Public Finance

Articles from April 2005

A Healthy Constitution
A broad consensus has been building up in recent times over the need for a civil service Act, to push ahead the reform process across Whitehall. The public administration select committee has been particularly active on the question, repeatedly raising...
Black Ops Wash Whiter
Over the Easter holidays, I found myself reading All the president's men, the classic text that inspired a generation of wannabe journalists and charted the events that would lead to the downfall of Richard Nixon.More than 30 years on, what sticks most...
Business 'Lacks Faith' in Gershon Agenda
Business leaders have 'no faith' in the government's efficiency programme or in its ability to deliver promises on reforms to public services, the CBI has warned.The business lobby says an overwhelming 86% of its members believe that Sir Peter Gershon's...
Checks in the Post
The House of Commons is not. known as the mot her of all Parliaments without good reason. Democracy is what the UK does best, and we can teach the rest of the world a thing or two.Or can we? According to High Court Judge Richard Mawrey, our electoral...
Dawn of the Super Regulator
Permanent revolution did not die with Leon Trotsky. Instead, it lives on in the hearts of Chancellor Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair. This will sound a strange proposition to a population who see New Labour as alien to class revolution, but...
Events
April* APRIL 1ZCIPFA course - Further and higher education finance: improving the operation of your audit committeeChair: Kirsten Gillingham, director of finance, University of Brighton, and vice-chair of the CIPFA Further and Higher Education Panel.Speakers...
Extra £10M to Counter Postal Vote Fraud
A government pledge to spend an extra £10m on preventing postal ballot fraud has been dismissed as a 'half measure' which will not stop voting malpractice at next month's general election.Local government minister Nick Raynsford unveiled the additional...
Getting Better All the Time?
With the general election looming, the state of the NHS is again shaping up to be one of the main political battlegrounds. The saga of Margaret Dixon, the unfortunate woman who had her operation cancelled seven times, has shown just how heated this debate...
In Brief
* Sacked Tory MP Howard Flight has abandoned his fight to be reinstated as the Conservative candidate for Arundel and South Downs. He has also ruled out running as an independent Leader Michael Howard sacked Flight after he suggested that the party had...
Just the Ticket
A few Sundays ago, in a back street in Willesden Green, in the London Borough of Brent, a bizarre event could be witnessed. In the lamplight and freezing rain of eight o'clock at night, a uniformed parking warden was busy booking a car.The spectacle...
Legal Work Outsourcing Causing Crisis, Claim Staff
Civil servants this week warned of a 'deepening crisis' at the Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman, involving an alleged backlog of work outsourced to a private firm.Olso staff voiced concerns that the performance of the government body, which oversees...
Letters
Let the LGPS be like all the restOn March 18,2005, the deputy prime minister announced that he would set up and chair a tripartite committee to review the Local Government Pension Scheme, with nothing ruled in or ruled out.Perhaps it should be allowed...
Light Rail Contractors Charging for Risks, Say MPs
The use of design, build, operate and maintain contracts for light rail has driven up costs as bidders increase tender prices to try to cover risks over which they have no control.That is among conclusions by the Public Accounts Committee from an inquiry...
Local Devolution at Odds with Capping
Ministers have ignored requests for meetings with local authorities facing the threat of capping and there are 'no grounds for optimism" that the orders will be rescinded, Public Finance has been told.Sarah Wood, the Local Government Associations director...
MPs Criticise Plans for Wholesale Demolition of Empty Homes
Plans to demolish up to 200,000 homes in the Midlands and North of England have been strongly criticised by MPs.Pathfinder programmes set up by the government to raise demand for housing should review demolition schemes and consult residents further...
NHS Recruitment Is Harming Poor Countries' Fight against HIV/AIDS
National Health Service recruitment of medical staff from developing countries threatens the Third World's ability to tackle the HIV/Aids crisis, MPs have warned.In a report on April 6, the Commons Public Accounts Committee says: Arrangements to prevent...
OBITUARIES: Peter Jones
Peter Jones, the CIPFA programme leader at Liverpool John Moores University, died on March 22, aged 52.Colleagues at JMU, fellow CIPFA members and students will share our sense of loss.Peter obtained his CIPFA qualification in 1986. After graduating...
Primary Concerns
Chancellor Gordon Brown has decided to broaden his schools investment plan so that primaries as well as secondaries can benefit. It seems a natural enough extension.Building Schools for the Future is all about the long-term future of education in England....
Round-Up
A cut in prescription charges introduced last week in Wales has prompted warnings of 'health tourism', with people crossing the border for cheaper medication. Prescriptions in Wales cost £4, compared with £6.50 in England, as part of a plan to scrap...
RSLs Cautious over Social HomeBuy
Social landlords are offering only qualified backing for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's flagship scheme to extend home ownership, the National Housing Federation has warned.Helen Williams, head of neighbourhoods and sustainability at the federation,...
Shetland Told to Improve Its Financial Management
One of Scotland's most affluent councils has been strongly criticised by a local authority watchdog over the way it manages its finances.Shetland Islands Council, which has prospered over the past 3O years as a result of North Sea oil revenues, has been...
Town Hall Pension Liabilities Soar to £30Bn
The mounting problems facing council pension schemes were starkly illustrated this week when it emerged that local taxes might need to cover £24bn of new retirement liabilities from 2006.Some council pension funds, such as those administered by Kent...
Transport Going in Wrong Direction, Says Expert
Transport white papers have become mere political adverts and will contain policies doomed to failure until ministers change their relationship with civil servants over reforms, a regulatory expert has warned.Francis Terry, chair of the UK regulated...
Unions Team Up to Tackle Unequal Pay
Whitehall staff this week launched a joint national pay claim for the civil service, urging ministers to address growing gender disparities.It followed an admission from the Cabinet Office that the pay gap between male and female staff widened by as...
Walsall Ready to Forgive and Forget 'Weak' Rating after Upgrade to 'Fair'
Walsall council is set to drop legal action over its 'weak' 2OO4 rating after the Audit Commission this week upgraded it to 'fair'.A review of how the metropolitan borough is run at the corporate level prompted the upgrade in the council's overall Comprehensive...
Whitehall 'Too Slow' Taking Up Resource Accounting
Government departments are not implementing resource accounting and budgeting systems properly to ensure they are delivering value for money, senior MPs have warned.The Commons' Public Accounts Committee criticised ministries for not putting resource...
Young Doctors Encouraged to Become GPs
The government hopes to encourage more young doctors to become GPs with a new training curriculum launched this week.The move is crucial to plans to have more care provided in the community. Many primary care trusts have developed GP-run specialist clinics,...
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