Public Finance

Articles from November 2005

Auditor Slams 'Unacceptable' Hospital Accounts
A Yorkshire-based NHS trust repeatedly ignored Audit Commission warnings not to inflate its asset values in order to hide deficits totalling £4.5m, it emerged this week.The district auditor who scrutinised annual accounts at the troubled Scarborough...
Bigger and Better?
One of Circle Anglia's first steps after it was created through a merger of two groups was to return to its lenders and ask if it could borrow more money. If all goes to plan, it could become the first registered social landlord to borrow more than £lbn...
Council Cull Is 'Inevitable', Admit Scottish FDs
A narrow majority of directors of finance in Scotland believe that the Executive's efficient government agenda will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of councils north of the border.This was the outcome of a dinner debate organised by Public...
Council Waiting List Has Risen by Half since 1997
More than 1.5 million people are waiting to move into a council house in England - 52% more than when Labour came to power in 1997, new figures reveal.The analysis of council house waiting lists by the Liberal Democrats shows 1,548,083 people waiting...
DWP Fraud Hotline Costs Soar but Fewer Calls Are Answered
The cost of running the Department for Work and Pensions' benefit fraud hotline has risen by 25% over the past year, yet staff answered fewer I calls and prosecuted only a handful of criminals following tip-offs.'The new secretary of state [John Hutton]...
Education Team Award
It's not every day that school cleaners and caretakers get invited to tea with Tony and Cherie Blair at Number 10. But for Belbclean, the cleaning services team that won the 2005 Public Servants of the Year education award, it's been an exciting year.Belbclean...
Efficiency Progress Crucial to New DCRs
Measuring progress on efficiency will form a significant part of the new Departmental Capability Reviews for Whitehall, launched by Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell last month.Speaking to Public Finance last week, John Oughton, chief executive of...
Further Reading
It's not often that blandishments such as comprehensive', 'perceptive' and considered' are associated with government reviews, but these were some of the kind words that greeted Sir Andrew Foster's review of further education, released this week.Foster,...
In Brief
* Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that the Child Support Agency is 'not properly suited'to its job. Blair told MPs on November 16 that it was 'extremely' difficult to make the CSA a cost-effective body because of its various investigating, adjudicating...
In the Driving Seat
The public sector is becoming one of the largest users of outsourcing in the UK, second only to financial services. But this burgeoning activity, expected to amount to some £67bn worth of services by next year, is set against the background of several...
Kelly Pledges to Close the FE Funding Gap
The 13% funding gap between English further education colleges and schools will be reduced and the problems highlighted by Sir Andrew Foster's inquiry into the FE sector will be tackled, Ruth Kelly has vowed.The education secretary told delegates at...
Knowledge Is Profit
The Re-use of Public sectorInformation Regulations came into force on July 1 but do not yet seem to have shown up on the radar of many public bodies.The regulations implement European Union Directive 2003/98/EC. This makes much public sector information...
Learning Curve
Parental neglect can cause lasting damage, as Ruth Kelly discovered to her cost this week when Sir Andrew Foster delivered his report on the 'forgotten middle child of theFurther education colleges are suffering from an identity crisis, he has warned,...
New-Look PCTs Must Pass Rigorous Test, Says Crisp
Reorganised primary care trusts will go through a 'fitness for purpose' test similar to the assessment of foundation trust applicants, NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp said last week.In a speech to the NHS Alliance annual conference in Harrogate,...
NHS Stroke Care Standards 'Poor', Finds NAO
Ministers and health service managers admitted this week that action is needed to address poor standards of NHS stroke care, after government auditors said the service was failing patients.A damning report issued by the National Audit Office on November...
ODPM Select Committee Grills Housden over Council Tax Caps
The new permanent secretary at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister received a rough ride at his debut in front of MPs this week when they pushed him to justify capping councils for excessive council tax increases.Appearing before the Commons ODPM...
Raising the Standard
Park warden Bill Eastwood made a real difference to the people of Manchester when he transformed a neglected park in the deprived eastern quarter of the city into a thriving community resource.Creating a group called Friends of King George Park, Eastwood...
Report Assesses Private NHS Providers
More than 100 investigations into standards at five new private sector treatment centre providers were triggered between April 2004 and June 2005, a report for the Department of Health revealed this week.The study examined the first five private treatment...
Revenue Workers 'Take Most Time Off' Sick
The former Inland Revenue replaced the Department for Work and Pensions as Whitehall's most sickly organisation last year - with staff taking an average of 12 days off ill.The civil service sickness absence figures for 2004, published by the Cabinet...
Round-Up
Baroness Rennie Fritchie, the commissioner for public appointments, has called on the Cabinet Office to speed up plans to streamline the number of organisations overseeing public sector ethics. Fritchie told the Commons public administration select committee...
Scots Councils 'Painted into Corner' over Taxes
Town halls in Scotland are preparing to impose council tax increases well in excess of inflation, despite First Minister Jack McConnell's insistence on an average of no more than 2.5%.McConnell told the Holyrood Parliament that councils were adequately...
Scots Leadership Policies Need to Improve, Says Auditor
Many of Scotland's public bodies do not have clear leadership policies and have no idea whether the millions of pounds being spent in this area are having an effect, Audit Scotland has found.In a report published this week, the public spending watchdog...
Spirit of Enterprise
It is Enterprise Week. Don't tell me your heart didn't beat just a little faster on Monday morning knowing that fact. Around the country there were fairs and master-classes, conferences and competitions to mark the occasion. Funded by a grant from the...
Treasury Insists Pension Burden Is Bearable
Treasury officials have dismissed as erroneous' a new study claiming that public sector pension liabilities have soared to more than £800bn - greater than the UK's national debt.A report published by the Institute of'Economic Affairs on November 14 says...
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