Help bailing out debtors

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IT’S rare these days to hear good news concerning local government finance. That is why we are delighted the Government is on the verge of changing rules over funding for council housing.

At present large cities, such as Sheffield, subsidise smaller councils so we have to suffer a disproportionate burden when it comes to dealing with council house rent arrears.

But in future, Sheffield may be allowed to keep all rent collected, meaning almost all future rent arrears could be accommodated. And that is no insignificant claim. For over the next 30 years, Sheffield is expected to notch up a staggering £1.1 billion in unpaid rents.

That is an amazing sum and highlights a major problem in local government finances. Such debts should never be allowed to build up.

It is good that we should be in control of the money we collect. But it is a pity that it is being used to bail out individuals who fail to pay their way.

Proud to have some of the best

WHERE there’s muck, there’s brass and where there’s brass, there’s a lawyer.

They are a fact of modern life and like everyone, law firms are feeling the pressure in these tough times.

The latest edition of the Legal 500, which charts the fortunes of the legal profession, reports that a number of major players have cut the size of their teams and a considerable number of partners have moved firm.

Competition and recession have turned up the heat, but despite that, three Sheffield firms still maintain a place among Yorkshire’s eight legal heavyweights. Six lawyers from the city are also ranked among the leading individuals in Yorkshire and Humber.

And while this can at first seem far removed from everyday life, it’s not. Law firms are major employers and the issues they deal with concern us all.

It’s reassuring to know that some of the best are in this region and that competition for our business is inspiring excellence.

Every little helps

BIG plans are in the pipeline for Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet which wants to spend £900,000 creating a learning centre for educational visits, restoring water wheels and building new workshops for use by modern-day metalworkers. Nobody is more aware than hamlet managers Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust that cash is hard to come by these days and that is why we are delighted the National Lottery is chipping in some money towards the scheme. It is only £47,200 - but every little helps.