Public Finance

Articles from January 2006

£9Bn Lost to Tax Avoidance, Say Campaigners
An estimated £9bn is lost to the Exchequer through UK corporate tax avoidance each year, enough to build more than 30 new hospitals, according to a report released last week.The UK's 50 largest listed companies alone avoided paying an estimated £4.6bn...
Another Think Coming
It's been a busy week for newish Work & Pensions Secretary John Hutton. After months of spin and hype, and years of trying to think the unthinkable, his department has finally published its green paper on welfare reform.At its core are proposals...
At Your Bidding
The overwhelming message to come from the 2005 Comprehensive Performance Assessment is that single-tier councils are seen as failing to give value for money, but that most are working hard to meet the latest round of efficiency targets. While this CPAs...
Backstabbing for Backbenchers
Just occasionally in politics, all is not as it seems. While the airwaves have been full this week with arguments over the government's education reforms, Public Finance's own employment counsellor has received a letter from one of the protagonists.Here's...
Better in Than Out
It is one of the age-old questions: keep a service in-house or outsource it? Combine this with the political importance of a major service such as benefits and the Audit Commissions efficiency challenge and you have one hell of a decision to make.But...
Contract Rules 'Threaten Reforms'
Public service reforms will fail unless the government addresses 'unfair tax rules' and 'muddled regulation' in the competition for contracts, business and charity leaders have warned.The CBI and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations...
Councils Fight for Lost Revenue Based on 'Flawed' ONS Figures
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is refusing to compensate councils for lost grant, even though the government's own statisticians have admitted the data used to calculate it is flawed.The department this week vowed to continue using the mid-year...
DWP 'In Crisis' as Efficiency Drive Hits Jobs and Services
Whitehall's biggest department was this week described as 'in crisis', following claims that its huge efficiency drive has left two-thirds of benefit payments delayed, services rife with IT problems and officials planning to outsource core functions...
Education Committee Fails to Agree on White Paper
The controversy surrounding the education white paper was stepped up this week as an influential committee of MPs failed to agree on a response to the government s proposed school reforms.As Public Finance went to press, the Commons education select...
Gender Equality Drive at Risk without Audits, Claims Union
The government's proposed gender equality duty will make 'no real difference' in reducing the gender pay gap unless it is amended to force all public bodies to perform equal pay audits, the university and college lecturers' union Natfhe has warned.The...
In Brief
* Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged not to 'force through' plans to cut the number of police forces to 12. The Association of Police Authorities, which is opposing the plans, says only 13 of 43 forces are in favour of merging.* Labour, Tory and Liberal...
Letters
LAAs need more trust, not lawsFurther to your article 'Where there's a will, there's a way', the last thing Local Area Agreements need is new law adding to an already growing tendency for over-prescription (Point of law, January 20-26).Dig beneath calls...
NHS Chiefs Warn over 'Debt Crisis'
The Department of Heath must restructure the debts owed by the 169 NHS acute and primary care trusts or risk politically explosive ward closures and service cuts, the NHS Confederation has warned.The NHS is forecasting a net deficit of £623m by the end...
PAC Criticises 'Gobbledegook' of DWP Leaflets
Benefits claimants are being frustrated and confused because Department for Work and Pensions leaflets are written in gobbledegook', Public Accounts Committee chair Edward Leigh said this week.His comments followed the publication of a National Audit...
PCT Nursing Care Criteria 'Flawed in Law'
A High Court judge has ruled that the criteria used by many primary care trusts to assess whether someone should have to pay for their nursing care are 'fatally flawed' in law.The ruling has 'wide implications for a number of individuals, strategic health...
People
MOVESRod Aldridge, the executive chair of Capita Group, has been appointed chair of the Russell Commission charity, set up to encourage youth.Barry Hughes is the new finance director of West Wiltshire Housing Society. He previously worked for Associated...
Round-Up
Geraldine Peacock is to move on from her post as Charity Commission chair in June due to a combination of personal and political factors. Peacock, who has Parkinson's disease, said progress on the Charities Bill had been slower than hoped for and she...
Savings of £7Bn in Welfare Reforms 'To Help Long-Term Sick'
Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton could reinvest £4bn-£7bn per year into the welfare system through savings and new tax income gleaned by reducing benefit claimants by 1 million - a target revealed in his long-awaited green paper this week.Sources...
Shedding Light
Relations between several English cities and the Department for Transport are at an Arctic low because of a spectacular failure of decision-making that each side blames the other for. The recent cancellation of light rail projects for Leeds, Bristol...
The 85-Year Pension Rule Is Legal, Says EC
The European Commission has described as artificial' the government's rationale for removing the right of some local government workers to claim full pension benefits at 60.The Local Government Pension Schemes 85-year rule permits members whose age plus...
Unions Stress Safety in Nuclear Wind-Down
The trade union representing nuclear industry civil servants has urged ministers to focus on staff skills and safety in any future plans to privatise decommissioning.Prospect this week submitted to the Department for Trade and Industry its proposed criteria...
U-Turn If You Want To
They now like to call themselves Cameron's Conservatives, or that is what is emblazoned on party literature and what comes up in large letters when you log on to the Tory website. No previous leader of the most successful political movement in British...
Westminster Workers Face Job Losses If They Will Not Relocate to Scotland
The outsourcing company planning to shift hundreds of council jobs from London to the Scottish Highlands will not offer skilled staff equivalent positions in the capital if they refuse to move 580 miles north.Senior officers at Westminster City Council...
Whitehall Must Prepare to Cut Back, IFS Warns
Most Whitehall departments will face a spending squeeze in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review if the chancellor sticks to the spending limits outlined in his Pre-Budget Report, independent experts have warned.The Institute for Fiscal Studies said...
Whitehall Slow to Find Commercial Opportunities
Whitehall departments should do more to identify assets that can be successfully turned into money-making opportunities, government auditors said this week.The Wider Markets scheme, launched by the Treasury in 1998, encourages departments to identify...
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