Public Finance

Articles from March 2008

A Budget for Hard Times
When Chancellor Alistair Darling reveals the contents of his ministerial red box on March 12, it will require nothing short of alchemy for him to produce a Budget that successfully marries economic necessity with political reality.While the public finance...
Blears Flags Up 'Citizen Power' White Paper
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced a white paper on empowering citizens after a government survey found that more than nine out often people thought local councils' accountability could be improved.The paper is expected in the summer and...
Brown's Fiscal Fissure
Has Gordon Brown become a nationalist fellow-traveller? The Scottish National Party has been quick to congratulate the prime minister on his apparent U-turn over 'fiscal federalism': his belated acceptance that there might be a case for giving the Scottish...
Budgeting for Known Unknowns
The most tempting submission that Alistair Darling has received ahead of the March 12 Budget has come from Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI.He has put forward an alternative, six-paragraph speech. Darling's speech will not be remotely as...
Child Poverty Reduction Target Likely to Fall Short by 1 Million
The government's promise to halve child poverty by 2010 will not be achieved unless significant resources are made available, according to a report by MPs on the Commons work and pensions select committee.The report - The best start in life? Alleviating...
Councils Turn Away from PFI for Housing
Local authorities appear to be losing interest in the Private Finance Initiative as a means to build and refurbish housing.Following a brief flurry of interest in the PFI four years ago after the government extended it to cover building new homes, only...
Darling Faces Demands for a Budget for Business
Councils and industry leaders have both urged the Treasury to deliver a business-friendly Budget next week to stave offa potential economic downturn.Chancellor Alistair Darling will have to weigh up often competing demands from local government, business...
Drivers 'Should Be Able' to Use Hard Shoulder
Drivers will be allowed to use the hard shoulder on busy motorways to ease congestion, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced.Kelly said the scheme, which has already been trialled successfully on the M42 near Birmingham, would be extended to parts...
Experts Back Delay of Reporting Standards
The Treasury's expert accountancy advisers have backed delaying central government's implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards by a year, because two key departments cannot meet the 2008/09 deadline.Financial Reporting Advisory Board...
Information Deficit Hinders Parole Board
The Parole Board lacks the information it needs to make correct assessments, a National Audit Office study has concluded.The report - The work of the Parole Board - published on March 5 - warns that the board is not being given enough information to...
LGA Speaks out over Resources as Government Keeps Licensing Laws
Local government leaders have attacked the government's determination to retain the Licensing Act while putting the onus on councils to deal with related problems.Local Government Association chair Sir Simon Milton hit out at the legislation, which the...
LibDems Back SNP on Income Tax
The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats may join forces to bring about the introduction of a local income tax in Scotland.Scottish LibDem leader Nicol Stephen raised the possibility of a deal between the two parties in a letter to the leader...
Minister for Everything
It's hardly surprising that John Swinney is smiling. Scotland's finance and sustainable growth secretary has just managed to do what some of his critics thought was impossible: persuading local authorities of all political persuasions to freeze council...
NHS Waiting Times Officially Up on 1997
Average NHS waiting times have risen since 1997, according to new Department of Health figures.The statistics, published on February 29, show that since 1997-98, the average median waiting time for hospital appointments has risen from 41 days to 47 days...
Opposition Parties 'Resigned to Labour Levels of Tax and Spend'
The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have both accepted Labour's taxation and spending levels and neither is likely to fight the next general election on a platform of significant cuts, their senior Treasury spokesmen have said.Philip Hammond,...
Prisoners' Courses Are Wasting £30M, Says NAO
Training courses provided for prisoners that are not completed are costing the taxpayer ?30m a year, according to a National Audit Office reportThe NAO is critical of the Offenders' Learning and Skills Service which provides offenders with trainingThe...
Report Warns of Rural Poverty
A lack of infrastructure, affordable housing and service provision is leaving rural residents feeling like second-class citizens', according to a report.The Rural Services Network, a coalition of more than 250 service providers, including councils, accused...
Round-Up
* than £1bn is being given to 12 areas in the North of England and the Midlands to improve housing and support regeneration schemes. The allocations, announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government on February 28, guarantee the future...
Survey Says It's Services with a Smile for the People of Wales
People in Wales are largely satisfied with their public services, a survey by the Welsh Assembly Government has found.The face-to-face talks with 7,500 households found satisfaction ratings of between 70% and 90% for a range of services, including education,...
Treasury Rules, OK?
Gordon Brown's cherished sustainable investment rule is clinging to life, Rasputin-style, despite repeated attempts to kill it off.The rule, requiring that public sector net debt be kept below 40% of national income, has been under threat for some time....
Welsh Council Tax Bills Likely to Rise by Average of 4%
Council tax bills in Wales are set to rise by an average of 4% this year, according to research from CIPFA.This year's 4% increase is slightly down on last year's average rise of 4.4% and takes the average annual bill on a Band D property in Wales to...
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