Magazine article Public Finance

Private Thoughts

Magazine article Public Finance

Private Thoughts

Article excerpt

Government is often a trade-off between what is right and what is politically expedient. A case in point is the decision to put off a revaluation of council tax until 2010.

A revaluation is sorely needed, and the longer the delay, the greater the pain will be. Postponing revaluation might be politically astute in the short term, but what happened to 'best when at our boldest'?

It is particularly embarrassing for a prime minister who described similar plans by the Conservatives as 'desperate opportunism'.

In other respects, Tony Blair is the ultimate conviction politician. The PM will push through a policy if he believes in it strongly enough. The war in Iraq springs to mind, but it is equally true of reform of the public services.

Private firms can now carry out routine surgery, while companies can influence the curriculum of school academies. At the same time, business approaches such as choice, personalisation and markelisation are being imported into public sector models.

The involvement of the private sector in public services is no longer anathema to a Labour prime minister. And, as our special issue this week shows, it is a relationship that is constantly evolving. …

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