Public Finance

Articles from February 2010

Affordable Homes Escape New Tax
Affordable homes built by housing associations and other developers will be exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy.The decision was confirmed on February 15 as final regulations to enact die new tax - which councils in England and Wales will be...
Better Managed NHS Trusts 'Have Better Medical Results'
Hospitals with stronger management have better clinical results, according to a London School of Economics study.The LSE's Centre for Economic Performance found that management was better where more senior staff had clinical backgrounds - and could communicate...
Cash-Strapped Council Services Need Radical Rethink, Says Regulator
Radical thinking is needed about the provision of council services in Scodand, a local government spending watchdog has advised.In a local government overview report, published on February 18, the Accounts Commission said action would have to be taken...
Cornwall Keeps Controversial Waste Deal
Cornwall Council has admitted it cannot afford to scrap a Private Finance Initiative waste scheme, which centres on a controversial incinerator that has been refused planning permission.The unitary authority's Cabinet voted at its February meeting to...
Councils Failing to Prepare for Ageing Population
Only one in ten councils is making preparations for the soaring costs of providing services for an ageing population, according to the Audit Commission.A report from the local spending watchdog, published on February 18, warned that councils would struggle...
Economists Call for Fiscal Policy Committee
An independent body should be set up to scrutinise government plans to plug the public deficit, according to leading economists.Tim Besley, professor of economics and political science at London School of Economics, told Public Finance that a fiscal...
English Councils Set to Impose Low Increases on Residents
Local authorities across England look set to impose a second successive historically low council tax increase.One senior local government source has told Public Finance that this year's average increase could be lower than last year's figure of 3%, itself...
Events
February* FEBRUARY 24, MARCH 3, 16, 19, 25Commissioning from the third sector training programmeAn Improvement & Development Agency and CIPFA event for commissioners and finance staff across the public services aimed at increasing awareness and understanding...
Five Stories You Might Have Missed This Week
Sign of the times as MPs' inquiry cheques outMPs are to begin an inquiry into the future of the humble cheque.In December the UK Payments Council announced that cheques are to be phased out by October 20 18, but only if suitable alternatives have been...
Get Smart
IN DECEMBER, THE government published Smarter Government: putting the front line first, which includes a foreword by the prime minister that stresses the opportunities flowing from rapid advances in technology.It includes plans for streamlining the civil...
Government 'Should Redirect Nursery Funds to Poorest Families'
Funding to expand free nursery education for all should be redirected to children from the poorest families, according to a report published this week.Education charity the Sutton Trust said there were 'stark educational inequalities during die early...
Laws Should Be Costed, Argues CIPFA
Clearer and more detailed information is needed about the cost of proposed laws and policies, according to leading public finance officers in Scotland.In a submission to an influential committee of MSPs, CIPFA in Scotiand warned of a lack of transparency....
Letters
Lots of smoke without fireIn response to your cover story ('Burning questions', January 22-28), which argues that regional development agencies are wasteful and duplicate effort, I would like to raise some points.Analysis undertaken for the government's...
Ministers Mull over Early Results from Total Place
Over the past year, the Total Place pilot schemes have captured the imagination of policy experts, mandarins and politicians of almost every persuasion.The 13 pilots, launched last July, are now reporting their findings back to the Department for Communities...
Olympics Must Do More to Boost Deprived East London, Say AMs
The 2012 Olympics could fail to leave a legacy for the deprived communities it was meant to benefit, London Assembly Members have warned.A report, published on February 16 by the Assembly's economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee,...
On the Move
Ann Keane (below) has this week been appointed chief inspector of education and training in Wales. She is currently a strategic director at Estyn, the Welsh i inspectorate for education and training. She has been a member of the inspectorate since 1984.She...
Our Mutual Friend?
Become your own boss. It sounds like one of those ads promising vast wealth from telemarketing. But this week the Conservatives gave an old catch phrase a fresh twist, with their soupedup version of workers' co-operatives.Under plans announced by David...
Panic Attacks
THE CURRENT POLITICAL debate about public spending cuts is reminiscent of the hair-shirt days of the early 1980s, when cutting public spending was the article of faith of every zealot across the land. It ushered in an age of private affluence and public...
Q&A: Paying the Bill
The Metropolitan Police Authority's new treasurer tells Hollie Ewers about his hopes for the job, being at the heart of policing and his life as a priestName: Bob AtkinsCurrent job: Treasurer, Metropolitan Police AuthorityPrevious job: Treasurer, Thames...
Reducing Inequalities 'Must Begin at Birth', Says Review
Giving children the best possible start in life should be a government priority, experts said last week.A government-commissioned report claimed a focus on early years interventions was the best way to overcome inequalities in life expectancy.Fair society,...
Running out of Time?
IN THE 2007 Budget report, then chancellor Gordon Brown announced that all public bodies would have to prepare their accounts in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards from 2008/09. Subsequently, the timetable for central government,...
Scottish Local Tax Bills Frozen for Third Year Running
Local authorities throughout Scotland have frozen council tax bills for the third successive year.The decision by individual councils not to increase bills in 2010/11 is in line with the Scottish Government's tax freeze policy, introduced following its...
Tales of the Unprotected
THE oBFUSCATION SURROUNDING the future of Britain's public services will end, with luck, once the general election is behind us. Until then, ministers and their shadows will continue to refuse to give straight answers to questions about future plans...
Trouble Ahead?
It is no secret that following a deep and difficult recession, the worst is far from over for the public sector. one of its next and biggest will be to operate more efficiently on smaller budgFor local authorities, this will mean undergoing and implementing...
Unions Dismiss Tory Co-Op Plans
Public sector workers have reacted sceptically to Conservative proposals for a new generation of staff-owned, not-forprofit public service providers.Shadow chancellor George Osborne revealed the plans on February 15, claiming they would trigger the 'most...
Unitary Plans Dismissed as 'Political Gerrymandering'
The controversy over unitary status for Exeter and Norwich councils was stoked this week after local government leaders criticised the plans as 'financial madness'.Last week, ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government announced...
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