What we’re reading 12/11/10

Pickles caught in porky pie. Still no evidence of London councils having block-booked accomodation on the south coast as a result of housing benefit changes. But the point that even Conservative-led Barnet LBC has raised concerns about the impact of the reform surely punctures Eric’s claim that any complaints are “hysterical”.

Armchair auditors pore over council spending data. The nation’s armchair auditors are standing up and being counted. Or, rather, they’re sitting down and counting. CLG reports that over 100 people a day are looking through council spending.

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing ‘Buy Back’ Pilot a Success. Rochdale Council and the charity Brighter Horizons have used £300,000 from the (now abolished) Homes and Communities Agency to purchase five former ‘right to buy’ properties. Our housing expert Janet Sillett reckons that a few more councils will try similar schemes.

Open letter to the voluntary sector from the Cabinet Office. “The Prime Minister has made it clear that councils should not take the easy option of trimming budgets by cutting funding to the voluntary and community sector”. The Cabinet Office has published two documents – Better Together and Exposure to Cuts – that show how councils should work with the voluntary sector. The case studies look very good to us. It must be said, however, that the PM’s admonishment is a bit rich. Central departments are currently scything back funding for charities despite the fact that most are better off than councils.

New Routemaster unveiled in Acton and conductors are back. Back to the future in Chiswick. A big, red shiny reminder of what public policy announcements used to look like before Britain’s “trillion pound debt horror story” began.

For more local stories go the excellent Openly Local.