Public Finance

Articles from February 2009

Action Stations
The disgraced bankers hauled in front of the Treasury select committee this week knew the role they had to play They were to offer heartfelt apologies and then prepare for a mauling.And, lo, it came to pass. The committee had its 1 5 minutes of fame...
A Hard Lesson to Learn
While Sharon Shoesmith, the one-time director of children's services in Haringey, was being pilloried in the national press for her role in the Baby P case last November, she received a strong vote of confidence from 61 of the London boroughs head teachers....
Audit Bodies 'To Work in Unison'
Scotland's public sector watchdog has pledged a more streamlined audit in partnership with other scrutiny bodies to avoid duplication.Audit Scotland gave its commitment to ensure greater cooperation across the bodies that inspect, audit and regulate...
CAA Will Take Financial Downturn into Account
The local government watchdog has said its new inspection regime will take the effects of the recession into accountHowever, the Audit Commission warned this did not mean councils should stop striving to improve social outcomes.The commission this week...
Charities Criticise Ministers as Spending on Elderly Falls
Charities have called on politicians to 'hang their heads in shame' after official figures revealed that social services spending on elderly people fell last year.The figures published by the NHS Information Centre on February lOshowedthat gross expenditure...
Council Deposits 'Not on Risk Radar' before Crisis
The Audit Commission has admitted to MPs that councils' treasury management capability was not on its 'risk radar' until after the Icelandic banking fiasco that has swallowed up ?1bn of local authority funds.But the watchdog is likely to urge councils...
Courts 'Must Do More to Cut Repossessions'
Civil courts should do more to stem the increasing tide of home repossessions, a think-tank has said.According to a report from the Centre for Policy Studies, district judges can reduce the number of repossessions by about 30,(KK) per year by suspending...
Divided We Fall?
This winter has been a hard one. The economy has plunged into deep recession. The weather has been the coldest for years. Industrial and social unrest has, possibly, started.For the Local Government Association, all these difficulties come on top of...
Emergency Group Set Up to Tackle Road Salt Crisis
Local authorities and central government have set up an emergency 'Salt Cell* to ensure there is enough gritting salt for roads, as the extreme winter weather continues.Many councils are running out of the salt after more than a week of treating roads...
Essex Faces Damages Claim after Terminating BT Contract
Essex County Council is facing a claim for 'substantial' damages after terminating an IT contract with BT worth at least ?250m.The row between the council and the telecoms giant comes as Essex moves forward with controversial proposals to contract out...
Forewarned Is Forearmed
'Greed' and Irresponsibility' have been cited frequently by government and media as the main causes of the economic downturn, and have been the focus of this week's Treasury select committee grilling of Britain's banking chiefs.But there is another culprit...
Giving Something Back
The tone was positively Churchillian: 'Britain can beat this... just like we've beaten everything else this world has thrown at us. We'll win by pulling together, not by facing the storm alone.'But such stirring language came not from beleaguered national...
Government's £42M Boost for Third Sector 'Not Enough'
A government funding package to help the third sector cope with rising demand for services as a result of the recession has met with a mixed reaction.The Cabinet Office this week promised ?42. 5m to help charities, volunteers and social enterprises step...
Medics 'Should Have Greater Budgetary Role'
Doctors, nurses and other clinicians must take greater control of NHS expenditure, an unprecedented joint statement by medical and financial institutions has said.The statement, issued by the Audit Commission, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the...
More Equal Than Others
Central and local government can appear like a crotchety old married couple. The controversies over Children's Secretary Ed Balls' intervention in the Baby P episode and Prime Minister Gordon Brown's announcement of a new wave of council-house building...
More Trusts Say 'No Room in the Maternity Ward'
More hospitals in England were forced to turn away women in labour last year because they were full or didn't have enough staff, figures have revealed.There were 553 cases in 2008, a 38% rise from the 402 in 2007.Almost half of the 104 trusts responding...
Public Bodies' Financial Skills 'Must Improve'
Improving financial skills in public bodies is a priority, the National Audit Office's comptroller and auditor general-designate has said.Amyas Morse appeared before the Commons Public Accounts Committee on February 11 aspartofaprocess to confirm his...
Recession Forces Rethink on Welfare-to-Work Contracts
Plans to announce the preferred bidders for the Flexible New Deal contracts have been put on hold while the government and potential contractors renegotiate terms, it has emerged.The decision by Work and Pensions Secretary James Piimeli to create a 'short...
Recession Is Thrusting Finance Directors to the Fore
The economic downturn has thrust public sector finance directors into the spotlight giving them a vital role in piloting their organisations through a tough financial period, CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer has said.He was speaking ahead of the World...
Round-Up
* The government has launched a campaign to make stroke as recognisable a threat to health as a heart attack. Ministers believe thousands of deaths and disability cases could be averted if people were more familiar with stroke symptoms. Roger Boyle,...
School Programme Is on Track, Says Knight
Schools minister Jim Knight has defended the Building Schools for the Future programme after the National Audit Office highlighted rising costs and delays.Knight also claimed the programme was in a 'pretty strong position* despite problems with securing...
Scottish Government Ditches Controversial Local Income Tax
The Scottish Government has abandoned Its controversial plans to introduce a local income tax during the current Parliament.The surprise U-turn was announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during a debate on the 2OO9/10 local government funding settlement...
Standards Chief Slammed for Failing to Tackle MPs over Expenses
The head of the standards watchdog has come under fire for failing to tackle headline-hitting issues.MPs at the public administration select committee this week criticised Sir Christopher Kelly - who became chair of the Committee for Standards in Public...
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