Public Finance

Articles from December 2004

Bradford Trust at Loggerheads with Regulator
Bradford's foundation trust was considering a legal challenge against the removal of its chair this week as relations with its regulator reached crisis point.The two sides were at loggerheads following weeks of sparring over the trust s financial position....
Credit Where It's Due
It has been the best of times and the worst of times for local government over the past 12 months.On the credit side, this week the Audit Commission announced that two-thirds of single-tier and county councils are now rated as either 'excellent' or 'good'....
EDS Admits to Causing DWP Computer Crash
One of Whitehall's largest IT contractors has admitted it was responsible for a massive computer failure at the Department for Work and Pensions last month.EDS has submitted a preliminary report on the incident to the DWP. The failure left 40,000 staff...
Events
The main eventJanuary* JANUARY 13Association for Public Service Excellence - Sky blue thinking: delivering cleaner, greener and safer servicesSpeakers include: Colin Cram, director, Centre for Procurement Excellence North West; Irene Lucas, chief executive,...
FoI "Will Open Up" Public Sector Deals
The public sector should be less likely to accept 'blanket' commercial confidentiality clauses from private contractors once the Freedom of Information Act comes into force next month.In an interview with Public Finance, assistant, information commissioner...
Full E-Government Not Ready by 2005
The government is nowhere near meeting its target of offering all Whitehall services on-line by 2005, its own figures have revealed.Statistics published by the Cabinet Office on December 13 show that just 75% of central government services are available...
Gateway to Gershon
It's not often that local government anticipates the policy direction of government, but Sir Peter Gershon's efficiency review of public services wasn't even on the drawing board when Thurrock Council began its search for a strategic partnership two...
Government Takes L3bn Savings Burden off Councils
Councils were given an early Christmas present this week, when they were told they would no longer be responsible for finding £3bn in schools' and police authority savings called for in the Gershon report.Following pressure from the Local Government...
Homeless Families Top 100,000 for First Time
Labour faces the embarrassment of going into next year's general election defending a record of rising homelessness after ministers admitted that numbers will continue increasing for another three years.Figures published this week by the Office of the...
Killing the Golden Goose
The housing association sector is arguably the biggest success story of the government's public-private partnership programme.As not-for-profit agencies, associations are using a combination of public grant and private finance to transform neighbourhoods...
LEAs Let Down Excluded Pupils, Says Ofsted
Local education authorities are not doing enough for children excluded from school, who are often allowed to go 'missing' in the system, according to Ofsted.The education watchdog says provision for children not in mainstream schooling, believed to number...
Look into My PFIs
The controversial Private Finance Initiative has given rise to a new secret language of acronyms, concepts and phrases that make perfect sense to those in the know but are often baffling to outsiders. This is undoubtedly good news for the armies of accountants,...
MSPs Express Doubts over Executive's L1.7bn Savings
The Scottish Executive has been criticised by an influential committee of MSPs for providing 'misleading' information when it claimed that its efficient government plan would save £1.7bn over the next three years.In a report published this week, the...
Patients Slow to Take to Independent Centres
The government awarded a contract for five more private sector treatment centres this week, despite anecdotal evidence that patients are unhappy with the initiative.Health minister John Hutton awarded a five-year contract to Mercury Health to operate...
Physicians' Regulatory Body, Heal Thyself
The irony of Dame Janet Smith's fifth report from her long-running Harold Shipman inquiry, which last week recommended a comprehensive overhaul of the General Medical Council, is that it has little to do with the activities of the murderous doctor.Smith's...
Present Tense
The other day, a Labour MP, a former minister and assiduous constituency man, asked me rather diffidently 'We're doing well, aren't we?' There was genuine puzzlement in his question.MPs are maniacal consumers of the media. On the front pages are Blunkett,...
Round-Up
Roman Catholic bishops have denounced the prison system as a 'public scandal'. A report, called A place of redemption and published at the Catholic Bishops' Conference in London last week, calls on the government to make major reforms in penal policy...
Santa Sharpens His Claws
Most people, I dare to venture, think being Santa Claus is a pretty easy sort of a job.Wake up November-time, sniff around the Toy Factory to make sure the elves are fulfilling their quotas; then dust off the old sleigh, round up Rudolph and his mates...
Scots Settlement Won't Avert Tax Rises
Council leaders in Scotland have warned that the Executives funding settlement for local government will not he enough to prevent substantial council tax rises over the next three years.A rise of 4.4% has already been forecast for 2005/06 and councils...
The Right Track
It's becoming something of an annual ritual. We ask you a series of questions on public sector issues that have been in the news in the past year, and a lucky, albeit well-informed, reader wins a superb prize.This year, we are offering an Apple iPod...
Town Hall Ratings Soar in Third Set of CPA Results
Two-thirds of councils are now 'excellent' or 'good' after 52 surged up the rankings when the Audit Commission published its Comprehensive Performance Assessments on December 16.The third set of tables for England's 150 top-tier authorities also reveal...
Unions Plan Action over Pensions
Public service trade unions this week outlined a plan of action to defeat government proposals to reform staff pensions, but Chancellor Gordon Brown has warned he will not back down.Union leaders met Trades Union Congress pension experts on December...
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