Public Finance

Articles from March 2005

Are Government Cost Cuts Really Up to Speed?
When Chancellor Gordon Brown delivered his Budget statement on March 16, he trumpeted the success of his cost-cutting drive.He declared with relish that progress towards meeting the £21.5bn annual efficiency savings target laid down by Sir Peter Gershon...
'Choice' Can Undermine Efficiency, Say MPs
MPs scrutinising civil service work have raised concerns about the coherence of two flagship government policies: choice and efficiency.A study by the public administration select committee states that 'there is the potential for conflict' between the...
Cleaning Up Their Act?
The panic over the MRSA 'superbug' reached fever pitch in the past few weeks, replacing deep vein thrombosis and Sudan 1 as the public's top health scare. The rise of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has been blamed on 'dirty' hospitals, and...
Councils Can Claw Back School Surpluses Using New Audit Tool
Schools sitting on large budget surpluses could have their funds clawed back by councils following moves to make school accounts more transparent.An Audit Commission web tool, launched on March 21, allows local education authorities to benchmark their...
Digging Deeper
In the 20 months since the Treasury published its seminal paper on the Private Finance Initiative, Meeting the investment challenge, the programme has undergone some radical changes. In July 2003, its use was withdrawn for small-scale projects and IT....
Events
MarchMARCH 30Capita conference - Delivering efficiency in local governmentChair: Steve Martin, director, Centre for Local & Regional Government Research, University of Cardiff. Speakers include Barry Quirk CBE, chief executive, London Borough of...
FE Colleges to Consider Two-Tier Agreement
Further education colleges will discuss the extension of the two-tier workforce agreement to their sector but have given no commitment on implementation, their representative body has told Public Finance.John Brennan, chief executive of the Association...
Feeding Frenzy
Who could have predicted it? A loud-mouthed young celebrity chef with the face of a battered angel takes on an ailing school meals service. By the time the last programme in his series is broadcast, the prime minister has stepped forward to promise the...
Finalists Chosen for PF's Public Servants Awards
More than 40 finalists have been selected by the judges of the Public Servants of the Year Awards to go forward to the ceremony in London next month.The finalists come from all parts of the public sector and from throughout the UK. Individuals short...
Four Months 'To Change the World' on Care
No long-term funding for social care services will be allocated until reform is finalised, the minister in charge said this week.Speaking after the publication of the long-awaited green paper on adult social care, Stephen Ladyman said he was fully aware...
Fury as Government Caps Tax Rises of Nine District Councils
Government promises of a radical shift towards local accountability rang hollow this week after Nick Raynsford moved to cap nine authorities deemed to have set excessive council tax increases.The local government minister designated the authorities,...
Housing Associations Must Make Efficiency a Habit, Says Treasury
Housing will face an extremely tough Spending Review in 2006 unless it gets into the habit of making year-on-year efficiency gains, Simon Ridley, head of housing at the Treasury, told the National Housing Federation's finance conference.He said last...
If at First You Don't Succeed
The Bichard Inquiry - into how the Soham murderer lan Huntley managed to work as a school caretaker despite a long history of alleged sex offences - has just issued its final report. Confused? Didn't Sir Michael Bichard report last year?Before I explain,...
Letters
When the cap just doesn't fitIn your news story, 'Council tax rises in London are below national average', you said: 'Six councils are risking the wrath of the government with increases at or above the 5% threshold', and included Lewisham in that list...
Milburn to Disclose His Department's Costs after Intervention from the NAO
The governments election supremo, Alan Milburn, will reveal the full cost to taxpayers of his Cabinet role following an approach from the National Audit Office.Auditor general Sir John Bourn has asked the Cabinet Office for a breakdown of costs at Milburns...
MSPs Slam Vagueness on Costs of Elderly Care
The cost of providing free personal care for the elderly in Scotland could be higher than originally estimated, a committee of MSPs has warned.In a report this week, the Scottish Parliament's audit committee criticised the Scottish Executive Health Department...
NHS Has Improved, Finds King's Fund Audit
An independent audit of NHS progress under Labour has put into perspective emotive headlines about the health service, the NHS Confederation said this week.On March 20, the King's Fund published the findings of its assessment of Labours health policies...
Northern Ireland Faces Cull of Councils and Quangos
District councils in Northern Ireland could be reduced from 26 to seven and given new legal powers under proposals published by the Review of Public Administration.All five education and library boards would be scrapped under the plans, to be replaced...
Pensions Summit Planned to Stave off Public Sector Strikes
Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson will chair a pensions summit next week, beginning the fresh negotiations over retirement plans promised to public sector unions following this week's cancelled strikes.But senior unionists have already warned...
Regions' Housing Allocations Total £5.5Bn
Social landlords in the Southwest and East of England will be the main winners over the next two years after the government announced regional housing allocations totalling £5.5bn.In the Southwest, the regional housing board has £362m to divide among...
Round-Up
Fire and rescue authorities in England are being invited to bid for a share of a further round of £150m in Private Finance Initiative credits, local government minister Nick Raynsford has announced. The credits can be used to fund projects such as the...
Rural Councils to Collaborate to 'Improve Local Delivery'
Rural councils are to collaborate across authority and even regional boundaries to shore up the rural economy, tackle social exclusion and protect the natural environment.The areas chosen as 'pathfinder partnerships' have published business plans setting...
Taxing Times for the 'Golden Rule'
Last week's Budget was probably the last before the next general election. It is also likely to have been the last before the end of the current economic cycle, the period over which Chancellor Gordon Brown's fiscal rules - the benchmark for his management...
The Death of Science?
A swathe of recent department closures in English and Welsh universities has put the government under pressure to protect strategically important subjects. The closures have particularly affected science and mathematics departments, and have raised questions...
Virtual Reality
It's the biggest one-day strike that never was - 1.5 million publie sector workers were due to take to the streets this week in 'the largest national strike since 1926', according to public services union Unison.Even the well-mannered FDA was going to...
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