Lunchtime news Wednesday 14 November 2014

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson has come under fire after saying in the Commons that he knew nothing about moves to charge junior doctors rent for hospital accommodation. Johnson said he was ‘unaware’ that doctors in their first year were being charged rent as they moved from hospital to hospital as part of their training. Previously they had had their accommodation provided for free. Johnson has now said he would investigate.

Bank of America has become the latest institution to take a financial hit because of plunging mortgage valuations. The second largest bank in Amercica announced a writedown on its portfolio of £3 billion, with potential that further writedowns will be needed. This follows news that the Us’s biggest mortgage lender, Countrywide, lent 48 per cent less in October this year than last October. The lender reported a loss of £1.2 billion in the third quarter and has cut more than 2,000 jobs.

The government has announced plans to improve education for young offenders in custody. Concerned that the poor quality of teaching in many young offenders institutions, children’s homes and secure training facilities is not providing the skills needed when leaving custody, Ed Balls Children’s Secretary, announced the government will consult on plans to place education in all these centres in the hands of local councils.

This week marks five months since the summer floods drove thousands from their homes. Many of those affected are still homeless, and empty properties are being looted. One homeowner has been told that his property is worth as much as 40 per cent less than prior to the flooding. Local Government minister, John Healey today announced that councils affected by the floods would not be unfairly penalised through their performance rating system, and would not suffer financial penalties or lose the power to spend as they wanted. Mr Healey said that the government and relevant inspectorates would recognise the strain placed on local authorities by the floods and use common sense where evidence shows a dip in performance.