Magazine article Public Finance

Round-Up

Magazine article Public Finance

Round-Up

Article excerpt

The Society of Local Authority IT Management, Socitm, has launched a comprehensive study of councils' on-line services to identify those that most appeal to the public. Socitm researchers will assess how best to market services such as local education, planning and leisure facilities. The results will be published later this year and will provide councils with guidance on how to improve their on-line services. The study is also expected to identify ways for councils to save cash and generate income through Internet use.

The Affordable Rural Housing Commission has called for a big increase in subsidised housing in England to stop low earners being priced out of rural areas. In a report on May 17, the commission said at least 11,000 new homes a year must be built. It suggested a new tax on second homes and more restrictions on the right to buy council houses in rural areas. Without such action, rural communities would be reduced to retirement towns and 'dormitories' for the wealthy, it added.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies indicates that relative poverty in the UK has risen since the Labour government came to power. Research published by the IFS on May 17 shows that when household spending, and not income, is used to measure living standards, relative poverty rose from 20% in 1997 to 22% by 2003. The figures contrast with income-related assessments regularly cited by ministers, which show that poverty has fallen from 25% to 22% over the period. …

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