Public Finance

Articles from February 2009

Concrete Promises?
Margaret Beckett promised that councils would be able to receive subsidy in the form of social housing grantPrime Minister Gordon Brown seems to have built a reputation for creating hostages to fortune. Many wondered if he had done it again with his...
Councils Need More Efficient Procurement
Local authorities could save millions of pounds every year by improving their procurement practices, according to a government-commissioned reportThe Keview of arrangements for efficiencies from smarter procurement in local government, led by ex- Westminster...
Councils Set to Impose Lowest
Local authorities in England and Wales are on course for the lowest council tax rises since the tax was introduced in 1993, according to CIPFA research published this week.As Public Finance went to press, CIPFA data indicated that council tax for an...
Darling Could Launch Another £20Bn Fiscal Stimulus, Says IFS
Chancellor Alfstalr Darting could use his April Budget to launch a further £20bn fiscal stimulus, economists have predicted.The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested that this would bring the UK's attempts to tackte the recession into line with those...
Duty of Care
It's a rainy Wednesday in Paddington, and several mothers are watching their babies playing with some large wooden toys on a brightly coloured mat 'Here they enjoy lots of toys which I can't get them because space is very tight at home and we can't afford...
Families Miss out on Mortgage Help
Families struggling to make mortgage payments are missing out on government assistance because their homes are worth too much.Housing associations this week joined councils in complaining that price caps set by the government for its £200m mortgage rescue...
Government Details Apprenticeship Schemes
Ministers have outlined plans for public sector employers to provide 21,000 new apprenticeships as part of a package they claim will lead to the 'transformation of on-the-job training.The announcement, made on February 23, coincided with the second reading...
Last Dance Saloon
In normal times, the Budget would be taking place in under a fortnight The second week in March has become the Treasury's favoured date over the years, to the annoyance of MPs who would prefer to be at the Cheltenham Festival. But these are not normal...
Letters
Analysis turned into apologiaReading your recent cover line 'Busy doing nothing?' on the Tories' alternative economic strategy, I was rather looking forward to what I thought would be a forensic analysis from Policy Exchange of the shadow Cabinet's response...
LGA Chair Ready to Tackle Whitehall for More Council Cash
The sharp swish of a brisk new broom has raised a bit of dust at the august Westminster headquarters of the Local Government Association in the past few months. Margaret Baton's unexpected arrival as the LGAs new chair in September appears to have led...
Mandarin-Tinted Glasses
Sir Gus O'Donnell, head of the civil service, recently gave a speech at the Royal Society of Arts about how well the mandarins of Whitehall could be expected to cope in the present financial and economic crisis.O'Donnell's answer was, perhaps unsurprisingly,...
People
MOVESIan Owen has been appointed as a public sector enterprise mobility manager by Vodafone. He was previously LG industry principal with SAP.Steve Hedges is now finance manager (environment) at the Dorset County Council accountancy team. He had been...
Public Servants Might Have to Publish Pay Details
Guidance published by the information commissioner this week might force public bodies to reveal previously undisclosed details of senior staff salaries.When should salaries be disclosed?, issued by the office of information commissioner Richard Thomas,...
Round-Up
* A system for Improving the efficiency of government buildings is to be rolled out across the public sector, it has been announced. The Office of Government Commerce has already made its Property Benchmarking Service mandatory across Whitehall and is...
School Rebuilding Scheme 'Will Not Raid Pension Funds'
The head of the agency responsible for progressing the government's £55bn school building programme has denied that it planned to raid council pension funds to finance struggling schemes.TIm Bytes, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, and Department...
Scots Labour Backs Review of Holyrood Borrowing Powers
The Scottish Government s case for new borrowing powers was strengthened this week when the Labour Party in Scotland agreed for the first time that the issue should be considered.The decision to back the case came on February 24, as the Scottish National...
Taxing Questions
Taxpayers in England and Wales are far from happy. Not only are their jobs on the line and their homes at risk of repossession, but they also face council tax increases equivalent to 30 times the rate of inflation.Surveys published this week from both...
Treasury Watchdog Calls for Stronger Financial Scrutiny
The chair of the Treasury select committee, John McFaIl, has called for the scrutiny and regulation of the financial sector to be beefed up, to prevent a recurrence of the events that led up to the credit crunch.He told Public Finance that recent events...
Treating Mentally Ill Offenders Could Save Up to £700M a Year, Experts Say
Diverting offenders with mental health problems away from the criminal justice system and into treatment could save £700m a year, a leading research centre has claimed.A report published by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health on February 23, Diversion:...
Unsold Homes Scheme 'Should Be Extended'
A government scheme for buying unwanted homes from developers should be extended to older properties that owners are struggling to sell on the open market, MPs said this week.The communities and local government select committee praised ministers for...
Whitehead Revisited
Why ask the question about reforming council tax now? Well, practically everyone agrees that England's system of local taxation is messy. Tax seldom, if ever, receives positive press, but council tax - hastily designed with political expethency in mind...
Work in Progress
You could be forgiven for being pessimistic about the work of the All Wales Convention, the body set up to stimulate discussion on the future of devolution. In the midst of the recession, it has to start encouraging public debate on the National Assembly...
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