Magazine article Public Finance

In the Balance

Magazine article Public Finance

In the Balance

Article excerpt

The honeymoon is definitely over for Gordon Brown. Having backed off from an election, he's facing a hostile press and a regular beating from David Cameron at Prime Minister s Questions.

We are told that he has no vision. Not being Tony Blair is important, but doesn't really amount to a political philosophy. And, of course, the old criticisms of Stalinist state control have come back with a vengeance.

Since Brown's promotion four months ago, he has talked the talk on devolution and personalisation of public services (see cover feature on pages 16-19). But the jury is still out on whether this will put an end to the Whitehall-knows-best approach.

A test will come next week when the government responds to the consultation on school finance in England. This includes a proposal to claw back 5% of cash surpluses and redistribute it across all schools.

The governments argument is that many head teachers put aside excessive amounts of money. Brown claimed this week that there was £1.7bn in surpluses, and he seems intent on siphoning off £250m of that over three years.

But this flies in the face of promises that schools will be given greater autonomy. …

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