Public Finance

Articles from April 2005

Bath Spa Project Row 'Will End Up in Court'
The long-running saga to rebuild Bath Spa will end up in court, the contractor sacked by the local authority claimed this week.Builder Mowlem was dismissed by Bath and North East Somerset Council on April 8 and replaced by a fresh set of contractors,...
Boxing Clever
The 2005 general election is turning into a struggle over a limited patch of ideological territory. Vote Labour and public spending will level out at about 42% of GDP. Taxes will rise over the coming years to fund this total. The Conservatives are committed...
Council Deals Often 'Flawed from Start'
Local government procurement is being hobbled by 'naivety and lack of honesty' on the part of both purchasing authorities and private contractors, the Society of IT Management has warned.The body said that the lack of plain dealing between the parties...
DWP to Save Money by Scrapping Higher Executive Grade
The government's largest department this week announced it would axe an entire management grade under plans to transform the way it provides pension services.Senior officials at the Department for Work and Pensions will scrap the higher executive officer...
For Richer, for Poorer
During the 2001 election campaign, Newsnighfs Jeremy Paxman famously asked Tony Blair: do you care about the gap between rich and poor? 'I want to tackle poverty, not inequality,' was the prime minister's answer.In reality, the Labour government did...
Heads-On Collision
Last month. Education secretary Ruth Kelly faced the sort of'low-level disruption that school inspectors say is now all too common in the classroom. She wasn't talking to a class of disruptive pupils. Nor was she even addressing National Union of Teachers...
Inquiry Finds Flawed Maintenance Most Likely Cause of Potters Bar Train Crash
Sabotage was 'highly unlikely' to be the reason for the fatal Potters Bar train tragedy, the latest report into the crash has concluded.But the three-year inquiry by the Rail Safety and Standards Board failed to clear up the mystery behind the crash....
Letters
Naive approach to civil serviceGeorge Jones rightly guestions the merits of the draft civil service Bill but for the wrong reasons ('A healthy constitution', April 8-14).Centralisation and a steady decline in parliamentary control provide the setting...
Lyons Warns on Limits of Efficiency Drive
The drive to slash public sector waste will not save enough to fund spending increases in the long term, the architect of the one of the government's major efficiency programmes has warned.Sir Michael Lyons, whose 2004 report recommended that 20,000...
MoD Staff Up in Arms over Privatisation of Training
Ministry of Defence outsourcing came under fire again this week when it emerged that three private consortiums had been shortlisted for £18bn in staff training contracts, while in-house bids were overlooked.Civil service staff claimed the MoD might not...
MPs Call for Curb in Drug Industry Influence
Drugs manufacturers have denied MPs' claims that they have too much influence over doctors and the Department of Health.A report by the Commons' health select committee claimed that although the industry's influence was welcomed and relied on, it was...
MPs Call for Rethink on Environmental Taxation
The Treasury's policy on environmental taxation is 'inconsistent and fundamentally flawed', MPs claimed this week.Members of the Commons' environmental audit select committee have called for a new fiscal strategy after the general election. They want...
No Pain, No Gain
It seems we can have it all. If you believe the election manifestos (which, of course, we all do), then the two main political parties in England are offering us a world where we can spend more on frontline public services without resorting to tax increases.How...
Outstanding Public Servant of the Year
It is now only a week to the Public Servants of the Year Awards. With the general election campaign in full swing, this is an ideal time to recognise the remarkable work carried out by public servants across the country.This year's ceremony will be bigger...
Part-Time Students Face Fee Disadvantage
Efforts to boost the UK's skills base will be undermined unless the government removes an anomaly that requires part-time students to pay their tuition fees up front, universities are warning.Under the new regime, which comes into force next year, full-time...
Pension Chickens Come Home to Roost
Local government pensions are in a mess. A £30bn shortfall in retirement assets across town halls in England and Wales, revealed in a CIPFA study last week, is bad news enough.But senior politicians seem unaware of how to improve matters. Recent pronouncements...
People
OBITUARYBert Bucknall, a name that should be familiar to everyone with any connection to housing finance, died on March 23 after a short illness.Bert qualified as an accountant after the Second World War. His career as a local authority treasurer took...
Postal Vote Fraud Casts Shadow over Election
In the run-up to the general election on May 5, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that it is already investigating 39 separate cases of possible election fraud.The ongoing cases include question marks over postal ballots during last year's...
Round-Up
The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will pay its interim chair more than £60,000 for six months' work, to rescue the organisation from financial problems. Peter Garland was appointed in December after it was revealed that the trust,...
The Buck Stops Where?
In late March, the government published a draft Bill for reform of the law on corporate manslaughter. The impending election and the dissolution of Parliament means the Bill has not yet reached the starting blocks. However, if the current government...
The WAO Factor
It is supposed to be a joke. Each week the Daily Telegraph scours recruitment advertisements for a public sector job it regards as frivolous and unnecessary and then lampoons it in a weekly column called Non-job of the Week.The aim is to show that the...
TUC Attacks Job Cull Plans
The Trades Union Congress has attacked politicians' plans to slash thousands of civil service management posts after the general election, claiming that Whitehall already operates with fewer managers than the private sector.A report by the TUC, published...
Turnout for a Turnoff Election
Not an election pronouncement comes from the lips of Labour without certain words attached: 'critical', 'vital', 'an election on which the whole future of our country depends'.This, of course, has very little to do with substance. By comparison with...
Wales Audit Office Will Shake Up Inspection, Pledges New Chief
A new audit and inspection regime based on improvement plans agreed between regulators and public bodies might be rolled out across the Welsh public sector, the new auditor general for Wales has told Public Finance.Jeremy Colman, who heads the Wales...
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