News round-up - May 14

13 May 04
Ministers are celebrating after successfully banning the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families with children beyond six-week emergency periods...

14 May 2004

Ministers are celebrating after successfully banning the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for families with children beyond six-week emergency periods. Since the target was established two years ago, the numbers in B&B have fallen by nearly 4,000. Local authorities are receiving £45m in 2004/05 to find alternative accommodation. Homelessness minister Jeff Rooker said that, had trends continued without the target, up to 9,700 families with children would now be living in B&B on a long-term basis.

Britain's biggest housing association, Places for People, has made three new appointments to its board in an effort to resolve long-standing governance problems. Valerie Owen, managing director of London First; Ruth Turner, a founding director of social policy research consultancy Vision 21; and Bill Kilgallon, former chair of Yorkshire Regional Health Authority, become non-executive directors with a salary of £12,000 for up to six days' work a month.

Northern Irish political parties will no longer be allowed to raise money abroad from next year, the government has confirmed. John Spellar, the Northern Ireland minister responsible for the funding of political parties, says the current exemption from the ban enjoyed by parties in the province will not be renewed when it expires next February. Spellar said the decision had been taken in consultation with the political parties and the Irish government.

The system of funding long-term care for the elderly is too complex, and many patients and their carers are losing out financially as a result, a report by consumer publication Which? has found. It concluded that the criteria employed to judge the eligibility of people for different funding streams were often contradictory. Criteria for particular types of funding also differed between health authorities. A Help the Aged spokeswoman said: 'Older people and their families find themselves in a snakepit of complexity when trying to establish who pays for long-term care.'

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council has been commended for making 'remarkable' progress in improving its performance since being labelled 'poor' in its comprehensive performance assessment in 2002. Junior local government minister Phil Hope congratulated the West Yorkshire authority's staff for their 'impressive and rapid progress in improving its services over the past 18 months'. Wakefield is the first authority to be released from the monitoring arrangements imposed by central government on councils deemed to be poor.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs has published a paper exploring the options for improving the conduct of official inquiries into events of public concern. The document considers whether inquiries, such as those into the crimes of GP Harold Shipman, need extra powers to ensure the co-operation of witnesses. It also considers whether administrative arrangements can be improved. Constitutional Affairs Secretary Lord Falconer (pictured) said: 'A new statutory framework is an option to be seriously considered.'


Did you enjoy this article?