1. Nearly Every Local Authority Will Raise Council Tax
Millions face hikes in council tax as the majority of town halls expect to raise rates, a think tank said on Thursday.
Research by the Local Government Information Unit found 94 percent of local authorities are planning council tax increases of up to 5 percent, as well as increasing charges for services such as green waste collection.
Some councils also plan to charge more for funerals, the research found.
It comes as council finances face growing pressure caused by budget cuts and growing demand for social care.
2. G4S Is To Take Over Welfare Support For Families Facing Deportation
The controversial private security company G4S is to take over from a children’s charity in a contract to provide welfare support to families facing deportation, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
The company was mired in scandal in 2010 after it received hundreds of complaints from illegal immigrants held in G4S-run detention centres, including allegations of assault and racism.
The Guardian reported the company would manage a unit that handles family deportations near Gatwick, replacing charity Barnardo’s.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who successfully stopped the routine detention of child immigrants while in the coalition government, said the move was “openly putting children at risk”.
3. Foreign Patients To Pay Up-Front For NHS Care
NHS Hospitals will have a legal duty to charge overseas patients before they are treated, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced on Monday.
The new measures, to start in April, will mean patients will have to pay for non-urgent care, such as hip operations, if they fail to provide proof of eligibility.
The move is an attempt to crack down on health tourism. People needing urgent care will still be treated immediately on the NHS.
4. Record Waiting Times In A&E
Record numbers of patients waited for longer than four hours to be seen in Accident and Emergency units in January according to leaked data, the BBC reported on Thursday.
The number of those waiting more than 12 hours for a hospital bed once they were seen also hit a record high in the same month, according to the BBC.
The British Medical Association said the Government had “failed to grasp the seriousness” of current pressures on the NHS.
5. Trump Hopeful ‘Embellished’ CV
An academic working in Britain who hopes to become US ambassador to the EU made misleading claims in his autobiography, according to the Financial Times on Thursday.
Ted Malloch, an American professor, made a number of statements in his book Davos, Aspen & Yale that were contradicted by available evidence, the paper said.
The claims questioned include Malloch’s suggestion he had been “knighted” by the Queen and lauded as a “genius” or “global sherpa” by Margaret Thatcher.