifeboat station are illegal.

The two dummies, Sid and Alma, stand on the seafront with collecting buckets and raise about£15,000 a year.

But a member of the public has complained to the council that the dummies do not have a collector's licence, so East Devon is now investigating the legal situation.

Daily Mail, page 11

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