Public Finance

Articles from June 2005

24-Hour Headache
Rarely has a piece of legislation generated so much debate, inspired such anxiety and raised so many concerns before it has been fully implemented than the Licensing Act 2003. It has been dogged by controversy over its apparent liberalisation of drinking...
Audit Commission Keeps Up Pressure on Councils as It Unveils Tough CPA Criteria
The tough new Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime unveiled this week will cost some councils their excellent' or good' status - but its Audit Commission architects are unrepentant.The second incarnation of the CPA for top-tier authorities has...
Councils Must Learn from Private Sector
Local authorities must substantially improve their financial management arrangements in the 'brave new world' of reformed public services, James Strachan told the CIPFA annual conference in Manchester.The chair of the Audit Commission, addressing delegates...
Councils Should 'Work Better with Voluntary Sector'
Local government inspectors should start to consider how well councils are working with the voluntary sector, the chair of the Charities Commission told CIPFA delegates.Including an assessment of the so-called compact between local authorities and charities...
Don't Put Brakes on Spending after 2008, Urge NHS Bosses
Patient care will suffer if health spending does not continue to increase at current levels beyond 2008, the NHS Confederation said this week.At its annual conference in Birmingham, the managers' organisation cast doubt over whether government targets...
Fighting Talk
James Strachan certainly didn't pull any punches when he addressed CIPFA's annual conference this week in Manchester.The combative chair of the Audit Commission warmed up by urging finance managers in the health service to 'raise their game. While NHS...
Funding Gap May Stymie Longer School Opening Hours, Say Heads and the LGA
Government plans to extend school opening hours have been met with pleas for proper funding from councils and head teachers.By 2010, schools will be expected to offer childcare from 8am to 6pm, providing a range of before and after school activities...
Guardianship Office 'Good but Could Do Better'
The government agency established to look after the financial affairs of people who become mentally incapable is doing a better job than its predecessor but needs to improve further, according to government auditors.The Public Guardianship Office, an...
Huge Rush for Exit Stalls DWP's Voluntary Redundancy Scheme
Whitehall's largest department has been forced to suspend voluntary redundancy schemes in five regions because they are massively oversubscribed.The Department for Work and Pensions this week confirmed to Public Finance that it has 'put on hold' early...
Johnson to Stay at Helm of Pension Panel
Former work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson has been retained as the informal chair' of the governments public sector pension reform panel, despite his post-election move to Trade & Industry.Whitehall sources confirmed this week that Johnson...
Mapeley Steps PFI Deal Still Costing the Revenue
The Inland Revenues infamous Mapeley Steps deal is still dogged by problems four years after the department sold many of its buildings to a company based in an offshore tax haven.A critical report on the deal by the Commons' Public Accounts Committee,...
Mental Health 'Will Become Government Priority'
Mental health provision will have to be drastically changed over the next 20 years to reflect the issues growing importance, a think-tank has claimed.The Institute for Public Policy Research said mental health services would move from the political margins...
Mental Welfare Quango Refuses to Leave Capital
Scotland's deputy finance minister, Tavish Scott, has defended the Executives civil service relocation policy following a setback that forced it to drop plans to move a quango from Edinburgh.The Mental Welfare Commission was due to move from the Scottish...
Mixed Reviews
With the general election barely over, the building blocks of the National Health Service in England are once again, it seems, to be rearranged. The spotlight is on the 28 strategic health authorities, created under the Shifting the Balance of Power...
NAO Spotlights 'Critical' Weaknesses in Armed Forces' Readiness for Battle
Opposition defence secretary Michael Ancram has accused ministers of sending the country's armed forces into combat with one arm tied behind their back', after a National Audit Office report revealed that more than a third of the military could not be...
O'Donnell to Take Top Civil Service Post
Prime Minister Tony Blair this week confirmed Sir Gus O'Donnell as the new Cabinet secretary, ending speculation that the job would be offered to a surprise candidate.The Cabinet Office confirmed on June 15 that O'Donnell, currently permanent secretary...
Public Bodies Should Seize Their Own Destiny, Says Birt
The prime minister s strategy adviser has urged public organisations to seize your own destiny', but warned managers that they must achieve lasting reforms in service delivery and efficiency.Lord Birt told CIPFA delegates that finance professionals must...
Quality Watchdog Gives Scottish NHS Boards a Clean Bill of Health
Safeguards to protect NHS patients in Scotland are 'more robust and coherent' than at any time in the history of the service, a public sector watchdog has concluded.A report by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland says the processes designed to monitor performance,...
Reading between the Lines
If successive Public Reporting and Accountability judging sessions are anything to go by, public bodies are becoming more sophisticated and more imaginative in thinking up ways of putting information out. The message that accountability depends on intelligible...
Round-Up
The ill-fated Beagle 2 Mars probe was 'doomed from the start' and should not have been launched, MPs have said. The Public Accounts Committee dismissed much of Britain's civil space programme as 'expensive, uncertain and over-ambitious' in a report published...
Scotland 'Would Have Saved More Using UK Target'
Scotland's efficiency savings could have been £239m higher if the Executive had applied the equivalent targets set for Whitehall, Professor Arthur Midwinter, the Scottish Parliament's finance adviser has claimed.First Minister Jack McConnell claimed...
The Only Target Is Better Value
Sir Peter Gershon put his finger on it; now it's my job to help deliver it. The efficiency target set for procurement in the education, skills, children and families system is vast £1.4bn over the next three years.My small team at the Centre for Procurement...
The Proof of the Pudding
The power of modem celebrities seems to be limitless. The media loves them and politicians love the media, so no-one has faster access to Downing Street than a celebrity with a cause. Just look at Jamie Oliver.Turkey twizzlers became a national topic...
Two Resign as London Governance Review Demands Stronger Powers
A report recommending beefedup powers for the capital's councillors has prompted a political disagreement, with two members of the commission responsible for the study resigning.The Commission on London Governance published an interim report, Capital...
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