Weekly media round-up 23/01/16 – 29/01/16
This week has seen 708 LGA mentions in national, regional, trade, broadcast and online publications including 41 LGA mentions in national newspapers, broadcast and online articles
Housing Bill would lead to loss of 80,000 council houses, town halls warn
Friday 29 January
The LGA's warning that national housing reforms would lead to the loss of 80,000 council houses in the next four years and add more than £200 million a year to the housing benefit bill was reported in the Independent, Guardian Online, Mirror Online, ITV Online and the i paper. The LGA forecasts that on top of the 66,000 council houses expected to be sold to tenants by 2020, town halls would also be forced to sell at least 22,000 of their highest value council homes to fund the sale of housing association homes to tenants. A £2.2 billion cut to council housing budgets through social housing rent cuts would risk making building replacements "all but impossible", the LGA said. Housing spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: "With 68,000 people currently living in temporary accommodation, annual homelessness spending of at least £330 million and more than a million more people on council waiting lists, it is clear that only an increase of all types of housing – including those for affordable or social rent – will solve our housing crisis."
Short home care visits 'plague system'
Friday 29 January
Community Wellbeing spokesperson for the LGA Cllr Izzi Seccombe was interviewed on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4's Today programme and BBC Radio 5 Live with the LGA's response to a report about 15-minute home care visits to elderly and disabled people. This was also reported on BBC Online. A survey by Unison using Freedom of Information laws found that three quarters of councils commissioned 15 minute home care visits last year. Three-quarters of care staff filling in a separate online survey complained they did not have enough time to provide dignified care. Cllr Seccombe said: "Short visits are sadly just one of the many symptoms of a social care and support system that is under enormous financial pressure. No-one wants to have to choose between washing someone or feeding them. Councils will continue to do all they can to maintain the services that older people rely on, but with no immediate extra cash available from the improved Better Care Fund next year, we are concerned that the most vulnerable members of communities will be at risk of losing the essential and dignified care that helps them to live independently."
Drink-driving: Doctors' alliance calls for cut to limit
Friday 29 January
The LGA's estimates that lowering the current drink-driving limit would save nearly £300 million a year by reducing police and ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions featured on BBC Online. A group of doctors and health experts is urging the House of Lords to support a bill to lower the drink-driving limit across the whole of the UK. The Alcohol Health Alliance said the move would save lives and improve road safety.
Loneliness ‘a devastating health issue for a million'
Thursday 28 January
Community Wellbeing spokesperson Cllr Izzi Seccombe featured in the Mail, Express, ITV Online, BBC Online and Telegraph Online with the LGA's press release on how loneliness needs to be recognised as a major public health concern. Deputy Chairman Cllr Peter Fleming also appeared on Good Morning Britain and ITV news bulletins. Unless action is taken to help the million pensioners suffering from isolation, further strain will be piled on already struggling services, the LGA warned. Cllr Seccombe said: "Loneliness is a significant and growing concern for many older people and is something that is now being identified as a major public health issue. Council public health teams are taking action and reducing the need for health and care services in the future." The LGA has produced a publication offering guidance for councils to tackle the issue, alongside Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness.
Doctors at the door to keep elderly out of A&E
Thursday 28 January
The Telegraph and Express Online reported the LGA's release that an extra £700 million earmarked for the end of the decade is needed now in order to avoid an immediate social care crisis. This followed a report by the Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People that hospitals should put senior doctors at their front doors to assess whether elderly people need to be admitted to A&E. Too many pensioners are being needlessly admitted via A&E for a lack of basic care only to then be left in hospital for weeks, it said. The report, published by NHS Confederation, called for health and social care systems to be radically overhauled to work around the patient.
Councils could be fined £5,000 a day for unmanned roadworks
Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 January
Environment spokesman Cllr Peter Box featured on BBC Online, in the Times and the Express with the LGA's response to proposals to fine councils and utility companies up to £5,000 per day for leaving roadworks unattended at weekends. Deputy Chairman Cllr Peter Fleming was also interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live and the LGA's lines were also reported on BBC News. The LGA said roadworks are often left unattended for good reason and Cllr Box said: "These fines may mean we end up paying people to watch concrete dry because it is cheaper."
UK to give sanctuary to unaccompanied refugee children
Thursday 28 and Friday 29 January
Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group Chairman Cllr David Simmonds was interviewed on the BBC News channel and BBC Radio 5 Live with the LGA's response to the Government's announcement that the UK will take more unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Cllr Simmonds' comments also featured on BBC Online and the LGA's lines were referenced on BBC Daily Politics Show. Cllr Simmonds said any councils taking in extra children would require funding and that at the end of March 2015 councils were looking after 2,630 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. "It is not sustainable to leave a small number of port authority councils to look after large numbers of refugee children. Commissioning a national agency to systematically record arrivals, assess their needs and disperse children fairly between council areas would enable better planning across the country and ensure children and young people's needs are met," he said.
Flood risk areas face council tax increase
Wednesday January 27
The LGA's call for all councils to be able to add flooding precepts to council tax bills to raise additional funding to manage flood risks, subject to local agreement, was reported in the Telegraph. Environment Secretary Liz Truss told MPs that homeowners who live in flood-hit regions could face higher council tax bills to pay for new flood defences. A scheme in Somerset will allow all six councils in the region to raise council tax by 1.25 per cent to pay for preventative measures. Councils in Cumbria are considering the option and the LGA said the Somerset scheme meant there was now an "important precedent for other areas potentially to follow".
Housebuilders reject claims of hoarding land as property prices soar
Wednesday 27 January
The LGA's recent release on the 475,000 homes with planning permission but yet to be built was reported on Guardian Online. This came as the Lords Economics Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the economics of the UK housing market. Taylor Wimpey, one of Britain's biggest housebuilders, and the Home Builders Federation have rejected accusations that the industry is hoarding land to cash in on rising property prices.
Adult social care for blind people
Wednesday 27 January
The LGA's response to an Age UK/RNIB survey about blind people missing out on social care was reported on BBC Radio 4's In Touch programme.
BBC Radio 4's In Touch programme
Millions face three-year-wait for basic broadband speeds
Tuesday 26 January
The LGA's previous evidence to MPs investigating broadband provision was reported on Telegraph Online following a report by Ofcom that as many as 1.5 million households will have to wait two to three years before they can get a "minimum" internet speed.
Research backed by 121 MPs called for a radical overhaul of the internet market and for the break-up of the "monopoly" that BT holds on the cable network. The LGA said in evidence that there was "no technical reason" for BT to control access of broadband services to homes, allowing it to tie in new customers to phone and broadband packages, and that BT's market dominance was "a significant barrier to local efforts to close the digital divide".
Migrant influx means British children forced to move away from Kent care homes
Tuesday 26 January
The LGA was referenced by Immigration Minister James Brokenshire in the Times about how the association is working with the Government to ensure that the burden of taking and caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is spread across the country. Kent County Council has warned that care for vulnerable children is suffering because of a sharp rise in solo child migrants from Calais. The council has seen a 30 per cent rise in unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the last seven months and is now looking after 1,382. James Brokenshire said: "We are working with the Local Government Association and others as well as maintaining that backstop position within the Immigration Bill to ensure that there is fair allocation of young people in need of support."
Public bodies give evidence on FOI
Tuesday 26 January
The LGA's submission to a parliamentary commission investigating Freedom of Information laws was reported on Mail Online. Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge said in evidence to parliament that universities should be exempt from Freedom of Information laws due to the ‘burden of bureaucracy' and the cost of responding to requests for information from the public. The LGA said without FOI, councils could spend more money on filling potholes.
Social media and internet porn abuse punished by councils
Monday 25 January
The LGA's statement in response to an FoI request about how many council staff have been disciplined over inappropriate use/posting inappropriate content on social media sites over the last five years was reported on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Online, Independent Online and Mirror Online.
Royal Mail rakes in £3 million day from the unwanted junk mail that drives us mad
Sunday 24 January
Environment spokesman Cllr Peter Box featured in the Sunday People with the LGA's lines on how junk mail companies should contribute towards the cost of recycling the nearly 3.2 billion items of unaddressed mail which was delivered over the last 12 months. Cllr Box said: "Junk mail is a major nuisance for residents and it adds thousands of tonnes to the waste councils have to pick up. Councils and taxpayers should not have to shoulder the cost of recycling it, which is why we are calling on the companies who are responsible for producing and distributing junk mail to help foot the bill."
E-cigarette explosion tears young mum's eyelid in two after battery burst in her face
Saturday 23 January
The LGA's release about how at least 100 fires have been caused by faulty e-cigarettes and for manufacturers to display warnings on packaging was reported on Mirror Online, after a young mother needed plastic surgery when one of the devices exploded.
29 January 2016
22 January 2016
15 January 2016
31 December 2015
18 December 2015
11 December 2015