Weekly media roundup 31/12/16 – 06/01/17

This week has seen 1,321 LGA mentions in national, regional, trade, broadcast and online publications including 50 LGA mentions in national newspapers, broadcast and online articles.

MPs urge ‘swift' review on social care

Friday 6 January
Community Wellbeing Board Chairman Cllr Izzi Seccombe featured on BBC Online and Guardian and the LGA's lines also featured on Good Morning Britain in the Mail, in response to a call from the heads of three Commons committees to find a "political consensus" on funding social care in England before 2020. Clive Betts, Chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Meg Hillier and her Health Committee counterpart Dr Sarah Wollaston said a long-term solution can only be found if there is cross-party consensus. The LGA estimates there will be a £2.6 billion funding gap in providing adult social care in England by 2020. Cllr Seccombe said local government leaders must be part of any review. She added: "This is imperative to get a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve."

Good Morning Britain news bulletins
BBC Online
Guardian p4
Mail p14
LGA media release

 

Time to start asking the hard questions in social care

Friday 6 January
FT Online and Guardian Online referenced the LGA's figures about the cost of providing adult social care, in separate opinion pieces raising the prospect of establishing a dedicated tax to help raise the necessary funding.

FT Online
Guardian Online

 

Call to fight loneliness as half a million over 60s go days without contact

Friday 6 January
The Telegraph, Guardian and Mail featured the LGA's response to Age UK research about how half a million people over the age of 60 routinely go an entire week without meeting anyone. An estimated 1.2 million older people in England alone are now classed as chronically lonely, meaning they have experienced loneliness for many years. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "Loneliness and social isolation have a major impact on people's health and wellbeing. We all need to wake up to this problem, which is placing an increasing burden on health and social care."

Telegraph p7
Guardian p12
Mail p26
LGA media release

 

Schools to be pushed to breaking point by levy, say councils

Friday 6 January
Children and Young People Board Chair Cllr Richard Watts featured in the Guardian and on BBC Online with the LGA's call for small council-maintained schools to receive the same treatment as small academies and faith schools and be exempt from the Apprenticeship Levy. The Levy, to be introduced in April, requires all businesses – including schools – with a wage bill over £3 million a year, to contribute 0.5 per cent of their wage bill to fund new apprenticeships. But whereas academy or faith schools – who employ their own staff – will be exempt from the Levy if their wage bill is under the threshold, small schools with similar wage bills that are run by local authorities will have to pay the levy because staff are employed by the authority and therefore contribute to the overall wage bill of the council. Cllr Watts said: "It is discriminatory for small council-maintained schools not to be exempted from the Apprenticeship Levy in the same way that small academies and faith schools will be. It is no secret that many schools are struggling with their funding, yet once again, council-maintained schools are being dealt a poor hand compared to academies."

BBC Online
Guardian Online
LGA media release

 

Hundreds of new homes approved despite being at risk of flooding

Friday 6 January
The i paper reported the LGA's lines in a feature about how hundreds of homes are being approved by planners in England each year despite objections from the Environment Agency about the risk of flooding, it is claimed. More than1,200 residential properties have been given a green light after flood risk advice from the Agency was overruled or partially overruled in the five years since 2011/12, the newspaper found. An LGA spokesman said: "Councils are generally opposed to building property on flood plains and 99.7 per cent of the 66,132 new homes in 2015/16 where the Environment Agency were consulted, had planning outcomes in line with Environment Agency advice."

i paper p1

 

One in five drivers would volunteer to fill in potholes

Friday 6 January
The LGA's lines that it would take14 years to fix the national backlog of potholes at a cost of £12 billion was reported on LBC, TalkSport and Talk Radio news bulletins, about a survey by motoring group the AA which said one in five drivers would be willing to volunteer to fill in potholes.

LBC, TalkSport and Talk Radio news bulletins
LGA media release

 

UK Housing White Paper risks ‘backlash'

Thursday 5 January
Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board Chairman Cllr Martin Tett featured on FT Online about the Government's forthcoming Housing White Paper. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is to try to accelerate homebuilding figures despite misgivings from Theresa May about a potential rebellion by Conservative MPs over the issue, it is reported. The most contentious issue is a plan to force councils to increase the number of homes in the local plans that they are required to produce. Cllr Tett, said: "If you get into a situation with central government effectively imposing top-down targets, you are back to a situation where local communities will really resent these housing numbers." He cited the local example of the Vale of Aylesbury, which had twice had its local plans rejected by the Planning Inspectorate and hence has no current plan in place. "It's open season for virtually any speculative housebuilder in the country to come in and stick in planning applications which are very difficult to refuse. Local people are up in arms. They are not getting any infrastructure or any kind of gain from these developments and they see themselves as besieged by builders."

FT Online

 

Not one firm 'named and shamed' for paying below minimum wage has been prosecuted

Thursday 5 January
Former LGA Chairman Lord Beecham was mentioned on Mirror Online in a story about prosecuting firms who have paid below the minimum wage.

Mirror Online

 

What does 2017 hold for public services?

Wednesday 4 January
The Guardian featured LGA Chairman Lord Porter's warning that even if councils abandoned road repairs, stopped maintaining parks and open spaces, closed all libraries and children's centres, and halted funding bus services, they still could not plug the £5.8 billion funding gap facing local government. The wide-ranging piece looks at the key challenges facing public services, including local government, social care and housing, in the year ahead. It said longer NHS waiting lists, rising homelessness and funding pressures on councils could bring public services "to the brink".

Guardian p30
LGA media release

 

Letter: Should council tax rises pay for social care?

Wednesday 4 January
The Mail featured the LGA's analysis of the £2.6 billion funding gap facing social care by the end of this Parliament, in a reader's letter about whether council tax rises should pay for social care.

Mail p49
LGA media release

 

Concern over 'affordable' starter homes that will cost up to £450,000

Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 January
The LGA's response to the Government's announcement that new Starter Homes will begin to be built in 2017 was reported on FT Online, Independent Online, Express Online, Sky News Online, Sun Online and LBC Online. Thousands of new discounted starter homes for first-time buyers in their twenties and thirties are to be built this year on brownfield sites in 30 local authority areas around England. But Labour and the housing charity Shelter said it was wrong to describe them as "affordable" when they would cost up to £450,000 each. The LGA has called for councils to be given discretion on building starter homes, to ensure enough properties to both buy and rent are available in developments.

FT p3
Independent Online
Express Online
Sky News Online
Sun Online
LBC Online
LGA media release

 

UK's £1bn foreign aid

Tuesday 3 January
Mail Online highlighted the LGA's warnings about a £2.6 billion social care funding gap by 2020, in a piece in which it claims about how seven per cent of the annual aid budget over the next three years could be used to fill this.

Mail Online
LGA media release

 

Councils issue hundreds of fly-tipping fines in waste crime crackdown

Tuesday 3 January
Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board Chairman Cllr Martin Tett featured in the Mirror and on Mail Online, Express Online and ITV Online about how councils have issued hundreds of fines totaling more than £430,000 for fly-tipping since they were given new powers to issue ‘on-the-spot' penalty fines last year. According to Freedom of Information data released to the Press Association just under 40 per cent of councils have so far used new laws designed to tackle fly-tipping. The figures showed that a total of 1,353 fly-tipping tickets have been handed out since May. Cllr Tett said: "At a time when councils face difficult choices about services in the light of reducing budgets, they are having to spend a vast amount each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping. This is money that would be better spent on vital services such as filling potholes and caring for the elderly." He added that councils may feel in some cases going down the prosecution route was most effective, and they needed a faster and more effective legal system with hard-hitting fines for more serious offences and to be able to recoup all prosecution costs.

Mirror p11
Mail Online
Express Online
ITV Online

 

Christmas fly-tipping crackdown needs to become a New Year's resolution, says CLA

Monday 2 January
ITV Online reported the LGA's release about a zero-tolerance, nationwide crackdown by councils on fly-tipping in the run-up to Christmas, about a call from rural landowners' association the CLA to continue this throughout 2017. The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, says it is receiving more and more reports from members saying rubbish is being dumped on their land almost every day of the week. The cost of clearing up fly-tipping in England has hit nearly £50 million, with councils having to deal with almost 900,000 incidents every 12 months.

ITV Online
LGA media release

 

New Year's Eve partygoers told to beware of fake alcohol

Saturday 31 December
The LGA's release warning New Year's Eve partygoers to beware of fake alcohol containing potentially lethal ingredients found in antifreeze was reported in the i paper, Mirror, Guardian Online, Independent Online, Express Online, ITV Online, Star Online, Metro Online, Sky News Online, LBC Online and also on Talk Radio news bulletins. This follows recent council seizures of counterfeit vodka laced with highly dangerous chemicals found in cleaning products and paint solvent. Council trading standards teams said sellers of illegal alcohol also face confiscation of their stock, prosecution and being stripped of any relevant licences. Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "New Year's Eve is the biggest drinking night of the year but people need to avoid suspiciously cheap, fake alcohol at all costs because it could seriously harm your health, and even kill you. Counterfeit alcohol also harms legitimate traders and threatens livelihoods, with the black market trade helping to fund organised criminal gangs. Council trading standards teams have been cracking down on businesses selling fake alcohol and rogue sellers should think twice about stocking these dangerous drinks as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders."

Talk Radio news bulletins
I paper p7
Mirror p16
Guardian Online
Independent Online
Express Online
Metro Online
Star Online
ITV Online
Sky News Online
LBC Online
LGA media release

 

Council chiefs honoured in 2017 New Year honours list

Saturday 31 December
Guardian Online, Mirror Online and Metro Online featured LGA recipients in the New Year Honours list, including Vice Chairman Cllr David Hodge who is made a CBE and Deputy Chairman Cllr Peter Reeve, who receives an MBE. Other local politicians awarded include Roselyn Jones, directly-elected Mayor of Doncaster Council who receives a CBE. Cllr Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, and Tendring Council leader Cllr Neil Stock are also each made an OBE.

Guardian Online
Mirror Online
Metro Online

 

Able-bodied motorists 'getting away with disabled parking fraud'

Saturday 31 December
The LGA's response to new figures by the Department for Transport about how some local authorities are failing to take action against able-bodied motorists who are illegally using disabled parking permits was reported in the Times, Telegraph, Mirror, i paper and BBC Online. Sixty-one out of 152 local authorities told the Department for Transport (DfT) they do not have a policy for prosecuting drivers who abuse the blue badge scheme, according to the Press Association. A spokesman for the LGA disputed the accuracy of the DfT figures, saying some councils listed as not having a policy for prosecuting abuse of the scheme do have reporting mechanisms for such incidents. The spokesman added: "Councils take blue badge fraud seriously and are working hard to combat it. Gathering evidence and mounting a prosecution can be time-consuming and expensive, but councils know their areas and are best placed to decide the most effective way to tackle it."

Times p6
Telegraph p16
Mirror p16
i paper p3
BBC Online


16 January 2017