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News Headlines

‘Civil war by January’? The areas lined up for pilot county deals

Up to seven areas are understood to be in play to be in the first wave of county deals announced, but tensions have emerged in some of these. LGC spoke to figures involved about the latest situation.

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Richard Humphries: White paper will not stop social care crisis deepening

he modern history of adult social care is littered with the carcases of long-forgotten white papers, most involving visions of the future that quickly evaporate, only to make a shape-shifting reappearance a few years later in the next version.

Richard Humphries

This week’s People at the Heart of Care is no exception, in its own words “an ambitious 10-year vision for how we will transform support and care in England”.

Its three objectives are unexceptional: for people to have choice, control and support to live independent lives; access to outstanding quality and tailored care and support; and for social care to be fair and accessible. These echo the personalisation and independence-promoting themes of earlier iterations going back to the 1990s.

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Cornwall plans to cut 410 jobs to tackle budget shortfall

Cornwall Council is planning to cut 410 jobs by the end of March 2022 in order to reduce its total pay bill by £18m.

In its draft budget, the council has outlined plans to significantly reduce its workforce: 200 jobs would be removed by not backfilling vacant or time limited roles, with a further 210 roles cut through voluntary or compulsory redundancies.

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Other Headlines

Afghan refugee resettlement

Cllr Nick Forbes, Chair of the LGA’s Migration, Refugee and Asylum Taskforce spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning amidst concerns about delays to the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the UK. He said that “councils were stepping UP to offer placements and housing” to those in need but that they “didn’t know what they planning for”, with the Home Office having “lost grip” on the practicalities of the scheme.

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Inadequate fraud checks for Government Bounce Back Loans

The Government failed to put adequate measures in place to prevent fraud in its Bounce Back Loan scheme for businesses, a report by the National Audit Office has found. The Department for Business has estimated that fraudulent loans were worth £4.9 billion, 11 per cent of the total scheme.

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Staff absences impacting pupils, say headteachers

Teacher absences are the biggest barrier to children recovering the learning lost during the pandemic, according to a survey of headteachers. More than half of the 1,000 senior teachers in England surveyed by The Key said they had insufficient staff due to absences, caused by Covid and illnesses, to help pupils fill the gaps arising from school closures.

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County drafts in army after widespread power cuts

County Durham has declared a 'major incident' after residents have been left without power for six days following Storm Arwen.

The army has now been drafting in to help the council support the thousands of residents without power. More than 100 military personnel will conduct welfare checks and offer support to people.

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Somerset unitary elections date confirmed

Elections to the new unitary council in Somerset will take place in May 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has told councils in the county.

The timing was confirmed in a letter to the chief executives of Somerset’s current county and district councils from Paul Rosewell, head of the governance reform and democracy unit at DLUHC.

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Much of government spending ‘either not evaluated robustly or not evaluated at all’

Large amounts of government spending are either evaluated poorly or not evaluated at all, according to a critical report from the National Audit Office.

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‘Not clear’ how government will achieve social care ambitions in white paper

The government’s long-awaited social care white paper has failed to meet the hopes of many in the sector, with several organisations saying the billions of pounds pledged is not enough to solve the problems they face.

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Adult social care white paper

It is reported that funding will be invested in new supported housing to help councils provide a greater range of care and housing options for eligible older and disabled residents, under social care plans due to be unveiled in a government white paper today. Councils are also set to receive more grant funding to help pay for more home adaptations, but adult social care services will not receive any extra funding to help cope with demand pressures this winter.

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Social care staffing crisis

More than 40,000 social care staff have left the sector over the last six months, analysis of Government figures by the Nuffield Trust shows. It warned this is likely to be an underestimate due to not all providers submitting data throughout the six-month period.

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Local contact tracing funding warning

Councils will struggle to keep track of the Omicron variant as it spreads in communities without extra funding, directors of public health have warned. Jim McManus, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said the Government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund - which ends in March 2022 - needs to be extended for councils to retain the capacity to ramp up local testing and contact tracing.

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DLUHC engages with 150 councils over finances

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been engaging with 150 local authorities regarding their financial situations during the pandemic, one if its senior officials has said, and "engaging more intensely" with a small number within this group.

Speaking at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee Alex Skinner, the director of local government finance at DLUHC, told MPs that in addition to the ten councils that have agreed exceptional financial support, “we do keep monitoring and closely engaging a range of other local authorities”.

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Government hauls in auditors after 'flying blind' accusation

Ministers have today convened an emergency meeting with local government audit firms amid fears Whitehall is ‘flying blind’ over council finances.

With warnings of further Section 114 notices and precarious town hall finances due to COVID-19, local government minister Kemi Badenoch chaired a meeting between Whitehall officials and private sector audit firms, with civil servants understood to have been keen to raise auditors ‘overly optimistic expectations’.

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Figures show 688 homeless people died in 2020

Councils have called for a cross-departmental government plan to tackle homelessness after figures showed 688 homeless people died in England and Wales last year.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that while the number of homeless deaths fell by 11.6% in 2020 compared to 2019, it is still 42.7% higher than when records began in 2013.

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Councils set to trial digital technology to support social care

Buckinghamshire Council and Suffolk County Council are both going to take part in trials looking at how digital technology can be used to support adult social care.

The two local authorities will take part in a £22.9m SMART Places Live Labs Programme, run by ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Places and Transport), which will explore the wider application for using sensors in local communities.

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Social care White Paper ‘set up to fail’

The local government sector has praised the ambition of the long-awaited adult social care reform White Paper, but warned it will not succeed without funding to meet current demand.

Today’s White Paper details how the previously-announced £1.7bn for improvements to the care system will be allocated over the next three years.

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Officers implore government to rethink remote meeting rules

Legal and democratic services officers have implored ministers to change the rules on remote meetings as the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads.

The Association of Democratic Services Officers and Lawyers in Local Government called on the Government to re-introduce rules to allow councils to meet virtually.

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Most deprived schools hit hardest by education cuts in England, IFS says

Cuts in education spending in England over the last decade are “effectively without precedent in postwar UK history” and have hit the most deprived schools hardest, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Its report highlights how the most disadvantaged fifth of secondary schools have faced the biggest cuts, with a 14 per cent real-terms fall in spending per pupil between 2009 and 2019, compared with 9 per cent for the least deprived schools.

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Councils urged to invest in public toilets

The majority of UK adults want more investment from local councils to ensure that public toilets are clean and safe, a new survey has revealed.

A poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned by specialist hygiene services provider Citron Hygiene, has found that one in three are unhappy about the cleanliness of the public toilets in their nearest town or city

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Government allocates £11m to develop brownfield sites

The Government has allocated £11m to help local authorities develop brownfield land into good quality housing.

Announced today by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the funding will come from the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) and will support 23 redevelopment schemes across 15 councils.

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Osborne urges ministers to 'double' devolution efforts

Former chancellor George Osborne has urged ministers to ‘double’ efforts to drive forward devolution and local taxation.

Calling for more metro mayors, the architect of the Northern Powerhouse said: ‘Whatever you’re doing in terms of devolution, double it.

'Whatever you’re doing in terms of local tax-raising powers, double it.

'Whatever you’re doing in terms of devolving the NHS, double or triple it.’

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Nandy appointed shadow levelling up secretary

Lisa Nandy will become the new shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, following Labour leader Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle.

Ms Nandy, the MP for Wigan, takes over the role from Steve Reed who has become shadow justice secretary.

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DLUHC to tighten rules on debt repayment provision

The government plans to crack down on councils making inadequate arrangements to finance their borrowing in new proposals set out for consultation today.

Under the prudential framework, councils who borrow money for capital projects must set aside money each year from their revenue account - known as minimum revenue provision (MRP) - to ensure they can afford to repay the debt.

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Most deprived schools hit hardest by education cuts in England, IFS says

Cuts to education spending in England over the last decade are “effectively without precedent in postwar UK history” and have hit the most deprived schools hardest, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Its report highlights how the most disadvantaged fifth of secondary schools have faced the biggest cuts, with a 14% real-terms fall in spending per pupil between 2009 and 2019, compared with 9% for the least deprived schools.

It also says recent changes to the way education funding is distributed has compounded that disadvantage by providing bigger real-terms increases for the least deprived schools, making the government’s stated levelling-up goals harder to achieve.

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Neighbours to decide planning rules using street referendums

Homeowners will be able to band together with their neighbours to hold a referendum on adding extensions to their properties, Michael Gove has said.

The housing secretary said he supported the “cracking” idea of Street Votes, which would allow property-owners to add hundreds of thousands in value to their suburban homes.

Under the plans, 20 per cent of residents or ten homeowners, whichever figure is higher, could apply to their local council to hold a referendum on a design code for their street. The code, which would need the support of 60 per cent of residents, would determine the height, size and architectural style of new properties and allow residents to add extensions to their existing homes.

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New ‘handyman’ repair service will help elderly stay at home longer

A "handyman-style" service will be established to make repairs and adaptations to elderly people’s houses so that they can stay at home under social care plans due to be unveiled on Wednesday.

The Telegraph understands that several hundred million pounds will also be pumped into new supported housing, helping local authorities to provide a greater range of care and housing options for eligible residents.

Supported housing and assisted living schemes are seen as vital to helping people live independently in the community for longer, and often involve a mixture of housing, support and care services.

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At least 42,000 social care staff have left sector since April, figures show

More than 40,000 social care staff have left the sector over the last six months, analysis of Government figures shows, amid what a think tank is calling a “toxic mix of workforce challenges”.

The Nuffield Trust said there is a “deepening crisis” in social care staffing ahead of a very challenging winter.

The think tank analysed monthly experimental figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the adult social care workforce in England.

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Schools beg parents to plug budget gaps

Schools are increasingly asking parents for financial help, amid fears that budgetary pressures are damaging children’s education.

An annual survey from the charity Parentkind found that 45 per cent of parents were asked to contribute to school funds, with 38 per cent doing so, in the past year. That is the highest percentage of requests and contributions the survey has found in six years, with the average donation to schools rising to £11.62 a month — an increase of more than 15 per cent from last year.

More than half of parents said they were concerned that financial pressures at their school were harming their children’s education.

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Designations under coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations

This guidance sets out who has been designated under COVID-19 regulations by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to take enforcement action.

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Schools asked to introduce on-site testing after Christmas

Secondary schools in England have been asked to prepare to test pupils on-site after the Christmas holidays. The Department for Education told schools that testing pupils upon their return in January "will help reduce transmission after a period of social mixing" during the holidays.

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New vaccines 'ready in 100 days' for Omicron variant

Manufactures have committed to creating a new vaccine ‘within 100 days’ that could be used on the Omicron variant. If the new variant impacts on the effectiveness of existing vaccines, Pfizer and BioNTech have said that they will "be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval".

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Almost 400,000 on social care lists amid ‘rapidly deteriorating’ situation

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has said that almost 400,000 people are on social care “waiting lists” and warns of a “rapidly deteriorating” situation for older and disabled people this winter. Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “As we head into another difficult winter, these figures are a stark reminder of the immense scale of the challenge facing people in need or in receipt of adult social care and those who work with them.” The LGA’s lines were also reported by the Times, Mail, Evening Standard, Mirror and Express.

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Care costs bill

The Government is reportedly preparing to drop its plans for the cost of social care. Senior figures in the House of Lords are believed to have been reassured that the legislation will not return to the Lords in its current form after its committee stage early next year.

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Many DPHs ‘want plan B now’ amid concerns over contact tracing capacity

A prominent director of public health has called for ‘plan B’ measures to be implemented immediately to slow the spread of the omicron variant, warning the local contact tracing system is “going to be at significant stress”.

Dominic Harrison, DPH for Blackburn with Darwen BC, said: “I think many though not all DPHs would feel that the government should be stepping up to a full plan B response.”

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Josh MacAlister: councils should tackle excess profits in children’s care

Councils should work together to tackle excess profit making in children’s social care rather than simply criticise it, the chair of the independent review of children’s social care in England has said.

Speaking last week at the national children’s and adults services conference, Josh MacAlister, who is also the chief executive of and founder of social work charity, Frontline, was asked if his report would comment on "the morality of scarce public funds for vulnerable children contributing to the profits of hedge fund-owned providers".

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Watchdog's concern over deprivation of liberty orders

Ofsted has raised concern over a ‘huge rise’ in the use of deprivation of liberty orders by councils.

The watchdog’s national director for social care, Yvette Stanley, acknowledged a shortage of children’s home places, but said the use of such orders to place young people in unregistered accommodation was putting them at risk.

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We’ll pay for northern rail lines, say northern leaders

Northern leaders will seek to pay part of the cost of Northern Powerhouse Rail, such is their dismay over “deeply flawed” revisions to the project announced by Westminster last week.

Mayors, council leaders and transport bosses from northern regions expressed anger at the Integrated Rail Plan, which included plans to shelve a new high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford, and a stretch from Liverpool to Warrington. The eastern leg of HS2, from the West Midlands to Leeds, was also axed.

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the rail plan was “deeply flawed”. At a Transport for the North meeting in Leeds, Burnham said that contributions towards the cost of improvements, including completing the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, could be gleaned from rising land values.

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Cost pressures mount on maintained schools

In 2019-20, 11% of these 'maintained' schools reported a cumulative deficit over the previous five years – up from just 5% in 2014-15 – the watchdog said in a report.

Department for Education estimates suggest cost pressures on mainstream schools exceeded funding increases by £2.2bn between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

Secondary schools were more likely to be in deficit than primary schools, with the proportion of maintained secondaries reporting cumulative deficits peaking at 30% in 2017-18 before falling to 27% in 2019-20.

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Commissioners warn of ‘capacity challenges’ in Liverpool’s finance department

Corporate services at the council are very stretched, most notably in finance, democratic services, audit HR and legal teams, according to the first report by commissioners appointed by government, which was published today.

The capacity issues, alongside outdated IT infrastructure which has slowed changes to services, could put the council’s strategic improvement plan at risk, the report added.

The report said: “We recognise the budget challenges facing the council and the requirements to make efficiencies and retain service delivery.

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Domestic abuse crimes rose by 6% in past year

The number of domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in the year ending March 2021 increased by 6% on the previous year, new figures have shown.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found the police recorded 845,734 crimes, up from 798,607 in the year ending March 2020.

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People in residential care dying alone and 'neglected' amid 'dangerously low' staffing levels

Care home residents are dying alone and being "neglected" amid "dangerously low" staffing levels, new research suggests.

People in residential care are being denied a dignified end to their lives as there is a shortage of staff available to sit with them as they die, a survey by Unison has found.

The union reports that 31% of care workers said staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affecting the quality of care given to residents. Almost all (97%) said their employer is experiencing staff shortages.

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Government considering single leader for local NHS and care services

A single person would be accountable for planning health and care services in each local area under plans being reviewed by government, Health Service Journal has reported.

Senior sources involved in the work confirmed to HSJ that the proposal could be included in the government’s planned integration white paper, which may be published before Christmas.

HSJ’s sources said a key principle being explored at present was that each local area — referred to as “place” in current reform terminology — would share a person who was accountable for both NHS services (reporting to the NHS integrated care board, part of the integrated care system), and for overseeing social care (for which they would be responsible to their local council).

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MPs to probe council tax collection

The Housing Communities and Local Government Committee is set to examine how authorities in England pursue council tax arrears.

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Councils instructed to take care of child asylum seekers

Councils across the UK are reportedly set to be instructed to care for some of the unaccompanied asylum seeker children who have arrived via the English Channel in small boats. The change will see all 217 UK authorities with social services departments obliged to accept an allocation of the children. The LGA said most councils have stepped forward voluntarily to house and support children but there are challenges and some will require greater central government support. Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Any new arrangements must continue to swiftly take into account existing pressures in local areas." Cllr Nick Forbes, Chair of the LGA’s Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: “We very much hope that this mandatory system will be temporary because it really reflects the chaos, confusion and ad hoc nature of the current dispersal system which is concentrating problems in some parts of the country. There are some really profound reasons, not just resources but availability of foster care beds for example, why there are some real challenges in making the system work effectively.” The LGA’s response was also reported on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live news bulletins and Cllr Forbes is also due to be interviewed live on the BBC News channel at 9.15 this morning.

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MPs back change to social care cost cap funding

MPs have backed a change to the way the Government's cap on lifetime social care costs for people in England will work. They supported excluding council support payments from the new £86,000 cap by 272 votes to 246.

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Children’s homes that cost up to £22,000 per child a week

Private companies running children’s homes are charging councils as much as £22,000 a week per child, it has been claimed. The cost was revealed by Sharon Cooper, head of services for children in care at Warrington Council in Cheshire.

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CCN conference: LEPs look set to be scrapped

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) look set to be scrapped after levelling up secretary Michael Gove indicated his preference for a more accountable system to the County Councils’ Network conference today.

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CCN conference: Hunt 'very worried' about social care funding

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt is ‘very worried’ about the funding of social care for the rest of this Parliament, he told delegates at the County Councils’ Network conference.

While welcoming the Government’s move towards resolving social care issues, he said the funding was ‘significantly less than the £7bn uplift that the social care committee said would be needed before the end of the Parliament'.

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Some elderly may have to sell homes to fund care, Boris Johnson admits

Boris Johnson has watered down his pledge that no one will have to sell their home to pay for care, insisting that he will press on despite a Tory rebellion.

More people on low incomes will have to pay up to £86,000 for their care under diluted plans passed narrowly in the Commons last night. Nineteen Conservative MPs voted against, a sign of growing discontent on the back benches.

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, said that the government was going through a bad patch, telling Times Radio that he had abstained in the vote.

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Asylum seekers: Councils will be forced to take unaccompanied children arriving in small boats

Councils across the UK will be forced to take child asylum seekers who have arrived in the country without parents or guardians in new plans announced on Tuesday by Priti Patel’s Home Office.

Ministers are writing to more than 200 local authorities telling them that the voluntary National Transfer Scheme (NTS) is to become compulsory.

The move means that young people will be moved out of hostels on the south coast, where they arrived, and into permanent accommodation across the rest of England.

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County borrows £50m to repay LOBO loan

Suffolk County Council has used Public Works Loan Board borrowing to repay £30m of ‘lender option, borrower option’ loans, but expects to deliver real terms savings of £6.4m.

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MPs to debate social care cost cap plan

MPs are to debate new details of the Government’s social care cap later. Charities have warned the cap will hit poorer people the hardest. The Government last week announced an amendment to its plans saying support payments from councils would not count towards the £86,000 limit on personal care costs.

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Almost 100,000 children could be in care by 2025

New analysis commissioned by the County Councils’ Network has revealed the number of children in care in England could reach almost 100,000 by 2025 – a 36 per cent rise in a decade. It warns the expected increase is already putting “unprecedented pressure” on councils’ budgets.

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Number of people contacting NSPCC about child abuse hits record level

Figures show record numbers of people have contacted the NSPCC with concerns about child abuse. There were 4,735 calls about child sexual abuse or exploitation made to the charity in the six months to October – up by a third (36 per cent) from the same period in 2020.

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New homes to have electric car chargers by law

The Prime Minister is set to announce that new homes and buildings in England will be required by law to install electric vehicle charging points from next year. The Government says the move will see up to 145,000 charging points installed across the country every year.

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PM told: dump plan for care charges or face Tory rebellion

Senior Conservatives have reportedly told Boris Johnson to ditch plans that would see many of England’s poorest pensioners paying more for their social care – or risk being forced by his own MPs into a U-turn. MPs are expected to vote on the plans this week.

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Freeports risk being ‘killed off’ by officials in Treasury

Senior ministers have reportedly claimed that Treasury officials have effectively “killed” freeports, the low tax zones that the Chancellor has said would provide an “unprecedented economic boost”. They have said the potential benefits of the new zones will be stymied by a lack of “ambition” in the tax cuts and planning relaxations offered to individual freeports, as well as by an artificial cap that will limit the overall number to 10.

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Social Care: The True Cost?

It’s likely that all of us will draw on social care at some point in our lives. Last year, local authorities received almost 2 million new requests for adult social care support. Covering everything from help getting dressed in the morning, to long term old age residential care.

For the workers who deliver the care, it's a demanding job.

Joanna is the Director of a domiciliary care company in Kent. They are six staff down at the moment and struggling to recruit. She believes things are close to breaking point: "Social care is on its knees and we must improve training, improve the image, improve the morale, make it an industry that people are proud to join."

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Vulnerable children unable to access help due to austerity, says inquiry

More than a million vulnerable children in England are growing up emotionally damaged and with reduced life chances as a result of billions of pounds of austerity cuts to family support and youth services, according to a cross-party House of Lords inquiry.

The Lords Public Services Committee said the pandemic had accelerated a pre-existing “crisis of child vulnerability” in which increasing number of youngsters and parents were unable to access help before their problems spun out of control.

Too many children in deprived areas were taken into care, excluded from school, suffered from poor health, struggled in the job market or ended up in prison because of the lack of services able to intervene early with at-risk youngsters, it said.

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Care cost cap architect says change will hit poorest the hardest

The economist who came up with the idea of capping social care costs has said the Government's plan to change how the cap is reached is "not welcome" as it will hit the poorest hardest. Sir Andrew Dilnot said the change will also create a north-south divide in England and he doubts the Government has allocated enough extra funding for means-testing.

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£96bn rail improvement programme announced

A programme to help transform services in the Midlands and northern England has been announced, but a key HS2 route to Leeds will reportedly be scrapped. The Department for Transport’s Integrated Rail Plan will provide £96 billion to improve journey times “from London and across the Pennines” and “strengthen connections between major cities in the North and Midlands.” Ministers say local service upgrades, bringing faster journeys, will now happen 10 years earlier than planned.

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Business rate provisions swell council reserves

Councils' level of business rates income held in reserve to cover future appeals rose by almost a third last year – representing an increase of almost £1bn.

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No deal from last-ditch pay talks

Last-ditch talks between local government employers and trade unions over this year’s 1.75% pay offer have broken up without agreement.

The failure of the talks last week to reach a deal means the unions have moved another step closer to industrial action and pushes the chance of any agreement into next year.

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Peers warn of ‘a crisis in child vulnerability’

The life chances of more than a million vulnerable children are being damaged by cuts to early years and youth support, peers have warned ministers.

A new report published today by the House of Lords Public Services Committee has found that the post-2010 Government cuts have left vulnerable children at risk of serious harm, particularly those living in the most deprived areas.

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Concern at Cipfa’s plans to tighten prudential code

The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has been urged to “think again” about proposed changes to its prudential code, amid concern that the plans will restrict councils' ability to make legitimate investment decisions.

Cipfa’s consultation on the prudential code, which closed on 16 November, proposed tighter guidance on local authorities’ ability to borrow to invest.

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£1.7bn early intervention cut prompts Armstrong call for levelling up rethink

The government must focus its early years spending on the most deprived parts of the country if it is serious about ‘levelling up’, the chair of the Lords public services committee has told LGC.

Baroness Armstrong (Lab) highlighted the findings of report from her committee published today that since 2010 there has been a £1.7bn annual cut to funding for early interventions such as Sure Start and children’s centres – significantly less than the £492m promised for such services over three years in the recent spending review.

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Councils question logic of ministers’ community renewal fund decisions

Senior upper tier Conservative councillors have expressed frustration that their councils’ roles in recommending which bids should be taken forward for the £220m community renewal fund (CRF) appeared to have been overlooked by the government when final decisions were made.

The fund is a pilot for the much bigger UK shared prosperity fund (UKSPF) designed to replace EU structural funding, which will eventually be worth £1.5bn a year, but the bidding process has “caused a lot of anguish amongst colleagues across the country” according to the chair of the Local Government Association’s people and places board Kevin Bentley (Con).

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County 'breached procurement laws twice'

Cambridgeshire County Council breached European Union procurement laws on two separate occasions in its 2017-18 accounts, auditors have concluded.

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A&E overcrowding in UK ‘killing thousands a year’, say doctors

Thousands of patients a year are dying because of overcrowding in A&E units in Britain, and more fatalities will follow this winter, emergency care doctors claim.

An estimated 4,519 people in England died in 2020-21 as a direct result of people receiving less than ideal care while delayed in A&E waiting to start treatment in the hospital.

“To say this figure is shocking is an understatement. Quite simply, crowding kills,” said Dr Adrian Boyle, a vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM).

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Dilnot ‘very disappointed’ by social care cap announcement

The man who first proposed a cap on adult social care costs has said he “particularly regrets” the latest “big changes" the government has made to its plans for social care reform, which he warned will “find savings exclusively from the less well off”.

Mr Dilnot also highlighted a “north-south axis”, warning that areas with lower house prices such as Hull are likely to be hit hardest by the changes. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, shared this view. In a statement, she said: “It becomes clear that the cap will disproportionately benefit those living in the south rather than the north, where house prices are that much lower, flying in the face of the government's 'levelling up' agenda.

Mr Dilnot said it was “unlikely to be a significant some of money” that the Treasury will save through the latest changes, “which is partly what makes me regret the decision”. But he conceded that the proposals “still take us to a better place than we are at the moment”.

At the committee session, Ms Warren echoed this sentiment, indicating that despite her reservations over the latest changes, the proposals are still “the right overall structure”. She highlighted Age UK's claim that as many as 1.5 million people have an unmet care need, and how the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services says £10bn a year is needed to stabilise the adult social care system, in addition to what the government has provided through the levy.

“The spending review has provided 1.8% a year spending power increase," Ms Warren said. "Normally social care demographic pressures are around 1.82% a year. We've also then got additional cost pressures through the increase in national minimum wage, the increase in national insurance contributions and changes on things like energy costs, which we think means adult social care will need considerably more than the 1.8% its being provided.”

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Government ‘lost control of universal credit fraud’ during pandemic

The Public Accounts Committee has accused the Government of ‘losing control’ on Universal Credit fraud. The committee’s report found that £8.3 billion was overpaid in Universal Credit due to both error and fraud, up from £4.5 billion on the previous year.

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Inflation: UK prices soar at fastest rate for almost ten years

The cost of living has surged at its fastest pace in almost 10 years, hitting 4.2% in the year to October.

It is mainly due to higher fuel and energy prices but the cost of second-hand cars and eating out also rose, the Office for National Statistics said.

Inflation is up sharply since Covid restrictions ended this year and the economy reopened.

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One in four primary children clinically obese

More than a quarter of pupils in England are now clinically obese by the time they finish primary school, according to figures from the National Child Measurement Programme. Rates in reception class increased by almost half between 2019/20 and 2020/21 whist rises in Year 6 were the highest annual increase since the programme was launched in 2006. Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Childhood obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges we face, made all the more difficult by the impact of the pandemic on children’s activities and lifestyles. As these worrying figures show, there is still much to do to encourage healthier eating and habits if we are to avoid today’s obese children becoming tomorrow’s obese adults. Investment in councils’ public health services now will reap benefits for everyone longer-term, including for the NHS.”

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Poorer pensioners hit as cap on social care costs diluted

Poorer pensioners will pay tens of thousands of pounds more for social care as the government waters down key reforms to save money.

Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking his promise that no one would have to sell their homes to pay for care after the changes were slipped out yesterday. They mean that less wealthy older people will have to use up most of their assets if they need expensive help.

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Give social care workers £1,000 bonus to protect NHS, ministers urged

Social care workers should receive an immediate bonus of up to £1,000 to stop them quitting before the winter and placing greater pressure on the NHS, ministers are being urged. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, say emergency payments would help tackle worsening staff shortages.

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Real Living Wage rises to £9.90 an hour

Over 300,000 people working for employers who have voluntarily signed up to the Real Living Wage are to receive a pay increase of 40p to £9.90 an hour. This is different to the compulsory National Living Wage, which is currently £8.91 an hour for anyone over the age of 23.

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Long-awaited SEND review to focus on reducing ‘local variation’

Proposals from the government’s review into special educational needs and disability will aim to reduce regional disparities in providing care when it is published next year, according to a minister.

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‘End to free COVID-19 tests’

A leaked document suggests that the Government is drawing up plans to scrap free COVID-19 tests. Instead, testing will be prioritised for the most vulnerable, including those in care homes and hospitals, and used to contain local outbreaks.

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Gove eyes a ‘Northern renaissance’

Communities Secretary Michael Gove is reported to have told Cabinet colleagues that he hopes to emulate the “Medici Effect” - a theory of the development of early modern Florence under which business, political and cultural hubs interacted to produce economic growth - as part of levelling up plans across England.

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Heseltine on Levelling Up

Former Conservative deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine warns that ‘levelling up” is no more than a “political slogan”. Looking ahead to the forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper, he says it will be judged on three criteria. He writes: "First, the clarity with which it defines the changes at national and local level to implement the “levelling up” agenda; and second, who is in charge of the implementation. Third, it must commit the resources.”

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Manchester faces £85m budget shortfall by 2025

Manchester City Council faces a £85m budget shortfall within the next three years, councillors have been warned.

A report to the council’s resources and governance scrutiny committee, produced by Manchester's deputy chief executive Carol Culley, assessed its financial position in light of the recent Budget and spending review.

It estimates that Manchester will see a £4m shortfall in the 2022-23 financial year, rising to £64m in 2023-24 and £85m in 2024-25.

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NHS leaders call for social care support

Nine in 10 NHS trust chief executives, chairs and directors have reported in a survey that the pressures on their organisation have become unsustainable. The most endorsed recommendation by health leaders in the NHS Confederation poll was for the Government to provide urgent extra support for social care.

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Local road condition worsens

One in every 16 miles of minor roads managed by councils in England have been given the lowest “red” rating, according to figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT). It would take more than £10 billion for councils to clear the current local roads repair backlog.

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Projects secure funding to improve safety of women at night

Projects that aim to improve the safety of women and girls in public spaces at night have been awarded £5m funding from the Government.

The Safety of Women at Night Fund has been awarded to 22 organisations across England and Wales. The money will fund initiatives such as taxi marshals, drink spiking detection kits and a transport safety campaign.

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People with mental health issues three times more likely to fall into council tax arrears, charity warns

Councils have been urged to provide people with mental health problems with more support to prevent them from falling into council tax debt.

New research by Money and Mental Health Policy Institute shows people with mental health problems were three times more likely to have fallen into council tax arrears than the wider population.

This means around 2.8m people with mental health problems fell behind on council tax payments last year.

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Council to consult on care home closures

Derbyshire County Council is set to launch a consultation on the closure of seven council-run care homes, due to concerns over maintenance costs.

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Calls for radical expansion of parish and town councils

Parish and town councils should be established in every neighbourhood to help places level up and revive local democracy, a think tank has said today.

In a new report, Onward warns that nearly two-thirds (63%) of England are not covered by a town or parish councils.

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Government ‘misled’ unitary over cyber attack support, say councillors

A report by Redcar and Cleveland BC members says the council’s executive was “misled by the government as to the level and speed of financial support” it would be offered following a major cyber-attack.

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Cambridgeshire appoints new chief

Cambridgeshire CC has appointed Stephen Moir as its chief executive.

Mr Moir, who is currently executive director of corporate services for City of Edinburgh Council, will join Cambridgeshire in February. He will take over from Gillian Beasley, who announced her plans to leave earlier in the year.

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Relief as local role recognised in COP26 draft text

The latest draft agreement from the COP26 climate summit has prompted some celebration from negotiators representing local government for its recognition of the "urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action".

The second draft of the Cop26 agreement, which is now approaching its final form after two weeks of tough talks, includes language which reflects the vital role sub-national actors will be required to play in the agenda - after a concerted push for the addition from those representing local interests at the conference.

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Government to reduce competitive funding pots

The current arrangement of more than 100 different competitive pots, which have overlapping criteria, has become too complicated, according to communities minister Michael Gove.

Speaking to the Housing Communities and Local Government committee, Gove said that maintaining an element of competition in some funds was a good thing, but the system required an overhaul.

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Middlesbrough to vote on scrapping chief exec role

Middlesbrough Council is to vote on changing its senior management arrangements, in a move which could lead to removing the role of chief executive.

A report for a full council meeting next week by Middlesbrough’s legal and finance directors says chief executive Tony Parkinson and elected mayor Andy Preston (Ind), together with the Local Government Association, have been discussing alternative management models.

These conversations have considered whether the council should “move away from a structure containing a chief executive to an alternative model”. The alternative options put before councillors are to create a chief operating officer post instead of the chief role, or to designate a current service director as head of paid service.

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Nottingham sets out plans to tackle £28m budget gap

Nottingham City Council has announced its plans to make £28m of savings in order to balance its 2022-23 budget, although more than half of these have yet to be specified.

A report for an executive board meeting next week says the council currently faces a £28m budget gap for 2022-23, which is set to rise to £38.1m in 2025-26. It says this has been largely driven by demand pressures and a reduction in Covid funding.

The council says it has made around £303m of savings since 2010, and claims it has been left “£19.4m out of pocket through not being fully compensated from income lost as a result of tackling Covid".

Last week, a report produced by a panel appointed by the government to oversee the council’s finances indicated that its transformation work must be “accelerated considerably in the coming months”.

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Gove suggests local government reforms will not go ahead

Local government funding reforms will not go ahead, Communities Secretary Michael Gove has suggested. Councils were set to retain 75 per cent of business rates income alongside a fair funding review of how local government funding is distributed, but in evidence to MPs, Michael Gove suggested the reforms had been dropped altogether because it would undermine the Government’s levelling up policy.

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Government to pause leaseholders paying to make cladding safe, Gove confirms

Michael Gove has confirmed the Government will "pause" plans to make leaseholders pay to make cladding safe as he questioned why they have to pay "at all". The Housing Secretary also said the Government "failed people at Grenfell", in reference to the fatal 2017 west London fire.

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One in ten care workers could lose job over compulsory Covid jabs

One care home worker in ten could be lost in half of council areas in England when double-jabs for coronavirus become compulsory this Thursday, exacerbating existing staff shortages and leaving people without the care they need. In 76 out of 151 upper-tier local authorities in England, more than 10 per cent of staff in care homes for older adults were not fully vaccinated, according to NHS England statistics up to the end of last month.

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Delay mandatory vaccines for care home staff or face ‘mass exodus’, ministers told

Care home leaders are calling on the Government to issue an “11th-hour reprieve” to delay mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, amid fears 60,000 staff will lose their jobs this week. The grace period for care home staff receiving their second vaccine ends on Thursday and from then on, unvaccinated employees will be unable to work without a medical exemption.

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Covid jab to be compulsory for NHS England staff

Frontline NHS England staff will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Government is expected to announce later. A deadline will be set for next spring to give unvaccinated staff time to get both doses, according to Whitehall sources, with NHS Providers saying between 80,000 and 100,000 NHS workers in England are unvaccinated.

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Gove calls for PM to chair cabinet committee on levelling up

The communities secretary has said that a cabinet committee should be established to examine the government's approach to levelling up.

Appearing before the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee yesterday, Michael Gove stated that "my view is that a logic here is to have the prime minister chairing a strategy committee looking at levelling up strategy".

He compared its role to that of the cabinet committee he previously chaired that considered issues arising from Brexit.

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Gove signals ‘redistribution’ of funding to support poorer councils

The communities secretary has kicked plans to move to 75% retention of business rates into the long grass, as he announced the government is exploring how it can redistribute funding to local areas with less tax income.

Michael Gove confirmed that his department is “considering at the moment the extent to which we can in the spending round move resources so that they are more closely correlated to need”.

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Councils to pilot innovative ways of working with £5m funding boost

Councils are being empowered to better tackle issues affecting their communities, including youth unemployment, health disparities and crime, through an innovative programme backed by £5m of government funding.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the 13 councils in England that have been selected for its Partnerships for People and Place initiative.

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England’s hospitals already at peak winter bed capacity, bosses warn

NHS bosses have warned that hospitals in England are already at peak winter levels for bed occupancy, fearing the health service will come under severe pressure in the months ahead.

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10,000 new charging points amid surge in electric cars

Plans for a further 10,000 on-street electric car charging points in England are to be announced today. The areas being targeted are West Sussex, Kent, Coventry and Cambridge, as councils seek to increase access to public charging points.

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Names of two new Cumbria unitaries confirmed

The names and sizes of the two new unitary councils to be formed in Cumbria have been officially named.

A draft sent to the county’s seven councils has confirmed that they will be replaced by Cumberland Council, spanning the east and comprising of Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland.

Westmorland and Furness Council will be created in the West of the county, covering South Lakeland, Barrow and Eden. The name change was first exclusively revealed by LGC in September, and the draft government document confirming the changes was reported by the BBC on Saturday.

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Local government needs £68bn to become net zero, report finds

Local government will need an up-front investment of £68bn from Government in order to become net zero by 2035, according to a new report.

The report, published by UNISON, warns that without a significant capital injection of funds, public services would only be able to move slowly towards net zero.

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Counties warn of a 'chasm' in electric vehicle chargers

There are more publicly available charging points in London than in England's counties combined, new analysis has shown.

The County Councils Network (CCN) said the findings reveal a 'chasm' between cities and rural areas in the availability of electric vehicle charging points.

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Gove ‘genuinely interested’ in double devolution proposals, says MP

One of the MPs behind an influential report into levelling up through ‘double devolution’ has told LGC he believes councils are “pushing at an open door” because the government has “an appetite” for passing powers to councils and communities.

Boris Johnson is also believed to be a fan of the community empowerment agenda, which is understood to be a strand in the levelling up white paper likely to be published next month. However, other cabinet ministers – including deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and home secretary Priti Patel – are thought to be less enthusiastic, with tensions brewing within government between the prime minister’s own advisers as to the direction they should take.

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UK stop-and-search data ‘withheld to hide rise in discrimination’

The Home Office has failed to release its annual stop-and-search data, prompting concern that the figures will reveal a further increase to disproportionate targeting of black people.

At the same time, the department is refusing to publish the results of its own public consultation into its heavily criticised “anti-refugee” legislation.

Campaigners said the withholding of key data appeared to be an attempt to avoid negative headlines while the Home Office’s two controversial legislative proposals – the policing bill and the borders bill – pass through parliament.

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Taxi driver shortages

More than half of the UK’s 300,000 taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have left the industry since the start of the pandemic. The Licensed Private Car Hire Association estimate that 160,000 drivers have quit, many of whom have gone on to work for Amazon or a food delivery company, and claims delays in licensing has hampered efforts to bring in new drivers. An LGA spokesperson said that “councils have worked hard to try and support the sector by taking a flexible and pragmatic approach throughout the pandemic. Authorities will continue to do so as businesses look to increase driver numbers, balancing this with the need to ensure that important safeguards that protect the public are maintained.”

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Half of school CO2 monitors undelivered

More than half of the 300,000 CO2 monitors promised to schools to improve ventilation are yet to be delivered. The Government’s £25 million programme has seen only 144,723 of the 300,000 devices delivered to state-funded schools, with the full number promised by the end of the current autumn term. This comes as an estimated 3.2 per cent of all pupils were recorded as not in class for reasons related to COVID-19 on October 21.

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Tony Travers: Gove needs to offer resources and the retreat of Whitehall

The creation of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities is yet another signal of intent from prime minister Boris Johnson. Appointing Michael Gove as secretary of state reinforces the message. The key question for local government and indeed for politics more generally is: what precisely is this message?

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Review recommends £43m of property sales at cash-strapped council

CIPFA said in a finance review, commissioned after the council requested government support, that the council needs a more ambitious asset disposal strategy, after selling just £35m of properties during the past five years.

If Peterborough ramps up properties sales, the council will contribute towards balancing its medium-term budget without needing exceptional financial support from the government, CIPFA said.

The report said: “The council does have assets that could be used to provide the resources to support the revenue budget in the Medium Term Financial Strategy period while the council is reducing its base revenue expenditure."

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Commission calls for 'radical rethink' on calculating housing demand

Up to 140,000 homes will be needed every year in areas at most in need of levelling up, according to the findings of the Building Back Britain Commission.

In its first report, the commission warns the government’s plans to level up the country will lead to a significant increase in demand for housing outside London and the South East.

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Authorities ‘disappointed’ at proposed scrapping of school grant

The government’s proposals to scrap a £50m school improvement grant has been criticised by local authorities, with educations budgets already stretched.

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PWLB borrowing crashed in October

Borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board declined sharply in October, as lending rates rose, dulling interest in the facility.

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Revised codes set for 'soft launch'

CIPFA has announced its intention for a ‘soft launch’ of its forthcoming revised Prudential and Treasury Management Codes, with full implementation set to be expected for 2023-24 strategies.

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Scheme to replace EU cash for poor areas unveiled

The UK government has unveiled the first areas to benefit from a forthcoming fund to replace EU grants to help poorer regions.

Wales will receive nearly a quarter of the total, with the South West getting the highest proportion within England. The fund will be used to invest in skills, education, local businesses and employment.

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Tony Travers: Upskilling is the key to levelling up, not random cash injections

Performance indicators including life expectancy and reduced worklessness must be developed to show if the government’s flagship policy is succeeding, writes the director of LSE London.

The government has, at maximum, just two and a half years left to ‘level-up’ the United Kingdom. We are now approaching the middle of the current government’s term of office and levelling-up outcomes will surely need to be visible before the late spring of 2024 (or possibly 2023).

Of course, this is nonsense. The policy challenges broadly grouped together as a need to deliver radical improvements to places and people that have been ‘left behind’ took over 50 years to embed themselves. It would take at least two decades even to begin to mitigate the problems caused by industrial change.

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Government extends post-Brexit fund timetable following delay

Yesterday, the government announced the share of the £200m UK Community Renewal Fund, which aims to target investment in skills, local businesses and employment, as a pilot for the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund.

Councils were supposed to receive their allocations in July, for implementation by March 2022, but due to “significant levels of interest” in the fund, this was delayed.

The government said: “We have extended the delivery timeline for the UKCRF by three months to ensure that successful applicants still have the same delivery window as set out in the fund prospectus.

“This will ensure that successful bidders will have an eight-month period in which to deliver their programme/project activities and spend the grant funding.”

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Minister says family hubs should be ‘Sure Start plus plus plus’

The children and families minister has revealed the scale of his bold ambitions for family hubs, saying he wants councils to “push the boundaries” of what the model can deliver.

Will Quince said that whereas the model’s predecessor - the Sure Start children’s centres pioneered by the last Labour government - were “only for children [from] 0 to five”, family hubs will be “for the whole family”.

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Government allocates £200m Community Renewal Funding

The Government has announced which projects will receive a share of the £200m Community Renewal Funding, and has given local authorities extra time to spend the money.

Funding has been allocated to 477 projects, most of which support the Government’s commitment to net zero.

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BoE keeps interest rate at record low in surprise move

The Bank of England’s base rate will remain at its all-time low of 0.1% after the Monetary Policy Committee voted to hold fire on an increase – despite predicting inflation will reach 5% next Spring.

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Government extends post-Brexit fund timetable following delay

UK councils will have an additional three months to deliver projects from a post-Brexit funding pot, after the government yesterday announced the delayed allocations.

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Ministers launch TV ad campaign to tackle care worker shortage

Ministers have launched a three-week TV advertising blitz to recruit care workers, as a new mandatory Covid vaccination law takes effect that some operators warn could force out a quarter of their staff.

The campaign will run from Wednesday on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky to help fill 105,000 vacancies with people who embody “kindness, compassion and resilience”, said Sajid Javid, the health secretary.

The launch comes amid a staffing crisis in social care, with burnout, Brexit and low pay fuelling the exodus of staff and forcing care operators to cut their bed capacity.

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Council-backed energy firm delays energy payments to regulator

Late last week, Together Energy, in which Warrington has a 50% stake, was ordered to pay £12.4m it owes Ofgem under rules encouraging renewable energy provision.

The firm owes the money because it failed to supply the required amount of energy from renewable sources required under legislation.

Last week, Ofgem ordered the company to make payment by 31 October, but Together Engergy has decided to delay payment, adding it is fully engaging with Ofgem.

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More than 60 councils receive share of £52m rough sleeping grant

As part of a wider £66m funding grant from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), more than 60 councils are set to receive a share of up to £52m to provide specialist support services for rough sleepers and those at risk.

Funded through the Government’s Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant scheme, services include one-to-one support and mentoring.

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Over 400,000 firms 'stuck' in business rates appeal system

More than 400,000 businesses are stuck in the business rates appeal system waiting for COVID-19 reliefs, a real estate company has warned.

Colliers said that since the start of the first lockdown, 446,620 checks have been registered by businesses against their business rates bills.

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Cumbria chief quits after three months

Gill Steward, who took up the council’s top job in August, will leave next month, Cumbria has confirmed.

It has been reported that differences of opinion have emerged over the move to mount a legal challenge against local government reorganisation within the county.

Cumbria’s Labour and Lib Dem administration has applied for a judicial review of the Government’s decision to replace the county’s two-tier system with two unitary authorities.

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Cash-strapped councils must sell off town halls and public toilets, warns minister

Two struggling councils have been warned they face government intervention unless they selloff publicly-owned assets, including town halls, public toilets, leisure centres and libraries, and push ahead with further cuts to services.

The threat by local government minister, Kemi Badenoch, followed publication of reviews into the two councils’ finances which concluded both ran the risk of failing to balance their budget – effectively going bankrupt – without urgent action.

Badenoch told Peterborough city council, which is run by the Conservatives in alliance with independents, and Wirral council – run by a minority Labour administration – they must set out plans within 30 days to balance the books or face possible intervention.

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All NHS COVID-19 testing sites will start closing early

All NHS COVID-19 testing sites will begin closing early from today as officials behind the £37 billion scheme say there is little demand for tests. All regional and local test sites have been ordered by NHS Test and Trace to scale back their operating hours and stop offering a service after 6pm.

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Twice as many youth services in England’s richest areas – survey

A survey by the National Youth Agency has revealed that children in affluent areas in England are twice as likely to have access to youth clubs and other out-of-school activities as those in poorer locations.

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Toughen up rules on ministers’ conduct – watchdog

A new report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life has said that the rules governing the conduct of ministers and senior civil servants need to be toughened up. It found transparency around lobbying was “poor” and the current guidance relied too much on convention.

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Disadvantage kids slower to catch up from learning lost during pandemic

A study by the Department of Education has shown that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds have been slower in catching up on lost learning from the pandemic. The findings show a national trend of recovery in reading and maths, especially among primary school pupils but this has been less prolonged among the most disadvantaged.

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Regulator 'disappointed' at timeliness of local government auditor reporting

Half of the local government audits chosen for review by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) had to be replaced as they were not finalised and signed on time.

The FRC said the timeliness of auditor reporting - which included higher risk audits - is 'disappointing'.

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LGA seeks urgent clarity on Community Renewal Fund

Councils have urged the Government to give them more time to spend the Community Renewal Fund, after the announcement on successful projects has been delayed.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said urgent clarity is needed on the future of the fund, which requires councils to spend the money by March 2022.

It is calling for the Government to extend the deadline, warning the delay means the successful delivery of projects will now be very difficult.

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Britain won’t reach net zero unless local councils help retrofit homes, MPs warn

Boris Johnson’s government will struggle to reach its net zero target unless local councils get involved in making homes more energy efficient, MPs have warned.

Ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK ministers have set out proposals to encourage green home improvements as part of a wider plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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LGA in adult social care warning

The LGA has raised concern about the immediate and medium-term sustainability of adult social care services following the Spending Review. It has expressed concern that no funding was provided to tackle immediate pressures and warned that money allocated from the Health and Social Care Levy will not match the cost of the Government’s planned social care reforms. Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, told BBC Radio 4 this morning that there is very little of the £5.4 billion of Levy funding to go to social care over the next few years to be spent on prevention, care worker pay or meeting “substantial” unmet need. He added: “You cannot fix the NHS without fixing social care and social care, at the moment, is white hot.”

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Budget 2021: Council tax cut will leave councils struggling, says IFS

The Government’s move to lower the threshold of council tax increases before a referendum is ‘surprising’ and will leave councils struggling, finance experts have claimed.

Speaking in the aftermath of the Spending Review, the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ Ben Zaranko said the headline 3% increase for councils was ‘more like 1.8% per year’ if you strip out social care reforms.I addition, the front-loaded nature of the cuts will increase pressure in later years.

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Autumn budget 2021: Spending is splendid, until it translates to reality

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, declares that Rishi Sunak is a “lucky Chancellor” given his ability to increase public spending. He writes: “There will be significant spending increases right across government. Capital spending will hit record levels. Even local authorities, so often ignored, should be able to raise spending.” However, Johnson warns that one element of the UK economic forecast that has not improved is that for household living standards.

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Lords voice concerns over care levy

Peers have pressed the Government on how much of the health and social care levy will reach the frontline.

Lords criticised the decision to send the majority of funding to the NHS for the first three years of the levy.

Labour peer Lord Wood said: ‘This levy will not even start to address issues such as the need for better pay and conditions for social care staff, local government’s lack of resources, and the need for community care, personalisation, etc.’

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Councils and health leaders call for greater social care funding in Spending Review

The LGA and NHS Confederation have issued a joint call to the Chancellor for greater funding for social care in today’s Spending Review or risk the NHS backlog taking longer to clear. Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils have long warned about the impact of an underfunded social care system on the NHS. There cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable adult social care system. Immediate extra funding is needed in the spending review to help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital, rather than in their own home and communities – or having their operations cancelled more regularly – as NHS pressures become unsustainable this winter and councils are left increasingly powerless to help.” Cllr David Fothergill was also interviewed this morning on TalkRadio and GB News about this issue.

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Britain's most expensive towns for council tax revealed

Council tax rises will have the greatest impact in the least affluent areas of the country, according to research by Rightmove. The study looked at the percentage of council tax in relation to overall property outgoings

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Councillors fear blame for looming tax rise

Senior councillors have expressed fears they will be blamed for raising council tax amid a false perception that the Government has sorted social care.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has expressed concerns about ministers’ plan for health and social care announced last month.

Speaking at a meeting of the LGA's executive advisory board today, Kirklees MBC leader, Cllr Shabir Pandor, warned of the reaction when his council raised council tax by 5% next year, as predicted.

‘We will then be seen as failing local people at a local level,’ he added.

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Call to write off ‘two to three billion’ Send deficit

Councils are calling for government to write off growing deficits on spending for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), which are expected to total up to £3bn by 2023.

Local authorities fund Send provision – whether through places at specialist schools or additional support in mainstream schools – through the high needs funding block of the dedicated schools grant (DSG).

But for many, the cost of this is outstripping the amounts provided by tens of millions of pounds, leading to a total deficit currently estimated at more than £2bn. The deficits do not currently appear on councils’ balance sheets, but the statutory override that permits this is set to end in 2023.

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Fund social care now to protect NHS, Sunak told

Billions of pounds pledged for the NHS will be undermined if Rishi Sunak does not give immediate funding to the failing social care sector, NHS leaders and council bosses have warned.

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Spending Review: Councils to receive £4.8bn increase in grant funding

Councils across the country will receive an increase of £4.8bn in grant funding, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced today in his Budget and Spending Review, the biggest increase in more than a decade.

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Budget 2021: social care 'left out in cold'

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing accusations he has left social care ‘out in the cold’ following his Autumn Budget speech.

Mr Sunak failed to mention care services in the Commons set-piece, drawing criticism from the sector.

Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green said social care had been ‘left out in the cold’.

He added: ‘Winter is going to be very tough without robust social care sector to support the NHS.

‘Failure to support adult social care will result in unprecedented demand.’

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Budget 2021: Sunak unfreezes public sector pay

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the Government will unfreeze public sector pay and raise the national living wage (NLW), but concerns remain about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

The decision to end the pay freeze has been welcomed as ‘sensible’. However, there are concerns that the benefits of unfreezing pay and increasing the NLW will be off-set by the cost-of-living crisis.

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Autumn budget 2021: Spending is splendid, until it translates to reality [opinion]

Well, now we know. This really is a big taxing, big spending government. When the public finance outlook seemed dicey back in March, Sunak announced £25 billion worth of tax increases to bridge the gap. Last month, when the prime minister wanted to spend more on health, he announced another £15 billion of tax rises. With the public finances now looking much stronger, the chancellor did not decide to forgo any of those tax rises, he decided instead on a genuinely substantial increase in public spending...

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Autumn Budget 2021: Key points at-a-glance

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled the contents of his Budget in the House of Commons.

Setting out the government's tax and spending plans for the year ahead, Mr Sunak said his plans were focused on the "post-Covid" era, and would pave the way for an "economy of higher wages, higher skills, and rising productivity".

Here is a summary of the main points...

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Online sales tax planned after Sunak eases business rates burden

Rishi Sunak has temporarily slashed business rates in a reprieve for thousands of Covid-hit retailers and is drawing up plans for the levy to be replaced with an online sales tax.

The Chancellor handed a 50pc rates discount worth £7bn to high street shops, pubs and restaurants hammered by the pandemic, in the biggest cut to the tax in 20 years.

However, he insisted it would be "wrong" to give in to demands from Labour for the rates system to be scrapped altogether unless it can be replaced with another source of revenue.

Mr Sunak is now drawing up a consultation on an online sales tax which would replace income lost from rates reform as part of a wider shake-up.

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Council tax to soar as costs of social care and Covid rise

Council tax receipts could be £12.1?billion higher in five years than they were at the turn of the decade as local authorities grapple with the costs of Covid and rising social care bills.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said on Wednesday that it expected revenues from the tax to be 33 per cent higher by 2026/27 than they were seven years earlier – equivalent to hundreds of pounds extra per household.

It came as Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, confirmed that local authorities would still be able to increase council tax rates by three per cent a year, despite Boris Johnson announcing a £12 billion a year tax rise to pay for social care.

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Social care precept cap to be lowered despite soaring demand pressures

The rate at which upper tier councils can increase tax specifically to pay for social care has been slashed from 3% to 1%, at a time of escalating social care costs for councils.

The threshold at which councils can levy the social care precept, which is currently set at 3%, without a referendum has been lowered to 1% by the Treasury in today's spending review. This is contrary to widespread expectations by many in the sector that cap would be lifted.

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Sunak hails business rates’ ‘central role’ despite £7bn cut

Business rates will be cut by £7bn next year, the chancellor has announced, as the government again backed off from fundamentally reforming the system.

Documents published alongside the spending review and budget this afternoon confirm councils will be fully compensated for the reduction in the business rates base as a result of the introduction of new exemptions and a freeze of rates in 2022-23.

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Budget 2021: Public sector workers set for pay rise, says Sunak

Millions of public sector workers are set to see their wages rise next year after the government confirmed their pay freeze is being lifted.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his Budget on Wednesday to say nurses, teachers and members of the armed forces are among those set to benefit.

A "temporary pause" in salary progression was introduced last November as a response to the pandemic.

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Public sector pay rise pledge expected to ‘set tone’ of future pay negotiations

The chancellor is expected confirm that the year-long public sector pay freeze will end in April, prompting speculation the announcement will set the direction of travel for future local government pay negotiations.

The government does not have the power to set wages for the 1.5 million local government employees in England and the sector’s pay negotiations are conducted by the National Joint Council between the National Employers and the unions.

The pay for this year is still yet to be set, with possible strike action looming on the issue.

The National Employers made an offer of a 1.75% rise to the unions earlier this year. Last week, following what the Local Government Association described as a “lengthy debate”, the offer was confirmed as “full and final” - despite unions gearing up to ballot members to take industrial action. Members of the three major unions representing council workers - Unite, GMB and Unison - have all recently voted to reject the offer by majorities of at least three quarters.

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£2bn for new homes on derelict or unused land

Almost £2bn will be invested by the government into building new homes on derelict or unused land in England, the chancellor is expected to announce in Wednesday's Budget.

The government said 160,000 greener homes could be built on brownfield land the size of 2,000 football pitches. It also pledged to invest £9m towards 100 urban "pocket parks" across the UK.

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NHS in England to receive £5.9bn to cut waiting lists

The NHS in England is to receive an extra £5.9bn in this week's Budget, the government has announced.

The money will be used to help clear the record backlog of people waiting for tests and scans, which has been worsened by the pandemic, and also to buy equipment and improve IT.

More details are due on Wednesday, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak called the money "game-changing".

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Budget about investing in public services - Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said "strong investment in public services" will be at the heart of his plans for rebuilding the economy when he sets out his Budget next week.

Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, he said he would drive growth by spending on infrastructure, innovation and skills. But he said he did not have a "magic wand" to make rising costs disappear.

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Homecare costs outstrip funding from councils, says report

Many councils are not paying homecare companies a high enough hourly rate to cover basic costs like travel time between clients, says a report.

It means, despite losing staff faster than they can be replaced, companies are unable to raise wages, says the Homecare Association.

Low wages and feeling undervalued are key factors leading care staff to quit, says the report.

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Councils warn children’s social care costs will soar by £600m a year

The cost of children's social care in England will increase by £600m each year due to soaring demand, councils leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said projected costs are expected to rise by 16% over the next three years. It is calling on the Government to fund these future cost pressures in this week's Spending Review.

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Recycling plastics does not work, says Boris Johnson

Recycling plastic materials "doesn't work" and "is not the answer" to threats to global oceans and marine wildlife, Boris Johnson has said.

Answering children's questions ahead of the COP26 climate change summit, the prime minister said reusing plastics "doesn't begin to address the problem".

Instead, he said, "we've all got to cut down our use of plastic".

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Housing reform could boost public finances by £9bn, Rishi Sunak told by building tsar ahead of Budget

The Government’s building tsar is urging the Chancellor to back radical housing reform in order to fund “levelling up” in light of a paper that suggests an overhaul of the system could raise more than £9bn for the Treasury.

A proposed “street votes” rule, which gives neighbours the collective power to authorise new developments in their local area, is increasingly likely to be signed off by ministers.

But Rishi Sunak is not expected to address the issue in detail in his Budget and spending review on Wednesday, after details of the Government’s housing reforms and overall levelling up strategy were delayed.

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National Living Wage set to rise to £9.50 an hour

Workers on the minimum wage are set to get a pay boost from April, with the rate for those aged over 23 rising to £9.50 an hour from £8.91.

The rise means a full-time worker will get £1,074 extra a year before tax.

The move will be announced at this week's Budget and follows the recommendation of independent advisers, the Low Pay Commission.

The government has faced pressure to help low-paid, younger workers, who are among the worst hit by the pandemic.

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Gove in major review of new department

A wide-scale review of every single programme is underway at the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), The MJ understands.

New local government secretary Michael Gove has been poring over the work of the department since being appointed in the reshuffle.

DLUHC officials have reported increased pressure on them as Mr Gove demands evidence on the effectiveness of programmes and combs through the work of the department.

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Tory MPs back plan to give people a vote on new housing in their areas

Conservative MPs are calling on the housing secretary, Michael Gove, to hand greater decision-making powers over new housing to local people in an attempt to boost acceptance of new developments.

Steve Baker and Greg Smith, Tory MPs in house-price hotspots in Buckinghamshire, are backing a plan to strip councils of decision-making powers over some new developments and incentivise residents instead to approve new schemes.

The proposal to extend localism comes as Gove and his advisers rethink government planning reforms, which ran into angry opposition in the Tory shires because they reduced local participation in planning and gave developers a freer hand.

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Home Office refuses to reveal details of Afghans’ resettlement

The Home Office will not say how many of the airlifted Afghans qualify to be rehoused in the UK and has refused to reveal how many families have already moved out of hotels and into homes.

By calling around local authorities and devolved administrations, however, the Guardian has started to build a fractured picture of which areas have stepped up to do their bit.

The government has repeatedly said it wants a fair distribution of Afghans around the country, but has no plans to use a quota system to force every local authority to take their share – unlike in Germany, where refugees are distributed among the federal Länder using a formula based two-thirds on their tax revenue and a third on the size of the local population.

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Professors urge 'some kind of Plan B' and warn emergency departments are in 'terrible place'

Health leaders have urged the government to introduce "some kind of Plan B" with emergency departments in a "terrible place" amid rising levels of coronavirus infections.

Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, warned ministers that hospitals are "already struggling to cope" and that medical professionals are worried about the winter months ahead.

Meanwhile, Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Sky News' Trevor Phillips on Sunday that COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths are rising and the government must not be "complacent".

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Home care system for elderly with dementia is ‘on its knees’

Elderly people with dementia are being forced into care homes for want of basic help at home, according to a poll of family carers by the Alzheimer’s Society. It found that one in three carers said visits from care workers were too rushed and that 27 per cent believed their loved ones could have stayed at home longer if they had been given more support.

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Councils rubbish plans for universal green waste collections

The LGA has called on the Government not to implement free garden waste collections for every home, warning it would cost taxpayers £564 million a year as well as an initial cost of £176 million to implement. It said the green waste initiative would require 600 extra HGV drivers at a time when there is a shortage of drivers and would also increase carbon emissions when the Government is trying to tackle climate change. The LGA also said that the initiative would not reduce waste because garden rubbish is only a small proportion of landfill. Cllr David Renard, LGA environment spokesman, said: “We want to work with the Government to reduce green waste being sent to landfill. But introducing blanket free garden waste collections is unnecessary. At the very least, if the Government is to proceed it should fully fund it in the Spending Review.” Supporting the LGA’s stance, Cllr Dan Humphreys, District Councils Network lead member for enhancing quality of life, said green waste was “not a significant issue” and did not “warrant the expense, or the increased emissions from an expanded fleet, of a universal national free garden waste collection service”.

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Private children's home providers’ prices and profits too high, says UK regulator

The Competition and Markets Authority says private children’s home providers could be earning greater profits than would be expected in a well-functioning market, according to its interim investigation into the UK’s social care sector. It found a shortage of appropriate residential places for looked-after children with local authorities paying an average of £3,830 per child, per week — equivalent to £200,000 a year - and the largest private providers operating with average profit margins of 23 per cent. Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “This report reflects the concerns we have been raising for some years. We are increasingly hearing of harrowing cases where suitable homes cannot be found for children, including those with complex needs, who desperately need help.” Our response was also reported by the FT and Mail.

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£850m cash boost for high streets to regenerate old buildings

More than 65 high streets will get £850 million in funding to transform disused and run-down buildings into new homes, shops, offices and community spaces. The funding, to be announced in next week’s budget, will also help museums, galleries and heritage spots.

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Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Ministers will offer rewards such as clothes vouchers and discounted theme park tickets in return for exercising and eating healthily, under plans to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.

The anti-obesity scheme, which uses an app to help people make changes to their diet and physical activity, will launch next year, initially in a pilot scheme, the government has announced.

Participants will wear Fitbit-style devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing portion size.

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Care Homes Risk Being Hit By 'Tsunami' Caused By Workforce Exodus

The government will be left to deal with a “tsunami of unmet need” chiefly as a result of a shortage of care home staff, a devastating report by the care regulator has warned.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has released its annual assessment of the state of health and social care in England, which lays bare the threats Covid-19 has caused to an already struggling sector.

In its bleak assessment, the CQC said the care system had “not collapsed” in the pandemic, but the toll on everyone working within it had been “heavy”.

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Councillors demand better protection from abuse and death threats

Council leaders have demanded urgent measures to tackle what they say is a tide of abuse against councillors, potentially including a specific law against intimidating public officials and a greater willingness to prosecute those who make threats.

A meeting of senior local government leaders from across England heard of regular death threats against councillors and routine abuse or accusations of corruption on social media and in comments under local newspaper website stories.

The executive advisory board of the Local Government Association (LGA), which groups together several dozen council leaders from various parties, had already begun gathering information about the issue before the killing of the Conservative MP Sir David Amess last week.

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Watchdog warns care services face a 'tsunami of unmet need'

There could be a 'tsunami' of people not having the care they need unless action is taken to address staff shortages in social care, a watchdog has said today.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned the health and care workforce are 'exhausted and depleted', which could impact on the quality of care being delivered.

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Government rejects financial ‘yellow card’ idea

The government has rejected the idea of a financial "yellow card" that councils could use to warn of difficulties before having to take the more drastic step of issuing a section 114 notice, and has also made it clear it has no plans to reform the council tax system.

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Gove on social care, levelling up and planning

The new communities secretary has revealed more details of his plans for reforming the planning system, social care and Send, as well as what he understands by 'levelling up'.

At a Local Government Association’s councillors forum meeting yesterday, Michael Gove said he wanted to ensure “the democratic component” of the planning system “is there and strengthened”, and revealed that he is in discussions with health secretary Sajid Javid around providing “the right support in the right places” on social care.

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Budget 2021: Ministers pledge £500m to support young families

Ministers are to fund a network of "family hubs" in England as part of a £500m package to support parents and children.

The centres in 75 different areas will provide a "one stop shop" for support and advice, the government said.

The funding, to be announced by the chancellor in Wednesday's Budget, will also go towards breastfeeding advice and mental health services.

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Expectations tempered for Spending Review

District councils have been warned to temper their expectations for next week’s Spending Review.

Addressing the District Councils’ Network's annual conference, Wyre Forest DC chief executive, Ian Miller, said reforms to local government finance were some way off.

Mr Miller, a member of the DCN chief executives’ group, said: ‘We are not likely to see shedloads of grant funding coming towards district services.

‘If there is any extra funding it will go to social service authorities.’

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Spending Review set to reveal future of council finance reforms

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities this week published its response to a Housing, Local Government and Communities report into councils’ financial sustainability.

The committee, whose report was published in July, recommended that the government implements the Fair Funding Review and business rates reset as soon as possible, “as the quickest way of partly restoring the link between funding and need”.

In response, the government said: “We now need to take stock of the impact the pandemic has had on both local authority resources and service pressures to determine the direction of local government finance reform.

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Third of low-income households unable to pay bills, finds research

Nearly 4 million low-income households are behind on rent, bills or debt payments, up threefold since the pandemic hit, according to a study revealing the growing cost of the living crisis facing the UK’s poorest families.

A third of the 11.6 million working-age households in the UK earning £25,000 or less were found to be in arrears on their rent or mortgage, utility bills, council tax bills or personal debt repayments, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The charity called for urgent government action to support families at the sharp end of pandemic-related financial pressures, including the reinstatement of the £20 uplift in universal credit, which was withdrawn earlier this month, and help with debts.

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Afghan refugees may be housed in UK hotels for up to a year, say councils

Council leaders are making contingency plans for thousands of refugees evacuated from Kabul to remain housed in hotel rooms for up to a year, while criticisising ministers for slow progress in finding long-term housing for people who fled Afghanistan.

More than two months after the airlift to the UK, about 7,000 refugees remain in hotel rooms and have been given no guidance about when permanent homes are likely to materialise.

Local government officials warn it is unsafe to keep large numbers of children in hotels on a long-term basis, and say the uncertainty is compounding the trauma they experienced when they fled with their families in August.

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Councils’ net spend up 11% during pandemic

Councils’ net revenue spending rose by 11.4% in real terms in 2020-21, according to government figures – with net spend on adult social care rising by £2bn (12%).

Local authorities' total service expenditure in the last financial year - dominated by their response to Covid-19 - was £107.1bn, compared to the previous year’s total of £96.1bn (in 2020-21 prices).

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said that the increase was the result of both higher spending and reduced income from fees and charges during the pandemic.

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Government undershoots deficit estimate

Borrowing by central government during the first half of 2021-22 was £43.4bn (28%) lower than official estimates made in March.

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Spending Review set to reveal future of council finance reforms

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities this week published its response to a Housing, Local Government and Communities report into councils’ financial sustainability.

The committee, whose report was published in July, recommended that the government implements the Fair Funding Review and business rates reset as soon as possible, “as the quickest way of partly restoring the link between funding and need”.

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Treasury rules out borrowing for net zero transition

The UK Treasury says that tax rises – not borrowing – will pay for the net zero transition.

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Government ‘flying blind’ on service backlogs

The government has been criticised for “flying blind” because it is not collecting the data it needs to understand the scale of backlogs in some key local government services.

Graham Atkins, associate director at the Institute for Government, warned that unlike within the NHS, in local government and adult social care the government “does not know how large the backlog is and is not collecting the information it needs to understand how large it is”.

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Questions over taskforce purpose

Local government associations have called for ministers to define the purpose of a new taskforce ahead of April’s launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The sector is believed to be still waiting for ministers to agree the detailed purpose of the officer-led taskforce, which has been created by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to work with local government on the fund’s design and implementation.

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Gove to be quizzed on councillor security

MPs are to question local government secretary Michael Gove on the security of councillors following last week’s fatal attack on MP David Amess.

Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts, told The MJ that councillors were just as vulnerable to attack as MPs.

Mr Betts said that MPs were likely to raise the issue when Mr Gove appears before the committee in a few weeks.

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Care managers report 'significant' service disruption due to staff shortages

Staff shortages are forcing two-thirds of care homes to turn people away from their services, a new survey has warned.

The survey found 67% of managers had stopped or limited the number of new people coming into their care homes, or had refused to take on new requests for domiciliary care for people living in their own homes.

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Councils commit to net zero half a decade before Government

Eighty-eight cross-party local leaders, representing over half of the UK population, have now committed to meeting net zero at least five years earlier than the Government.

In the weeks ahead of COP26, the annual UN climate conference hosted in 2021 by the UK, 23 more council leaders from across the country signed up to the NGO UK100’s ‘Net Zero Pledge’.

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Cabinet backs 20-20 vision for Oxfordshire

Councillors in Oxfordshire have backed plans for widespread 20mph limits as part of an ‘ambitious and innovative’ new transport plan that aims to create a ‘healthier, better digitally connected, more active’ county.

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Badenoch takes charge of local government finance

Badenoch was announced as a junior minister at the newly-named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities following last month’s cabinet reshuffle.

The reshuffle saw Michael Gove installed as the new secretary of state alongside junior ministers Badenoch and Neil O’Brien although the exact portfolios of the junior ministers were unknown.

The department has confirmed to PF that Badenoch will take the role of minister for equalities and levelling up communities, a role covering local government policy, finance and improvement in England.

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Two ministers given ‘levelling up’ responsibilities

Two ministers at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have been given responsibilities for levelling up after being allocated portfolios following September’s cabinet reshuffle - but there is no longer any minister with 'local government' in their job title.

Kemi Badenoch has been confirmed as minister of state with responsibilities for levelling up and communities, while Neil O’Brien, the parliamentary under-secretary of state, is minister for levelling up, the union and constitution.

Asked why there was now no minister with ‘local government’ in their job title, a DLUHC spokesperson said: “Our local government commitments and responsibilities have not changed and local government continues to play a vital role in driving forward our central mission to level up all parts of the UK.”

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Net zero strategy launched

The government has today published its strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, claiming this will support a "new green industrial revolution".

The net zero strategy was announced this morning in the House of Commons by Greg Hands, minister of state at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. Mr Hands also confirmed the earlier announcement of a £3.9bn heat and buildings strategy to encourage a switch to low carbon heating systems.

The government says the policies announced in the strategy will support up to 440,000 green jobs by 2030. There will also be £620m of investment in electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging points and a further £350m to support the car industry in the move to electric. The plan comes less than two weeks before the start of Cop26, which the UK will host in Glasgow later this month.

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How England’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy will hit a care worker

Analysis of the latest NHS data reveals the Government’s decision to make full COVID-19 vaccination a “condition of deployment” from 11 November is on course to force up to 38,000 staff out of care homes for older people, adding to a staffing crisis which is already causing care home closures and discharge backlogs in hospitals. As of 10 October, 12 per cent of staff in older adult care homes were still not fully vaccinated, rising to more than one in five in areas including Birmingham, Manchester, Stoke and Hackney in London.

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British households will be £1,000 worse off next year, thinktank warns

British households will be £1,000 worse off next year from a cost of living squeeze created by rising energy prices and shortages of workers and supplies caused by coronavirus and Brexit, a leading thinktank has warned. The Resolution Foundation said higher levels of inflation would bear down on workers’ earnings next year, contributing to a hit to the average household income at a time when the Government is cutting benefits and raising taxes.

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Sunak urged to tackle backlogs in public services or face greater costs

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must swiftly invest in public services hit hardest by the pandemic or face much greater costs down the line, a report has warned.

In a briefing days before next week’s Spending Review, the Institute for Government think-tank and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) highlighted adult social care, children’s social care, schools and neighbourhood services as among nine sectors with massive backlogs or financial challenges.

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Government unveils £3.9bn heat and buildings strategy

The government has unveiled a £3.9bn plan to lower the cost of low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

The heat and buildings strategy aims to ensure that running more energy efficient heating technology is no more expensive - and potentially cheaper - than current carbon-intensive gas boilers.

As part of the strategy, the government has unveiled a £450m boiler upgrade scheme, which will allow homeowners o apply for £5000 grants to fund the installation of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

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Care England chief: Councils should use other budgets to support social care

Councils should be more imaginative in using other funding streams to support social care, Care England’s chief executive Martin Green has said in an interview with LGC.

Professor Green also called for a “clear workforce strategy” to address the growing crisis in social care capacity, and suggested that leadership deficits could lie “at the very top of government” rather than with those administering health and care services.

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One in three care home residents has received third dose of Covid jab

Two thirds of care home residents are still waiting for a booster jab, figures show. Data suggests that 27.8 per cent of care home residents and just 14.1 per cent of staff have had their third jab. The Government has set a deadline of November 1 for all care home residents and staff to have had the offer of a booster.

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PM to lead Commons tributes to David Amess as family call for unity

Boris Johnson will lead tributes to Sir David Amess in the House of Commons on Monday as debate rages about how drastically to step up security in the wake of the fatal attack on the Southend MP at his constituency surgery.

On Sunday night Amess’s family appealed for public unity, urging people to “set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all”. In a statement, his relatives said they were “absolutely broken” but had drawn strength from the tributes to him from across the political spectrum.

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Council tax increase warning

County councils are warning that without further grant funding from the Treasury, they would need to increase council tax bills by up to 8 per cent for each of the next three financial years to balance their budgets. They say that the “legacy of coronavirus” – as well as more demand for children’s services and higher adult social care costs – will place more pressure on their future finances. The LGA has previously said councils “continue to face severe funding and demand pressures that will stretch the local services our communities rely on to the limit”.

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Bus services in crisis as drivers lured away to fill lorry vacancies

Bus services have been left in chaos because drivers are being lured away to take the wheel of HGVs, transport leaders have said.

More than 4,000 bus drivers have quit the industry, with many opting instead for the lucrative salaries on offer by lorry operators.

It comes after the Department of Transport issued a letter in September to one million workers including paramedics, ex-Army personnel and bus drivers who are qualified to drive vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes, to fill the shortfall in lorry drivers.

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Social care boss warns basic services will collapse without urgent new government plan

Stephen Chandler, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), has warned that tens of thousands of elderly people risk not being able to eat, wash or dress unless their loved ones give up work to help. Mr Chandler said workforce pressures are continuing to mount and urged the Government to reveal its plans for winter.

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Bed-blocking soars as care homes struggle

Record numbers of patients are currently in hospital because of a worsening staffing crisis in care homes. NHS chief executives have said “bed-blocking” is the most challenging issue facing the health service this winter. There are concerns the Government’s mandatory vaccination programme for care workers will make the situation worse.

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Authority dips into Covid-19 reserves to reduce capitalisation requirement

Peterborough council is to use £10.5m of reserves earmarked for tackling Covid-19 to slash the amount of capital borrowing needed to fund services under special arrangements approved earlier this year by Whitehall.

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Cautious Sunak feels the heat as ministers demand cash not cuts

Ahead of the Spending Review, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls for funding from across government departments. It is understood Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, is pushing for more COVID-19 catch-up funds, while Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove’s department is believed to have put in a revised bid to the Treasury, asking for significantly more money than under his predecessor Robert Jenrick.

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Rishi Sunak expected to confirm end to public sector pay freeze

The Chancellor is expected to confirm that the “pause” on public sector pay that has affected 2.6 million teachers, police and civil servants, will end in April, as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

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Schools ‘propping up a failing welfare state’

A 'failing' welfare system is forcing families to rely on schools for basic needs such as access to food, academics have said in a new report.

Researchers from UCL Institute of Education Schools said the pandemic has highlighted how schools in areas with high levels of poverty were being asked to address problems relating to food insecurity and housing.

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20 local authorities set to get winter support package over COVID-19 fears

At least 20 local councils are reportedly due to receive extra government funding and resources to help ease coronavirus-related pressures over the winter period.

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State-run app will offer rewards for beating obesity

A government app is being launched to encourage families to switch to healthier food and take up more exercise under plans to tackle Britain's obesity crisis. People will also be able to choose their own rewards, which could include practical benefits such as food and fuel vouchers.

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Winter support package expected for 20 local authorities over coronavirus fears

At least 20 local authorities are expected to receive extra financial support and resources from government to help alleviate pressures over the winter period, Sky News can reveal.

This winter is expected to have an increased impact on the services thanks to COVID-19 and measures are being put in place to try and assist local authorities get through the coming months.

Sky News can reveal that from 22 October, four local authorities including Bolton, Luton, Blackburn with Darwen, and Leicester, will be categorised as areas of "enduring transmission" for coronavirus and will therefore receive a tailored package to support them until potentially March 2022.

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One in five public sector key workers consider quitting, union says

One in five public sector key workers are "actively considering" quitting and changing jobs, according to the Trade Union Congress.

A study conducted by the TUC revealed "serious disillusionment" among employees, with complaints about low pay, excessive workload and feeling undervalued.

It found one in five people are thinking of leaving the public sector and one in four of the 1,364 workers surveyed said government policy on pay has made them more likely to look for another job.

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Research shows drop in council pay over past decade

Frontline staff in local government have seen their pay fall by around £1,500 in real terms over the past decade, new research has revealed today.

Analysis by the TUC found that since 2010, pay for a care worker in local government is down £1,490, while a refuse collector has seen their pay drop by £1,519 in real terms.

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Government admits Everyone In data gap

The Government has admitted it has no idea how many rough sleepers housed under Everyone In have returned to the streets.

A letter to council chief executives in September 2020 had asked local authorities that had received funding from the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) to inform the Government how many helped by Everyone In had since returned to rough sleeping – one of a number of key performance indicators (KPI) originally drawn up for the scheme.

However, the Government later backtracked and decided not to collect the data.

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Councils brace themselves for local government exit pay cap

Councils are bracing themselves for the return of exit pay cap proposals as Whitehall officials draw up plans specific to the sector.

Rules to squeeze exit payments across the public sector were introduced in November, but were shelved in February in the face of a High Court legal challenge.

A consultation on new Best Value statutory guidance on special severance payments made no mention of a cap, but The MJ understands civil servants have been talking to the sector about introducing proposals uniquely targeted at local government.

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Council house waiting lists ‘could double as Covid support ends’

Council housing waiting lists “could double” by next year, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned - a situation it said was avoided last year due to extensions to pandemic support measures that are now winding down.

The organisation, which represents councils in England and Wales, is calling for the government to use this month's spending review to give councils the powers and funding to build 100,000 social rent homes a year, which it says will deliver benefits to the public purse over the long term.

A report commissioned by the LGA, the Association of Retained Council Housing and the National Federation of ALMOs, called Building Post-Pandemic Prosperity, highlighted how one in 10 households were in need of housing but stuck on council waiting lists for more than five years, according to government figures released in March.

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District hopes of controlling £500m fund dashed

District hopes to be put in control of handing out the new £500m household support fund have been dashed after a ‘bizarre’ government decision.

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) lobbied for the cash to be allocated directly to their members in two-tier areas before the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided to give upper-tier authorities the responsibility for administering and distributing the emergency welfare support.

DCN chairman, Cllr John Fuller, told The MJ he had personally lobbied ministers over the DWP’s ‘big state solution’.

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Bexley withdraws capitalisation request

Bexley LBC has withdrawn its capitalisation request to the Government.

The council said ‘sound financial planning’ meant it would not need the extra funds to balance its books.

Ministers had granted a request for £3.9m for the 2020-21 financial year that was not used and a request for an additional £5.1m for 2021-22 had been agreed in principle.

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Public sceptical of mayors leading on county deals, CCN survey finds

The public would prefer existing council leaders rather than newly elected metro mayors to take a lead on future county devolution deals, research by the County Councils Network suggests.

According to a poll commissioned by CCN, when asked who would provide the most "suitable and appropriate" local leadership for devolution deals outside of city regions, 64% of those expressing a view said county council or unitary council leaders would, with 36% backing newly elected mayors.

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Pandemic response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’

The UK's failure to do more to stop COVID-19 spreading early in the pandemic was one of the worst ever public health failures, a report by MPs says. The Government’s approach was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, it said, which led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown and cost lives, but the cross-party group said there had also been successes such as the vaccination programme.

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Social care tax ‘must double’ to tackle crisis

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that further tax rises will be necessary to tackle the health and social care crisis as the increases announced by Boris Johnson are not enough to fund the NHS. It said the £12 billion annual tax rise announced by the Prime Minister is only enough to fix the immediate shortfall faced by the NHS as it emerges from the pandemic, and that the health and social care levy, set at 1.25 per cent on top of national insurance, may need to more than double to 3.15 per cent from as soon as 2025 to raise a further £19 billion.

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Budget: Little room for more spending, says IFS

There is no room for big spending announcements for hard-pressed public services such as local government, the justice system and further education in this month's Budget, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says. The influential think tank has published new analysis, suggesting borrowing will be lower than forecast but the Chancellor will still have to keep a tight rein on spending, despite planning the biggest tax rises for more than 25 years.

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Gritter driver shortage warning

Difficulties in retaining and recruiting bin lorry drivers could also affect gritters, which spread salt on roads when temperatures drop below freezing for a prolonged period or when there is heavy snowfall. Refuse collections have been disrupted across several local authority areas in recent weeks. LGA transport spokesperson Cllr David Renard said the public sector is struggling to compete with driver salaries being offered by private firms. He said: “While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted. As they do every year, councils will be working proactively to plan ahead and ensure that their winter services are as resilient as they can be.”

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UK cyber head issues ransomware warning

Cyber attacks which see hackers get inside computer networks and lock the owners out until they pay a ransom present "the most immediate danger" to UK businesses in cyberspace, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre has warned. Speaking at a Chatham House Cyber conference, Lindy Cameron said these types of attack posed a threat to everyone from major companies to local councils and schools, while warning that not enough organisations were prepared for the threat or tested their cyber defences.

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Lords warn social care funding increase is not enough

Peers have told the Government its proposed funding increase will not solve the problems within the social care system.

Former Tory minister Lord Forsyth said the ‘chilling’ truth was ‘none of this money will be allocated to social care in the short-term’.

The criticism came as the House of Lords passed the Health and Social Care Levy Bill, which includes a 1.25% increase in national insurance from April.

Lord Forsyth said: ‘Local government will need to pick up the strain here.

'It does not have the money.

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Towns told to 'adapt or die' in face of flooding risk

Hundreds of people could perish in floods in parts of England, the Environment Agency has warned, as it urged the country to "adapt or die".

In a strongly worded report on the need to brace for climate change, the agency warned that floods which caused devastation in Germany this summer would soon happen here.

Chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd said the agency could not protect everyone from "inevitable" climate change.

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Care staff shortage worse than before pandemic, study shows

Care sector bosses in England are struggling to recruit staff, with more jobs unfilled than before the pandemic, says a leading industry body.

The number of unfilled jobs fell at the start of the pandemic but rose this year as the economy opened up, suggests analysis by Skills for Care.

Employers are also finding it harder to keep existing staff, the report finds.

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£58m to councils for home building on derelict land

Thousands of new homes will be build on previously derelict land as part of plans to regenerate local areas, the government has announced.

Almost £58m will be given to councils to redevelop brownfield sites as part of the government's levelling up agenda.

Ministers say the funding could also support up to 17,000 jobs across the housing and construction sector.

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Uncertain winter ahead as flu circulates at same time, says Harries

The UK is facing an uncertain winter with the spread of coronavirus and the flu, the head of the Health Security Agency Jenny Harries has said.

People are at "more significant risk of death and of serious illness if they are co-infected" with both viruses, she told the BBC.

She said: "It's a more uncertain year but I certainly would be encouraging everybody to go and get their vaccine."

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LGA calls for council tax support grant extension

Rising numbers of families on low incomes face paying more council tax from April without an extension to one-off government funding for local council tax support schemes, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

Latest figures show more than 2.5 million working aged people across England claimed a discount on their council tax between April and June this year, which remains the highest number since records began in 2015.

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Councils warned of 'shocking' audit fee increase

Councils have been warned they could face audit fee increases of more than £20,000.

Local authorities have been told to expect to pay extra additional fees for new requirements on auditors for 2020-21 audits.

At the upper end of the scale, London boroughs, met councils and unitaries may have to pay between £10,000 and £19,000 extra to cover the new value for money arrangements in the latest code of audit practice and at least £4,400 to cover the new requirements of ISA 540.

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Digital innovation could bring over £1 trillion to local economies by 2030 says report

Local and regional authorities should be given greater capabilities to facilitate digital innovation in their area, to bring more than £1 trillion of added value to local economies, according to a new report.

The report, published by Public Policy Projects (PPP) and Anderson Strategy in collaboration with Huawei, argues digital innovation could add £1.12 trillion worth of value to the UK economy by 2030.

However, it warns local authorities must be given the chance to use their knowledge of local areas to drive digitally motivated economic growth.

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Councils calls for extension of council tax support funding

The Government has been urged to fund local council tax support schemes for the next three years to support families on low income.

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned more than 2.5 million working age people across England claimed a discount on their council tax between April and June this year. This is the highest number since records began in 2015.

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Shortage of gritter drivers could leave motorists stuck on icy roads this winter, councils warn

Motorists could be stuck on icy roads this winter because of a shortage of gritter drivers, councils have warned.

Local authorities are struggling to retain and recruit bin lorry drivers - and this could have a knock-on effect when wintry conditions hit.

Conditions can turn treacherous if roads are untreated after heavy snowfall or temperatures drop below freezing for a prolonged period.

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Sajid Javid working on radical plan to merge social care with health in England

Radical proposals to merge health and social care are reportedly being considered by the Government for inclusion in a white paper next month. It would see councils and the NHS taking joint responsibility for social care, perhaps working from a single combined budget for the first time.

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£220m levelling-up fund has not been given out by ministers 7 months on

A £220 million fund to boost deprived communities as part of the Government’s levelling-up strategy has not yet been allocated to councils. The UK Community Renewal Fund was launched in March to replace EU regional funding lost after Britain left the EU.

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Pothole repair funding lost from council budgets

Funding for more than 9.5 million pothole repairs has been lost from council budgets, the LGA has found, with the average cost of repairing a pothole at just over £40. Councils in England spent £1.39 billion on local road maintenance in the past year, £399 million less than in 2019/20, due to reduced funding from the Department for Transport. LGA Transport spokesperson Cllr Darren Rodwell was interviewed live on LBC News and urged the Chancellor to plug the funding gap in the upcoming Spending Review: “There’s a real shortfall in funding and it isn’t really a good a time to do this when we’re asking people to go green, as lots of potholes happen on side roads and on the edges of roads, so for people we’re trying to encourage to cycle, this could be extremely dangerous. We’re hoping we’ll see a positive response to this in the Spending Review.” This was also reported on ITV News, Sky News and on LBC News bulletins.

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Call for stronger Covid measures in schools after 270,000 secondary pupils affected last week

Education unions have called for the reintroduction of extra safety measures in schools after official estimates showed about 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 last week. Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said that with about four million children in the 11 to 16 age group in England, one in 15 equates to around 270,000 testing positive.

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Sunak urged to cut business rates to boost high street recovery

Retail leaders and landlords have demanded a cut to business rates amid concerns the tax is affecting the recovery on the high street. In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, 21 business figures from companies including MossBros and The Entertainer said that action is vital to prevent a disaster, ahead of an expected announcement of the delayed results of a review of the rates system, which could be unveiled in the Budget later this month.

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Vaccine rollout in teenagers described as haphazard

The COVID-19 vaccination programme for teenagers has been described as “haphazard” and “incredibly slow” by headteachers and parents, as Nadhim Zahawi the education secretary admits he doesn’t know how many 12 to 15-year-olds have had their jabs. New data has found that by last Sunday, fewer than one in 10 in the age group had been vaccinated, with this including those who were prioritised for vaccination earlier in the summer due to being, or living with someone, clinically vulnerable.

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NHS aims to give 35m flu jabs amid warnings of up to 60,000 deaths

The NHS is to embark on the most ambitious programme of flu jabs in its history amid warnings of up to 60,000 deaths.

The health service aims to immunise a record 35 million people – more than half the UK’s population – against influenza as the country faces its first winter with Covid and flu circulating at the same time.

Experts fear the coming flu season could be particularly deadly because the population will have lost much of its immunity to the virus, which dropped to extremely low levels under Covid restrictions.

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Council workers reject 'insulting' 1.75% pay increase offer

Two of the UK's biggest unions have rejected a 1.75% pay rise for council staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, calling the offer "pathetic".

Unite and the GMB warned of potential industrial action, after their members voted overwhelmingly against what their leaders called a real-terms salary cut.

But the National Employers group, which sets local authority pay, has said its offer is final.

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Croydon to get directly elected mayor

Croydon Council will be run by a directly elected mayor after the vast majority of voters backed the move in a referendum.

In the referendum, 47,165 voters said they wanted the council to adopt a directly elected mayor model, with only 11,519 voters backing the current leader and cabinet model.

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Former communities secretary James Brokenshire dies aged 53

Tributes have been paid to former communities secretary, James Brokenshire, after he died at the age of 53 from lung cancer.

Mr Brokenshire - who served as secretary of state for housing, communities and local government from 2018 to 2019 - was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 and was forced to step down from Government earlier this year to focus on his treatment.

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Counties say 8% council tax rises needed without more funding

County councils say that without further grant funding from the Treasury, they would need to hike council tax bills by up to 8% for each of the next three financial years to balance their budgets.

An analysis by the County Councils Network ahead of this month’s spending review finds that its members face a £2.8bn funding shortfall over the next three years, even if council tax bills rise by 1.99% every twelve months.

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One in three say levelling up is meaningless

Fewer than a third of people in the north and Midlands believe the message behind levelling up is clear, according to a new survey.

A similar number of people said the phrase meant nothing, according to a YouGov survey of 1,000 adults commissioned by legal firm DWF.

Carried out in areas targeted for levelling up, the survey found 58% of people were still ‘unclear’ about the policy.

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North Northants Council to pay real living wage

North Northamptonshire Council has announced that it will pay the real living wage because ‘it better reflects the cost of living.’

Some of the local authority’s employees are paid the national living wage which is currently £8.91 for those aged over 23.

However, after discussions with unions and staff, North Northamptonshire Council has decided to pay £9.50 per hour, which is the real living wage in the UK outside of London where it is £10.85.

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Services rethink needed over £36m budget gap

Dorset Council has said it needs to rethink the way it provides services, in light of a £36m forecast budget gap for the next two years. The unitary authority has forecast pressures of around £8.3m, based on returns over the first quarter of 2021-22, mainly attributed to increased care costs and reduced incomes.

Gary Suttle, portfolio holder for finance commercial and capital strategy, said: “The truth of the matter remains that this council is underfunded by government, when compared with councils of similar size, and over the coming budget process we will need to consider how we can change that situation.

“Savings can be made, and everyone is working to control budgets, but that is not enough.

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IFS: Councils face new funding headache

English councils face a new funding gap of between £2.9bn and £4.5bn by 2025, according to new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In a detailed analysis of the local government funding landscape, the institute said that local authorities need to spend between £10bn and £12bn over the period to maintain current service levels. It said that councils are only likely to raise £7.3bn of this figure through increases in council tax, business rates and central government grants.

The institute said that “almost certainly…the chancellor will have to stump up more cash for English councils to address both underlying spending pressures and the longer-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic if he wishes to avoid an ongoing need for very large council tax rises and/or renewed cuts to service provision.”

The report found that councils had been over-compensated by central government to the tune of £700m for Covid-19 pressures during the 2020-21 financial year. There is less clarity on whether local authorities would be adequately covered for Covid-19 pressures this year, it said.

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Council tax likely to rise to plug social care funding gap

The Government will increase council tax to plug the funding gap for social care, it has been reported. The new Care Minister Gillian Keegan warned that plans for future social care funding already laid out by the Government were “pretty indicative” that council tax rises lie on the horizon. The LGA said last month that council tax would have to increase by up to 9 per cent next year to cover the shortfall. Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said that the public might “feel they are shelling out twice for a service now that the levy is being introduced”.

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Schools told to stock up on tinned food

Headteachers across the country have been warned to stock up on tinned food because deliveries of meat and fresh fruit are being cancelled at short notice. The Federation of Wholesale Distributors, warned that the shortage of lorry drivers and fuel was making it "increasingly difficult" to deliver fresh food to schools every morning.

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Tony Travers: Gove needs to offer resources and the retreat of Whitehall

The spending review will be challenging despite the appointment of the sector’s most powerful secretary of state since Prescott, writes Tony Travers, director of LSE London.

The creation of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities is yet another signal of intent from prime minister Boris Johnson. Appointing Michael Gove as secretary of state reinforces the message. The key question for local government and indeed for politics more generally is: what precisely is this message?

As Covid-19 (with luck) fades into the background, new policy is being revealed. ‘Levelling up’ and ‘communities’ are prominent in the title on the new department, though ‘housing’ may be less so in comparison to the precursor ministry. After months of public uncertainty about what levelling up really means, ministers appear to have settled on a formula to guide policy.

In brief, the ‘levelling up’ part of the title means (a) empowering local leaders and communities, (b) growing the private sector to boost living standards and (c) spreading opportunity while improving public services.

If empowering local leaders and communities is to have any meaning, local and city/county regional government will have to be given greater powers and the ability to raise revenue.

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Gove lays out his vision to level up the red wall

In his first major speech since becoming secretary of state for levelling up, communities and housing, Mr Gove laid out his vision of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

He told the Conservative Party conference this week: ‘We want to strengthen local leadership to drive real change.

'We will raise living standards, especially where they are lower, improve public services, especially where they are weaker, and we will give people the resources necessary to enhance the pride they feel in the place they live.’

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Javid vows to reform health and social care

Health secretary Sajid Javid has three clear priorities – COVID, recovery and reform – he told delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week.

Following the recent announcement of a rise in national insurance to pay for health and care, Mr Javid said: ‘I am proud to work for a Prime Minister willing finally to take it [social care reform] on.

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Government’s ‘Closer to Home’ campaign to begin

A government advertising campaign promoting Civil Service roles moving out of London is due to begin across parts of the country.

The ‘Closer to Home’ campaign promotes the new roles being closer to communities that will put local people at the heart of government decision-making.

Vacancies will be available in numerous Departments, including the Treasury, Cabinet Office, Department for International Trade and others.

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Boris Johnson pledges no homes will be built on green fields

Boris Johnson has said houses should not be built on "green fields" as ministers abandoned proposals for a vast overhaul of planning rules.

In a clear signal to Tory heartlands that he had heard their concerns, Mr Johnson used his Conservative Party conference speech on Wednesday to acknowledge fears that the countryside would be "desecrated by ugly new homes".

The Prime Minister's comments reveal a change in strategy after a Tory voter backlash over planning reforms saw the party lose the safe seat of Chesham and Amersham in a June by-election.

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New strike threat as more unions reject pay offer

Council staff at both the Unite and GMB unions have voted overwhelmingly against the 1.75% pay increase offered to local authority workers, moving a step closer to industrial action.

Unite's 70,000 local government members voted by 81% to reject the offer, with 75% of GMB’s public service members also rejecting the proposal.

Of the Unite members rejecting the offer, 85% said they were "supportive" of taking industrial action. And senior GMB representatives have agreed to trigger a consultative ballot on industrial action.

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Rishi Sunak urged to bring in one-off wealth tax to plug £2.21tn debt black hole – poll

Rishi Sunak pledged to "fix" Britain's finances by reducing national debt, in a speech to the Conservative conference on Monday. Political journalists suspect that he is planning another tax rise, but new data suggests the British public are in favour of a one-off wealth tax and warn against a rise in council tax or inheritance tax.

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Council tax could rise by £220, say researchers

Council tax in England could rise by as much as £220 per year within three years, researchers have said.

This is to keep local services running and help pay for social care reforms, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank said.

It comes amid warnings that councils continue to face severe funding pressures due to the pandemic and must find new sources of income.

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Gove tells Britons: ‘I’ll help you live your best life’

Levelling up aims to help all Britons “live their best life”, Michael Gove has said as he unveiled a new definition of the Government’s flagship policy. The newly appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told the Conservative party conference that his restyled department would pursue four key objectives. “We want to strengthen local leadership to drive real change; we will raise living standards, especially where they are lower; we will improve public services, especially where they are weaker; and we will give people the resources necessary to enhance the pride they feel in the place they live,” he said.

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Chancellor declines to rule out further tax increases

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has declined to rule out an increase in income tax ahead of the next election or whether the Government will allow councils to increase bills in order to pay for social care. It comes after the LGA warned that council tax may have to rise to plug a black hole in social care and that authorities in England face extra cost pressures of almost £8 billion by 2024/5 “just to keep vital local services running at today’s levels”. The Prime Minister is also reportedly “acutely aware” of the state of local authorities’ finances, which have been depleted during the pandemic and is said to be considering proposals to increase the social care element of council tax. The LGA’s warning was also reported on Sky News and in the Mirror, Express, Sun, Evening Standard and City AM.

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Health funding cut said to threaten levelling up

Funding for healthy-lifestyle support such as stop-smoking and obesity clinics has been cut by a quarter in six years in England, research shows. The Health Foundation said councils had received £3.3 billion to run these services this year, £1 billion less than in 2015/16 once inflation was accounted for, which it added threatened the Government's levelling-up agenda to spread wealth and opportunity more fairly.

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Public health grant cuts run counter to levelling up, say experts

Real terms cuts to local public health work against levelling up and the Government must boost funding after years of underinvestment, say two leading health organisations.

The Health Foundation and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) made the joint call today after new analysis by the Health Foundation showed the public health grant has fallen by almost a quarter in six years.

It reveals that the public health grant has been cut by 24% in real terms per capita since 2015/16 - equivalent to a reduction of £1bn.The Health Foundation has calculated that additional investment of £1.4bn a year by 2024-25 is now needed to restore the cut to the grant and keep pace with rising demand and costs.

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Government attempts to clarify ‘levelling-up’

The government’s 'levelling-up' agenda aims to invest in new houses, retrofitting of old homes and more powers to local government, according to senior ministers.

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Open letter to Michael Gove from Rob Whiteman

In a 1,000-word open letter to new communities secretary Michael Gove, CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman says local government would welcome radical change to its functions and form in return for greater funding certainty.

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Conservative conference: Council tax likely to rise to plug social care funding gap, Gillian Keegan warns

Ministers will likely increase council tax to plug a Government funding gap for social care, the new care minister has suggested.

Speaking at a fringe event hosted by Age UK at the Conservative party conference on Tuesday, Gillian Keegan said plans for future social care funding already laid out by the Government were “pretty indicative” that council tax rises lie on the horizon.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month outlined proposals for a major reform of the UK’s adult social care system, with more details due to be announced in the Government’s spending review later this month.

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Pensions check could lead to ‘contrary outcomes’

Yesterday in response to a consultation, the government said it will take forward proposals for an economic check that would kick in if costs rose or fell more than 2% between pension valuation periods.

Under the proposal, changes to benefit levels will only be implemented if they still would have occurred had long-term GDP growth and assumptions on future earnings been considered.

However, an advisor said that as LGPS are funded schemes, they are not subject to the same taxpayer burden as other public sector schemes, and that the proposal could have unintended consequences.

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Police & Local Authorities given extra £23.5m for safer streets

Successful bids from the third round of the Safer Streets Fund announced, with Police and Crime Commissioners and local authorities to receive an extra £23.5m

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Afghanistan refugee resettlement

Cllr Nick Forbes, Chair of the LGA’s Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, discussed the issue of Afghan refugees still in hotels waiting to move into permanent accommodation following their evacuation from Afghanistan, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Cllr Forbes said: “Councils are united in saying that hotel accommodation is not a medium or long-term solution to housing the 15,000 Afghan individuals and families coming to this country in significant numbers. We need to make sure we have a real integrated approach with local government that settles people into local communities so that they are not pushed from pillar to post and moved around. That’s bad for them, bad for their experiences, it’s bad for the health and education support that they and their families will need and ultimately it adds to the sense of community tension.”

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Ministers mull council tax rise to plug social care black hole

The Prime Minister has said he is “acutely conscious” of the state of local government finance amid calls for councils to be able to increase council tax to pay for social care. Boris Johnson said the Government would make sure councils can cover the rising costs of social care as he acknowledged their finances have been “depleted” during the pandemic. Ministers are reportedly considering proposals to allow councils to increase the social care element of council tax, without the need for a local referendum, and an alternative option of a direct cash injection in the Spending Review.

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Sunak to extend job support schemes over winter

The Chancellor is to announce £500 million to renew job support programmes in his speech at the Conservative Party conference today. Rishi Sunak will promise to “double down” on support for the jobs market following COVID-19, as he extends several schemes introduced during the pandemic.

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Council proposes using infrastructure levy receipts to service borrowing costs

Norfolk County Council is set to use community infrastructure levy income to finance debt repayments on new loans to help meet a £46m gap in its school building programme.

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Ministers mull council tax rise to plug social care black hole

Council tax could be increased to pay for social care after Rishi Sunak refused to rule out more tax rises and Boris Johnson said he was “acutely conscious” of the precarious finances of local authorities.

Councils have been warned that they need an extra £2.6 billion a year to sustain present levels of social care, and have said that in the absence of central government funding council tax will have to increase by 9 per cent next year to plug the gap.

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Landmark health and care leadership review launched to ‘drive up efficiency’

A review of leadership in health and social care, billed as the most comprehensive in 40 years, has been launched by the government with a mandate to “drive up efficiency and improve outcomes”.

The announcement has prompted the Local Government Association to warn that “the right culture” must “not be sidelined by a sole focus on efficiency” and to urge the review team to work closely with local government in informing their recommendations.

The independent leadership review will be led by retired vice chief of the defence staff general Sir Gordon Messenger, who led last year's mass community Covid-19 testing project in Liverpool and more recently advised the government on the delivery of the controversial hotel quarantine system for travellers from red list countries.

He and his support team of Department of Health and Social Care officials and NHS representatives led by Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospital, will report their findings to health secretary Sajid Javid early next year. DHSC says any recommendations could be “rapidly implemented to make every penny of taxpayer’s money count” by setting out a delivery plan with clear timelines on their implementation.

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Gove outlines government's levelling up aims

Michael Gove says the government's levelling up agenda has four aims: strengthen local leadership, raise living standards where they're lower, improve public services where they're worse and enhancing the sense of pride in areas.

The levelling up minister says the government will "share the cost" of building safety and greening buildings "more fairly".

He adds: "We have so much of which we can be so proud of in this United Kingdom."

Mr Gove continues: "Every government department will become a department of levelling up."

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Unison warns of strike action over pay

Trade union Unison has warned of future strike action unless local government employers improve their pay offer. Unison is to ballot for industrial action among the 400,000 council and school staff it represents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland after 79% of members who took part in a month-long consultation voted to reject the 1.75% offer.

The union said the offer fell ‘well short’ of the 10% claim put forward for this year together with GMB and Unite, which are expected to announce the outcome of their own pay offer consultations this week.

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Local services need £8 billion extra funding just to stand still, councils tell Rishi Sunak

Councils are facing an £8 billion funding blackhole by 2024/25 just to keep local services running at today's levels, local government leaders have claimed.

An analysis by the Local Government Association says local authorities will faces extra cost pressures, mostly related to social care, that will push their finances to the brink.

James Jamieson, the LGA's chair, called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to set out how much funding they would never over the next few years so that they could plan ahead.

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City writes to government over £24m education pressures

Bristol City Council has written to ministers appealing for help to deal with a forecast £24m overspend in its schools budget this year.

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Whiteman accuses some councils of going too far'

Some councils borrowing excessively for commercial activity are going too far, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has warned.

Speaking at The MJ’s Future Forum event, Rob Whiteman, criticised one unnamed council in the south of England that had borrowed £0.75bn through intra-authority lending to finance long-term energy investments.

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Top recruiter predicts exodus

Toni Hall, director of public sector for recruiter Penna, said: ‘The biggest challenge that I think we’re going to have is a mass resignation.

'There are a lot of people who are very tired.

‘I actually think the issue is going to be that people are exhausted.

'They feel under-appreciated, underpaid, undervalued and lorry drivers are being paid more money.’

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Martin Reeves lays into levelling up

Coventry City Council’s chief executive Martin Reeves has launched a stinging attack on the rhetoric surrounding the levelling up agenda. Mr Reeves criticised slogans such as ‘build back better’ and ‘nobody left behind’.

He admitted the phrases were ‘seductive’ but in a fast-paced tirade described them variously as ‘platitudes,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘clickbait’ and ‘soundbites’.

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Local services will face £8bn funding blackhole by 2024, councils warn

Council tax will have to rise by more than a quarter in the next three years to cover the shortfall in funding for local services, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned today.

Analysis by the LGA reveals it will cost at least £8bn more to keep local services running at today’s levels by 2024.

It warned this will put vital services such as homelessness prevention, road maintenance, recycling, and child protection at risk.

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Problem gambling costs society £1.27 billion a year, review finds

Gambling-related harms costs society at least £1.27bn a year, a review by Public Health England has found.

The first evidence review of gambling-related harms includes the economic cost of suicide, the cost of homelessness associated with harmful gambling, and bankruptcy and employment issues.

It found that people most at risk of gambling harms are concentrated in areas of higher deprivation and may already be experiencing greater health inequalities. It also found clear links between harmful gambling and harmful drinking.

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LGA warns council tax income cannot meet £8bn extra cost pressures by 2024/25

The LGA has warned that that council tax income would need to rise by a quarter over the next three years to pay for the extra £8 billion cost and demand pressures to keep local services running at today’s levels. Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Councils need certainty over their medium-term finances, adequate funding to tackle day-to-day pressures and long-term investment in people and transforming places across all parts of the country to turn levelling up from a political slogan to a reality that leads to real change for people’s lives.” This was also reported in the Express and Mirror.

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HGV driver shortage impacting waste collections

Waste collection delays are being experienced in 23 council areas as the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK continues. Most delays are to garden waste collection, which has been reduced or temporarily withdrawn in some areas to prioritise household waste and recycling collections. Cllr David Renard, transport and environment spokesperson for the LGA, said: “Fast inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.”

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Javid announces £388m to protect care sector over winter

The Government has announced an extra £388.3m to help prevent infections and provide testing in the care sector.

The funding, announced yesterday by the health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, includes £237m for Infection Control measures and £126.3m for testing costs.

More specifically, the funding includes £25m to support care workers to access COVID-19 and flu vaccines over the winter months.

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A million extra health and social care staff needed in the next 10 years, says report

More than 600,000 extra social care staff are needed in the next decade to meet the growing demand for care, according to new research.

The Health Foundation’s REAL Centre has published research highlighting the 'huge' workforce gap facing the NHS and social care in England over the next 10 years.

It shows that by 2030/31, an extra 627,000 social care staff and an extra 627,000 health care staff will be needed to meet demand and improve services.

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What the former housing ministry's new levelling up role means for planning

The rebranding of the former housing ministry to reflect its new "levelling up" responsibility could see planning and housing delivery given less prominence, practitioners fear. But some believe it may result in a push to boost housing need levels in the English midlands and north and a renewed focus on strategic planning.

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Government launches £500m support for vulnerable households over winter

Vulnerable households across the country will be able to access a new £500m support fund to help them with essentials over the coming months as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic.

- £500m support available to help those most in need as we enter the final stages of recovery.

- Money available to councils in October 2021

- Bolsters support already in place to help vulnerable households and individuals

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Cost of living: £500m in new grants to help poorest households

The government has announced £500m of grants to help families struggling with the cost of living as other support schemes are withdrawn.

The move comes as rising prices, including spiralling energy bills, are making it harder for those on low incomes to make ends meet.

The end of furlough and the £20 increase to Universal Credit will also remove support provided during Covid.

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Furlough scheme ends with almost 1 million left in limbo

The furlough scheme closes on Thursday, with uncertainty ahead for people who have not yet returned to work.

Nearly one million workers were expected to be on the scheme at the end of September, according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics.

It is unclear how many of those still were relying on it for all of their income.

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Areas hold back on county deal plans ahead of white paper

A raft of councils have indicated to LGC they are holding back on plans to press ahead with county devolutions deals ahead of an expected levelling up white paper later this year which they hope will reveal what new communities secretary Michael Gove is prepared to offer them.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said in July there was a “need to rewrite the rulebook with new deals for the counties” during a speech on ‘levelling-up’, and areas were invited to submit initial proposals to the government on what sort of deal they would like to progress. But little detail has emerged so far of what devolved powers would be up for grabs under these arrangements, and the lack of clarity has caused some council leaders to delay progressing with proposals.

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LGO annual report warns of rise in upheld complaints in social care

The adult social care system is "progressively failing" people amid a "relentless rise" in upheld complaints, according to the annual report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

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England and Wales records more than 70,000 excess deaths in private homes since start of COVID-19 pandemic

At least 70,602 excess deaths in homes were registered during the COVID-19 pandemic, new figures show. Just 12 per cent involved COVID-19.

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Social care system 'progressively failing' people, says ombudsman

The social care system is "progressively failing" people and there has been a "relentless rise" in upheld complaints, according to the ombudsman.

There is a "gulf" between what the public expects and what it gets, said the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in its yearly complaints' review.

It received 2,033 complaints and enquiries about adult care provided by councils and independent providers in the year to April 2021.

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Treasury considers lifting social care precept cap

The Treasury is understood to be considering allowing councils greater freedom to increase the adult social care precept levied on council tax bills without being required to hold a referendum.

With less than a month remaining until the publication of the spending review, LGC spoke to a series of sources from within the finance and social care sectors who all believe moves are being made to allow councils to raise more money than currently permitted through council tax.

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Councils would get funding from digital services tax under Labour

Councils would receive the receipts from Labour's proposed new digital services tax to ensure they were not short changed by the party's promised freeze on business rates, the shadow chancellor has told LGC.

Rachel Reeves is calling for the government to freeze business rates in the coming year and raise the threshold for small business rates relief.

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Grant Thornton fined £2.3m over Patisserie Valerie audit work

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has been sanctioned by the Financial Reporting Council for failures in its audits of Patisserie Valerie before the café chain company collapsed, showing “a serious lack of competence”.

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Ministers under fire over breaking of mental health crisis pledge in England

Ministers are under fire for breaking a key pledge on mental health after statistics showed that hundreds of patients are being sent far from home every month because of a beds crisis.

The government pledged to end “inappropriate” out-of-area placements in mental health for adults in England – those caused by a lack of beds in treatment units near the person’s home – by April this year.

However, figures show that 695 people were sent out of area in April. The figure includes “inappropriate” placements and those deemed “appropriate” because the patient needed specialist psychological or psychiatric help that is only available in a few units. A large majority of placements have always been “inappropriate” because they are caused by a lack of beds.

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School funding under threat as chancellor Rishi Sunak reins in spending

Education will be hardest hit in the spending review with “minimal” additional funding to help children to catch up after missing out on school during the pandemic, The Times has been told.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is preparing to rein in government spending after announcing billions more in spending for the NHS and social care.

Two senior government sources said that the Department for Education (DfE) did not submit a formal application for catch-up funding. They said that this was greeted with “incredulity” by Downing Street and the Treasury.

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Labour conference: Reeves promises £28bn a year to make economy greener

Labour has promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more "green" if it wins power.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the money would go on offshore wind farms, planting trees and developing batteries.

In her speech to Labour's annual conference in Brighton, she also pledged to phase out business rates to help the Covid-damaged High Street.

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Steve Reed interview: Fears about Gove, Labour’s devo thinking, and ‘council tax bomb’

The removal of 'local government' from the title of the newly renamed Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities could prefigure Michael Gove’s intention to “replace" local government with a "marketized model of local service delivery,” the shadow communities secretary has warned.

Steve Reed, speaking to LGC at this week's Labour party conference, described as "Orwellian" the decision to rename the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government with the “empty slogan” of levelling up, “not least because the slogan they've named it as, they're doing the polar opposite of”. He added: "You might as well call the Home Office the Ministry of Love, or DCMS the Ministry of Truth – it is absolutely extraordinary."

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Local authorities predict children’s services overspend

Haringey LBC has revealed that it is forecasting a seven-figure overspend in its children’s services next year.

It is a familiar story across England, and other councils predicting a children’s services overspend in 2022-23 include:

West Sussex CC – £3.1m

Sandwell MBC – £1.764m

Blackpool Council – £2.8m

Sheffield City Council – a combined £30.9m in adult and children’s services.

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Vulnerable people ‘at risk of harm’ as fuel crisis disrupts care services

Vulnerable people are suffering disruption to vital services because the fuel crisis has left care workers unable to fill up their cars with petrol, a leading director of adult social services has warned.

Long queues have been forming outside petrol stations across the country after the oil supplier BP warned it would be forced to “temporarily” close some of its petrol stations due to the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers.

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Whitty: Deprived coastal towns need redesign

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has said seaside towns need to be redesigned for the modern age to tackle deprivation and health inequalities.

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Labour: Axing business rates will aid High Streets

The Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, will today say that a Labour government would cut business rates in England and then phase them out completely. The party plans a new property tax that it says will shift the burden onto tech giants.

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Triple whammy set to leave the poorest £1,000 out of pocket

The Resolution Foundation has warned poorer families could be £1,000 a year worse off due to a “triple whammy” of price rises, tax increases and benefit cuts. The think-tank is calling on the Government to cancel an impending cut to Universal Credit to soften the impact of rising fuel bills and inflation over the winter, which will be followed by an increase in national insurance to pay for the NHS and social care.

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Social care plan 'contains far too little detail' warn councils

Implementing the Government's cap on care costs will be an 'enormous undertaking' for councils, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

In a detailed briefing on the Government's social care plan, the LGA said the cost of the financial reforms will absorb a portion of the £5.4bn pledged for social care.

This would mean there is little or nothing to pay for other reforms such as new models of care, care worker pay and meeting unmet need, the briefing warned.

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Shadow chancellor proposes scrapping business rates

The shadow chancellor has revealed today that a Labour government would oversee “the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation” by scrapping business rates.

In her speech to the party conference in Brighton, Rachel Reeves offered a “guarantee” that Labour would replace the current system with one that will “incentivise investment; promote entrepreneurship; reward businesses that move into empty premises”.

She also pledged that “no public services or local authorities will lose out from these changes”, although the exact nature of the new system or how it would would be rolled out was not made explicit.

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Vaccine passports could be mandatory at indoor and outdoor venues under revived scheme

The prospect of vaccine passports being used at indoor and outdoor venues in England this winter has been raised again by the Government.

The plans seemed to have been put on the backburner but on Monday night the Government launched a consultation, asking the public for views on the use of vaccine passports this autumn and winter if Covid-19 cases threaten to overwhelm the NHS.

The Plan B proposals also open the door to the number of venues being widened beyond nightclubs, music venues, outdoor festivals, concerts and sports events.

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Labour vow to ban junk food billboard adverts near schools in battle of bulge

Labour would ban junk food billboard adverts near schools under plans to combat childhood obesity.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth revealed the crackdown as he outlined the party’s proposals for boosting public health.

Speaking exclusively to the Mirror at the party’s conference in Brighton, he told how his young daughters Gracie, 10, and Annie, seven, put him under “horrendous” pressure to buy unhealthy food after being seduced by ads.

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Care providers warn of lending refusal

The National Care Association has warned that care homes are facing further financial pressure with banks refusing to lend money or provide new services because of the viability of the sector.

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Starmer to set out education reforms

Labour leader Keir Starmer will today pledge to introduce a £250 million scheme to prevent young people leaving school without qualifications and set out plans for better careers advice and compulsory work placements with local employers. As part of education reforms set out at the party’s annual conference, he will also set out plans to raise £1.7 billion for state education by taxing private schools.

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‘Gove can lead levelling up agenda’

Camilla Cavendish, former head of the Number 10 policy unit, suggests Michael Gove is a “seasoned reformer” who believes that Whitehall is “over centralised” and is therefore the right person to lead the Government’s levelling up agenda. She adds: “Real levelling up is about people, not places.”

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Adass president: social care system is ‘past breaking point – it’s broken’

The social care system has “gone past breaking point” and is now a “broken system” for the many families waiting for assessments, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has told LGC.

At least 70,000 people are waiting for an urgent assessment of their care needs - up from 55,000 in the spring - with 11,000 waiting over six months, according to Adass's latest survey.

President Stephen Chandler is “really worried” the government’s social care reform announcement earlier this month has “raised public expectations”.

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Record number of children referred to mental health services

Local authority leaders have stressed the importance of investing in community-based services in order to drive improvements in children’s mental health.

An analysis of NHS Digital data by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that between April and June this year, 190,271 0–18-year-olds were referred to children and young people’s mental health services. This is up 134% on the same period last year (81,170) and 96% on 2019 (97,342).

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Union calls for reversal of pay cuts to give economy £3.3bn boost

The TUC has called on the Chancellor to reverse public sector pay cuts in the spending review as a means of supporting the post-pandemic recovery.

An analysis by the TUC and Landman Economics models the economic impacts of reversing cuts to the value of public sector pay that took place over the period 2010/11 to 2020/21.

It finds that England’s economy would receive a £3.3bn boost, speeding up recovery from the pandemic and making pay rises for other workers more likely too.

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What do Michael Gove and Andy Haldane really mean by ‘Levelling Up’?

Levelling up is central to the Government’s policy agenda. But it has become an umbrella term for everything and anything – which while part of its success electorally, raises challenges in terms of tangible policy.

To address this, last week the Government announced that Michael Gove is to be appointed as Secretary of State for Levelling Up and that former Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane will head up a task force for the next six months to look at this area. The good news is that much analysis has already been carried out. In a presentation at Policy Exchange in June, for example, Haldane outlined how to make levelling up a success.

Building on work from the Government’s previous Industrial Strategy Council, Haldane’s message was that spatial differences between regions in terms of income and productivity are large and getting larger. Thus, there was the need for 'a new regional eco-system' covering infrastructure, innovation, skills, finance, social – in terms of places being attractive to live – and governance, citing a need to devolve more power locally. Above all, a levelling-up strategy needed longevity, scale and interdependence.

What should we make of this? Levelling up could cover a plethora of areas, including incomes and wages, health and life expectancy, educational qualifications and skills. Haldane even mentioned happiness, noting this was not always correlated positively with economic measures of success. He cited lengthy commutes. One might also add the high cost of housing.

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Record number of students absent from class due to COVID-19

Record numbers of children were off school last week with COVID-19 or suspected cases, new government figures show. More than 122,000 children in England, or 1.5 per cent of all pupils, were out of school for COVID-19 related reasons last week.

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Leicestershire faces worsening financial crisis

Leicestershire CC has said factors such as COVID-19 have left it facing a worsening financial crisis.

As well as having to deal with a funding gap growing beyond £23m, the authority is also looking at potentially having to borrow £166m to fund its capital programme. Senior councillors have been told the existing medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) has a gap of £10m in 2023-24, rising to £23m in 2024-25.

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Levelling up 'must start with councils'

Levelling up the country’s deprived communities must start with local authorities, a panel of experts has said. Speaking at an Institute for Government event, they agreed council funding was key.

Former local government minister Baroness Armstrong said: ‘Levelling up funds need to be supplemented with additional funds - they won’t compensate for the damage caused by a decade of cuts.' She argued for ‘consistent, long-term funding for local authorities’ rather than ‘little funds’ with ‘opaque’ criteria.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, added: ‘If I was Michael Gove for the day, I would say let’s reform local government funding and finances.'

Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to David Cameron, said that... ‘You can devolve power and control without necessarily requiring money to be raised locally.'

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‘New deal’ call for England’s children amid mental health concerns

The Children’s Commissioner for England has called for the “greatest investment possible” in catchup for schools as part of a “new deal” for children. The landmark report by Dame Rachel de Souza follows one of the biggest surveys of its kind, with responses from more than half a million children and also calls for a “comprehensive” three-year catchup package for schools, improved services for children struggling with attendance, faster implementation of tutoring support for those who have lost out most, and a voluntary extension to the school day for catchup as well as sporting and enrichment activities. Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People’s Board, said the report puts children’s voices at its heart and called for more funding in early help services and family support for families experiencing financial hardship, including a cross-Whitehall strategy which clearly states the role of each department in delivering better prospects for children to ensure no one is left behind

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Developers who sit on land face new tax to fix cladding

Developers who hoard land face a new tax to help pay for the cost of the cladding crisis. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to announce a levy on housebuilders with profits over £25 million in his autumn Budget, with the tax expected to raise at least £2 billion over the next decade to pay for the removal of flammable cladding from high-rise buildings. Yesterday the Government published draft legislation for the Residential Property Developer Tax, which shows that ministers want to tax profits made on land which has secured planning permission even if no homes have actually been built. The LGA says there are 1.1 million homes awarded planning permission which have not been built.

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Commission calls for shift of focus in levelling up

Government should change course in order to succeed in levelling up left behind places, a new report has concluded.

The Commission into Prosperity and Community Placemaking concluded investment should be made in local neighbourhoods rather than grand infrastructure projects.

Convened by the Create Streets Foundation and chaired by Toby Lloyd, a former housing adviser to the Prime Minister, the commission concluded: ‘Top-down investment must not focus on expensive heavy infrastructure rather than in catalysing bottom-up improvements to local places.

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Key Cumbria services to operate countywide say architects of two-unitary plan

Cumbria’s two biggest council services are likely to continue operating on a county-wide basis even after the county is controversially reorganised into two new unitaries, the district leaders driving the plans have told LGC.

Then communities secretary Robert Jenrick in July approved a proposal to reorganise Cumbria CC and its six districts into two unitaries on an east-west basis ahead of two other options, notably including a bid for county-wide unitary submitted by the county council.

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Council apologises for SEND failures

Suffolk County Council has apologized to families who rely on the local authority’s special educational needs (SEND) provision after a report found the council’s SEND services ‘were not performing well.’

In June 2021, the council commissioned an Independent Review to focus on the processes, communication protocols and family-facing elements of SEND services. This was carried out by a team from Lincolnshire, including Lincolnshire County Council and the SEND parent carer network. The report lists strengths and weaknesses of the service and includes nine recommendations for improvement.

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Hughes hints at multi-year funding settlement

In comments to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee yesterday as part of its inquiry into the net-zero agenda, Mr Hughes said: ‘My understanding of the current Spending Review process is that the settlement is going to be for lots more years so hopefully that will bring certainty.’

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Regional COVID-19 restrictions could return as local health chiefs get new powers

Councils and regional health chiefs have been given new powers to implement COVID-19 safety measures to use if the NHS in their areas become overwhelmed during the winter. These include enforcing mask wearing and social distancing in public spaces, buildings and transport and allow councils to close individual premises or events.

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Number of children in A&E with serious mental health issues jumps 50 per cent since start of pandemic

The number of children admitted to A&E with serious mental health issues has increased by over 50 per cent since the pandemic began, an investigation has revealed. Figures show more than 2,243 children in England were referred for specialist mental health care from emergency departments in May this year, compared with 1,428 in May 2019.

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MHCLG to be renamed ‘Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been rebranded by the government to become the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, thereby dropping 'local government' from its title and prompting dismay from some leading sector figures.

The changes come following the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle last week which saw former Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove take on responsibility for the department as Secretary of State. In his new role and as part of the new remit of the renamed department, Mr Gove will be responsible for governance and elections in the UK. He will also become the minister for intergovernmental relations, leading on the liaison between central government and the devolved administrations.

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More delays predicted for major local government finance reforms

Local government finance experts are predicting that the introduction of a new fair funding formula for the sector will be delayed for a third time, along with reforms to the business rates retention system.

There is growing consensus that the fair funding review, which is still officially scheduled to take place in 2022-23, will be postponed once again as the Treasury has indicated that it will prioritise the need for stability over calls for reform to distribution systems.

A plan for reform is on its way, with the Treasury pledging it will “set out the future plan for local government funding” at the upcoming spending review, while a source at the then Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government told LGC the government will “decide on the timetable for future funding?reform” in “the coming months”.

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Government brushes off reorganisation challenge

The Government is believed to have brushed off a legal challenge from Cumbria CC to reorganisation plans for the county.

Cumbria launched the challenge to former local government secretary Robert Jenrick’s plans to create two unitary authorities for the county, branding the proposal to scrap two-tier local government ‘unlawful’.

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Ministry in rebrand to put levelling up centre stage

New secretary of state Michael Gove will preside over a beefed up new department with a firm focus on levelling up, it has been revealed.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government kicked off a rebrand over the weekend, changing its twitter feed to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC).

Alongside the rebrand, the Government has appointed former bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane to head up a new Levelling Up Taskforce, reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Mr Gove.

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MHCLG rebranding a ‘misstep’

The decision to rebrand the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been criticised by the sector, with one expert calling it a misstep.

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Gove to oversee rebranded department

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, underlining its central role in delivering the Government’s agenda. Michael Gove, now the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, will oversee the publication of a white paper setting out policies intended to "improve livelihoods, spread opportunity and drive economic growth" and will reportedly seek billions of pounds in funding for the levelling up agenda in the upcoming Spending Review.

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Clive Betts: Short-Changed Again

Clive Betts warns that with little clarity on how much ‘extra’ money will be spent next year, there is ‘the prospect of social care unravelling unless councils receive more money to fill the existing funding gaps’.

Councils will be left with little choice but to impose inflation-busting council tax increases next spring. In July, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, which I chair, produced a report which stated that the failure to properly fund adult social care was the single biggest threat to the financial resilience of local councils. Councils will be aware of this reality, with the costs of providing social care consuming between 60% and 70% of the budgets of top-tier local authorities.

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England care homes ‘may be forced to close’ as coronavirus jab deadline expires

Care homes may be forced to close and thousands of staff risk losing their jobs if they declined to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine by yesterday, ministers have been warned. Providers and unions have warned of an exodus of staff in England due to the Government’s requirement for them to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by 11 November. Yesterday was their last opportunity for a first dose unless they are medically exempt.

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Ten per cent of private renters are now behind on rent, says debt charity

Ten per cent of private renters are now behind on rent and owe on average an estimated £800 each, according to debt charity StepChange, which says the pandemic has hit renters hard. The charity is calling for emergency support from the Government as things like the furlough scheme and the uplift to Universal Credit payments are phased out.

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Analysis: Gove’s clout offers sector hope

Michael Gove, the new communities secretary, occupies a strange place in politics.

He did more than anyone to knife Boris Johnson in 2016, when his lethal remarks about the latter’s capabilities drove him from the Tory leadership contest.

Such impertinence would not normally be forgiven by someone who later became prime minister, but Mr Johnson holds Mr Gove close.

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PM’s levelling up advisor joins MHCLG

The prime minister's levelling up adviser Neil O’Brien has been appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

Mr O’Brien, the MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, joins the department as part of the prime minister’s latest cabinet reshuffle, which has seen Robert Jenrick replaced by Michael Gove as secretary of state at MHCLG.

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Treasury tells Gove not to expect lots of new cash for levelling up

Michael Gove's new levelling up department is being warned not to expect a large injection of new cash in the Spending Review, it is reported. Mr Gove's department, which covers housing, the Union, local government and elections, will be expected to negotiate its three-year budget on the basis of the bid put together by Robert Jenrick, who was dismissed on Wednesday.

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Local government still in the dark over social care funding

The recently announced social care reforms are welcome, but councils are still in the dark over how long-term care will be funded, says Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit.

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Sunak to impose ‘tighter’ fiscal rules

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will reportedly tighten fiscal rules to help reduce borrowing, after Covid-19 support measures saw national debt spike.

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Hall leaves MHCLG as Badenoch joins department

Local government minister Luke Hall has been sacked in the government reshuffle begun yesterday by prime minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Hall, MP for Thornbury and Yate, had been minister for regional growth and local government since September 2020 and was a junior minister in the department before that since July 2019.

During his tenure, Mr Hall struggled to win the full trust of local government. At a House of Lords select committee last April he denied an allegation that the government had engaged in ‘pork barrel politics’ over the distribution of funds.

One of Mr Hall's responsibilities, ‘levelling up’, will now have its own minister. This will now be overseen by Kemi Badenoch, who has joined the department as minister of state, in another recently announced move.

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Humphries (ADASS): Social care plan is quickly losing its sheen

By any standard the announcement of a new plan for social care, along with a brand new hypothecated tax to help fund it, ought to be a very big deal in the tortuous history of social care reform. First the good news. For the first time since 1948 there will be a limit on the financial liabilities of individuals for their care costs. This is a genuine extension of the welfare state which subsequent governments could improve and why the Treasury has resisted it for long.

More money is promised to pay for it. Some will benefit, especially from the more generous means test threshold. But we’ve been here before. The coalition government accepted similar proposals in 2014, it passed the legislation and found the funding, only for the Cameron Government to get cold feet within weeks of its election in 2015. So rather than a bold first step in reform, this is no more than winding back the clock to where we would have been five years ago. Had these proposals been implemented as planned, we would be having very different conversations now about the needs of older people, disabled people and carers. And given the intense political controversy over the plans, no one can guarantee that as 2023 approaches, this latest attempt at reform will get over the starting line.

Whatever the superficial gloss of the ‘Build Back Better’ plan, it is the looking at the numbers where it quickly loses its sheen. It’s clear that the lion’s share of the cash goes, as ever, to the NHS to tackle hospital waiting lists. There is little detail about the £5.4b promised for adult social care over the next three years other than a big chunk of it is for councils to pay a ‘fair rate’ to care providers and reduce the cross-subsidy from those who self-fund their own care (a move that is fraught with risk for councils and care providers alike). There will be implementations cost too. £500m is for workforce development, again over three years – welcome but barely covering the sides of what needs to be done. But there appears to be no new money to deal with lengthening waiting times for social care – 300,000 people are waiting for assessments, support or care reviews according to the latest ADASS survey; or the backlog of unmet needs, rising costs & and the imperative to do something about better pay and conditions for care staff. With mandatory vaccinations for care home staff on the way, the workforce crisis is deepening & still there is no national workforce strategy.

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Increase workers' pay to improve care

Increasing pay for adult social care workers can support local economies, boosts recruitment and retention, and improve care, according to The Living Wage Foundation.

Its new report published today found 73% of care workers in England are paid less than the Living Wage of £9.50 per hour, and earn £8.50 per hour on average.

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Councils could lose COVID cash over lack of data

English councils have been warned future funding to help reduce the spread of coronavirus could be at risk unless they provide accurate data on spending.

NHS Test and Trace said it needed to provide the data on how the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) had been spent so far ‘in order to help justify our request for extra funding’.

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Councils fear social care reforms will fall apart

The Prime Minister’s promise to cut middle class social care fees will cost £1.5 billion a year, county councils have warned. The County Councils Network said ensuring people who pay for their own care do not face higher fees to subsidise council-funded residents will cost more than the extra funding promised last week, unless more money is found at the Spending Review next month.

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COVID-19 winter plan unveiled

Plans for tackling COVID-19 during autumn and winter in England have been unveiled, with the Government warning the disease "remains a risk". “Plan A" is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and promotes vaccines and testing. "Plan B", to be used if the NHS is coming under "unsustainable pressure", includes measures such as face masks. LGA Chairman, Cllr James Jamieson said: “COVID-19 remains a serious public health threat and protecting our older and most vulnerable people is councils' number one priority, especially as we head into what will be a challenging autumn and winter. It will be vital that Directors of Public Health, working in councils, should also have all the support and tools they need to respond to any local outbreaks.” The SAGE committee said its modelling suggested hospitalisations could reach 2,000 to 7,000 per day next month due to increases in office-based working and the return of schools.

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Refuse collectors ‘poached’ by haulage firms

Refuse collectors are being ‘poached’ by haulage companies to plug the shortage of HGV drivers, with some being recruited while on their rounds it has been reported. They are being offered pay rises to help fill about 100,000 vacancies, creating disruption to bin collections.

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Interview: Districts call for ‘equal seat at the table’ in devo discussions

A senior district council representative has stressed the need for districts to have equal input with counties into the government’s nascent devolution discussions, and set out an “unequivocal” red line that any ‘county deals’ agreed must not involve structural reorganisation.

In an interview with LGC, Bill Cullen, chair of the chief executives’ group at the District Councils' Network, argued that county deals must not be seen as “county council deals”, making the case for some key powers to be devolved to districts.

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Rob Whiteman: Does local government need a new warning system for financial failure?

A new ‘yellow card’ mechanism could draw attention to problems before a section 114 notice becomes necessary, writes the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy.

In the last couple of years, three councils – Northamptonshire CC, Croydon LBC and Slough BC - have all seen spending temporarily frozen. This has been the response to the chief financial officer issuing a section 114 notice, warning that the budget is not balanced in the current or future year.

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Pension funds to face ‘huge pressure’ to reduce council contributions

Local government pension funds will face “huge pressure” from councillors and finance officers to reduce the employer contributions paid by councils as their funding position improves, the LGC Investment & Pensions Summit has heard.

The total funding level across all LGPS funds in England and Wales was 98% at the 2019 triennial valuation – up from 85% three years previously – and is expected to improve further at next year’s valuation.

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Councils to receive 'generous' funding under Afghan resettlement plan

Local authorities will receive £20,520 for every person they support under the Afghan resettlement plan, the Government has confirmed.

The Government said the ‘generous’ funding package will provide funding over three years to cover resettlement and integration costs. It also includes up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English language provision for adults and £2,600 to cover healthcare.

A further £20m of flexible funding will be made available to support local authorities with higher cost bases.

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Councils call for more time to spend community renewal cash

Council chiefs have called for more time to spend cash from the community renewal fund (CRF) after the Government delayed announcing successful projects.

The Government has yet to announce which projects have won funding from the CRF – the precursor to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This will squeeze the time in which projects have to deliver as the Treasury is sticking to the requirement for funding to be spent by the end of March 2022.

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County Councils look for progress with Gove

The County Councils Network is welcoming Michael Gove to his new role as housing, communities, and local government secretary.

Its chairman, Councillor Tim Oliver, says there is a "huge agenda ahead for both national and local government", and he is looking forward to "continuing the great progress made on county devolution deals and securing ambitious new powers for our residents to help level-up their communities".

He says there will be a lot more in Gove's in-tray, including local government finance, social care and reforming the planning system, but adds: "Knowing Mr Gove well as a Surrey MP, he is a champion of local authorities and their communities".

Oliver also wishes the outgoing minister, Robert Jenrick, well, saying he was "a strong advocate for local government, particularly in making the case for councils during the worst of the pandemic".

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Hunt: Social care will ‘not get money it needs’

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that the social care sector will not get as much money as it needs under the new health and social care levy.

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Jenrick sacked as communities secretary

Robert Jenrick has been removed from the role of secretary of state for housing, communities and local government in the Cabinet reshuffle.

He said it had been ‘a huge privilege’ to serve as Secretary for the past two years.

He has been replaced by Michael Gove, while Kemi Badenoch has been appointed minister for levelling up and former local government minister Simon Clarke has rejoined the Treasury.

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Jenrick sacked as communities secretary

Robert Jenrick has been removed from the role of secretary of state for housing, communities and local government in the Cabinet reshuffle.

He said it had been ‘a huge privilege’ to serve as Secretary for the past two years.

He has been replaced by Michael Gove, while Kemi Badenoch has been appointed minister for levelling up and former local government minister Simon Clarke has rejoined the Treasury.

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Developers' levy needed to support blue light services

Elected police chiefs are demanding property developers pay a tax on new houses in order to help meet the increased demand on emergency services.

Current planning regulations require builders to pay a one off cost on new developments called the 'infrastructure levy', which helps finance vital local amenities such as new schools, play areas and transport needs.

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Councils to receive funding boost for accommodating Afghan refugees

Councils that offer residence through the government’s two refugee settlement schemes will receive £20,520 per person, spread over three years, to cover resettlement and integration costs.

Local councils and health partners will also receive up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English lessons for adults requiring support and £2,600 for healthcare costs.

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Senior civil servant voices disappointment over Test and Trace scrutiny

The NHS Test and Trace app, launched last year to help manage Covid-19 infection rates, carried an overall budget of £37bn over 2020-21 and 2021-22.

However, Cat Little, director general of public spending at the Treasury said she was in discussion with senior officers to understand the oversight within the budget after raising concerns.

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Rural and coastal economies could see £51bn boost by 2030 report finds

The recovery from the pandemic could deliver a £51bn economic boost to rural areas by 2030, according to a new report.

The research for the Local Government Association (LGA) found the rise in ‘staycationing’ and people moving away from urban areas could help ‘redefine’ rural and coastal communities in England.

However, the report warns the cost of housing in coastal and rural communities is increasingly unaffordable for many workers due to lower wages and seasonal work patterns.

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‘You can’t level up everywhere’, says Sigoma report

The Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (Sigoma) has called on the government to ensure a “fairer distribution of funding” for councils as it prepares to flesh out its plans for 'levelling up'.

Sigoma's chair Sir Stephen Houghton (Lab) said ministers need to "focus on the areas that really need 'levelling up'", saying "the government needs to understand that you can’t level up everywhere".

With a white paper on levelling up promised this autumn, the report sets out "practical steps" it wants the government to take to ensure the agenda is successful.

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LGC map reveals emerging devolution plans

LGC research reveals county-focused devo plans and potential flashpoints between councils.

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Councils prepare for legal battle with Home Office

Seven councils have launched legal proceedings against the Home Office over the asylum dispersal scheme.

The action by a cluster of West Midlands authorities will determine whether they can withdraw from the scheme.

Among those involved in the legal action is Stoke-on-Trent City Council, where asylum seekers make up one in 250 of the population.

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LGC map reveals emerging devolution plans

LGC research reveals county-focused devo plans and potential flashpoints between councils. Jonathan Knott, Jessica Hill, Megan Kenyon and Mark Smulian report

The government has provided details of the footprint it expects new devolution deals to incorporate, with some counties being viewed as “too small to sustain devolution on their own”.

Areas interested in being among the first to start devolution discussions with the government were advised to get in touch with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government by 13 August to allow conversations to take place over the summer.

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Boris Johnson prepares to reveal winter plan based on vaccines not lockdowns

The prime minister is said to be "dead set" on avoiding another lockdown as he prepares to reveal his plan for managing COVID-19 over the autumn and winter.

Boris Johnson is expected to address a news conference on Tuesday when he will outline how vaccinations will provide Britain's main defence over the colder months.

According to a senior government source quoted by The Daily Telegraph, the PM will tell the country: "This is the new normal - we need to learn to live with COVID.

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Chancellor forecasts £650bn infrastructure investment over coming decade

The Government has published the new National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, which sets out how £650bn of private and public investment will be implemented in infrastructure projects across the country over the next decade.

The pipeline will see £89bn of investment targeted to social infrastructure to help communities through 165 education projects worth £2.5bn, including major rebuilding projects at schools and sixth form colleges.

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Kent County Council resumes admittance of lone child migrants

Kent County Council has announced that it will resume admitting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) into its reception centres after it temporarily stopped this service earlier in the year.

In June the county council informed the Home Office that it no longer had the capacity to safely look after newly arrived UASC from the port of Dover because of the strain on Children’s Services.

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NHS funding settlement ‘less likely’ to meet future needs

Healthcare services in England will likely require multi-billion-pound top-ups over the medium term if they are to avoid spending reductions, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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MHCLG’s Wolverhampton HQ unveiled by Communities Secretary

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has officially unveiled the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) second headquarters in Wolverhampton, the first of its kind outside of London.

The headquarters will, for the first time, have a regular Ministerial presence outside of the capital, with the government stating that it demonstrates their commitment to levelling up all areas of the country.

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ADASS 'perplexed' at social care plans

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president Stephen Chandler has called for clarification – and warned there would be council tax increases if no money was found, leaving people to pay twice.

In a weekend statement, he said that progress on resolving social care after 25 years was welcome, but added: ‘We have searched hard for any details that are meaningful. We have been left perplexed and concerned that the proposals pose more questions than answers.’

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New polls timetable would cause ‘catastrophic failure’

Officers have said holding General Elections would be ‘impossible’ under proposals to shorten the time allowed for preparations.

The Joint Committee on the Fixed Term Parliaments Act has proposed shortening the timetable from 25 days, as has been the case since 2013, back to 17 days.

In an open letter to Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith ahead of a Westminster debate later today, the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) and Solace said the prospect had caused ‘unanimous alarm’ and ‘deep concern’.

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England vaccine passport plans ditched, Sajid Javid says

Plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events in England will not go ahead, the health secretary has said.

Sajid Javid told the BBC: "We shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it."

It was thought the plan, which came under criticism from venues and some MPs, would be introduced at the end of this month.

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Rough sleeping is rising again as Covid emergency measures wind down

Charities and politicians have warned that homelessness may be returning to pre-pandemic levels as measures put in place in response to Covid-19 are wound down.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) this week on homelessness between April 2020 and March this year show that many of the measures taken during the first coronavirus wave helped reduce homelessness.

These measures included the ‘Everyone In’ funding, which forced local authorities to give emergency accommodation, alongside other steps such as mortgage holidays and blocks on evictions.

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North of England may get three more mayoralties in devolution agenda

New mayoralties could be created in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire, the communities secretary has said, as he announced a renewed commitment to “widen and deepen” the devolution agenda.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Robert Jenrick reaffirmed the government’s “full devolution” approach, outlined in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, despite concerns Boris Johnson had soured on the idea after a high-profile spat with Andy Burnham, Labour Greater Manchester mayor, over coronavirus last year.

Jenrick said there is “interest” in creating the three mayoralties, while in other more rural areas of the country county deals may be more appropriate. He told the FT: “We would like to encourage parts of the country that want to come forward to do devolution deals with us.

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Nearly 70,000 may die waiting for adult social care before Johnson plan kicks in

Nearly 70,000 people in England are likely to die waiting for access to adult social care before the changes revealed this week by Boris Johnson come into force, reveals analysis that Labour says “exposes a gaping flaw” in the plan.

Criticism has continued to mount after the prime minister announced a 1.25% tax to be paid by workers and businesses aimed at finally resolving the social care crisis he promised he had a strategy to fix more than two years ago on the steps of Downing Street.

The manifesto-busting move has been condemned by opposition parties, thinktanks and some backbench Conservatives, who warned it would disproportionately hit the poorer and younger, fail to guarantee people would not have to sell their home to foot the costs and not address the urgent situation for those seeking care.

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‘Council tax set to rise’ under social care plan

An average Band D home would have a total of £261 of council tax added over the next three years to fund the shortfall in adult social care funding, according to Labour’s analysis of the Government’s social care plan. LGA analysis before the 2020 Spending Review showed that adult social care faced a funding gap of £2.7 billion in 2023/24.

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Ministers drop shake-up of planning laws

The Government is preparing to row back from some of its planning reforms, with Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick set to announce a more limited set of changes. Under the new plans, councils could reportedly be asked to designate “growth sites” where there is a presumption in favour of development and planning applications will be fast-tracked. The LGA has called on residents to be able to have a say on all individual developments in their area and warned there are more than 1.1 million homes with planning permission waiting to be built.

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Starmer moves to set out Labour's alternative for social care

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will today set out his party’s plan to fund social care, including a landlord tax, in a speech at the LGA’s Labour Leaders' Summit.

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UK economy growth slows

The UK economy grew for the sixth consecutive month in July as, but the increase of 0.1 per cent was much lower than the 1 per cent seen the previous month. Arts, entertainment and recreation activities contributed to the growth as the last COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in England, but the UK economy is still 2.1 per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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IFS: departmental spending to ‘remain tight’

Spending available to “unprotected” government departments will be tight over the next three years, and could lead to some areas receiving cuts, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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County needs ‘clear plan’ on council tax

Cambridgeshire County Council will need to establish a clear strategy on council tax after missing out on much-needed income in recent years, according to the Local Government Association.

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Half a million town and city centre jobs at risk as Brits continue working from home

Half a million town and city centre jobs are at risk as so many Brits now work from home, experts say.

Staff in hospitality, manufacturing, finance and retail are most at risk from the changes to the economy. Researchers found that the 16 to 24 age group were 2½ times more likely than others to be working in sectors shut down by Covid.

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Booster jabs 'set for go-ahead next week' - but vaccine creator says not everyone may need them

Booster vaccines are reportedly set to be given the go-ahead next week, despite a professor who helped develop the AstraZeneca jab warning that a mass campaign may not be necessary.

According to The Times, data suggests that an additional Pfizer dose, months after a second vaccine is given, significantly boosts the body's immune response to coronavirus.

A positive benefit was seen among those who had previously been given Pfizer or AstraZeneca jabs too, indicating that vaccines could be mixed and matched.

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Extension to use of vaccine passports will be looked at if there is a 'public health need', Oliver Dowden says

The government will look at extending the use of vaccine passports if there is a "public health need" to do so, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

Mr Dowden told Sky News the government "want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible", but that if the situation with coronavirus worsens, ministers will consider requiring vaccine certification to attend more venues to "protect" the public.

The culture secretary did, however, emphasise that the government is "always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to".

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UK economic growth slows sharply in July

The UK economy grew by just 0.1% in July as the last Covid restrictions were lifted in England.

It was the economy's sixth consecutive month of growth, but the increase was much lower than in the previous month, which saw 1% growth.

Arts, entertainment and recreation activities helped the rise, but the "pingdemic" kept many workers at home.

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Clive Betts: Johnson’s care ‘plan’ offers councils no extra funding

The government’s reforms do not amount to a cohesive plan, probably offer authorities no new money and will result in cuts to other services as councils seek to prop up social care, writes Clive Betts (Lab), chair of the Commons housing, communities and local government committee.

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Social care reforms ‘could leave sector worse off’

Fears are growing that the government’s recently announced reforms to social care will leave the sector in a worse off position financially, with the small increase in funding potentially insufficient to meet new and existing costs.

The Local Government Association's deputy chief executive Sarah Pickup said the reforms could lead to "a situation where the care sector ends up being worse off”.

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COVID-19: Growing numbers of pupils at risk of exclusion and 'falling off the radar' as schools return to normal

Growing numbers of children are at risk of being excluded and "falling off the radar" as schools return to normal following the pandemic, experts fear.

Analysis of recent government data shows the problem was worsening before the pandemic but there was a lull while schools were closed because of the virus.

Department of Education figures show that in the autumn term before the first lockdown general exclusions were up 5% and primary school exclusions rose by 20%.

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Mandatory jabs for health staff being considered in consultation

Compulsory Covid and flu jabs for frontline NHS and care workers in England are being considered in a government consultation.

Plans are already in place to make it mandatory for care home workers in England to be fully vaccinated.

But some unions and care organisations have warned that making the jabs mandatory will lead to staff shortages.

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Young people ‘permanently disadvantaged’ by pandemic, study suggests

Children as young as 10 believe the pandemic will change the rest of their lives with two thirds of young people saying they will be permanently disadvantaged, a new study has suggested.

Research by the Co-op found that two out of three young people said competition to get a job has already increased making it feel “impossible” to find work, while almost a third said the pandemic has made them feel less likely to continue with further education.

Almost three in five respondents said the government has failed them in its handling of Covid-19.

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Health and social care will account for 40 per cent ‘of all public spending’ by next year

Health and social care will account for 40 per cent of all public spending by next year, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank. It said that by the 2022/23 financial year, £2 in every £5 spent by the Government will go to the NHS or social care, compared with just 28 per cent in 2004.

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Unitary considers tourist tax

Isle of Wight Council is discussing the possibility of implementing a tax on tourists, according to one of its councillors.

Richard Quigley (Lab) confirmed to LGC that at a corporate scrutiny committee this week, he asked whether the council – which is run by an alliance of Independents and Greens – had considered implementing a charge on visitors to the island.

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Support for care self-funders ‘could destabilise market’

There is growing concern over the government’s plans to ensure those who self-fund social care can ask their council to arrange it for them to access better rates, amid anxiety that this will destabilise the care market.

There are also fears that the new funding package announced by the government will not be enough to cover existing unmet need in the system, with demand for adult social care still increasing.

Yesterday, the government announced that it would “tackle persistent unfairness in the social care system” by using legislation in the 2014 Care Act to “ensure that self-funders are able to ask their local authority to arrange their care for them so that they can find better value care”.

Self funders currently pay around 40% more for care than those funded by councils. Last year around 58% of all social care requests in county areas were not eligible for council-arranged care due to insufficient funding creating a "very high eligibility bar", the County Councils Network has said.

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Nearly 300,000 on adult social care ‘waiting lists’ in England

Nearly 300,000 people are on local authority “waiting lists” for adult social care services in England because of funding pressures and delays in assessments from social workers, according to council care chiefs.

They also revealed that a chronic shortage of care workers meant more than one in 10 people assessed as needing care in their own homes were instead being offered care in residential facilities, often against their wishes.

The emergence of adult social care waiting lists – which have grown by more than a quarter in the past three months – starkly demonstrated the funding and staffing pressures faced by care services, said the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass).

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UK care homes say funding shake-up threatens their viability

The viability of care homes is under threat from the government’s plan to allow more privately funded customers to buy care at cheaper rates currently only available to councils, operators have warned.

The government announced on Tuesday that it would use legislation to let private buyers – who often pay hundreds of pounds a week more in care fees than councils – to pay the same price as if their care was publicly funded.

Care home operators, many of which are already financially precarious due to the Covid pandemic, fear that the new right could cause a plunge in revenue from private buyers and trigger collapses in services.

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Health and social care will devour 40pc of all public spending by next year

Health and social care will account for 40 per cent of all public spending by next year, experts warned on Wednesday, as Sajid Javid admitted that the £36 billion pledged for the NHS may not clear the Covid appointments backlog.

A report by the Resolution Foundation think tank said Boris Johnson’s National Insurance increase showed “low tax conservatism has been dumped” by the Tory Party, despite an insistence from the Health Secretary that it remained “the party of low taxation”.

By the 2022-23 financial year, two in every £5 spent by the Government will go to the NHS or social care, compared with just 28 per cent in 2004.

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Social care tax rise: Boris Johnson wins Commons vote

MPs have voted 319 to 248 for a 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance for workers and employers to help fund health and social care.

Boris Johnson hopes the tax increase, which breaks a Conservative manifesto pledge, will raise £12bn a year.

The prime minister said his plan would deal with "catastrophic costs" faced by those who need care.

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PM to unveil overhaul of ASC sector in England

Boris Johnson will vow to end "catastrophic costs" for social care users in England when he sets out long-awaited reform proposals later.

The prime minister will announce the plans to MPs, alongside money to help the NHS respond to the Covid pandemic.

He is expected to breach election promises and raise National Insurance (NI) by about 1.25%.

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Promise of cut to care home fees for the better-off

Middle-class pensioners will be promised a £1 billion cut in care home fees as part of wide-ranging reforms to social care to be announced by Boris Johnson today, it is reported. The Government will pledge to abolish the “stealth tax” on wealthier older people who at present have to pay about 40 per cent more for care home places than those who are less well-off, which could save some residents more than £200 per week.

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NHS to get £5.4bn extra to deal with Covid backlog

The NHS in England will get an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to respond to COVID-19 and tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic, the Government has announced. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the money would go "straight to the front line" and provide treatments people were not getting quickly enough, which includes £478 million to help hospitals free up beds by discharging patients quickly and safely with community support.

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Pandemic causes fostering crisis as the number of vulnerable children needing help soars

The number of children referred to Barnardo's fostering services has increased by 36 per cent in the last 12 months leading to a shortage of foster carers, according to the charity. In the 12 months to 31 July 2021, the number of children referred to Barnardo's services in the UK for foster care was 19,144 - up from 14,130 in the previous 12 months, due to added pressure caused by the pandemic.

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Social care ‘short-changed’ by tax funding

The Health and Social Care levy will see an additional 1.25 percentage points added to national insurance, alongside an equal rise to dividends taxes from April – until a separate tax is fully developed.

The government said the levy would raise £12bn per year, but a government paper revealed that only £5.4bn is reserved for social care over the first three years, with the remainder going to the NHS and devolved administrations.

Natasha Curry, deputy director of policy at health think tank the Nuffield Trust, said: “After decades of dangerous delay, the broken social care sector will be feeling short-changed and bitterly disappointed at the proposed funding levels and timing of reform.

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Cost of county road repairs ‘spiral’

The Gedling Access Road was approved by the council in 2014 and includes the creation of a new dual carriageway to link existing roads – with an initial budget of £40m.

However, a council report discussed at a finance committee meeting has revealed the cost of the project has increased by £5.4m, partly fuelled by workforce issues caused by Covid-19.

The council report said that due to £2.4m slippages in other programmes, it will have a £3m overspend in its transport and environment budget.

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NHS backlog ‘not a short-term fix’

The £5.4bn package announced by the government this week will mostly be spent on the day-to-day costs of running services amid the pandemic, such as infection control and speeding up the hospital discharge process.

However, £1.5bn will go towards clearing the backlog of elective procedures.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said the NHS will “get what it needs to recover its usual services”, as treatment waiting lists edge towards 13 million.

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Devolution ‘exactly the right thing to do’ says Essex leader

The leader of Essex CC has written to all the district councils in the county to discuss possibilities for a potential devolution deal.

Kevin Bentley (Con) told LGC that his authority had not yet submitted an expression of interest in a devolution deal after the government asked councils to send through proposals for 'county deals' in order to access more powers. However, it will now commence discussions with its districts about options to better improve the delivery of services and experience of the county's residents.

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Tony Travers: How much graffiti and fly tipping do ministers want?

September means spending review season is upon us. Thinktanks and lobbyists are already hard at work compiling cases as to why their particular interest or sector should be favoured with the Treasury’s largesse. After 11 years of ‘austerity’, Brexit’s denouement and 18 months of Covid-19, the chancellor has hard choices to make when he comes to allocate public expenditure for the coming three or four years.

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Council scrutiny ‘superficial and inadequate’

In August 2020, external auditors Grant Thornton said in a public interest report that Nottingham’s governance arrangements had a lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities and financial forecasts were not appropriately challenged.

However, a report by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny, to be discussed at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting next week said that governance concerns are still an issue at the authority.

The report said: “Scrutiny of the executive and council companies was superficial and inadequate; this is partially due to scrutiny having no clearly understood role and the lack of a suitable information to base its scrutiny upon.

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Thousands of Afghans to be held in hotels indefinitely as councils left ‘in dark’ over housing plan

Thousands of Afghans evacuated to Britain in recent weeks are set to be placed in temporary hotel accommodation for an indefinite period as local councils say they have been left “in the dark” about how they can help.

Charities warn that the mental health of already traumatised people is likely to suffer as a result of the use of hotels, and that this will be exacerbated by the lack of information given to them about when and where they will be permanently housed.

The lack of clarity was causing “unnecessary worrying and anxiety,” to new arrivals, said one charity working with refugees.

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Councils hit by bin collection delays due to driver shortage

At least 18 councils across the UK confirmed on Thursday that they are experiencing ongoing disruptions to their bin collection services.

It is due to staff self-isolating and a lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers for bin lorries. The Local Government Association (LGA) told the BBC that the delays were primarily affecting garden waste.

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North Yorkshire reorganisation to cost £38m

North Yorkshire CC has committed £34m of reserves towards the costs of local government reorganisation in the county.

A meeting of senior councillors heard establishing a new unitary authority to replace the current two-tier system in North Yorkshire was expected to cost £38m.

The county council expects contributions from all eight councils within North Yorkshire to the costs.

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Chancellor faces tough call on on care, pensions and welfare

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will need to make a series of tough choices this Autumn, the Resolution Foundation think tank has said.

A new report by the foundation set out five difficult decisions the Treasury will need to balance, despite predictions he could have as much as £25bn extra to spend, according to the latest financial forecasts.

The Resolution Foundation said the chancellor will need to decide which taxes to raise to pay for adult social care – although a uplift in National Insurance (NI) is widely expected this week.

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School funding warning as pupils return to class in England

Pupils are returning to school in England amid warnings of a lack of funding needed for pupils to catch up on learning lost because of Covid.

In a letter to the government, school leaders say at least £5.8bn is needed to avert "serious long-term damage".

And the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) says by next year, spending per pupil will still be about 1-2% lower in real terms than in 2009-10.

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Where will Afghan refugees go? Homes found for half of 8,000 new arrivals

The government has found permanent homes for about half the Afghans and their families who have been evacuated in the past fortnight, The Times has learnt.

About half the 343 councils in England have offered long-term accommodation under a scheme to protect those who helped the UK mission in Afghanistan. Until yesterday the Home Office could confirm only that a third of councils had offered homes.

It has doubled the number of permanent homes available under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap), to 4,000. London boroughs account for a quarter.

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Tax rise for 25 million to pay for social care

Boris Johnson is next week expected to announce a manifesto-breaking tax hike to pay for the biggest overhaul in social care in a generation and bring down NHS waiting lists.

In a major political gamble, the Prime Minister will reveal a rise in National Insurance that will see around 25 million people pay extra tax.

In return, he will promise to cap the amount an individual will ever pay in social care costs – possibly at between £60,000 and £80,000 – and better protect people from having to sell their homes to meet care bills.

However, Number 10 and the Treasury remain at loggerheads about how big the tax rise should be as negotiations on the specifics continue despite months of planning.

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Afghans who helped British forces to be offered indefinite leave to remain in the UK

Afghans who worked with the UK will be given indefinite leave to remain, the Home Office has announced.

People from Afghanistan who worked alongside the British government and army were previously only eligible for five years of temporary residency.

Now - as part of a scheme called Operation Warm Welcome - they will be able to stay in the UK permanently, giving them unrestricted rights to work.

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Shell aims to install 50,000 EV chargepoints

The oil and gas company Shell has announced that it aims to install 50,000 on-street electric vehicle (EV) charge posts through their company ubitricity across the UK by the end of 2025.

The UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) currently meets 75% of the cost of installing on-street chargers through the On-Street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS).

For local authorities looking to install ubitricity charge posts, Shell is prepared to cover the remaining costs, subject to commercial terms, in order to drive take-up of ubitricity chargers from the current figure of 3,600 to 50,000.

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Government commits £5m to help councils resettle Afghan refugees

Local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland will receive £5m to help fund the resettlement of refugees who are fleeing the Taliban.

As part of the New Plan for Immigration, the Government has announced that Afghans who arrive under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) will be given immediate indefinite leave to remain.

In order to help councils meet the costs of renting properties for the refugees, the Government has committed to providing local authorities with £5m.

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Waste collection still disrupted by HGV driver shortage

Several councils are still facing disruption to their waste collection services as a result of the national shortage of HGV drivers.

Issues including Brexit and the pandemic have contributed to a major shortfall in the number of drivers available.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) claims that there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 HGV drivers, with the association’s 40 largest hauliers reporting 3654 vacancies between them. The shortage equates to 91 vacancies for each of the RHA's members.

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Care home vaccine deadline triggering NHS ‘bed blocking’ crisis

The vaccine deadline for care home staff has triggered a “bed blocking” crisis in the NHS because there are “unsafe” levels of double-vaccinated carers in homes, managers have claimed.

The Government has ordered all care home staff to receive their first dose of a Covid vaccine by Sept 16 so they are fully vaccinated by the time the regulations come into force on Nov 11.

However, by the Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) own estimates, around 40,000 carers – seven per cent of the workforce – will refuse the jab, meaning that managers will be forced to sack them. The policy has been dubbed “no jab, no job” by those working in the sector.

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