Weekly media roundup – 11/10/14 – 17/10/14

This week has seen 328 LGA mentions in national, regional, trade, broadcast and online publications including 13 mentions in national newspapers, broadcast and online articles.

Labour plans for housebuilding: do they go far enough?

Friday 17 October

'Guardian Online' reported the LGA's response to Labour's Lyons Review on house building which said councils would not be able to borrow more money to build homes. Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the LGA's Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board, said:

"The housing borrowing cap is fundamentally flawed and places unnecessary restrictions on the amount of money councils can invest in housing. Until this is removed councils will continue to be hampered in our efforts to provide the homes residents need."

Guardian Online
LGA press release

Fraud and mistakes add £1.4 billion to cost of housing benefit

Friday 17 October

Cllr Clare Kober, Chair of the LGA's Resources Board, responded to a National Audit Office report into housing benefit fraud in 'The Times'. It found the cost of fraud and errors in housing benefit has risen by more than 40 per cent. The NAO said the Government should crack down on councils who process the payments. Cllr Kober said:

"Local government continues to outperform central government at processing claims accurately and successfully recovering from overpayments."

Times p28

A new classroom at the double (decker)

Friday 17 October

'Telegraph Online' reported recent LGA research revealing schools are being forced to put playgrounds on roofs and convert gyms into temporary classrooms, with local authorities not receiving enough funding to expand and keep up with increasing pupil numbers. It came as a school struggling for space in Northumberland has transformed an old double-decker bus into a classroom to accommodate 15 pupils.

Telegraph Online
LGA press release

‘Unsafe' minicab proposal dropped

Thursday 16 October

'The Times' reported on the Government dropping plans to allow minicabs to be driven by unlicensed drivers when 'off duty'. The LGA warned the move would endanger taxi users and has now urged ministers to also reconsider further clauses within the Deregulation Bill which would mean minicab drivers no longer have to renew their licence annually and would allow operators to subcontract a booking to another operator. LGA polling has found that "80 per cent of women would be concerned if they booked a journey with one firm and a different one turned up".

Times p28
LGA press release

English councils ‘failing to help vulnerable'

Thursday 16 October

Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the LGA's Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board, responded a report by Crisis on homeless support being offered by local authorities on 'Independent Online'. An undercover investigation by the charity found that, in 50 out of 87 visits to councils, investigators received little or no help. Cllr Box said: "Where homelessness does take place councils have an important role to treat people who need their help with respect and to place them into secure, affordable accommodation. The ability of councils to do this is only getting tougher as a result of 40 per cent cuts to council budgets over the lifetime of this Parliament and a shortage of affordable housing."

Independent Online

Cost of dying 'rose more than 10 per cent last year'

Thursday 16 October

The LGA responded to the annual Cost of Dying report produced by SunLife insurers on 'BBC Online'. It found the average cost of services including probate, headstones, flowers and burial or cremation fees is now £8,427 – up 10 per cent. This has been blamed on solicitor fees, funeral director costs and councils having to reduce subsidies for burials. An LGA spokesman said:

"Where services have been subsidised by council tax payers previously, as has been the case with some cemeteries and crematoriums, councils have had no choice but to review the fees they charge."

BBC Online

Scaling the heights: disabled people get a helping hand into local politics

Wednesday 15 October

'Society Guardian' ran a feature on the LGA's ‘Be a Councillor' mentoring scheme focusing on how it is giving potential councillors funds and support to increase diversity in town halls.

Guardian p38

Comment: Cut from the top – Pickles's ‘worst ever idea'

Wednesday 15 October

'Guardian Online' ran an opinion piece on Harrow Council, who passed a motion last month to reinstate their chief executive post. The council voted to abolish the position a year ago with Michael Lockwood, now LGA Executive Director, leaving the role.

Guardian p40

Devolution debate

Tuesday 14 October

LGA Chair Cllr David Sparks appeared live on 'BBC News' as part of rolling coverage of a Parliamentary debate on devolution and calls for English votes for English laws following the Scottish referendum. He said: "Our view is just messing around with MPs votes is completely missing the point. What we need in England is real devolution to communities and the best way of doing that is by devolving down to local councils."

BBC News

Councils need fly-tipping powers, says LGA

Saturday 11 October

The LGA called for councils in England and Wales to be given new powers to impose on-the-spot fines to tackle fly-tipping on 'BBC Online'. It said fly-tipping was costing local authorities about £36 million a year to deal with an estimated 711,000 cases. Cllr Mike Jones, LGA Environment Spokesman, discussed the issue on the BBC Breakfast sofa with the story also running across BBC Radio 2 and 5 Live news bulletins.

BBC Online
BBC Breakfast
BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 2
LGA press release

20 October 2014