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News Headlines

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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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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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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Other Headlines

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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‘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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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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